'Empowering Friends' Workshop Recap


Last month, Dr. Julie Todaro – immediate past president of the American Library Association – zigzagged 715 miles across Minnesota to keynote MALF workshops in Rochester, Stillwater and Cook. Todaro focused on her passion, the art and science of storytelling.

Her thesis is this: Storytelling is a highly effective way to convince public officials (at all levels of government) of the impact and continued relevance of libraries.

Dr. Todaro offered attendees a mix of adaptable frameworks to consider, along with helpful real-life examples. Attendees particularly appreciated Todaro’s hierarchy of credible sources.

Ranked from most credible and best to use, to least credible and best used sparingly, these include:

  • Irrefutable Data: Statistically significant, unquestionable data from a highly credible source.
  • Substantial Data: “Point-in-time” information or directionally accurate data (includes most surveys).
  • Expert Commentary: Quotes from industry experts (leading community members, peers in appropriate fields) can be considered a summary or synthesis of information.
  • Anecdotal Data: Although many consider anecdotal data only “example” or “endorsement” data, it can be data driven! What separates it from Substantial Data is that it includes only one or two data points or examples that support your case.
  • Quotes: Comments from business people, parents, students, etc. can illustrate need and use, and be sprinkled in as powerful evidence.
  • Your Opinion: From the perspective of the audience, your opinion is typically too biased to be considered supporting evidence.

Details on this information hierarchy, and other storytelling best practices covered by Dr. Todaro at MALF’s fall workshops, is available in a 23-page handout available through the MALF office. Email info@mnlibraryfriends if interested.

MALF extends a sincere thank you to the hosts of the three workshops: Reagen Thalacker and the SELCO staff in Rochester; Mary Ann Sandeen and the Friends of the Stillwater Public Library; and Crystal Phillips and the Friends of the Cook Library. Dr. Todaro reports enjoying her travels in Minnesota and the expressions of friendship offered at each session.