|Why the library?|
|Tribe of Heart volunteer Annette Swartz with The Witness, which she got placed into the New Arrivals section of her local library's video collection.|
Why the library?
What better venue than a public library to reach a large cross-section of America? Unless a person is already involved in animal advocacy issues, they usually have little access to accurate information, and are unaware of the cruelty that takes place every day. Tribe of Heart documentaries educate viewers while usually leaving them feeling that they can do something about the suffering of animals. As such, they are perfect educational vehicles for reaching out to newcomers to animal compassion issues. A wide range of people patronize our public libraries, and dvd/video collections are typically one of the most highly utilized resources in a library's collections.
Many copies of our films have been placed in library circulation through the efforts of volunteers (see some success stories in the right hand column), and without exception, we've found that the rate of use of those copies has been very high. Because of this, the effort you make to reach out to your local library or library system can have a big impact. Nearly every day at Tribe of Heart we hear from people who are grateful for the way their lives have been changed by watching these films. Many people who see a Tribe of Heart film go on to tell others about it, and the wave of change keeps growing. The step-by-step guide below, written by Tribe of Heart volunteer Annette Swartz, an expert in library outreach, will help you make the most of your efforts.
Many (but not necessarily all) local libraries are part of a larger regional and state library system network. It is best to concentrate first on your local library, establish good relations with them, and work to get the films into their dvd/video collection. Once successful at the local level, talk with the staff of that library about ways to reach the larger regional and state library network. The set-up and functioning of these networks differs in every state. A supportive librarian or two at the local level can explain the workings of the larger system to you, and might even be willing to make phone calls and advocate for the film’s acceptance into the larger system. Since libraries at every level receive a tremendous number of potential resources for their collections, sending films out without first establishing interest is not likely to be effective.
1. Assess current video collection
Determine if the library has an audio-visual department. If it does, spend some time looking into their collection. If their collection contains documentaries or educational films on animals, Tribe of Heart films might fit right in. If their collection lacks such films, then the film could help to meet that need.
2. Gather supporting literature
When you meet with the head librarian or the librarian in charge of dvd/video holdings, it’s very helpful to have informational literature to give to her/him. We have several pieces available that you can download and print free of charge. If you do not have access to a printer, you can also order a press kit, which includes these items. Familiarize yourself with these resources so you can draw on appropriate reviews and commentary when needed. A well-informed presentation makes all the difference.
3. Present the film to librarian
Take a copy of the film and your stack of literature to the head librarian or librarian in charge of the film collection. Since some people have negative misconceptions about "animal rights" individuals and organizations, describing the film (accurately) with phrases like "humane education" and "a very positive, life altering experience," or (for The Witness) "an inspiring story about how one man changed from a life of violence to a life of compassion" work well. These descriptions accurately convey the spirit of the films, and are likely to encourage interest.
When introducing The Witness, it is helpful to point out that the film has been shown in 31 film festivals worldwide, that it has won eight film festival awards for best documentary, it has been broadcast on several regional PBS stations and nationally on LinkTV, and has also been endorsed by teachers associations. Show them our handout, The Witness for Teachers and Librarians, which includes reviews of the film in Booklist and School Library Journal, two trusted review sources for librarians, which each gave The Witness high marks. Also, mention Howard Rosenberg's review in the Los Angeles Times. All of these items can be found on the downloadable resources web page.
If you are a patron of the library, tell them so. Tell them that you would like to make a donation of a wonderful film (or two) to their collection. You can mention why you think viewing the film is such a positive experience, and why you would like to make it available to others. Inform the person that telling these stories entails some scenes depicting cruelty to animals, but that these scenes are handled in a sensitive way, and are vital to the message of the film(s). Mention that personal journey of redemption portrayed in the film(s) has inspired many of the films' viewers, and highlight the films' ability to appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds. Your natural enthusiasm for these films should spark their interest to view them.
Offer to leave literature along with a copy of the film(s) for their review. Leave your contact information with them and mention that you would like to check back with them in a week. Follow-up is extremely important at this point. People will sometimes delay watching the films because they are too busy and/or uncomfortable with the content. Sometimes several friendly follow-up calls are needed. Again, your enthusiasm and professionalism will go a long way toward achieving a positive result.
4. Monitor film’s use
Typically, once the librarian sees one of our films, he/she will accept it into their collection. After it has been catalogued, visit the audio-visual department. Make sure that it has been placed in the "new films" section, and offer a publicity poster for them to display (also in our downloadable resources).
5. Publicize film's availability
Once a film is accepted, the next step is making sure that patrons know it is available. If the library has a community table for literature, seek permission to leave information there about the film. Highlighting selected critics’ comments or endorsements is eye-catching. If allowed, you could also make a sign advertising that the film is available through the audio-visual department. If this sort of table space is available to you, check back regularly to restock the literature.
Annette with her local library window
Sometimes libraries have display windows at the entrance to the building that are available to any group for promoting their community services or information. If this is the case, consider doing a window featuring the film. Ideas for this are large posters (available in the Tribe Shop), enlarged quotes from endorsements or the critics’ reviews, and Eddie's Courage of Conscience Peace Abbey Award. If your library offers any additional way to display the film give it a try. You can also make up flyers about the film and leave them at places like local coffee shops, health food stores, health clubs and laundromats promoting the fact that it is available at the library. Over time, a little extra effort can dramatically increase the number of people you are reaching.
6. Join heart2heart community
During the process, when questions or issues arise, consult with your on-line community of fellow citizen educators. Consider joining our email discussion list, heart2heart. You will receive advice and support from activists around the country. We'd also love to hear about your efforts, so please share them with us on the heart2heart list.
And last, but not least... Enjoy placing the film where it can get lots of viewing
Take pleasure in the fact that you are sharing the message of compassion with your community members. What a wonderful gift for us all!
Some Success Stories!
Joshua W. of Wallingford, CT, told us he sent a simple email to his local library asking them to add one of our films to their collection, "and they replied 3 days later saying it was going to be ordered and asking for my library card number so they could let me know when it comes in!"
Jonathan B. of Germantown, MD, sent a letter to his local library, and after making a couple of follow up calls, succeeded in getting the film viewed by the appropriate staff members. The result -- the library system ordered 8 copies of The Witness to be placed in libraries throughout the region.
John C. of Maynard, MA, donated a copy of The Witness to the local public library. On checking back with the library, he found that his copy was regularly getting checked out by library patrons.
Here are some downloadable resources that can help you get The Witness into your local library:
Dear Ms. Kolo,
I would like to suggest a dvd/video for circulation at your library. The Witness is a 43-minute documentary about a Brooklyn construction contractor, Eddie Lama, whose life was changed forever by his love for a kitten. His compassion soon extended to all animals and he began a unique campaign to raise awareness of the plight of animals killed for their fur. This story is presented in such a way that it is easy to identify with Eddie and the animals seen in the sensitively presented footage of animal suffering. I think it would be a popular and valuable addition to the library’s collection.
I have enclosed information from the producers of The Witness, Tribe of Heart, including reviews of the film from Booklist and Library Journal, and a list of awards, honors and endorsements that it has received. You will also find purchase information. If you have any questions or would like to preview the video, please contact me at (505) 555-5555. If you have any difficulty appropriating the funds for purchase of the film, I would be happy to donate a copy to the library.
Dear Mr. Smith,
I have a video titled "The Witness" that I would like to donate to the County library system. It is a 45 minute documentary about a New Yorker who becomes an activist for animal protection causes. The film is powerful, not in the least bit righteous, and has won awards at several film festivals.
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