Part 1: Facing Your Fears

What if there is a negative reaction in the community? What if people get angry about taxes?

While it is likely a few individuals will complain, it's doubtful that there will be an all out negative reaction toward the library. If you are concerned about the public's reaction, talk to a few well-connected people in your community whom you trust and respect regarding what the public response will be. They may also be able to tip you off about negative people and their expected criticisms. Keep in mind that the only way you can avoid criticism completely, as Elbert Hubbard said, "is to do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing".

Although possible negativity is a common concern among library boards, it should not hold you captive if the majority of the board feels that a public vote is necessary. There are several methods of minimizing or managing negativity regarding a tax increase.
Here are a few strategies

Points to Ponder:

"Don't be afraid of negativity. Think of possible negatives and
spin them your way. Be proactive."

- Marilyn McIntosh, Director, Monroe Free Library, NY

"There are always some people who are going to be negative.
You can't expect 100% support."

- Mark Fuerst, Former Trustee of the Starr Library (Rhinebeck), NY

"Don't try to win everyone to your side. In your community, about 1/3 of the people are already on your side, 1/3 are against you and 1/3 haven't decided yet. Those who are undecided need convincing, those already on your side need to be activated,
and those opposed need to be ignored."

-Libby Post, CEO of Communication Services, Albany, NY

"We were prepared ahead of time. We picked a nice guy in the community with name recognition to be on stand-by to send a letter-to-the-editor should we need him to. He wasn't a political figure, just a well-known person in the community whom everyone respected. We also made sure all our communication about the 414 was scripted, so no one was shooting from the hip. Library staff were able to provide basic information about the vote, but if someone had a lot of questions,
they were sent to the director."

- Patti Haar, Director, Patterson Library, NY

"If someone is negative, call them and offer to speak to them. These are your neighbors, they often give to charity, and they pay their taxes. They just want to make sure that money is being used wisely."
- Parry Teasdale, former President of the Mid-Hudson Library Board, Phoenicia Library Board, and New York State Association of Library Boards, NY

Continue to Step 2


Part 1: Facing Your Fears
Part 2: Frequently Asked Questions About Library Votes
Part 3: Determine if You are Ready for a Vote

- Step 1: Are We Ready
- Step 2: We're Ready: How to Get Started
- Step 3: Ready-Set-Go: Putting the Pieces in Place
Part 4: Lessons Learned from Library Votes: Words from the Wise
Part 5: Additional Resources to Help You with Your Vote
Part 6: Voter Matrix/Magic Quadrant

This toolkit was created on behalf of the 2005-2007 Getting to Yes (GTY) project. GTY is funded by Federal Library Services and Technology Act funds, awarded to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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