Amid all the bad news about the UK library system, an article has appeared in The Guardian arguing that “The survival of libraries lies in positive promotion.” Good sentiments – although in this case they come from the head of a creative agency that apparently exists for the express purpose of promoting libraries.
“The way we market and promote our national library service is one of the areas that drastically needs to change if we are to give libraries any sort of long-term future. But it’s not the only area that needs improvement,” asserts Andy Ryan, director of Stellar Libraries CIC and social entrepreneur. “Libraries can’t continue to exist in this black hole. We should be investing in joined-up, national promotion; we should be telling people what we’ve got.”
Significantly, the article appears in the Culture Professionals Network section of The Guardian. However, Andy Ryan also highlights underuse of existing promotional capabilities as well as arguing for more.
“I pick up titbits of gossip that suggest the promotional activities of libraries are being sabotaged from the inside: council communications teams refusing to promote library events; library services not permitted to engage users through social media. One recent watercooler moment revealed that a certain library service is being told it can’t use the council website to promote its online resources. So audience figures fall and, lo and behold, there’s another justification to swing the axe.”
Andy Ryan highlights Stellar Libraries’ own Cityread London program, which brings together 33 London library services as well as other partners. “We give London’s libraries a shared and louder voice.”
Special pleading by one determined promotional maven? Perhaps. But it’s hard to argue against the promotion of library services in some respects and to some degree. More money and better government support certainly wouldn’t hurt either, though.