What I did for National Libraries Day 2015

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Library A to Z book and note

Yesterday (7th Feb) was National Libraries Day. Libraries and their supporters all round the UK ran events, activities and protests in support of all types of libraries.

In the morning I did a little bit of social media for my library service promoting and providing hints and tips for using the library catalogue.

As well as helping promote my library service yesterday I also wanted to do something with the Library A to Z. Part of the idea of the day is to not only celebrate libraries but also get the message out to people that libraries have so much to offer. During the launch of the A to Z Andy Walsh, myself and many other people did this by sending out materials to key decision makers, politicians and the media. We also ran on online campaign.

For National Libraries Day I decided to again share the message about the importance of libraries beyond Libraryland itself.

So, I took out a stack of A to Z books and greeting cards on a journey, with the intention of leaving them in places for passers by to pick-up and read.

I put a message in the books and cards. Both messages mentioned National Libraries Day, what it is and why libraries are still relevant. As well as the message in the card I also attached an 1850 – 2000 public libraries commemorative 50 pence piece and emphasised that 15 years on from this celebration, libraries were facing huge budget cuts and closures and that campaigners were fighting against this.

So, I spent most of the afternoon/evening travelling around Surrey and London via train and bus and left copies on different routes. Where those copies headed for was a loose plan. I aimed for covering as much of a geographical spread as possible, so when I last saw them copies of the book and the cards were headed towards London Bridge, Watford, Epping, Heathrow, Windsor, Kensal Rise, The City, Southampton, Brighton and Reading. I suppose you could say Kensal Rise was a symbolic choice, as I know that campaigners in Brent have not had the best of times there. I also visited The British Library and left a book and card there.

As I say, I wanted to promote the value of libraries outside of the library environment, but I also wanted to do something with a bit of protest about it – hence the 50 pence pieces in the card. It was not a big protest I’ll admit, but every little reminder helps get the message out there. 🙂

I don’t know how much positive impact my actions on National Libraries Day will have, and I don’t know who picked up and read/kept the books and cards, but I know that if I hadn’t done it then no-one at all would have picked them up. Maybe a copy was picked up by someone who:

  • Decides to the visit the library for the first time based on what the A to Z showed them it has to offer.
  • Is inspired to be a libraries champion in the future.
  • Changes their negative opinion about libraries.
  • Is now aware of the support libraries need and maybe they will be in a position to influence someone else about the future of libraries.
I know I wasn’t the only person to use the Library A to Z for National Libraries Day. Lots of libraries and their supporters also used the materials available to promote their services, as part of events and in other creative ways. The National Libraries Day site also pointed people to the materials. It’s great to see that these materials are being used, as that was one of the reasons they were created.
Public libraries commemorative 50 pence
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National Libraries Day and a #LibraryAtoZ Follow Up

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National Libraries Day this year is happening on 7th February.

As the National Libraries Day site says:

It is a chance for people to organise a local event or visit their library and interact with the vital work carried out by their library and information professionals, reminding decision-makers that our libraries and librarians are valued.

Last year’s National Libraries Day map showed around 600 events happening around Britain, although I suspect that more events actually happened – they just weren’t on the map.

If you’re looking for ideas about what you could do at your local library, whether you’re a member of staff, or a library user, I collated a short list of ideas a while ago, which can be found here.

If you’re looking for promotional and advocacy material to support whatever you do on National Libraries Day don’t forget that the Library A to Z full colour materials are still available for free download here, including full colour illustrations and poster templates which you can freely adapt. For example, my library service is using them on Pinterest and Twitter to promote our services during National Libraries Day this year. I know other people have used them for displays and promotions in their libraries. In-line with the comment on the National Libraries Day site you could also use the materials for “reminding decision-makers that our libraries and librarians are valued.” I’ll be sending a few of the #LibraryAtoZ cards out to local politicians just to remind them that libraries are still here. It seems a good time to do it in the lead up to the general election this year, especially as some of the cards feature the Speak Up For Libraries election manifesto.

Before I sign-off this blog post I’d also just like to say thanks to the individuals and organisations who supported the launch of the Library A to Z back in November last year. It was a bit of whirlwind up to and after the launch week and I realise I never wrote a thank you post. During the launch week Twitter worked really well to get the message out there and there were over 1000 #LibraryAtoZ mentions and retweets. Libraries got into the spirit of the promotional material and shared the words and images. Lots of people changed their Twitter avatars to the letter that matched the initial of one of their names. It was great to see it used in this way, as it got others asking about the images and what the Library A to Z was all about. I still see some avatars using the images when I go onto Twitter now. Just over 20 blogs and articles mention the A to Z, including some in the USA and Australia. The Bookseller and CILIP Update both gave the A to Z coverage. The A to Z was also mentioned on other social networks, but Twitter was the most active. It didn’t all just happen online either. Libraries used the material for promotional events, people sent copies of the book and cards to their local politicians. Library A to Z packs including books, posters and cards were also sent out to over 100 key decision-makers and politicians in the main parties in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as well as around 30 media organisations. Andy Walsh spent a lot of time sending these packs out. I also had the opportunity to hand over copies of the book to politicians and speakers at the Speak Up For Libraries conference at the end of the launch week. It all helped to get the message out there. So, thank you to everyone who played a part.

A Contribution to the #LibraryAtoZ

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Following on from the LibraryCamp East Library A to Z session I blogged about previously, I helped put together an A to Z for my Library Service that we have been tweeting from our main library account in the run-up to National Libraries Day this coming Staurday. It was also passed on to library service staff, in case they wanted to make use of it on National Libraries Day or any other time. The idea behind it was that it focused on services we provide to our local users and each word linked to one of our web pages on the library site or another of our online resources. It wasn’t an exhaustive list, but aimed to show the wide range of services we provide. For example…

It was a fun thing to do, although I take no credit for squeezing the information into 140 characters with 2 hashtags as well. It is also something we can use beyond National Libraries Day too. It would also be nice to create a range of other A to Z’s in future with a focus on more specific areas of our library services as well.

Library A to Z Tagxedo

Library A to Z Tagxedo

Library A to Z : National Libraries Day 2014 idea #LibraryAtoZ

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At the recent Library Camp East event I ran a session to crowd source an A to Z of words that reflected the positive activities and values of libraries, as well as positive representations in books, songs, films and other media. The aim was to highlight that even though books are a core feature of library services, libraries are so much more than this – whether this “so much more” is as a result of the benefits of reading, or beyond this focus. We covered all of the alphabet (with a bit of artistic licence in places), but there is still scope for more words to be added into the Library A to Z.

So for example, under “I” we have: information, inclusion, internet, inspiration, imagination, and for “E” we have: escape, ebooks, employability, equality, everyone (is welcome), education, excitement, events, exhibitions, enquiry service.

The A to Z can be found here http://www.voicesforthelibrary.org.uk/2013/12/a-library-a-to-z/

The intention is to use the A to Z as a way to promote library services, focusing on the positive aspects of libraries. To do this it would be great if we could get people (library staff, users, supporters, artists/illustrators, writers, performers of all types) involved in producing something creative with this list or a part of it – maybe just a letter, or a single word will inspire you to create something in response. So for example, some of the ideas people have suggested already include:

(1) Turn some of this into a visual alphabet that we could share as downloadable posters.
(2) Create a library A to Z video.
(3) Pull together positive library user stories that cover the full A to Z related to your library, whether that’s public, academic, business, specialist library etc and produce a book of them to be sent to the people in your organisation who aren’t aware of the value of your library service, but hold the purse strings.
(4) Create an online photo montage alphabet.
(5) Get artists (visual, musical, performance) involved to interpret this Library A to Z in their own unique way.

It would be fantastic if we could encourage libraries and their supporters to take up the challenge, possibly just focusing on a single letter each and produce something we could pull together and share (online or as physical items) in time for National Libraries Day – a day all about celebrating the value of libraries and all the things that make libraries so great and important.

E is for… Education. Terry Pratchett: “I taught myself more in the library than school taught me.”

Ideas for National Libraries Day events and activities #NLD13

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Here’s a short list of possible ideas for events and activities I collated that could be run on (or in the lead up to) National Libraries Day on Saturday 9th Feb. 2013. Many of them were either taken from or inspired by events listed on the National Libraries Day website. I’m looking at this from a public libraries perspective (including ideas for children and adults), but some ideas could work in other types of libraries too.

Promote the library service (in the library or online via web pages & social media):

  • Run a membership drive in the week leading up to National Library Day – hand out flyers in local community centres, shopping centres, pubs.
  • Coffee & cake morning for library users. Once they are in you can tell them about all the great services you provide – not just services in the physical library, but also outreach, partnership and specialist services.
  • A behind the scenes tour of the library.
  • Tweet or share Facebook updates about behind-the-scenes activities of your library.
  • Showcase online services – ebooks; online reference; catalogue; special promotions.
  • Enter new joiners that week into a prize draw.
  • Produce a history of your library or library service using archive material, or run a local history event focusing on your library.

Ideas encouraging library user participation.

  • Tell us about your favourite book or books, or something great you discovered through the library.
  • Write a story about the library.
  • Lucky dip – get staff to wrap up their favourite book, DVD, CD etc with a note about why it’s their favourite & a review card. Put them into a lucky dip and encourage library users to borrow an item without knowing what they’re getting. Encourage them to write a review of the item afterwards.
  • Tell us your favourite library memory.
  • Draw your favourite book character.
  • Make your own bookmark.
  • Ask library users “What library pledge will you make?”
  • Run a book character fancy dress competition.
  • Design your library of the future.
  • Tell us why you love your library.
  • Other creative activities – book sculptures? Craft events?
  • Run a library treasure hunt – hide clues related to books around your library & the first one to solve the final clue wins a prize.
  • All day read-a-thon: Get staff, authors, or the public involved & read out a passage from their favourite book, or tell a story.
  • Create a library display or scrapbook of the day including library users contributions to the above ideas.
  • Digitize the scrapbook using an online scrapbooking service, or turn it into an e-book and share online.

National Libraries Day logo