Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Thing 16 - advocacy, speaking up for the profession

Typical conversation when meeting someone new and we get on to the ‘so where do you work then?’ part.
Me – In the museum
Them – Oh wow, that sounds great, what do you do there
Me – I work in the library
Them – [long pause] The museum has a library?
Me – [big sigh] Yes
Them – Well I never knew that!
Me – No, no-one seems to [goes off to cry in the corner at lack of public interest in our library]

The Library at Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

Then of course I have to get into explaining how we are in a private part of the museum and only open to members of the public by appointment.  And you can’t really browse, it’s for specific research requirements only, and you can’t borrow books, by which time they have completely lost interest.

Because of the kind of environment I work in I’m not used to shouting about our library that much, it seems unfair to promote something that many people won’t be making use of.  However, I’m starting to think maybe we should, I’d be interested to know how other people in special libraries approach this.

I decided to have a look at the CILIP campaigning toolkit for ideas on some advocacy tools to use within my organisation, my aim is to start small, promoting us to our staff, and to the targeted audiences (post-grad students at the local universities for example) before attempting anything larger.

Other than that my primary method of advocacy is to continue to use my public library as much as possible, I read loads, but I rarely ever buy books, particularly not fiction.  When I hear about a book I might be interested in, my first instinct is always to check the local library catalogue, never to check the price on Amazon, I visit my local library about once a week.  I’m constantly amazed at how many of my friends, many of whom are also avid readers, never use the library. 

So, my new resolution is to try and promote the use of libraries (of all types) wherever possible, it may not be as big as the Voices for the Library or the Women's Institute's Love your Libraries campaigns but it's a start!

Lib-heart.jpg from Read and Shout

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