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Great Libraries Shape Great Cities - 2010 Municipal Election Campaign

The Edmonton Public Library
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Innovation Leader: Tina Thomas, Director, Marketing and Fund Development, tthomas@epl.ca

Problem Statement

As the library’s top funding source, ensuring that municipal officials understand and support Library priorities and issues is a critical EPL objective. The 2010 municipal election provided a great opportunity to share with candidates and the public the many ways EPL has been instrumental in shaping our city and to build continued commitment to EPL.

Innovation

To achieve our objective we implemented two strategies. First we targeted candidates through information kits, our website and luncheons, to help increase their knowledge and understanding EPL’s real value. Through these vehicles we showcased little-known library facts like: visits to EPL were more than to all city facilities, sporting events, recreation centers and festivals combined; 170,000 people attended library programs in 2010; EPL staff answered over 1.8 million questions – more than all city call centers combined. Second, we engaged our dedicated customers to influence the candidates on why they should support the library. Using our new branding, we produced lawn signs, buttons and bumper stickers with the simple message “I ♥ EPL” for customers to proudly display. We also asked customers to tell us why they love us and to share a photo of themselves making a heart. We would then showcase these with candidates and funders.

Progress

Our election advocacy campaign succeeded on many levels. EPL customers answered the advocacy call with over 200 “I ♥ EPL” testimonials submitted and 1000 lawn signs, 5000 buttons and 2000 bumper stickers taken over a 3 week period. EPL candidate luncheons were attended by 23 candidates, 50% more than the previous election. 20 candidates finished our library questionnaire – sharing with voters through our website why they love the library and generating hundreds of social media mentions. Several candidates and campaigners shared that they were overwhelmed by the number of EPL lawn signs they saw while campaigning. The desired results were achieved as well. We received our full municipal funding request for 2011, plus an additional $136,000 to open Sundays. Edmonton’s Mayor Stephen Mandel noted that the “I ♥ EPL” logo was one of the best he had ever seen. Requests were received from other Canadian libraries to share our campaign.