Advocacy for libraries is something I hope that most of us (library staff) do all the time, albeit mostly on a small scale, and it was interesting to read Johanna’s blog post about Activism, Advocacy and Professional Identity. I’m not an activist for libraries, but wholeheartedly support those who are.
I work for an academic library service and at the moment we don’t seem to be suffering the same kind of threats that the public libraries are, however, that is no reason to rest on our laurels, and who knows what might happen in the future. Funding is being cut every year, and resources are getting more expensive. Along with many institutions we are not automatically replacing staff when they leave, and hence many staff have an increased workload.
Academic libraries still need to shout about their services, and not just assume that their mere existence is enough for students. Many students and staff often have little understanding or knowledge about the services that are available to them. Many of my colleagues are very active in promoting our library service, with a special highlight on Information Literary.
As a cataloguer I’m tucked away in the back room (ok, the admin block a mile away from the main stretch of University buildings), and promoting our services is not part of what I do. However, I often feel I have to shout out for cataloguers, and remind our colleagues what we do (and that we exist!) – internal advocacy is important too! In the last few months I have started contributing to a blog for SCOLAR (our special collections and archives), which is one way of promoting these collections. Partly because of this, the main cataloguing department are now thinking about having a blog too, to promote our activities to colleagues, students, and anyone else out there who might be interested.
Not being an activist for libraries, I feel that anything I do is very small fry, compared to those who work hard at campaigning, but I hope that every little thing counts, and a positive conversation with someone you encounter on a social basis, certainly doesn’t do any harm. As for publications, I was a co-author on a piece about the Human Genetics Historical Library that appeared in the journal Clinical Genetics, which is not a journal I would ever have thought I’d be published in!