Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Thing 16 - advocacy

I went to university and studied librarianship 31 years ago, and I'm sorry to say that during those years when I have met people who have asked what I do for a living, I rarely get past the point of dispelling the myth that librarians stamp books! I used to despair that people didn't know or understand just what exactly a librarian does, but now I can see that the fault lies within ourselves for not shouting loudly enough about what we do.

Now, of course, in these difficult times, I think you'd be hard pushed to find anybody who didn't know, at the very least, of the existence of public libraries, and to a certain extent have an opinion about their value.

In my own area of the profession, there has been concern and threats to our existence, as well as a lack of understanding from our colleagues about what we actually do and the value that this adds to the library service as a whole and to the user experience. Cataloguers have been re-examining their role and contribution to the profession for a number of years now, and more recently, the high visibility cataloguing blog has provided a platform for cataloguers to share their day-to-day roles, their hopes and aspirations, their visions for the future, with fellow cataloguers and other interested readers.

I've contributed a couple of pieces to this blog - on the role of the cataloguer and how to market your services to your fellow librarians - and while it could be considered a blog for cataloguers by cataloguers, the fact that many of the members are Twitter users and regularly tweet about updates, information on the site easily reaches places cataloguers cannot normally reach.

A whole issue of the CIG quarterly journal, Catalogue & Index (issue 162), was devoted to high visibility cataloguing, promoting the role of cataloguers in today's libraries, describing a role that no longer deserves the label "backroom" work. Hopefully, these targeted acts of advocacy will have fruitful results and libraries, librarians and cataloguers in particular will continue to contribute much to the quality of life in our society.

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