Voices for the Library - communicating impact

If the profession fails to communicate its value, then the march of 'amateurisation' will continue, argues Ian Clark.

<< back Page 2 of 2

Voices for the Library

It was with a determination to do something to challenge this perception that I got together with a group of concerned individuals and founded Voices for the Library back in August 2010.  Our goal was to highlight both the value of public libraries and librarians in light of some of the perceptions of the profession that had been thrown around.  Of course, we were pretty realistic from the outset about the impact we were likely to have. We were all volunteers doing this in our spare time (we still are).  We were not going to change the world or encourage policy-makers to turn to us rather than KPMG (although the thought is a nice one).  But if we can reinforce the positive contribution the profession makes to society, maybe we can convert some sceptics into believing that actually, we do need professional librarians in the 21st century after all.

National Libraries Day

Recently, we announced our latest effort to challenge the perceptions of what it is librarians and library staff do.  Launched as part of the National Libraries Day celebrations next month, @voiceslibrary intends to shed a spotlight on what happens in libraries across a range of sectors.  Every day in the lead up to National Libraries Day, we will be handing the keys of the account over to a librarian or para-professional to share what it is they do on a daily basis.  Through this initiative, we really hope that it can demonstrate that professional librarians and skilled library staff are not expensive luxuries, but provide a valuable service in their many varied communities.

Initially, @voiceslibrary was intended to be in operation around National Libraries Day but, if the response is sufficient, we may well consider making it an open-ended project until we run out of librarians to volunteer.  It all depends on how many people volunteer and whether it proves popular.  So, if you are interested, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Of course, we know that little projects like this will have a negligible impact upon the myths that have been sown or challenge the notion that the profession is over-qualified.  However, any opportunity to explore and demonstrate the value of the professional librarian and trained library staff is surely something that is worth experimenting with.  And I'm all for a bit of experimentation!

Ian Clark is co-founder of Voices for the Library and currently a Library Systems Officer at Canterbury Christ Church University, prior to that, he gained extensive experience in the commercial sector. Ian has been invited to present at a number of events on communicating beyond the library sector and writes on a range of information issues at infoism.co.uk/blog.

Photo courtesy of the author.

Reference: KPMG, 2010. Payment for Success - how to shift power from Whitehall to public service customers

<< back Page 2 of 2