Thursday, July 3, 2014

Saw This and Thought of You: Library Advocacy Starts at Home!

So, while I was away at ALA, it seems one photo got a WHOLE lot of attention.   

This display, by the QBD Bookshop in Australia has over 13,000 likes and 48,000 shares on Facebook.  For a literary reference, that's huge. LOL   

Now, it isn't the first time I've ever seen the "I Like Big Books", homage to the classic rap song, but it is the first time I've seen someone take the time to do an entire verse.   
The viral photo is cute and funny, and apparently it made ALL of my friends think of me, the resident librarian, because I found myself tagged to it or shared with multiple times.   

Which made me feel great. 

Yes, there are a lot of great things about something literary getting this much attention, but even more than that, it said a lot to me about my choice to be a vocal advocate about my profession.   

In speaking to a coworker today, she said something that gave me pause.  On talking about celebrities endorsing and advocating for libraries, she said; 
"Yeah, but this starts with us.  It's OUR issue, and it wil change when WE take it on." 
This wasn't something necessarily super profound, but it was in fact worth some thought.  I mean, just yesterday, I'd been listening to librarians clamor over a startled BJ Novak in asking him to PLEASE be one of those celebs who does more than just asks librarians to push his books, but actual speaks out and for libraries.  At the time, it was humorous, thought-provoking (why DON'T more celebs advocate publicly for libraries), and hopeful. After the chat with my coworker though, I started to think more about it and realized that she was right.  We can have all the celebrity advocacy and attention we want, but without a clear vision and direction for advocacy from ourselves, even that help will fall apart fairly quickly.   

Having so many of my friends tag me to the "Big Books" photo on Facebook, made me think a lot about how much I talk about being a librarian.  Not as a gimmick, or a plea for people to "PLEASE come check us out", or even a lot of angry posts complaining about why libraries are failing.  I just talk about what I do, and how much I love it.  
Apparently, that works. 

"If you don't like what is being said, change the conversation" - Don Draper 

Librarians are in the most vital position to alter and change the conversation that people have about libraries.  (When they talk about us at all).  One of the first things BJ Novak said, in regards to being an advocate, was that he wasn't sure just what the library needs, and that he believes maybe people just don't know what the library is about.   

This is something that my followers and "Facebook Friends" can hopefully never be able to say.  I talk about my profession with as much pride, if not more, as some celebrities I follow on Twitter and Instagram talk about theirs.  I do not cower behind a faux-pology for boring everyone with my shh'ing stories, nor do I keep up the veil of mystery that was of librarians past, where people assumed we were these sheltered and stuffy people who were holding all the information to ourselves.    I try to be transparent and honest as much as possible.   

"I make this look good" - Agent J. 

I'm grateful to see that my friends and family are taking what I'm serving.  Keep the literary/library tags coming, friends!  It shows me that I've shown YOU, that my job is important, and vital, and fun, and interesting, and inclusive.   Having that reminder while I was among over 18,000 other librarians and information professionals, made my heart flutter.

And yes, in case you're wondering, I do like big books, and I cannot lie. 
My favorite big one being, "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" or "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows".


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