FREE! Opportunity for Vegan Advocacy - At Your Local Library

>>  Monday, August 5, 2013

Ever since I can remember, walking into a library filled me with excitement. All those books! All that knowledge and information! All those mysteries to unravel and new worlds to discover! And as the electronic age has advanced, libraries have kept the pace, by providing digital movies, music, and internet access. The concept of public libraries has a fascinating history, and they are no doubt one of the most successful publicly-funded institutions.

The library in my town had a humble beginning in 1907 with the lending of a few books on a drugstore shelf. Of course in the next century that modest first library was improved and expanded many times over. The most recent structure is pictured below. The Spanish-influenced architecture reflects the theme of the entire downtown renovation project. Of everything that has been made "new again" the library is the best feature yet.

Aside from the most helpful staff imaginable, the building site is ideally located, with plenty of parking, accessible hours and a totally modern facility within. In the common area there's a coffee house, a used book store and several bulletin boards for community use.

There's also a series of small cases --six in all-- where I placed vegan-related materials in during the month of March. It coordinated with a Florida Voices for Animals Meatless March campaign...

I divided the cases into three categories: the environment, human health and animal concerns.

In July I had one of the larger interior cases to display even more information. This time I highlighted all the vegan, animal-friendly, plant-based food options as well. In hindsight, I wished that I had included more books and that I had additional platforms to double the display area... But I took advantage of hanging and stacking items to make up for the lack of them. I wanted the "vegan options" to appear fun, varied, and abundant. Of course I realize that the majority of nutrition should come from fresh whole foods. Still, this was a good opportunity to show the alternative transitioning choices as well.

People showed a lot of interest while I set up the case. I struck up positive conversations with many who were curious to know "what's this about?". I checked back a few times to make sure the montage was okay. Each time I was pleased to find individuals in front of the case who were looking things over. And isn't it wonderful when good minds start to think? 

I included small figurines of farmed animals next to the appropriate information about the lives they endure as "commodities".  I hope this helped people question and want to discover more on their own.

The time it took to set up and break down the display was nominal compared to 31 days of public viewing. Where else can you get this kind of free space in a friendly, community setting to advocate our message? If you've got a library, you've got access to a great advocacy tool! Even if it's just placing brochures on the bulletin board... it's e-a-s-y outreach that's totally cost-free!

I've reserved a case again for November and would love suggestions! In the meantime I'm also wondering what would be involved in using one of the meeting/video rooms for a showing of the Gary Yourofsky presentation, Peaceable Kingdom, Earthlings or another relevant film... Thanks to the useful information at the Tribe of Heart site, I'll get all the help I need to plan such an event, and to learn how to conclude it with a productive Q*A session. 

Good information is a valuable gift to seek and to share. Thanks to all who are vegan and spreading this urgent message in your own unique way! 


Anonymous August 5, 2013 at 7:05 PM  

What a fabulous idea, a great-looking arrangement, and a worthy goal, Bea! You a hero to the earth and all its inhabitants!

The information tool called the library is beautiful both inside and out -- and your well-stocked information kit is just as beautiful!

I recognize many of the distinctive packages -- even from a distance and without even reading the names on them.

The next time the library patrons who paused at your display cases see these products on the grocery store shelves, they will recognize them, stop to read the ingredients, and buy them to see if they're really as good as they look.

THEY ARE ... good in every possible way! Just like Bea.

proud womon August 6, 2013 at 2:03 AM  

what a wonderful display bea!!! and such an incredibly pertinent suggestion...

we have glass display cases in the foyer of the library i work in that are able to be booked - i must check out that option!!

i'm on a regular roster of staff to do internal book displays and that has always proven productive when i have used veganism in one form or another as a theme...

for a good display of books we need more compassionate people to request the library purchase items - as a request-driven library we buy a big percentage of items requested - i make many requests, but the more requests come from the general public rather than staff, the more likely we are to buy - so it's worthwhile requesting and recommending books for libraries to purchase too!!! and anyone can do that!!!

Bea Elliott August 6, 2013 at 5:40 PM  

Thanks for the vote of confidence Olivia! I must admit it was somewhat intimidating doing something like this on my own. Without another voice there to guide or share/test my vision with, it was hard to say what would be effective, too much, too little, and so on. I consider these first tries a learning curve for future exhibits. I hope subsequent ones will only get our message understood that much better!

I too hope viewers remember the display and products when they do their shopping. I also hope they figure out that the best section to shop for healthy, animal-friendly-food, is the beautiful produce isle!

I totally appreciate your kind enthusiasm! ;)

Bea Elliott August 6, 2013 at 5:57 PM  

Hi proud womon! Glad this idea interests you to do some similar kind of advocacy! Hey... It's free and it can't possibly hurt to be heard and seen in a public space - Right?

Now I must say you've motivated me on to something I've been less than vigilant about... And that is to request more relevant books at the library. I used to do it much more regularly but I'm long overdue to put in a new batch of requests. Goodness knows there's been a plethora of books released in the last few years. Thank you for reminding all of us that this is a very simple and useful tool in our advocacy!

I hope you do pursue the use of space in your library - And I hope you have fun with it! If it's for our animal friends, it's all good! ;)

veganelder August 7, 2013 at 6:44 PM  

Wow! What a display...just excellent. I'm blown did beyond good. Thank you for doing this and thanks on behalf of all Earthlings too. You're a treasure!

Have Gone Vegan August 23, 2013 at 4:14 PM  

Oh gosh, I so meant to comment on this earlier!

I'm super impressed by your display (and a little jealous as I don't think our town library has display cases, and are very strict about community event fliers), and applaud you for setting it up.

It'd be so cool to know what kind of response it got! To that end, were you able to collect comment cards (where viewers could rate or write down comments), or would this be something to consider for future displays? This might be a way to get feedback on what did or did not work. Only a suggestion! In part because I'm nosy by nature, snort.

Also glad about the reminder to request the library to purchase certain titles. Yes, the library is a resource for spreading the word that I haven't used enough!

Thanks for this post, and for all your effort. :)

Bea Elliott August 23, 2013 at 7:25 PM  

Hi veganelder! I admit shamelessly that yours and so many other "voices" were in my head guiding me as I created this montage. It's no secret that when you're doing something new and you're alone, that the support you know you have from friends elsewhere is treasured. It is I who thank you - For so many things!

Bea Elliott August 23, 2013 at 8:43 PM  

Thanks HGV - I'm sorry your library doesn't have a display area. I'm sure that ours does only because it's a new structure. Since the American Library Association is trying to encourage more traveling exhibits and community participation, maybe you can get with the powers that be, and ask why your library doesn't have these opportunities too? You know more than any one, that it's the grass-roots efforts that stand the most chance of change... It wouldn't hurt to give it a try.

But to answer your question - No there wasn't any way to get feedback. All I know is that I filled up the rack of Why Vegan flyers in the lobby several times... But then I don't know that they didn't walk out all in one go by a miffed carnist. Who knows. (?)

I have the case again in November - But I have absolutely no idea what to do with it then... Ideas? Maybe something all turkey-talk and Thanksliving themed? Hummm... Maybe! ;)

Appreciate all your advocacy too HGV!

Jeff September 24, 2013 at 8:19 PM  

Hi Bea,

Great job on the library display - it looks amazing! I think library outreach is really effective - it's free and it reaches lots of inquisitive minds, especially young people. Thanks for doing this, it's such a positive message!

You mention doing a movie showing and I think that's a great idea too. I tried a free library event several years ago and didn't get anyone to show up, but I did poor advertising and veg eating wasn't as popular as it is now. If it doesn't take too much work up front, and if it's free, it's definitely worth trying. Thanks for all you are doing!


Bea Elliott September 27, 2013 at 6:04 AM  

Hi Jeff! I appreciate your thumbs up support on my efforts! And since it was a positive, life-affirming message, I was pleased when many people approached me as I set up and broke down the display. If we could just have a traveling case to park somewhere by a shaded bench - I bet all sorts of contacts would be made!

My plans for a film screening are getting sidetracked for now... I may pick up that idea next year though. I realize it takes lots of planning...

Thanks for all you do as well! You are an inspiration! ;)