For me library advocacy is all about making sure our readers or potential readers understand the services that we can provide for them – if our users can see all that we have to offer, our value as a service should hopefully be clear.
In academic libraries, it is often the case, I think, that our readers are unaware of all of the skills and services we as librarians can provide – I know that when I was at university studying my MA, I had no idea there were such things as subject librarians or subject blogs, study skills sessions or group rooms where I could work with a team of people to prepare presentations. Now I work in the information sector, I am more aware and quite often amazed at just how much we have to offer our users!
So how can we make our users more aware of what we have to offer? From what I’ve seen in libraries so far, three great ways to promote and advocate library services include:
- Marketing – showing off what we have!
- Out-reach programmes – going out to where our users are!
- Outstanding Customer Service – going the extra mile with a smile!
Marketing in particular is something I’ve noticed a lot of academic libraries/librarians are trying to push forward now – Ned Potter’s ‘The Library Marketing Toolkit’ for example! I also saw some fantastic marketing strategies when volunteering at Sunderland University Library last year and was very happy to see their work rewarded with a recent Gold Award from CILIP!
Another great advocacy tool I’ve seen and used is the ‘Library Day in the Life’ Project – while it may mostly attract librarians or people who want to be librarians – the project is out there and that means people can find it and see just how much libraries and librarians have to offer 🙂
I also loved reading about the LIS Advocacy Challenge – It made me want to think of something fun to do to advocate libraries too…maybe one day!