Voices for the Library was formed in September 2010 by a group of information professionals who were concerned about the negative and inaccurate coverage of public libraries in the UK media, and the threat of cutbacks and closures under the government’s austerity regime.
The group – formed of librarians from a number of different sectors, and at all stages of their careers – met through social media and have continued to use various social media tools to collaborate and communicate. Knowing the need for urgent action, the campaign started with a Twitter account (@ukpling) and a Facebook page, and within the space of two weeks also had a website.
The aim of Voices for the Library is ‘to promote the need for and value of trained librarians within a free and open-to-all UK public library service.’ One of the ways in which we are doing this is by providing a politically neutral, non-affiliated space where people who love and value libraries can share their stories about the differences libraries have made to their lives.
We also have blog posts, written by members of the VftL team and invited guest bloggers, to discuss important library issues. Recent blog posts have included a thoughtful piece on the value of cataloguers in the digital age and an analysis of the proposed closures of a number of Leeds public libraries, as well as posts from academic heavyweights David McMenemy and Bob Usherwood.
The main content of the site, however, comes from library users, who share their stories about what their public libraries mean to them. These are often profound and moving, and their variety highlights how public libraries mean something different to everyone. We hope that by sharing these stories we are opening people’s minds and hearts to the full potential of what public libraries and trained staff can offer.
Of course, we can’t do this alone! While VftL isn’t affiliated with any professional organisations, we are delighted to have been offered the support of some of these organisations – including SLA and SLA Europe. This support is very valuable to us as it helps us to demonstrate that these issues don’t just affect public librarians – they affect all information professionals, and anyone who values libraries, and the principles of freedom of access to information.