Positive Library Advocacy

I recently wrote a post for Hack Library School about promotional efforts and how we, as librarians, portray the funding and identity struggles that many LIS institutions are currently facing. My argument was that scare tactics and gloom-and-doom messages (e.g. the Huffington Post’s “Libraries in Crisis” section) are not the way to go; I advocate for the spreading of positive messages about what libraries are doing in their communities and how patrons can support them. The post did suffer some blowback, particularly from the designer of an alarmist shirt that I criticized (who told me that if I “want happy sunny rainbow sort of items” then I should look elsewhere). But I was happy that I could spark some debate, particularly around the issue of library marketing/outreach.

Is this helping or hurting? (Image source: Huffington Post)
Is this helping or hurting? (Image source: Huffington Post)

Critics of my opinion might point out that alarmist messages are better than no message at all; I agree. However, I’d like to take this post to point out a few lovely, positive-message library advocacy efforts and why I think they are fantastic:

  • Libraries Changed My Life
    A new Tumblr that recently sprung up to provide a place  where “people can tell their library stories” and where “those who are questioning the value of libraries can see their amazing impact.” I LOVE this idea. The site accepts submissions of real stories from real people about how libraries have impacted and shaped their lives. Here’s an excerpt from a recent post: “I was a newly stay-at-home mom.  Not by choice, and certainly not because we could afford for me to be home. I needed something to do with my child that we could afford (i.e., free) and I needed interaction with other adults or I was going to lose my mind. Today, one of my closest friends is another mom I met at Storytime. Not only does the friendship enrich my life and well-being, but these personal connections with people in my community are what keep me attached to the town I live in, and as a result, a big advocate for my town.”
  • Show Me the Awesome: 30 Days of Self Promotion
    All through this month (May 2013), Stacked encouraged librarians to send in stories of how their libraries are doing awesome things: “What are you doing that is interesting, unique, innovative, practical and helpful in your community? What do you wish more people knew about you & your library? What do you hope to bring to the profession in the next five years? Ten? Twenty?” The ensuing posts have been amazing and thoughtful. Here’s one from Kristi Chadwick on strategic planning.
  • I Love My Library
    This is a series of products sold through the ALA Store that is so wonderful I want to plaster it on everything I own. Bookmarks, buttons, stickers, and more!

    Such a sleek, positive message of library advocacy and awareness! (Image Source: ALA Store)
    Such a sleek, positive message of library advocacy and awareness! (Image Source: ALA Store)

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