The demise of Library Week and the need for Brand Library

The recent news that LIANZA’s Library Week is no more is regrettable I think. Without the funding it previously had, LIANZA saw no choice but to cut Library Week and instead provide a pool of resources available for all libraries in New Zealand. I’m sure that may libraries will do great things with these – however I still think Library Week had a lot of undeveloped potential. And one potential it had was for the development and delivery of a strong consistent message of what libraries are all about now to the New Zealand market. This potential can still be realised – I hope there is motivation to do it!

I am talking about moving beyond ideas about “Ask a librarian” or promoting different images of librarians (and there is nothing wrong with that!) but getting to the guts of what we need to promote. Is it libraries as a place? Libraries as a gateway to electronic information (that the have-nots cannot afford on their own?) So what are the key images/messages we want to promote? I’m talking about big picture messages, that all types of libraries could embrace. I think there is enormous potential for us to have that collective conversation, make some decisions and get on and do it. Library week would have been a great vehicle to deliver those messages.

It seems libraries are inextricably entwined with the book. The recent OCLC report, Perceptions of Libraries 2010: context and community seems to indicate this is strengthening in the U.S. In 2005 69% of respondents associated libraries with books and this was up to 75% in 2010 (1). With ever-increasing publicity about ebooks where does that leave the library in the minds of our customers? We’ve all seen plenty of things written about the demise of the library – do we have a collective response to this?

I don’t think any of us think the Brand Library is wedded to the physical book, but we need to start strengthening our promotional messages about what customers needs we really are meeting – so we can effectively demonstrate our value to our communities. And I think our best bet is to do that collectively.

(1) p. 38

Library week and Lady Gaga

This week saw LIANZA launch the theme and website for Library Week 2010, “Ask me – You might be surprised! He Taonga Te Pātai”. This year the focus is on raising the profile of librarians:

The theme reflects librarians not just as people who issue books, shelve novels and tell you to “hush” when you have been too noisy but as trained information professionals who have a world of knowledge and experience at their fingertips.

The info about the launch includes an example of  a poster that will be part of the publicity material:

The sample poster … shows a librarian shelving books, as you might expect, but through the “rock music” imagery we can see that is not all there is to a librarian. Indeed, under the surface you don’t know what wealth of information lays within, just ask – you might be surprised!

I don’t know if other professions spend as much time as we do in angst-ridden endless discussions about  “identity” and ongoing attempts to break the stereotypes. These discussions amongst our profession are both trivial and essential. What we can’t afford to do is to let our heritage (for want of a better word) as a lowly-paid, undervalued, largely female dominated profession decide our fate. Whether we are twinset and pearl wearing traditionalists, tat and pierced wannabes or genuine hip young things what we need to be able to do is to become accomplished at how we can really deliver value in a world where there is a clear “information access paradox” – where most people can get by with what they find on a Google search, but there may come a time when that doesn’t cut the mustard.

Apparently there’s been a bit of a debate lately about the UofW Librarians Do Gaga video and whether or not it’s a good thing – I quite like Mal Booth’s response in his Putting yourself out there post:

Well to them I say “BAH, HUMBUG!” I don’t think it has a deep and meaningful message – who cares if the words aren’t completely in accord with what you believe to be the truth about academic libraries. Who knows anyway? The lyrics had to fit in with the bloody music. And I really don’t think they are trying to be cool at all. They look obviously daggy and a range of folk of all ages from the library were included.

Mal Booth also includes a short promo video featuring a MOMA staff member which I think is nicely done:

I await the LIANZA promo material with interest 😉