“My Life in the Library – I will continue to fight for libraries”

Von Kathy Dempsey of Medford, New Jersey, USA
Arbeitsstelle und Beruf
Consultant / Inhaberin der Seite Libraries Are Essential
Herausgeberin des Newsletters Marketing Library Services
Herausgeberin des Newsletters derNew Jersey Library Association newsletter

1. How long are you a member of the library circus? (eg, the first library experience, first job in the library, etc.)?

I have had a long and satisfying library life, even though I do not have a library degree.

I used the library a lot in grade school. While in high school, I joined a club of students who worked in the library, learning and helping the librarian. When I was a college student, again, I got a job working in the university library. When I graduated with my degree in Journalism, I took a paraprofessional job in the library immediately, working there until I found a job in the journalism field.

2. What has driven you, just look for / accept a job in the library area? (your motivation)?

After college, I had jobs in both journalism and other libraries. Then in 1994, a friend told me about a job posting she saw for a publishing company called Learned Information, Inc. Everything it published was for and about libraries. It was an “a-ha!” moment. I had found my dream job, combining my journalism degree and my years of library experience. Now it is 2012 and I work there still (the company is now named Information Today, Inc.: http://www.infotoday.com).

3. What were and are your responsibilities and what has your opinion changed as most clearly?

I spent many years as the editor of Computers in Libraries magazine, and even more years as the editor of the Marketing Library Services newsletter (MLS).

In this job, the more I learned about libraries, the more I realized they needed help with marketing and promotion. Up until the 1990s, libraries were just about the only places that held information. But when the public started getting their own computers and internet access, people began to believe that they could replaces libraries. Not true! As the editor of MLS, which covers libraries around the world, I saw the battles beginning. Local governments thought they could close libraries to save money. Even universities and corporations thought they could reduce or close their libraries. Suddenly, marketing and public relations were essential to keep libraries open. As one of few experts in the field, people began calling on me to speak at conferences and to help them learn how to promote their value. My love and understanding of libraries, going back to childhood, motivated me to help fight for them.

Eventually, I resigned from Computers in Libraries magazine so I could work on library marketing full time. I still edit the MLS newsletter for Information Today, and I formed my own business, called Libraries Are Essential (LAE). I even wrote a book, The Accidental Library Marketer, for people who did not intend to do marketing work but are now trying to learn how. I travel around the US (and to other countries), giving workshops, speaking at conferences, and helping to write marketing plans. I love what I do, and I feel it is very important work, keeping libraries open. All around the world, I read of budgets being cut and of people who think libraries don’t matter in the age of the internet. This is so very wrong. In the information age, people need the expertise and tools of librarians more than ever.

The public simply does not understand that typing a word into Google and getting 1,000 results is not “research” and that the results may not be trustworthy. They don’t like asking for help. They think they can find everything on the internet. The paradox is, as we say in the US, “People don’t know what they don’t know.” They do not realize how much information they are missing.

4. What kind of role does Social Media play in your life? What does it offer for your work?

In my LAE business, I work at home, so social media is vital to me. It lets me reach people through my blog (The M Word: Marketing Libraries at http://themwordblog.blogspot.com/) and my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/LibrariesAreEssential). It lets me find stories from around the world, constantly update my knowledge, and work with colleagues overseas. To teach people in places I cannot reach, I can give webinars—speeches online for library groups everywhere. And LinkedIn helps more people to discover me and my services (http://www.linkedin.com/in/kathydempsey), and it helps me connect with people who can write articles about their own marketing projects.

My complete library story is here, on my website:
There are many other resources there to help you.

5. What priorities will emerge for the future development/evolution for your job?

My hope is that my work can help all types of libraries, everywhere, to keep funding, to stay relevant, to stay open. I want everyone to realize that libraries are still essential, today more than ever. I will continue to fight for libraries because I know they help society move forward by storing and sharing the world’s knowledge. What other job could possibly be more important?

Lang leben die Bibliotheken!


Von John Dolan

Library Camp 2011 took place in Birmingham, England on 8 October – like a spontaneous outburst of thinking and enthusiasm. Though termed an “unconference” it was in fact a well-organised, lightly structured event of 173 participants (2 didn’t make it on the day)!

Jo McCausland (@libraryjmac) was inspired by a Local Government Camp a year earlier to set this up: a good venue; email and twitter announcements; Sponsorship (essential if admission is free and not easy to find at present!). It was fully booked online in 21 hours – yes!

There was a fantastic mix of library and information practitioners from all backgrounds plus people active in related fields like theatre and media. After (yes) everyone introduced themselves (who I am; why I’m here) people “pitched” to lead a session on a subject of their choice.

With 45 minutes for each session across 7 rooms there were 35 discussion groups through the day with multiple additional chances to network and make friends. Everything from the day is on the web.

There will surely be a #libcampuk 2012!

Worth mentioning that after an early humourous reference to cake many – many! – people brought cake to share. Look at the pictures!

Some of the sessions I attended or found the notes and links valuable include the following:

Transition: There is little investment in managing the transition between school and university. Learners are rarely able to transfer skills from one stage in education to the next; how librarians can help teachers and learners provide continuity so each stage in education builds on the previous. This applies to all stages in the education system. Librarians can work with teachers and students at all stages of education, avoiding waste and gaining more. Above all, embed the learning skills into the curriculum; learning skills are not “an extra” they are essential to education: http://intothehobbithole.blogspot.com/2011/10/libcampuk11-session-1-managing.html

Several areas of innovation discussions included Games and Gamification, Mobile apps (maybe more questions than answers but useful links), libraries without buildings, creative commons, open-source software, representing the most incredible opportunity for strategic library cooperation. A session on library philosophy reminds us of the many reasons we are here.

A Special Collections session was interesting. Early in the notes they referred to the fate of special collections as seeming like a private resource for the few. Much of the session was therefore about increasing accessibility. This was a key issue for me and a key purpose of creating the Library of Birmingham: http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/lob. Immense special collections are unknown to most but the expert; but it’s not just about display it is about actively interpreting their relevance in a modern diverse city community and projecting those collections globally.

Several linked and overlapping themes included Partnership, working with Stakeholders, Embedded Librarianship, Social Networking, Information Literacy, Social Change et al. Together these highlighted the centrality of libraries and their potential for other institutions and to the rest of society.

Useful contacts? Notes from most discussions have useful links. Or, follow #uklibchat led by and for library & information students and new librarians. Meets on twitter every Thursday 6 – 8pm. Each week there’s a topic to discuss. Older librarians can contribute on what’s happened before to inform progress or avoid reinventing the wheel.

Links that should be of interest.

John Dolan OBE

E. john@dolan205.force9.co.uk

  1. Twitter. @johnrdolan

“Reinvention and regeneration: the message for me at the Bibliothekartag 2011 Berlin June 2011”

Von John Dolan

I was first struck by the number of delegates – over 4,700 – and the scale and complexity of the event. Now here I was in Europe, at and event that would reflect the universal presence of libraries in our lives – in school, college and university, in business, health and government, in kindergarten and across the communities of cities, towns and villages. However, what really mattered was quality. I was not disappointed.

The most important feature – rather like CILIP’s Umbrella conference http://bit.ly/hZFDLy in the UK – was that the event embraced all library sectors and covered all aspects of library and information policy and provision; from technical to technology, from publishing to reading, from conservation to communications, from the physical to the virtual.

In Berlin. Being in Berlin for the first time was a phenomenal experience and I was helped hugely by Wolfgang Kaiser, my conference “mentor” both during the conference and on my weekend stay. We saw many sights – as librarian and tourist.

I went on the evening cycle ride for the Long Night of the Libraries. In contrast to the disturbing memorial to the Nazi book burning by Humboldt University (the guide said they only burnt books from public, not academic, libraries, which I found interesting) was the inspiring terraced interior of the 1995 university library.

From there we visited the Bibliothek am Luisenbad http://bit.ly/qyEwEk, a modernised and extended (1995) historic spa house. Children and families in this predominantly Turkish area are the priority. Staff tell of crowded days, not enough seats, staff and volunteer-supported learning and cultural programmes, partnerships with adult education, health and community workers. It is similar to my experience of UK inner-city library services and with 29 staff and 40 volunteers helping with programmes, though pressured, it is flourishing.

International colleagues reinventing libraries. I was amazed by the Cycling for Libraries group http://bit.ly/aCGSTb – their marathon journey from Copenhagen and their relaxed but persuasive presentation. Above all they – notably, organiser Mace Ojala – exuded a tremendous passion for libraries and the freedoms, learning and cultural experiences that people get from libraries.

Meeting colleagues from other countries is always rewarding; colleagues from developing countries struggle with hardly any resources to bring reading and learning to poor communities; in big western economies supporters advocate for libraries as democratic spaces; libraries are places to learn, community centres, information resources.

I was there because in 2010 I organised a visit to the UK of the DBV Commission for Intercultural Library Services. They came to look at library services for new communities and at the Bibliothekartag published a statement on the library’s role in this area of access and social justice. We hope it will soon be re-launched as a joint statement with CILIP in the UK.

It was a pleasure for me to meet friends and colleagues from the Goethe Institute in New Delhi. I had worked with them on Indian library development. It is typical of the Goethe that they carry the message of the value of libraries across the world (Goethe is supporting a conference in Athens in October Redefining Library Services: Responding to the Economic Downturn http://bit.ly/pQ2yWT ). The joy of the Goethe is that while they promote German language and culture they also invest imaginatively in the quality of life of their host countries.

Regenerating libraries. The power of the Bibliothekartag reminded me of such conferences in the UK about 20 years ago. The LIS community was strong, new communications technologies were emerging, new public and university libraries were opening. The UK has always been active in library innovation. At the moment UK public libraries, in particular, are suffering badly from cuts to public spending with reduced service budgets and threats of library. There are challenges too in other areas such as library services in schools. CILIP our national professional body is working hard advocating for library provision which we all know is fundamental to a free and prosperous society.

I am concerned that in twenty years time libraries in Germany are not suffering like their UK partners. How to avoid this? Libraries are often a resource that underpins other endeavour. Consequently they may be seen as peripheral to the main agenda. Instead our society cannot function without access to credible information and cultural resources that libraries mediate. Ensure that libraries develop a central role in education, lifelong learning, citizen and community information, literature and culture. Libraries are part of national life. Above all do the research to prove it and then promote that message loud and clear to advocates and power-brokers.

To maintain such a critical role librarians must constantly reinvent the library service responding to changing needs with new ideas, exploiting new learning and communications technologies, refreshing resources and renewing the unique and essential skills base of the library professional. What I saw at the Bibliothekartag 2011 was the regeneration of a united industry. I hope it can be shared as a model for other countries.

John Dolan OBE

Birmingham, England

Zum Autor

John Dolan was Head of Library Policy for England and, previously, Head of Birmingham Libraries. He has had an extensive career in UK public libraries and has spoken at many conferences in the UK and elsewhere. John led the early development for the Library of Birmingham http://bit.ly/gg12X9  which opens in 2013. He is now a Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). The views expressed here are his own.

[Kurz] Quiz – Bibliotheken in der Literatur

Bibliotheken sind häufig mit Mittelkürzungen oder sogar mit der Schließung bedroht, weil die Kommunen Geld sparen müssen in Folge von Sparmaßnahmen der Länder. Die Bibliotheken sind aber nicht nur ein großartiger Teil der Buchwelt, sondern sie spielen auch eine wichtige Rolle in der Literatur. Im Quiz der Guardian können Sie Ihr Wissen über Bibliotheken in der Literatur testen. Das Quiz ist auf Englisch.

Hier geht es zum Quiz: Libraries in literature, The Guardian