Growth of a Librarian

September 1, 2011, 7:33 pm
Filed under: CPD | Tags: , ,

Although advocacy is a hot topic right now in relation to public libraries (and justly so), librarians across all sectors seem to be struggling to justify and maintain the existence of their libraries.  Even the law librarians I have been interviewing from some very well-established libraries have talked about the need to constantly fight to remain open, funded, and retain their space.  That definitely drove home for me the realization of how far the uncertainty about any library’s existence has spread.

It strikes me as deeply unsettling that public librarians are in some cases not supposed to advocate for their own services – surely a librarian has more responsibility than anyone to champion his/her own organization?  If the librarians aren’t visibly out there proving that they think their service is worth saving, why should anyone else?

So far the only library advocacyI’m aware of having taken part in (and I wouldn’t usually even call it advocacy) is simply selling the service to users and potential users.  Reminding tax payers what they can (and should!) get out of the library, from information or entertainment to a pleasant interaction with a librarian, ensures that they view it as a useful service worthy of their tax dollars.  Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

One of my favorite advocacy efforts is probably banned book week.  It’s great to see school libraries, especially high school libraries, encourage books to teens by pointing out that they can be rebellious, edgy, and frowned upon by adults too!  The public libraries in my area always had displays and stickers and so on for banned book week too, and I definitely saw more people (again often kids) displaying paraphernalia with those slogans than standard-issue.  It just seems like a fun way to ‘sell’ libraries, and is a much milder approach than outright activism, which is a little too extroverted for me to thoroughly enjoy.


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