by Ned Potter, Europe Chapter, Leadership & Management Division
by Laura Woods, Europe Chapter, Leadership & Management and Legal Divisions
Libraries and information professionals are stuck in a bit of an echo chamber. We spend way too much time talking to one another, and not nearly enough time talking to the potential users. Potential users who have no idea really what a (future ready) library does, but who would probably come and visit if they did. Some people use an analogy of ‘floating voters’ to describe those currently indifferent to libraries, but I think our offer has changed so much and people’s perceptions of libraries are so far behind, these are people who don’t even realise there’s an election on…
Classic examples of our preaching to the converted often come when the profession or the industry is criticised from outside. When Seth Godin or someone from the national press puts us down, our first urge seems to be to find another librarian to commiserate with. This doesn’t do anything, not really – it’s great to engage the library community by blogging about it, but library blogs tend to be read by other librarians – we also need to engage the people who heard all the bad stuff about libraries in the first place. We need to fight back in public. In short, we need to take greater control of the narrative arc concerning libraries, and stop letting other people write our story for us.
The presentation below is one used by myself and Laura Woods when we talk about the echo chamber – follow the Prezi through to find out more about the concept, about how it impacts negatively on libraries, and to see some ideas for marketing libraries outside of the echo chamber in future.
Ned Potter works in the field of digitisation at an academic library in the UK; he was named as a Library Journal Mover & Shaker for 2011, and is about to attend the SLA Annual Conference in Philly as a winner of the SLA-Europe Early Career Conference Award. His blog and other presentations can be found at www.thewikiman.org.
Laura Woods is the current Webmaster and Bulletin Editor for the Europe Chapter. Her blog, Organising Chaos can be read at http://woodsiegirl.wordpress.com/.