Friday, 21 September 2012

Speaking up/being heard

I wasn't really looking forward to this post, mainly because I feel I've done very little in terms of library advocacy, and this makes me feel guilt and inadequacy. But just how much should I feel obliged to advocate? Shouldn't it be something that comes naturally from a passion for libraries? And if I feel I should be doing more but I'm not, then what exactly are my passions? What would get me going?

Johanna's excellent post on advocacy and activism provoked a lot of thought in me. I am also an academic librarian; I believe I advocate for libraries in all sectors, especially public libraries. I am not an activist.

I don't know if anyone else out there feels like this, but in actual fact I think that just by being a librarian I'm constantly called to advocate for libraries. Much of my professional role revolves around considering how the library adds value, and then talking, writing and emphasising it constantly. Talking about my job with my friends or introducing myself to strangers involves speaking up and speaking out - convincing people that what I do is valuable because libraries are indispensable houses of information relied on by everyone, even if they don't know it. And the fight public libraries are now having to undergo just to continue to exist under this coalition government can make me feel slightly desolate, and also, occasionally tweet in anger! I feel that my role demands I work as hard as I can to convince my academic colleagues, lapsed public library users, Google-devoted students and anyone else I can influence that the library is a place for all and access to information a right and not a privilege of the rich.

And that's as much as I can do. I am also a very busy professional librarian, as we all are, with limited time and energy, and a balance to strike between my work life, and my home life, and while I'll happily chatter away about the value of libraries to whoever will listen at some point I have to NOT think about libraries, just for a bit, and be myself.

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