How to Schedule and Conduct an Editorial Board Meeting

Every daily newspaper has an editorial board, which can be comprised of anywhere from one to a dozen members. The editorial board meets on a regular basis to discuss the news and choose topics and opinions for editorials. The editorial board also can endorse candidates for public office, take a stand on a variety of issues and urge voters to take a certain position.

As a citizen in the community, you can contact the editorial board to attempt to persuade it to take a position on increased state funding for libraries. To do this, begin by calling your local newspaper and ask to speak to someone regarding scheduling a meeting with the Editorial Board. The person you talk with will want to find out the purpose and rationale for having an Editorial Board meeting on the topic of additional state funding for libraries. Some tips for convincing the newspaper staff person to schedule an Editorial Board Meeting:

If you are unable to secure a meeting, ask if they would accept an op-ed piece on the need for library funding, written by you or in collaboration with other library supporters.

For your presentation to the Editorial Board, bring other library supporters (i.e., public, academic, school librarians, trustees, students, etc.) with different backgrounds and expertise to demonstrate the wide support for increased library funding in the community as well as to be better prepared to answer questions on a variety of issues. Bring handouts on library funding issues and background materials available on our website (advocacy).

The amount of time for your presentation may only be 10-15 minutes, so be prepared to present your case quickly and succinctly. Use the following talking points to organize your thoughts, making sure to make connections between state aid for libraries and its impact on your own library and community.

1. This newspaper should take a stand in support of increased library funding because:

a) libraries have not had an increase since 1998
b) the governor has again proposed a cut in funding of 5% or $4.4 million to $84.42 million
c) pension costs, health care premiums, utility prices have increased by double digits and yet library funding has remained static at $88.9 million, even though state law says libraries should receive $91.3 million in aid based on new population figures in the 2000 Census
d) library usage spikes during tough economic times as the unemployed and underemployed look for new career opportunities or research how to start a new business
e) a dozen studies have shown a correlation between having a school library staffed by a certified professional and a student’s academic performance
f) libraries serve 51% of New York’s population and yet receive less than 1% of the state budget.

2. Libraries are the jumping off point for accessing the information highway, especially for the very young, students, seniors and the disadvantaged. Libraries provide a level playing field for accessing information, literature, the arts, etc., that may not be available in a person’s home or community. Libraries are today’s community centers for learning, information and cultural enrichment.

3. Libraries without professional staff are just warehouses of information. Trained and certified library staff are key to unlocking the wealth of information that libraries contain and to accessing resources beyond the geographical limits of one’s community. Funding for staff retention, recruitment and professional development are essential to the functioning of quality libraries.

4. We are asking for a $13.7 million increase for libraries, including the $4.4 million restoration, $2.6 million to fully-fund library aid under the 2000 Census, $1 million more on top of the $800,000 presently set aside for public library capital projects statewide, $3 million for NOVEL, and the funding necessary for school libraries to meet the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) court decision.

5. A question you may get is “Why should libraries get additional funding when the state has a $4 billion deficit and everyone else is being asked to take a cut?" Your answer is, even in good economic times libraries did not receive an increase, libraries are an essential service and not a luxury, and libraries at all levels are an important part of the effort to raise student academic achievement and we cannot shortchange our children’s future any longer.

At the end of your presentation, ask the Editorial Board if they have any questions or concerns. They may be interested in hearing about some relevant statistics or a few stories about the people locally who depend on libraries for opportunities to learn and grow.

Write a short follow-up note or email thanking them for hosting your visit. If an editorial does run, encourage library supporters in your community to write letters to the editor in support of the editorial.