Monday, December 13, 2010

Webinar Notes: On Training for Online Advocacy

This was an ALA free webinar, and to be honest, I was not particularly impressed since it mostly seemed like an infomercial for the information on the website. If there is anything I dislike about webinars, it is a sequence of PowerPoint slides with information that I could have found on a website on my own. Nevertheless, I took some notes, so I am jotting them down for possible future reference.

The event took place on October 29, 2010. Yes, I am running a little behind on transcribing notes, but then again, given I only have two readers, not much of an incentive, plus there is that other thing called work.

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For me, the bottom line of this webinar was to discuss how to make advocates of your frontline staff, which I do think is a good idea, and we should be doing more in our libraries. After all, most if not all of our clients do deal with our frontline staff at some point. According to the presenters, doing this enhances your "traditional" advocacy. 

Two basic concepts: 
  • The value of your respective library. You need to be able to articulate this. 
  • Your value as a library employee. 
The idea is to get the frontliners to advocate at their comfort level. The frontliners are the ones who know the community; they have connections with patrons and users who then become our grassroots advocates. Managers do not have this, so it is important for the frontliners to work with management. So library advocacy is seen as everybody's job.

I found it interesting that in the example given from the Yolo County Library they have staff performance goals that reflect an "ambassador" role in service delivery and outreach. There is something to be said for the concept that the "ambassador" role should not just fall to the outreach librarian, but that it could be shared since we all make an impression of the library at one point or another.

Some questions to create discussion in your library:
  • How do you define advocacy? 
  • Why is it important? 
  • How does it relate to marketing and fundraising? 
  • What is our role versus the role of deans and administrators? 
It is important to realize that we need to demonstrate and communicate our value to the university (in terms of an academic setting, and we need to be doing this consistently). In addition, odds are good a lot of the frontline staff already do some form of advocacy; you should be able to articulate and recognize this. For the staff to be able to do it, they do have to be well-informed. 

Link to ALA's Frontline Advocacy Toolkit.

Link to ALA's Advocacy University.

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