So what do 2.7 million people have in common? They all viewed this video produced for NY Public Library by Improv Everywhere as part of the library's "Don't Close the Book on Libraries" advocacy campaign. According to the post on ilovelibraries.org:
"The library contacted Improv Everywhere, but IE largely developed the prank on its own. "We said we wanted them to do something and we wanted to incorporate the closing of a book," to support the campaign theme. "They went with it."
The stunt, which recreated a scene from Ghostbusters in the library's Rose Reading Room, took place on Saturday, May 8. Three people dressed as ghosts entered, one by one, and read or used computers as normal library patrons. The team of Ghostbusters soon entered, and after a short commotion, chased the ghosts from the library to laughter and applause from the other patrons...
...The Improv Everywhere mission, and the resulting video released May 17, represent a creative and low-budget way to get NYPL's message out. "We're facing budget cuts so we don't want to spend much money—or any money," Montefinise said. The library did not have to expend much energy planning or coordinating, and Improv Everywhere used its own equipment.
Naturally, the library hopes the video makes an impact, and early signs are good. "It's gone viral very quickly, and people seem to be liking the video," Montefinise said. While it's too early to know if it has increased traffic to the library's advocacy website, she added, anecdotal evidence is promising."
NYPL did get it's funding but they aren't resting. Their site offers places for people to become members, donate through planned giving and corporate sponsorships and has links to the Foundation and its events. They keep people invited through the newsletter, blogs and provides names and contact information if you want to talk with someone.
Advocacy plans are essential for all libraries, all the time, not just when budgets are being slashed. Here in NJ we'll be encouraging libraries to create gratitude campaigns where they continue to build relationships with supporters and encourage them to become champions, send positive handwritten notes to elected officials, etc. We should all have pages like NYPL in place where people can easily find out how they can support you. There is no time to rest, advocacy must be a year long commitment!
HELP! INFORMATION NEEDED
I got a call yesterday from a director who is looking to start an advocacy group. He's invited top stakeholders and supporters together and they are preparing to develop a plan that will put their library front and center in the minds of politicians and community members. He's looking for any other libraries that might have created a similar group. He'd like to see if he can get some ideas about the mission statement and goals. Has anyone created a group like this? Please leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org