It is well-known that libraries have always been a stronghold of information and resource within their communities, a place to go for answers to questions and to attain personal development.

For these reasons many people have come to love and become passionate about libraries and the importance they have to people, communities and societies.

But can these advocates of libraries be transformed into a super-strength which libraries can look to for help and support.

In this week’s blog we talk with the Director of the Finnish Library Association, Rauha Maarno to have her discuss her perspective on how libraries’ and library associations can turn the love of libraries into actionable energy.

How to turn energy into action?

At the Finnish Library Association, we work to achieve better libraries. We want people to love, cherish and use their library.

Working in a non-profit organization is first of all about channeling energy. A large amount of the FLA’s work is done by volunteers or partners. That really boosts up the volume of work we can achieve. This kind of volunteering, networking and leadership is useful in many different organizations.

Usually people just love their libraries. At the association we strive to turn this love into action. We need politicians to understand the value of what the library does and stands for, and to invest in libraries because of this.

We need to continue to develop the profession and inspire professionals to work even better for literate and civilized societies.

But how to turn love into actions that can benefit the library?

My top five tips for all Library Associations:

  1. Refresh and rebrand the profession or the business you stand for.

At the FLA, we constantly get feedback that the image of the librarian is not up to date with current working life. For this reason, we developed a vlog-series with a fresh library professional speaking about her everyday work. This way we seek to influence public opinion and create new faces for libraries today.

  1. Engage audiences through different platforms and invest especially on social media.

As we all know, people spend a lot of time on different social networks. In these networks, we seek to communicate with others and, communicate our own values. The library usually tends to have a very positive ring to it, so just provide the audience quality content that is professionally produced so they can share their love for libraries. See, for example, our video of the prime minister of Finland visiting a library: https://www.facebook.com/kirjastoseura/videos/410158152957909/

  1. Inspire and engage people with talks to create movement.

Remember that you are an ambassador in your field, you have the responsibility to take things forward and wake up interest in others. Make the most of your vision by sharing it with confidence, also be ready to debate. Never in any circumstances give a talk no matter how big or small without really preparing and rehearsing. Every public talk you do is a chance to have your message heard. Every person in the audience is giving their time and attention to you, so respect it. And please remember there are so many useless PowerPoint presentations in this world. So just skip the slides and concentrate on your presence and the content of your talk.

  1. Publish new information and original insights about your branch.

First, think about the core task of your organization. Second, think of information that is missing in that field. Our core advocacy issue today is digital transformation and libraries. Luckily this year the Finnish Parliament provided funding for a national program to develop librarians’ digital skills. Next up we seek to make e-books more readily available in public libraries; therefore, we published a report of the possible impacts of the European Court of Justice’s decision about e-book lending in Finland.

  1. Stay out of the way of creative flow, usually people want to contribute.

Here is one example. Our mentorship program which connects people from around the country. Participants in different stages of their career have gained inspiration and insight as well as concrete opportunities through this program. With mentorship and coaching we are seeing a positive transformation and movement in the library field

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Action Steps

The steps discussed by Rauha are great reminder to involve and accept support from a passionate library community. The above five points are great ways to begin turning people’s energy into action to help and grow the library.

Whether delving deeper into social media, giving inspirational talks, or starting a vlog; maintaining a steady stream of relevant content is always going to attract the interest of people. People will be more involved in an event, entity or initiative the more they feel they understand and can relate with that thing.

Once you have their attention, let the energy that comes from their passion, direct itself into all the amazing creative outlets which the library is fully equipped to cultivate.

We will be back next week with another interesting article from the library world!

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Rauha Maarno

Rauha Maarno

Director at Finnish Library Association

Twitter: @RauhaMaarno

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