Thing 16: ADVOCACY, SPEAKING UP FOR THE PROFESSION AND GETTING PUBLISHED
I consider this ‘Thing’ to be of enormous importance. On a wider scale, with budget cuts impacting on every public service, libraries are not alone in needing to find a powerful voice that communicates just why they are such important institutions and worth funding. I am in quite an unusual position with my workplace I think as one of our library sites is a hybrid of public and academic services. The main focus is on the academic side of things we it is based within the college site; however we offer a successful public service too which benefits a fair number of people. This dual role has allowed me to see the importance of both kinds of library service, and the impact it can really have on individuals.
On a smaller scale, certainly for academic libraries, I think ensuring that ‘management’ are keenly aware of the importance of an effective library service is a huge step in creating a positive culture for libraries within the workplace. The transfer of student services, including libraries, by London Met University to a private company is a concerning development as far as I’m concerned It’s so problematic that money is so often the driving force for decisions that are so important and can have such a dramatic impact.
I think advocating for the library is a natural part of the job for me. I am so genuinely enthused about the importance it plays for students and the public that I often find myself promoting our services without really intending to. On the other hand, there is of course a lot more I can do and reading some of the ideas here really shows the enthusiasm out there and how it can lead to some really useful and innovative ideas. I am wondering if I need to take a more ‘activist’ approach – is advocacy really enough to help? This is a really interesting post about advocacy and activism in libraries and is real food for thought.
In the long term I think my ideal avenue would be to write interesting articles about the subject matter. I am of course so brand new though, I feel this makes me somewhat of an imposter but everyone needs to start somewhere. I do not want to write something for the sake of being published, I would like to be articulate and promote something that’s dear to me and before I can really do that I feel I need a bit more experience in the world of libraries. I often think I come across as quite naïve due to my rather idealistic opinions, however I also believe there is no harm in aiming for the most ideal solution possible because even if you fall short at least you tried. But that’s more idealism! I am certainly still finding my feet, but that hasn’t stopped me from declaring the importance of a good library service to all and sundry. Once I have gained more informed opinions and can understand the true impact of policies beyond the obvious budget cuts I’m sure I’ll feel much more confident being more active in my advocacy.