16 June 2020

What would you say if someone (a library user, potential user, administrator, funder, colleague, friend, relative, neighbor, elected official, etc.) asked you any of the following questions and you had less than 30 seconds to answer before losing the interest of your audience?

  • Why should I use the library when I need information? Google is all I need.
  • Why should I care if the library (in my community, organization/company, school, etc.) gets funded? A lot of organizations aren’t getting the funding they need these days.
  • Why do we need librarians anyway?
  • I don’t like to read books. Why would I use the library?

Chances are, if you work in a library, someone has asked you questions similar to these in the past. And with possible funding challenges facing libraries in the future as a result of COVID-19, you will likely be asked questions like these in the future.

If you don’t have a concise, well-thought out answer at your fingertips, RAILS has a new tool that can help! We have developed infographics with talking points library staff and other supporters can use when promoting the value of their library, or libraries in general. Separate talking points are available for academic, public, school, and special libraries

For example, here’s something you could say if asked why libraries are needed in the age of Google or why librarians are needed at all:

A single Google search can return billions of results with contradictory information. Librarians have special training and can help you find the most trustworthy, accurate information. They can also help you identify the difference between fake and real news.

To answer the question about funding libraries, a public library staffer/supporter could say:

Funding libraries is an investment in the community and libraries are a smart investment. State studies show that the return on investment is between $5-6 for every dollar spent on the library.

A school librarian could answer the “why use the library if I don’t like to read books” question with:

Today’s school libraries are more than just books: they are gathering places for all students and faculty to meet, create, investigate, study, tutor, mentor, and learn.

These are just a few examples of the many talking points available to all types of libraries. You don’t need to memorize each point word for word, and you may even wish to combine points to match the interests of the person you are speaking with. The talking points are intended to get the conversation about the value of libraries started, and to encourage the response: “Tell me more!”