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Friday, November 18, 2011

Thank You, Huffington Post!

The widely read online news service, The Huffington Post, has started a special section called Libraries In Crisis.

Right now, its front page features stories on these topics and others: 
  • Chicago citizens protest to get mayor to reduce cuts to libraries that were in his planned budget (and he did restore some of the money). 
  • Why librarians should be more like Lady Gaga
  • Many popular authors write in favor of libraries.
  • Why libraries should charge rental fees
There are many links here to articles from other sources, and to blog posts by famous commentators. Many of them are months old, and apparently have been gathered to create this section. Still, it's growing the discussion about the value of libraries.

Speaking of discussion... I strongly urge you to read at least some of the comments posted below each story. This is free research (albeit not at all scientific!) on how some people feel about libraries. If you want to get more respect, more users, and more support, you need to understand the points made by the people who do not respect, use, or fund libraries. As the old saying goes, "Know your enemy." I'll admit that sometimes, reading the comments raises my blood pressure! However, remember that you are as welcome to comment as anyone else. See misinformation being spread? Correct it! See people saying "We don't need libraries because..." ? Counter with reasons why we do need them. 

This is a big opportunity for advocacy. Don't sit on the sidelines. Use this section of HuffPo to learn what's happening around you, to celebrate the comments of supporters, to address non-supporters in civil discourse,  and to practice your snappy comebacks and elevator speeches. This is a giant forum about our struggling field; take advantage of the chance to educate the public and to influence change. 

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