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Michigan Library Association

Protect Michigan Libraries 

Goal: Encourage Gov. Granholm and state lawmakers to preserve the Library of Michigan and its collections, as well as restore funding to Michigan’s interlibrary loan system, MeL and MeLCat. 

Research: 

In February 2009, Governor Jennifer Granholm announced the elimination of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries (HAL), including the Library of Michigan, as a cost-saving measure. Shortly thereafter, in August 2009, the Michigan Senate cut state library funding to less than half of the legally mandated level, endangering the statewide interlibrary loan system and threatening the closure of libraries throughout the state.

Martin Waymire conducted extensive research into what messaging would best mobilize public support. Since these cuts came on the tail of the 2008 financial crisis when the state had near-record levels of unemployment, we found that messaging should center around economic opportunities created by libraries. Specifically, through a survey of MLA members, we learned that most libraries offer career services, such as assistance with resume preparation, job applications, and unemployment applications. These facts were used to craft messages for the media, lawmakers, library patrons, and the general public.

Action Plan & Communication Overview:

We worked closely with officials from the Michigan Library Association and the Michigan Genealogical Council to begin our strategic communications efforts. Op-eds and letters to the editor were used to reach statewide audiences using our key message: “protect library funding and retain access to valuable resources; Michigan residents cannot move forward in a knowledge-based economy if our state moves backward.”

We created a website to promote our campaign and serve as a one-stop-shop for advocacy materials such as talking points for volunteers and coalition members. We also used social media to bring attention to our campaign and reach our target audience.

We partnered with the nearly 400 public library systems across the state and industry leaders to engage patrons in a legislative letter-writing advocacy campaign. We also organized a rally of 500 people held on the Capitol steps to gain the attention of Gov. Granholm and legislators.

Evaluation:
  • After pressure from members and leaders of MLA, the Governor amended the executive order to address all of our concerns including the preservation of all collections within the Library of Michigan.
  • In the mere three weeks of our campaign, our website had more than 21,500 visitors and three-fourths of those visitors downloaded materials for distribution within their organization or communities.
  • More than 15,000 letters were written to lawmakers through our letter-writing tool on the website.
  • Earned media tactics resulted in nearly 50 pieces published in newspapers and magazines across the state.
  • The Michigan Library and its interlibrary loan system are still up-and-running today.

We offer clients our commitment to Michigan, because our driving passion is making our home state a better place.