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, along with helpful forms and marketing materials. It is recommended that all branches in a regional library system participate, as this makes the results more statistically significant, but individual libraries are welcome and encouraged to join in.
A reminder that if you haven’t signed up for the Snapshot Virginia mailing list in the past, please click here to send us an email with your name, email address, and library name. We’ll send you updates, helpful tips, and reminders. It’s not necessary to sign up for the mailing list in order to participate. SnapshotVA is open to all Virginia libraries, no registration required.
1. 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. Library systems with multiple branches are free to pick different days for different branches. Inform your staff of your Snapshot Day. Build up the excitement and plan events ahead of time!
A 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.
Ways to promote your Snapshot Day in advance:
- Place posters and flyers around your branch.
- Hand out bookmarks at checkout.
- Send a press release to local newspapers, radio and television stations.
- Use the graphics below (or any on this site) to promote or link to SnapshotVA on your library’s website, Facebook, or Twitter feed:
3. Prepare for Statistics Collection
As your Snapshot Day approaches, make sure your staff are ready to collect statistics on customers use and comments. The Statistics Worksheet lists the statistics to be tabulated. Review it with your staff and distribute copies in paper or electronic form:
- This version is designed to be printed – Statistics Worksheet [PDF]
- This version has form fields that can be filled out on your computer, with totals being automatically calculated. – Statistics Worksheet Form [PDF]
Note that when you submit your results after your Snapshot Day, you’ll be asked a few additional internal questions, so please gather this data as well:
- How many items were added to your collection via your book budget?
- How many items were added to your collection via donations?
Some of the statistics will likely be tallied afterwards:
- Computer Use Sessions – This refers to the number of times customers logged onto library computers.
- Wifi Users – This refers to the number of unique visitors who access the internet via library wifi.
4. Prepare for Comment Collection
Prepare 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.
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.
If you have a favorite customer success story, please send it in. If a customer found a job with library assistance, a young person achieved a significant scholastic goal, or a retired patron started a new chapter of learning through the library, staff can relate those stories as well.
Customers are welcome to include their full name and contact info, but this is optional. In any case, advocacy materials will only cite first name and last initial.
5. Prepare for Photography
Photographs 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?”
6. Prepare Your Staff
In 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 statistics and 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.
Once your Snapshot Day has concluded, send in your statistics, photos, and customer comments.
Total all of the statistics collected, preferably from your entire library system, and submit via this online survey – [TBA]. If you need to amend your results, fill out the survey again. Make sure that your last survey is complete and accurate, as earlier ones will be discarded.
To upload your best photos to the SnapshotVA Flickr pool:
- Go to www.flickr.com
- Click on “Sign in” in the upper right corner of the page.
- In the window that pops up, enter Yahoo!ID firstname.lastname@example.org and the password. The Flickr password is sent out with the email update notices, but to have it emailed to you, write Sean Bonney.
- Click Upload Photos and Videos (if you haven’t been switched to the SnapshotVA profile, just reload the page)
- 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. For possible use in advocacy materials, please upload your photos by May 18.
Please email your favorite comments to Kim Armentrout by May 18 in the following format: Comment -First Name Last Initial
- Example: I think the storytimes are great for my kids. And I used the computer to help with my studies. -Anne H.
All information should be submitted by May 18. After that, the data will be tabulated and the results, customer comments, and photos posted on this site in June.
All the statistics, 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.
Make Your Own
Use your collected data in your library’s media channels:
- Make posters or bookmarks using your statistics and photos to show how impressive and valued your services are.
- Display flyers around your library that include customer comments that illustrate the deep connection they have with their library.
- Run a slide show of photos and statistics on display screens in your branches.
- Prepare slide shows of photos and comments, as well as handouts for budget meetings.
Use SnapshotVA Advocacy
Posters, flyers, and bookmarks using submitted material from across the state will be made available on this website.
Thank you for participating in SnapshotVA!