Voices For The Library Presentation At Pancakes and Mash


Recently I was asked to provide the keynote presentation at ‘Pancakes and Mash’ (Lincoln University, March 2011) by Paul Stainthorp, based around the theme of library campaigning, Voices For The Library and the use of online media. It was a mashed libraries event – these events are based around the creative use of data in a library context. This was the 4th one I’d attended and the 3rd one I’d presented at. As someone pointed out, it was less than a year ago that I actually first presented at an event outside my workplace, so I was chuffed to be doing the keynote presentation at Lincoln.

Anyway, the point of this blog post is to say here’s the presentation… and the accompanying notes below it.

Loud Library Voices : Gary Green (Pancakes & Mash, March 2011)

Loud Library Voices: Campaigning, The Web, Journalists & The Offline World
Gary Green: Voices For The Library founder member/campaigner. Technical Librarian / Surrey CC
Presentation – images taken from various campaigns
Presentation – #savelibraries quotes taken from Twitter

Cuts & questions
Mid 2010. Threat of cuts in funding and closures coming
Questions about relevance of libraries when you can ‘just Google it’, books cheap and everything is available as an e-book
Questions about relevance of librarians

Voices For The Library
Was anybody doing anything in defence of libraries?
All wanted to provide positive face of libraries
Founders met on Twitter – most not met in real life
Most of us librarians, but all library users
Gloucestershire, Doncaster campaigns
Decided to do it ourselves – national campaign
Within two weeks had website, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter up and running
Still mostly virtual campaign – though most of us have met now
Do it outside our day jobs
Voluntary – Big Society saying fair enough, but on our terms and for what we believe in
Team – past and present: Phil Bradley, Johanna Anderson, Mick Fortune, Katy Wrathall, Simon Barron, Gary Green, Lauren Smith, Ian Clark, Bethan Ruddock, Tom Roper, Mandy Powell, Ian Anstice, Alice Halsey

2011 – Cuts
526 libraries under threat of closure, recently closed, handed over to communities, privatised
User stories/value of library to them – send stories to us
Blog about situation libraries are in – question it
Campaigning ideas
Supporting statements
Reporting back

Make connections – go to them, don’t wait for them to come to you
They can promote what is happening
You can help them with research
Don’t miss an opportunity – if you are keen they’ll come back to you again
Get out and make yourself known – get your voice heard
Write articles

Started archiving ‘lovelibraries’ ‘savelibraries’ tweets in August 2010
Capture why people felt libraries were important
@Mardixon sent out tweet Jan 2011 asking people to tweet why they’d #savelibraries
#savelibraries trended worldwide and made people more aware of library cuts
Currently about 20,000 tweets archived #savelibraries

Online tools
Behind scenes – started discussion on Twitter and LIS lists
Use emails; wiki to store info; online meetings; face to face meetings
Use Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Blog to inform people, delicious as a resource of links
Use as many channels to try and reach as many people as possible
Try to connect to re-use info and reduce work
Google alerts to get regular updates about libraries

news articles; using Tweet buttons means you don’t have to retype links, headlines
Amend headlines so people know where article is about. No good tweeting a headline like “A village library is closing”. It’s not informative.
Can put your own perspective on an article, by wording you use in the tweet
Encourage people to get involved and campaign for their local libraries
Discuss situation with others
Promote events, local campaigns, consultations
RT relevant blog articles
RT tweets by other local campaigners
Good way to report live on events and keep momentum. 5th Feb loads of RTs about the events around the country

More online presence
Facebook – similar to Twitter but less volume of updates. Feed Facebook statuses to Twitter
Flickr – sharing the library love in photo form
Youtube – favourite videos
Hootsuite – can feed info to a number of Twitter, Facebook accounts at the same time.
PC, mobile smartphone – different tools for different situation
Andricious – bookmark on phone and gets tweeted.
Even tinkered – Tagxedo of VFTL site – words are clickable links. Runs search on site
#savelibraries tweets – would love to do mashup with them

Closures Map
Leeds data – put into map with Google docs spreadsheet fed into Yahoo pipes. Pulled in employment info and stats
Wanted to expand it.
Map – Ian Anstice site Public Libraries News tracks closures- markers for each authority indicating number of libraries to close (Screenshot)
Didn’t want to reinvent wheel – started helping Ian Anstice
Added campaign/event info with links – manually – no spreadsheet
Two others – Emerson and Nick helped put it into structured format
New map built on Google Fusion tables – mostly by Nick
Means we can re-use data
I’m not getting as much time to update it, so it’s good that others are finding time to update it

Online flow of information
Use simple methods, because tools are already there
Paper.li : pulls links out of Twitter by using a search. Produces a newspaper type page (image) automatically updated and archived… don’t have to miss any news that has been tweeted… just go and look at paper.li edition for that day.
Packrati.us: Saves links to delicious from your Twitter account and any hashtags as delicious tag
Twitterfeed – automatically publish any RSS feeds you want to Twitter
My personal Twitter tweet link using #ukpling hashtag, saves to delicious bookmarks via packrati.us; Twitterfeed pulls out #ukpling bookmarks and feeds to @ukpling account – handy if I also want to tweet it from my own account
Yahoo pipes – map; behind the scenes work – identifying any campaigns, events, consultation on original closures map without having to trawl through each marker; feed of combined news stories to vftl website
Try to keep it simple – don’t get tangled up in knots when connecting everything together

Get Involved In Healthy debate
Respond to people who think libraries and librarians aren’t relevant
Online and offline
In the pub
Beyond people who work in libraries
Don’t just sit there tutting and ask who is going to save libraries?
If you want to save libraries you need to do it yourself, not expect someone else to do it for you

Different things that need to be done
Not just about updating twitter, Facebook
Talk to others outside the group
Keep an eye on what’s going on, so you can nip any problems in the bud
Fall into roles, even though maybe started in different roles
I do lots of tweeting (but not only me), some updating blog, facebook, collecting news, tinkering and saying “I know! Let’s stick it into Yahoo pipes”
Has given me opportunity to do something useful with my tinkering

Getting the point across – online & offline
Online – good way to communicate to the masses
Report back on what’s going on. Did you have a meeting with a councillor? Are you collecting signatures on a petition? Have you submitted a FOI request? Report back on it, then.
Not just about having a website or a Facebook page – you need to get out into the real world
Phil Bradley posters – used by campaigners. Adapted from out of copyright posters
Save Doncaster Libraries campaign posters
Leaflets through doors – Rosehill
Gloucestershire events 5th Feb. Friends Of Gloucestershire Libraries – events at all libraries that were open.
Petitions – both Glouc & Doncs had over 15,000 signatures on their petitions
Stony Stratford – took all books out
Correct any misunderstandings – do your research
Sometimes newspaper headlines are wrong and give false hope ie “libraries saved”… no they’re not, they’ve been given a 6 month reprieve
Attend events outside libraries – vftl planning to attend a couple of literary festivals
Lobby those in power
Question the councillors and politicians
Videos – Somerset
It works – it enthuses others
It works – it makes the headlines, it makes the BBC national news
It works – it makes politicians uneasy and unable to sweep it under the carpet

Louder voices
Connect with others who are campaigning
Get others to help – don’t think you can do it yourself
Even if someone can only give you 5 minutes of their time make use of it
Don’t think you know best – find out how others have done things
Don’t reinvent the wheel – has someone else in your area already started a campaign? – join them and build numbers of campaigners
Help coordinate
Organise meetings

Difference between VFTL & other campaigns now time has moved on
VFTL national (although we do link to campaigns such as Doncaster and others)
Most others local
Have had 110,000+ visits to website since starting in September – can reach wide group – more than local campaign
Offer support and advice to local campaigns
Show how other campaigners have achieved things
Links to the media
Good links to other national organisations focussed on libraries and literacy

Anyone can campaign
Don’t think library staff in local area are going to campaign, because most of them can’t campaign – sometimes dismissable action.
If you do campaign it won’t be an easy ride, but it will stop and make councils think about what they are doing and make them aware that the people they are supposed to serve are keeping an eye on what they are doing.


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