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Quick Tips

Start with legislators you know that support libraries

Keep them informed as your issue/legislation moves forward.

Recognize that public officials can’t be experts on everything

Be prepared to provide them with information or referral sources.

Stick to one issue

Decision makers do not want to listen to a “laundry list” of issues.


Do your homework

Find out what you can about an official. Link the library message to something you know that relates to their special interest or cause.

Develop relationships with federal, as well as local and state lawmakers

A growing number of federal policy issues have a direct impact on libraries and their users.

Get to know staff

Legislative staff members can be very powerful. If convinced about your issue, they can become important allies. Staff members change frequently. Be sure to stay current. Offer to brief new staff on library issues.

Don’t give misinformation

If you don’t know the answer or have the information at your fingertips, promise to get back to the lawmaker as soon as possible. Then follow through!

Be personal

Don’t be afraid to use charm to impress the legislator.

Seal the deal

Be direct about what you want and try to get a commitment.

Excerpted from the American Library Association’s A Communications Handbook for Libraries, published in Summer of 2004. To see A Communications Handbook for Libraries in full, please visit: http://www.ala.org/ala/pio/availablepiomat/online_comm_handbook.pdf.

  • Montana State Library
  • P.O. Box 201800, 1515 East 6th Avenue
  • Helena, MT 59620-1800
  • Phone: (406) 444-3115
  • Fax: (406) 444-0266
  • msl.mt.gov