How many things? Only 23.

{August 17, 2012}   Speaking out for libraries (Thing 16)

I do one of these directly, and t’other indirectly (Thing 16 advocacy and getting published).

I’ll start off with what I can and do do. I enjoy research and writing and although I don’t have much time in my current job to research and write pieces for publication, I try to do one a year. In the last couple of years I’ve written a paper following a conference presentation (publication forthcoming), co-written a chapter for an IFLA marketing book (publication forthcoming), written an article for Ariadne (available here), and also researched and written a report on Web 2.0 (as it was called back in 2010) and Welsh libraries, which is available here. I also turned my personal business case for requesting a social media presence into a generic one for public use and it’s on my slideshare account. I was also asked to do a guest blog post for Voices for the Library on the Welsh libraries and social media research.

I wish I’d kept a record since I started in this job of the articles I’ve written – I used to try an keep a ‘rolling CV’ up-to-date with this sort of information but have let it slide for a while. Must try harder.

Having said that I can’t do advocacy officially, I think several of my day to day activities could be classed as low level promotion for libraries anyway eg my library blog and my Twitter account.

But in general, advocacy is not really an activity I’m allowed to get involved with within my job. I work for the Welsh Government in the CyMAL division, which is doing many wonderful things for Welsh libraries (call me biased…), but isn’t meant to undertake any advocacy work itself (it would be advocating to itself…).

However, quite a few of our library grants are for things that include elements of advocacy, including the whole marketing strand, the SCL Wales development officer who has produced several reports in recent years on libraries and X (digital divide, reading, modernised libraries, health one is forthcoming) etc. The minister responsible for libraries in Wales has also met the WI and Unison regarding their recent campaigns so there’s two-way communication going on here in Wales.

The Wales marketing campaign also undertakes lots of different activities from press releases, an annual campaign, staff training, social media presence, promoting the e-books pilot in public libraries through a railway poster campaign etc. There’s also a staff toolkit with lots of resources, as part of the library portal. You can read more about the marketing programme on my library blog.

Internally within the Government I also try to promote libraries where I can. We work with colleagues in the education department to ensure libraries are included in their reading and literacy campaign messages for example, and I got a reading & libraries news item onto our intranet homepage and it had a click-through rate of about 10% which is pretty good for a quiet week in August! In social media discussions I’ve had in the government I also promote how advanced libraries and librarians are in terms of technology and social media – yes you guys are! I’ve no problems at all at challenging stereotypes, shouting about libraries or speaking up for our profession.

In terms of what I do in my private life (I’m aware many of the campaigners behind some of the UK library advocacy campaigns do it all in their spare time) I do ‘arm chair’ advocacy, responding to consultations etc generally by written communication. As the post noted, we need to find the type of activity that we are comfortable with and able to achieve.


I like your plan of trying to publish something at least once a year – it sounds like a great, manageable way to stay involved! I was wondering though where you get your ideas for publications – do they just spring up from your daily work or does inspiration come from wider areas too?

Hi Louise, I didn’t really realise that I had a plan until I was writing the post. It seems that I do do one about one a year, more by accident than by design. The ideas come out of current work projects, or from conferences, although the Ariadne one was where I pitched the idea to them just on the off-chance. I’d also been asked to co-write one about 4ish years ago for a journal, again, on work that by my nature of my job I lead on. So it’s mainly because of my work really. I tend not to have creative inspiration….

Ah, that’s interesting – thank you! Sounds like your work gives you scope to try out some interesting things 🙂

I’m sure there’s creative inspiration in there somewhere 🙂 Not everyone could look at their work and find something interesting to investigate or write about!

You’re obviously good at finding the positive in things! I like writing, so I suppose that inspires me initially. I find it hard to write short snappy blog posts ….!

If you will allow a straight compliment, the quality content of your welsh libraries blog is advocacy in itself – a huge step forward! Much appreciated.

Why Sam, you are most kind! Whilst I don’t wish to brag, I think having the library blog has helped get Welsh libraries ‘across the border’ a bit and raise their profile, or rather, what good work everyone’s doing in Wales, as well as promoting libraries in general. And it’s fun!

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