This post was written for 23 Things for Professional Development, Thing 16: Advocacy, speaking up for the profession and getting published.
The majority of library advocacy I do doesn’t start with me thinking “I must do some some advocacy”. Mostly it starts with me meeting someone new or bumping into an old friend and them asking me what I do. People are frequently puzzled as to why someone with a degree, particularly a science degree, would want to be a librarian and even more puzzled that I am doing a postgraduate degree all about libraries. In my experience there really is still a common misconception that librarians just stamp books and take fines. I think some of the best marketing for libraries is by word of mouth, so speaking to people like this can be very useful. At the university where I was working until August I found that many of the students I met were unaware of all the services the library could offer them. Many of them saw the library as no more than somewhere to get hold of books and journals. Although it will not always be enough to avoid cuts, making users or potential users aware of what is available to them is an important first hurdle to overcome.