Finding opportunities to advocate for libraries, information and what we do

Photo of the Waikato River with Lake Taupo in the distance. The water is very blue and the landscape is lush and green. Over the top in white letters are the words we can all be influencers.

The list of podcasts I listen to is a mixed bag of comedy, history, self-improvement, libraries, communication, conversations but here’s what I think is missing from many podcasts and online discussions.

Library people talking about what we do, who we support, how we are a vital asset to universities, cities, towns, hospitals, businesses, government, communities . . . you know what I’m talking about (and if you don’t hi! let’s talk libraries and information!)

Today I listened to episode 42 of Reasons to Be Cheerful with Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd on “tech for good”. Take a look at these statements and words I scribbled down whilst listening to this episode:

Take the lead of the people in your community, they know what they need.

Ordinary people deploying technology together.

Working with citizens and technology.

Connectivity.

Demystifying technology.

Give tools to people to allow them to have a stake in their world.

Community-led civic policy making.

Sound familiar? They are either:

What libraries already do like demystifying technology and working with citizens and technology.

and

Programs and networks that we should be involved in like community-led civic policy making.

The episode about tech for good took a quick dive into smart cities, Red Hook mesh network, the Barcelona Digital City plan and The Bristol Approach – all people led projects that use technology to create change and strengthen communities.

As soon as one of the guests mentioned access to free internet, I thought libraries and hoped they would be mentioned but they weren’t, but WHY NOT?

So my question is: where are the library people being interviewed on podcasts and sharing knowledge in online groups and discussions?

When people are pushing for action in a community (I’m not just talking public libraries here) libraries need to be right in the thick of it, our spaces and people can be staging posts for smart cities, citizen-led projects, deploying technology for communities. We can provide:

  • internet access
  • resources
  • space to meet, plot and plan
  • training
  • support
  • networks to find more supporters
  • enthusiasm!

Talking to these groups, finding non-users who don’t know what libraries offer, we can reach these people via podcasts. We just need to get ourselves on the podcasts – but how?

I’ve been pondering how to do more advocacy outside of the library world:

If you listen to a podcast and find yourself thinking “a librarian needs to be on this show”, contact the podcast and suggest it.

Suggest libraries, library people and what we do in online groups and chats. I’ve started chiming in with “you can borrow that book for free at your local library!” and “why don’t you speak to your library about space for your event” and “a librarian would be a great guest on our podcast” etc whenever I see an opportunity. Sometimes I’m ignored, but sometimes it starts a great conversation and if it puts libraries and information organisations to the front of someone’s mind, I’m happy!

In the words of Glòria Pérez-Salmerón, IFLA President,  “you can all be influencers” so join me and start influencing where you see an opportunity!

 

 

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