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Library fans, trustees accomplish the improbable

Facebook & Adirondack Journal were factors

Ellsworth family members (left to right): Kara, 10. Trevor, 9, and mother Peggy Ellsworth check out books from Warrrensburg's Richards Library, with the help of librarian Barbara Whitford.

Ellsworth family members (left to right): Kara, 10. Trevor, 9, and mother Peggy Ellsworth check out books from Warrrensburg's Richards Library, with the help of librarian Barbara Whitford. Photo by Thom Randall.

— In an era when families are protesting rising taxes and fretting over $4 gasoline and disappearing jobs, Richards Library trustees managed to get a perpetual $98,100 annual property tax levy approved in a public vote May 17 by a comfortable margin of 481 to 272.

Some local citizens were wondering how on earth they accomplished it.

Here’s how:

First, the library trustees concentrated on contacting the people that believed in the role of libraries as vital cultural institutions, urging them to get out to vote. They were advised by a local political pro not to waste any effort trying to change the minds of any levy opponents, or recruit the votes of those who were indifferent to the library’s mission.

Volunteers for the library launched a telephone calling program, which included placing reminder calls to library fans, offering rides to the polls.

Also, the library trustees held their annual book sale on the Saturday before the election, giving volunteers the opportunity to urge sale attendees to vote. Also, in recent weeks, all books borrowed or bought from Richards Library left the premises with a bookmark advertising the levy vote. This promotion was backed up with lawn signs around town.

Next among their strategies was to submit letters to the editor, primarily in the Adirondack Journal. Since the Journal is sent to every household in the school district, their letters — which contained information on the impact of the library levy and its benefits — were well distributed.

Their promotional effort included another approach, reflecting the ways the new generation connects.

Library President Susan Jennings — who decades ago took a college course in marketing — distributed the library levy information and pleas for a Yes vote by posting them on Facebook. Library friends, of course, reposted the messages and broadcast them on Facebook news feeds.

“It was a huge cooperative effort,” Jennings said, deferring credit to the library volunteers. “There were many, many hours of work involved.”

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