CRRL_PorterBranch_2013Libraries are an essential, irreplaceable public service which citizens use for education, personal enlightenment, job search and training, community connection, cultural awareness, and entertainment. It is more important than ever that libraries advocate using compelling images, customer testimony, and social media so that our communities are aware of the extent of the services libraries provide and that budgetary decision makers are educated as to the degree that the public relies on their libraries. Participating in SnapshotVA is an easy way to help libraries throughout Virginia and in your own community. All of the steps for a successful Snapshot are listed on this page. Whether you are participating as a regional system or an individual branch, Snapshot can help you advocate for libraries.

CRRL_EnglandRunBranch_20121. Pick A Day

Pick a day in April for your library’s Snapshot. Pick the day that works best for your busy library and which will highlight your value to the community. Or connect your Snapshot Day with School Library MonthNational Library WeekNational Library Workers DayNational Bookmobile Day, or Teen Literature Day. Library systems with multiple branches could pick different days for different branches. Inform your staff of your Snapshot Day. Build up the excitement and plan events ahead of time!

2. Promote

SnapshotVA_flyerA variety of materials are available for promoting SnapshotVA among your customers and staff.  Adding the date of your Snapshot Day to these PDFs is easy–once you open each PDF, click in the outlined box and enter the date you’ll be participating. Then you’ll be ready to print and distribute.

Flyer [PDF]

Flyer – 8.5×14 [PDF]

Poster – 11×17  [PDF]

Bookmarks [PDF]

Press Release Template [Doc]

Ways to promote your Snapshot Day in advance:

  • Place posters and flyers around your branch.
  • Hand out bookmarks at customer service desks.
  • Send a press release to local newspapers, radio and television stations.
  • Promote on social media, such as  your library’s website, Facebook, or Twitter feed.

3. Prepare for Comment Collection

CRRL_Headquarters_2012Prepare your staff to solicit comments from customers on your Snapshot Day. Sometimes those heartfelt testimonials are the best way to show how important libraries are.  If staff help customers with a specific goal, like job search, homework help, or reader advisory, they should encourage that customer to share their particular success story.

A form for collecting customer comments is available as full-page [PDF] and 4/page [PDF]. Print plenty of these and distribute them at service desks, entrances, computer labs, and reading rooms.

Comments can also be collected digitally. Consider directing customers to comment via email, a link on your website, or via social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. Comments submitted this way will be easier for you to submit later.

Customers may wish to include their full name and contact info, but if they have any privacy concerns, assure them that your advocacy materials will only cite first name and last initial.

4. #Becauseofapubliclibrary

The #Becauseofapubliclibrary hashtag can be used on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media to promote awareness of the impact of libraries on our lives every day. Use this hashtag to promote your Snapshot Day, and encourage your customers to use it to broadcast their appreciation for the library services which have made a difference in their lives.

5. Prepare for Photography

AugustaCounty_2012Photographs are a compelling way to capture the role of libraries in our communities. Plan to take lots of pictures of people using your library to contribute to the SnapshotVA Flickr pool. The most useful photographs zero in on moments of value for our customers—finding the right materials on the shelf, using a library computer, interacting with staff, or enjoying programs. Avoid photographing customers from behind, in poor lighting, or in any scenario that fails to show your library at its best.

You may wish to hire a professional photographer, hand out digital cameras to select staff, or invite local media to send their own photographers.

In the days approaching your Snapshot Day, take a tour around your library and make certain you will look your best. Replace worn signs, freshen displays, and ensure that the wealth of engaging services and materials you offer are readily apparent.

Written permission is not required when taking photos in public areas. The best approach is often to wear some form of library identification (shirt, badge, or button) and simply ask: “Hi. I work for the library, may I take your picture for library publicity?”

If you wish to ask for written permission, a sample release form is available as a Word Doc or PDF.

6. Prepare Your Staff

LittleCreekBranchLibrary_2012In addition to being familiar with the collection of statistics, comments, and photos which will take place on your Snapshot Day, staff should know the full purpose of the program and be ready to explain and advocate to customers. The essential educational, cultural, and empowering services, expertise, and materials that library customers enjoy and depend on are dependent on public funding, and the primary goal of SnapshotVA is to highlight the importance of Virginia libraries. Customers may not realize that library funding is ever in question, or that their voices, expressed through their participation in SnapshotVA or through direct communication with their elected representatives, can have a powerful effect.

7. Snapshot Day!

The posters and bookmarks have been out for days, local press has been notified, and your branch is welcoming and attractive. Photographers and cameras are at the ready. Forms for collecting comments have been distributed and your staff are well-versed in their role on this important day, and how to explain the importance of library advocacy to your customers. Have a great Snapshot Day and enjoy this well-earned focus on the great job that you do.

8. Results

YorkCounty_2012Once your Snapshot Day has concluded, upload your photos to the SnapshotVA Flickr pool:

  1. Go to
  2. Click on “Sign in” in the upper right corner of the page.
  3. In the window that pops up, enter Yahoo!ID and the password.  The Flickr password is sent out with the email update notices, but to have it emailed to you, write Sean Bonney.
  4. Click Upload Photos and Videos (if you haven’t been switched to the SnapshotVA profile, just reload the page)
  5. Follow the instructions for uploading – it’s easy!

Please include the following tags for your photos:  VLA snapshotday LVA “your library’s name” (spaces between the tags please!). Include a brief description or caption for each photo.

YouBelong_Quotes_preview9. Advocate!

All the  comment and photo collecting in the world won’t make a difference unless it’s used to educate the public and budgetary decision makers about the essential nature of library services. Your Snapshot Day is just the beginning of advocacy that every Virginia library needs to be producing year-round.

  • Start with a press release to local media. Share your statistics, choice comments, and best photos. This simple step often leads to prominent exposure.
  • Distribute posters, flyers, and bookmarks.
  • Provide a story to local newspapers.
  • Run a slide show on display screens in your branches.
  • Prepare slide shows and handouts for budget meetings.
  • Share your results with your library board.
  • SnapshotVA2011_Quotes_ChildrenRead_bookmarksLink to the Flickr stream on your website, Facebook, and Twitter feeds.
  • Make a handout for new library customers.
  • Use photos and comments in your annual report.
  • Offer a slide show to your local cable station.
  • Stay in close contact with budgetary decision makers, send one poster each month with a short note.
  • Send packets of posters to local schools and training institutions.
  • Suggest to social service groups that they display posters on library outreach programs.
  • Send volunteer publicity to service groups and schools which may be looking for opportunities to serve.
  • Empower your Friends! Provide publicity items at Friends meetings for library supporters to take out into the community.
  • Make a screensaver for library computers.
  • Send an email blast to your customer list or community contacts.

Thank you for participating in SnapshotVA!

SnapshotVA is a project of the Virginia Library Association and the Library of Virginia. Questions, comments, or suggestions about SnapshotVA? Email Lisa Varga or Sean Bonney.