US 'ahead of UK on library advocacy'

US 'ahead of UK on library advocacy'

The UK lags behind the US on library advocacy, according to a researcher contributing to newly published title The Global Librarian.

Writing on the Public Libraries News site, Sara Wingate-Gray, a doctoral student at University College London, said: "It certainly feels like that the US currently has a professional lead on the UK in terms of advocating the importance of public libraries to communities across their nation, with UK responses being very much situated within the local communities themselves."

Comparing the work of library bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) and the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) to US equivalents like the American Library Association (ALA), she said: "I think what's most interesting to note about some of the main differences between public libraries in the US and UK is the professional level of advocacy and support given to US public librarians and libraries, through, for example, the clout of the ALA: it's a strong organisation, with a strong brand, which is unafraid to speak its mind on matters of import to its members, and happy to engage in lobbying."

She added: "Such nationwide, strong responses by and for the profession are not so clear in UK public library professional circles, and appear to lack the impact and consistency of their US counterparts, arguably leaving a gap in advocacy and political engagement which is most sorely needed in the here and now."

Wingate-Gray also comments on the Sieghart Review into e-book lending in public libraries. She said: "I found it interesting to note that the makeup of this independent panel was dominated by publishers, with only a total of two of the six panel members, including the chair, explicitly representing the library community (British Library/Society of Chief Librarians), while more than 60% of those provided with a 'registered meeting' with the panel were from the publishing sector alone. This to me does not speak to a strong voice for the UK library sector."

The Global Librarian is a new book produced by the Metropolitan New York Library Council and the New York Metropolitan Area Chapter of the Association of College and Research Libraries. It features 25 professionals from libraries around the world sharing their knowledge and their role in their communities.