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

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!

 

 

Three lessons I’ve learnt from Turbitt & Duck podcast guests

As we head towards twenty episodes of Turbitt & Duck: The Library Podcast, I’ve been thinking about our guests, the topics we’ve covered and what I’ve learnt along the way about the library and information profession and the people working in it.

Being interviewed isn’t easy

On reflection, it’s rather similar to a job interview that’s being recorded but with a friendlier panel! For some of our guests, lots of preparation and planning with regard to our questions has (somewhat) alleviated the stress of being interviewed. It’s a challenge to be present, speak clearly, remember what you want to say (and what you can’t say) and I admire everyone who has recorded with us so far for accepting the challenge and letting us share their voice.

Generosity

Every guest has given us their personal time to record – on Saturday mornings, Sunday afternoons, after work on a Tuesday. If we could only interview people during their work hours, we probably wouldn’t have any guests! I’ve learnt that our guests have given up family, reading, exercise, sleep, shopping, second job time to record with us. And that some people will say no because recording out of work time encroaches on other aspects of their lives. There’s no right or wrong, just what works for each person.*

Honesty

Even though some of our guests haven’t been able to fully disclose or discuss their work for various reasons, they have all been honest about challenges, what went wrong and also what they think are the issues in our industry. These are the things I believe need to receive just as much attention as the great, amazing, clever, thoughtful work. We need to address the multiple elephants in the room and talk about failures and how we can be better at what we do. There are a number of guests who have started these conversations, and I’m looking forward to continuing the discussions and also checking back in with them to see what’s changed (or not).

But wait there’s more

I was tempted to highlight specific episodes, however I didn’t. Because honestly, you will learn something about these three ‘lessons’ and more from every single guest. I’ve been challenged by each and every guest, to think harder, read more broadly and consider my own biases and ways of working.

You can listen to all of the Turbitt & Duck episodes on our website or via your favourite podcast app.

*So much of the professional development that people can access is possible because of volunteer labour. Program committees for large conferences, entire committees for symposiums, unconferences, Facebook groups, special interest groups, Twitter chats – ALL volunteer run (remember that when you throw around criticisms or rude feedback). And what if you can’t volunteer because of financial, accessibility or personal reasons? Do we need to push back at employers so that volunteering occurs within work hours (if work related of course!)