Library Advocacy - putting yourself out there to stand up for what you do.
Like many librarians1, I'm not good at making a noise. I am much more comfortable quietly getting on with what I do, but I am all too aware that occasionally I will need to step out of my comfort zone and actively Stand Up For Libraries. Whether that is on a small, local scale (promoting the library to students, arguing for bigger budgets to the senior management team, protesting against library closures) or on a larger, national scale (raising the profile of libraries - and librarians - in general, especially in the face of debilitating cuts in government spending, promoting libraries to all and sundry), it is a vitally important part of the profession.
I have spent a few National Library Days working in a public library. I was consistently disappointed in the efforts that the library authority put into promoting the day, or even recognising it. We put NLD posters up (only because I printed them out and put them up myself) and . . . well, that was it. We were told not to organise anything. When you get an apathetic vibe from above, it can be hard to create an enthused and passionate ground force.
Library advocacy can often feels like spitting into the wind - there have been so many great campaigns and advocacy groups (Speak Up For Libraries, Voices For The Library, Library Campaign, Library A to Z, as well as National Libraries Day and all the local library groups) but yet it often feels as though we are not making any progress - it is so easy to lose momentum and to become disheartened by the seemingly endless uphill struggle. But yet, how much worse off would we be without the efforts of our champions?
This is why advocacy is so important - if we don't stand up and make ourselves heard now, what happens when it is too late?2