Meet Me at the Library
Problem StatementLibrary services are essential to a thriving and engaged community, however, local officials are often unaware of all of the services and programs libraries provide. Shrinking budgets and increased competition for state and local funding prompted us to find a way to increase awareness of library services among elected officials requiring libraries to build ongoing relationships with legislators. In addition, the ability for community members to converse with local leaders is minimal, limited to email and phone contact. This program provides the opportunity to meet face to face with elected officials to discuss local issues and highlights the library as a community gathering place.
InnovationMeet Me at the Library is a program in which we invite elected officials and local leaders to have community conversations in libraries. It was designed to offer a variety of options to engage with elected officials within the library. Building relationships with legislators and local elected officials over time reaps support for and raises awareness of Arizona libraries. Inviting local decision makers to libraries for informal conversations is an effective and fun way to share the important role libraries play for Arizona community members.
Due to the success of programs in Tucson, PCPL staff was asked to create a toolkit for use by librarians throughout the state. The Meet Me at the Library program was expanded to the state level through the Arizona Library Association (AzLA) Legislative Committee. Libraries across the state are encouraged to
- Host legislative events or meetings in their libraries or in their region
- Make connections by having conversations with decision makers
- Showcase the important ways libraries are meeting the needs of their constituents.
The AzLA Legislative toolkit includes ideas on how to plan these events or meetings, contact information for public officials, scripts to follow, and information on library issues. It can be as simple as inviting a legislator to a story time or to judge a student art contest at a library. Or, libraries can provide a way for community members to have coffee and a conversation with elected officials. Tips on how to connect with public officials throughout the year will help libraries meet AzLA’s goal of building ongoing relationships with legislators.