MLA Advocacy - September 24, 2015

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Road Funding Proposals Should Surface Soon
Libraries remain alert for any sign that road funding proposals would seek to fund road repair with library penal fines. Penal fines are guaranteed by the Michigan Constitution to fund libraries. As solutions for roads are recommended, it’s important that our libraries do not suffer potential closings or service reductions as a result of reduced support.

Dedicated Library Millages Should Fund Libraries
A large number of libraries in Michigan have a portion of their dedicated library millage commandeered by one or more Tax Increment Financing Authorities (TIFA). According to a recent MLA survey, more than $3,026,236 is captured each year from just 49 libraries across the state. In one case 54% of the library’s dedicated millage is being captured by a TIFA and Downtown Development Authority (DDA). Soon you will be asked to contact your legislators and request their support of legislation that would ensure dedicated library millages go to the library, unless the library board decides differently.

Big Box Stores Are Getting a Big Break from the Tax Tribunal
The Michigan Tax Tribunal continues its practice of reducing tax obligations allowing thriving big box stores to be taxed at the same rate as closed-down, abandoned stores. In some cases, libraries have been forced to pay back thousands of dollars in tax revenue. We expect to see some relief in Sen. Tom Casperson’s (R-Escanaba) four-bill package.

Write an Elevator Speech
Have you ever struggled with what to say when given the opportunity to advocate for your library? Follow ALA’s guide to writing an elevator speech. Their infographic makes it easy to have several speeches ready depending on your audience. What's an elevator speech?

Elevator speeches are brief opportunities—maybe one minute or less—to pique the interest of anyone whose ear you’d like to bend about libraries.

When you’ve got great elevator speeches in your toolkit, you’re ready to snap up an advocacy opportunity wherever it presents itself—the library, the coffee shop, the park, the alderman’s office, or quite naturally, the elevator.

The goal of your elevator speeches shouldn’t be to tell listeners everything you want them to know about libraries. Instead, your speeches should answer the questions, “What do you do, and why is it important?”

Ultimately, you want your listeners to say, “Tell me more!” or ask, “How do you do that?”

By using value-based language (VBL), you can create action-oriented elevator speeches that shift the emphasis away from the programs or services you provide and onto the youth and families you impact. What better way to express how what you do makes an everyday difference and changes lives?

How do I write an elevator speech?
Here’s a VBL template for writing awesome elevator speeches:

I help [insert target audience] [insert verb phrase] at the library so that [insert proven/expected positive outcome for target audience].

Example 1 (Storytime): I help parents and caregivers promote kindergarten readiness at the library so their young children can start school ready to learn.

Example 2 (Summer Reading): I help youth and families read, discover, and create at the library so they can become critical thinkers and lifelong learners.

Example 3 (Volunteer Program): I help kids increase their civic engagement at the library so they came become global citizens who vote on the issues that matter to them.

Check out the awesome elevator speech infographic created by the ALSC Public Awareness Committee for more details and great visuals!
(Elevator Speech content © 1996–2015 American Library Association)

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