What is a library? by Dawn Finch

todmorden library

Todmorden Library | The copyright on this image is owned by Stanley Walker and is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

 

Dawn hits the nail on the head! We have this local community Facebook group and last week someone posted a photograph of the “Train Station Library” and everyone was in love with it!

It’s great that people want to share with the community. It’s great that people are giving their old books new lease of life; but it’s not a Library.

We have a fantastic local Library. Why are people not shouting about that? And guess what, it’s full of books that you can use for FREE + so much more.

 

book swap

“Train Station Library”

A Medley Of Extemporanea

We all know the answer to this question, right? Sadly, it seems not. Even the briefest scan through recent articles in mainstream media shows that there is definitely a skewed understanding of what a PUBLIC library actually is.

At its most basic level, a library is a curated collection of books and other materials. Of course this does not fit when we add the word “public” to “library.” This is where things need a bit more explanation.

Wikipedia does quite a neat job of explaining the basics of what a public library is. It says this

“A public library is a library that is accessible by the general public and is generally funded from public sources, such as taxes. It is operated by librarians and library paraprofessionals, who are also civil servants.”

I think that rather neatly sums it up. I would also add -“forming part of the statutory public…

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Thing 15: Advocacy for Libraries

I genuinely believe public libraries exist for the good of the people and they deserve to be bragged about. I am going to be telling you about some of the things that I think are great about public libraries but I am also going to tell you some things that are not so great.

Who am I kidding, public libraries are great. What’s not so great is the fact that we have to actually speak up for libraries in the first place, defend them and justify their existence and relevance. The way the media portrays libraries also doesn’t help the situation but of course they wouldn’t have any attention grabbing news stories if they simply reported on the fantastic, everyday occurrences that take place in libraries. Instead headlines such as ‘UK libraries out of use by 2020’ grab the readers… The positive stories that come out of libraries just don’t make the news. The negative stories in the news are actually quite dangerous! They suggest our libraries are riddled with underachievement, failures and underperformance which absolutely contradicts what library staff are doing on the ground. It is unfair to make these assumptions and to share them in the news where everybody believes what they read. Library staff make positive contributions to members of society every day and stories such as these are simply untrue. Utter garbage actually! With the advent of the internet and popularity of e-resources libraries have been deemed to be “no longer relevant”. If you agree with Terry Deary, then you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about (to put it politely).

See below for short videos from the three libraries that have been shortlisted for the CILIP Libraries Change Lives Award

Libraries provide vital services to people from all walks of life under the convenience of one roof. They offer a sense of community, they are nice places to spend time, they encourage you to learn, provide endless amounts of information, free to use books and e-books, parents don’t have to face the daunting homework task alone, local history, family history, language support, book groups, supporting businesses, teaching people how to research and make informed decisions, helping people find legal information, getting people online, boosting people’s confidence, encouraging reading, supporting the elderly… what’s not to like?

Nick Poole puts it best “public libraries provide everyone with opportunities for learning and inspiration. They help people find work and set up their own business. Libraries are places where children and young people discover the joys of reading, learn new skills like coding and get help with their homework. They tackle social exclusion and isolation. They improve health and wellbeing and help people get online. Everyone is welcome and the space belongs to the public, which is increasingly rare in our communities.” (Nick Poole, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals)

Around 15% of Brits do not have access to the internet at home. Can you think of a place where they can go to use the internet for free and get support in doing so? Even if people do have access to the internet at home, it doesn’t mean necessarily mean they know how to use it. I’ve recently been volunteering in my local public library offering IT taster sessions and it really has opened my eyes to what libraries can offer people and how important they actually are.

Libraries mean a lot to people; they did in the past and they still do today. Check out the Library Stories project for examples of what Sheffield libraries mean to the people http://www.librarystories.co.uk/ and I challenge you to not get emotional! What a great project for library advocacy! They’re on Twitter too https://twitter.com/library_stories

http://www.librarystories.co.uk/present/

http://www.librarystories.co.uk/past/

I really liked the Voices for the Library campaign! Some interesting info here about library closures and what you can do about them http://www.voicesforthelibrary.org.uk/campaigns/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-library-closurescampaigns/

P.S. *PREACH* If you don’t have a library card, you need to get one! 🙂  If you really want to be a library advocate, use your library! *PREACH*

I am currently completing a free mobile learning course that teaches social media through social media for professional devlopment.

I am currently completing a free mobile learning course that teaches social media through social media for professional devlopment.