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Monday, November 16, 2015

New 'Libraries Transform' US Campaign Is Sorely Needed

If you promote or market libraries, I have good news and bad news.
Good News: 
At the end of October, ALA President Sari Feldman launched "Libraries Transform." ALA says it's "a national public awareness campaign that will highlight the transformative nature of our nation’s libraries and elevate the critical role libraries play in the digital age."

We need something like this to help us reach all sorts of people, all over the country, because too many still don't know what services librarians provide and what value they have. (See the Bad News below.)

According to ALA's press release
“Today’s libraries are not just about what we have for people, but what we do for and with people,” said Feldman. “The goal of the Libraries Transform campaign is to change the perception that ‘libraries are just quiet places to do research, find a book, and read’ to a shared understanding of libraries as dynamic centers for learning in the digital age. Libraries of all kinds foster individual opportunity that ultimately drives the success of our communities and our nation.”

Go to the campaign's home page now!
  • Find images like this, which you can download as posters or postcards.
  • Get a free web banner.
  • Dig into the Toolkit.
  • Watch the videos.
  • Sign up for the campaign mailing list.
  • Join in and get to work!
Bad News:
It's true that a majority of Americans still don't realize what libraries offer:

"People may not think of using libraries to get their information because they do not know that the services exist, and some of the existing services are not familiar or do not fit into their workflows."

This is just one of the findings from a research compilation that was released on Nov. 9, 2015: 

OCLC Research has published a new compilation, The Library in the Life of the User: Engaging with People Where They Live and Learn, which represents more than a decade of collaborative work studying the information-seeking behaviors of library users.

The compilation lives here. On this site, you'll find:

  • The full PDF, free to download
  • A slideshow about the findings
  • Contact info for OCLC's Senior Research Scientist, Lynn Silipigni Connaway, who compiled and co-authored the info

So, we still have a serious publicity and promotion problem. All the work librarians have been doing to get out the word (libraries are more than books; Google can't replace them) still isn't enough. Our messages aren't penetrating the public psyche. However, ALA has designed this national campaign. If all levels of library workers, from all types of libraries, all across the country, would get on board, we'd make a difference. 

And we sorely need to make this difference. Libraries' old stereotypes not only haunt us; they keep us from convincing stakeholders of our value, from getting the funding we need, from bringing in potential users. 

Let's all get on board, ASAP. Share the Libraries Transform page and Toolkit with your entire staff. Call a meeting. Make a plan. Use the promo posters. Spread the word. Your jobs might depend on it. 

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