15 December 2003

Everyday Advocates

I think what bothered me the most about the NPR segment on libraries last week was that I felt that the ball was dropped in terms of stressing the financial burdens many public libraries are facing now. I won't rehash my entire last post, but it just felt to me that Ms. Long should have been more assertive about the pay inequities inherent in the public library system.

I believe, so much, that every one of us has a responsibility to be a library advocate in our everyday lives. I talk about libraries whenever I can, because I truly believe in the power of public libraries to change lives.

Real Simple magazine had a shout-out to libraries. I don't have the issue in front of me (I will post the exact quote after I get home), but it reminded readers that public libraries can borrow books that their local library doesn't own through interlibrary loan. That seems obvious to those of us who work in and love libraries, but so many people have no idea. It felt huge to see this reminder (in bright orange text!) in a nationally distributed magazine.

When the local press writes a favorable article about our libraries, we often call or write to thank them. This positive reinforcement makes them more likely to write about the library in the future. Why not do the same thing with the national press? Instead of bitching because we are offended by stereotypes or action figures (it's just a doll, Sparky!), how about expending our energy on thanking those who present a positive view of libraries. And if we disagree with a view, instead of a vitriolic attack, how about beginning by thanking whatever organization we are writing (calling, whatever) for focusing some of their program (newspaper, magazine, etc.) on public libraries in the first place? Then, we can gently point out whatever errors we viewed in their presentation.

By gently, I in no way mean that we should back down and let ourselves be trampled on. But let's save our sarcasm and biting wit for the 'blogs and each other. There's a reason, "you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar" has been a long-standing proverb!

Let's all be advocates in every area of our everyday life. It can't possibly hurt us and may very well help.

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