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Monday, April 10, 2017

Call to Action: National Library Week

After a few week's hiatus, the Call to Action is back and this week it is an easy one. It's National Library Week, the week when we, as an institution, spend the most effort getting our message out in the public. This is when you will see the most news stories about libraries and their immense impact in the general media. This is the week when we are closer to the front of the average American's mind than any other time all year.

Now, I know that every single one of you reading this who is working at a library is doing SOMETHING in your buildings to commemorate this week; however, I bet most of you are NOT thinking about what you can do outside of the library.

That's my Call to Action for this week. Sometime this week, whether it is during work hours on on your free time, take a moment to tell someone outside of the library building that it is National Library Week and that you are a library worker. Then ask that person a question to start a dialog about the library. Yes, you need to do more than just inform people that we exist. I am asking you to encourage conversation. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • What do you think of when you think of the library?
  • What can your library do for you? How can it be relevant to your life? [I love this question because often the person has no idea that the things they want and/or need are already at the library. I have converted at least a dozen nonusers to regular library users- most virtual users-- in the last year.]
  • And the best question you can ask-- It's National Library Week and I am a real life library worker- what do you want to ask me?
As you can probably tell from my comments in that question list above, these are questions I often ask people when I am out and about. Seriously, whenever I meet someone new and they ask what I do, I right away ask them a version of these questions. My favorite is to ask the person a version of that last question. People have some crazy questions for librarians, especially the random people I meet at airport gates, but those questions are for another post some day.

Too often people think the library isn't for them, or they never walk into the library building and don't realize how much they can use us without every stepping foot in the building. Or they don't realize how much of an impact the library has on their community in general whether or not they ever use it.

Look, we cannot make them come to us, so let's go to them. Obviously, I am a bit crazy and do this all of the time [to the chagrin of my kids]. I am not expecting that level of insanity from all of you. BUT, this week, this week you can join me.

This is National Library Week. Flaunt it. Spread the word about our awesomeness.

I am challenging you to engage at least 1 stranger in a conversation about the library with the only rule being that you must not be on the library property when you do this.

You have the conversation opening-- it's National Library Week. I have given you some conversation starters. And, here is the official ALA resource page with more ideas and talking points.

You have no excuse on this one people. Get out there and start talking us up.

For the Call to Action archive, click here.

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