Dealing with questions

After a library advocate finishes the talk, he or she might well get questions.

Those questions probably fall into three categories:

* amplification of points already made. "What did you mean by ...." In that case, I suspect that most advocates can field it.

* challenges. This might take many forms. It could be complaints. "This happened to me..." It could be generic: "Why don't libraries run more like businesses?" Or ... who know?

* operational questions. "How come my library ..."

It's hard to anticipate a particular issue with a library, of course. But one might well respond to the question about libraries running more like businesses like this: "Which business should libraries emulate? The long range planning of GM? The transparency of Enron? The truth is, businesses should run more like libraries!"

But the simplest strategy is this: "The biggest question I hear is 'how are libraries responding to the Internet?' One answer is on your postcards. For other questions, please talk to me, and I promise to find you an answer." Then the advocate should get in touch with the library liaison.

The final strategy is this: "our job today is really about gathering stories. Tell me about how - in YOUR life - libraries changed your life, or grew your business, or built community."

Then listen. There are so many wonderful stories out there.