Library advocacy: I am ashamed to say that until I read Lauren's post this week, I had never really considered if there was some way I could get involved. As she correctly points out, a lot of recent activities thanks to the public library closures are a bit more like activism than advocacy, and I think it is really helpful that she provided some definition on what advocacy actually means and how we could get involved.
The topic of advocacy can be applied both to my own profession, and to the wider library community. With respect to the public library campaigns, I cannot express enough how much I think these are important. I am sure this is something that a lot of us librarians say, to the point I feel a bit cliched saying it! - but I have been a regular user of the library all my life, and I would be gutted if our local one had been closed. As it is the opening hours have been slashed, but I still feel lucky to have it at all. At the risk of sounding like someone's grandmother, I genuinely believe that so many kids today miss out by not being taken to the library. When I was little, going every Saturday with my dad was one of the things I looked forward to most. And nowadays, even if a kid doesn't want to read, there are still so many other things offered in many libraries now - can't say that I am happy about internet access and so on, but if it gets people using the library, then so be it I guess. But it really does infuriate me when people say that libraries are superfluous in today's society because soon, we'll all have e-readers and with regard to obtaining information, 'everything is online'. AAAAGGGHHH!!!
It does make me pretty sad when I think about how my kids will probably never touch an encyclopaedia for a school project - will they even be taught how to use one at school??
That's one of the reasons that I found the Thing 16 post so interesting. I had never heard of the 'That's Not Online' project (although it does make me laugh that it is online!) - but in all seriousness, initiatives like that are exactly what is needed to drive the point home - that while the Internet is obviously another world away from what I had available to me when I was growing up, there is still a need for physical libraries; they still have a lot to offer.
Advocacy in the legal information world
It goes without saying that I have a strong interest in ensuring that law librarians continue to be regarded as a vital cog in the law firm machine. This is something that has been discussed over the years in the professional journals, and is the main reason why there is a constant pressure on us to ensure that we prove our worth to the fee-earners. The recession has led to many acquaintances being made redundant and it is frightening to realise that when it comes to looking for ways to cut costs, the library and its budget seem to be at the top many partners' lists. In my current firm I am fortunate to have a department director who is utterly committed to ensuring that our department exceeds any expectations placed upon us. But even so, we recently had to cope with the suggestion of our library space being reduced to make room for more desks...apparently because 'no one uses the books'.!!!!!! Well that's the view of one fee-earner; fortunately not the majority whose practice areas do actually necessitate the use of textbooks!
There is no doubt that advocating for libraries as a whole has never been more topical. The recession has had a huge impact on our profession, and it's heartening to read about the various initiatives out there which are trying to secure the future of the industry. One of the things I shall take from reading about this topic this week, is giving some thought to how I could promote the law library profession. It was interesting to hear about how people have been published, and I like the idea that even keeping this blog up to date with some of the things I am involved with within the profession is contributing to public awareness.
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