1: Facing Your Fears
if our vote is defeated?
In cases where libraries were unsuccessful, they often went back another
time, armed with knowledge and savvy from their first vote attempt, and
emerged victorious. If your vote is unsuccessful, it will certainly be
disappointing, but should not be viewed as a total failure. Consider this:
if you try and win, you have improved your library's funding level and
increased community awareness about the library's value. If you try and
lose, you will still have gained knowledge about your community and the
public vote process. In either case, there is a tangible gain for the
library. While it's possible that your vote will go down, it's not probable.
A recent study of library votes in the Hudson Valley and across the United
States revealed that the majority of library votes were successful.
if there is a negative reaction in the community? What if people get angry
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".
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
"Don't be afraid of negativity. Think of possible negatives
spin them your way. Be proactive."
- Marilyn McIntosh, Director, Monroe Free Library, NY
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),
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
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
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
to Step 2