Author Maureen Johnson is a big fan of libraries. Recently she posted this tweet:
I have a question for librarians: what are the best ways the AVERAGE PERSON can support the library? #longlivethelibrary
— maureenjohnson (@maureenjohnson) March 16, 2013
Librarians quickly hit the keyboards in response. The winning suggestions: Use the library. Check out books. Participate in programs. Tell your local politicians how important the library is. Use the library some more.
Now I’m wondering: What if we turned Maureen’s question back on ourselves? What’s the best thing—the one best thing—that library staff can do to support the library (other than going to work every day)?
What would you say?
Here’s what I’d say: Talk to people about the library. Not your co-workers, not your board members, not the people visiting your library, but everyone else—Maureen Johnson’s “average person.” This could be your next-door neighbor or your mother-in-law. The other parents at the PTA meeting or the people sitting next to you at the coffee shop.
In our everyday lives, there will be moments when we can slip in stories about the cool place where we work and the amazing things going on there. Tell about the kid who didn’t flunk after all because you helped with his research paper, or the senior who was so grateful for your outreach service that she baked you cookies, or the guy who was finally able to apply for a job online after he took your computer class. Mention your latest art exhibit or the Wikipedia editing party you’re having next week.
Tell people. They’ll tell other people.
In every community, there are plenty of people who haven’t been inside a library since card catalogs, and there are lots of others who just haven’t been exposed to libraries, for whatever reason. We can’t expect them to support us if they aren’t aware of what libraries do. Let’s start the conversation.