A while back I read an article in the January/February issue of American Libraries
by Rachel Ivy Clarke. The article, “Work Made Visible: What’s lost when we obscure labor,” really resonated with me, as I’m sure it did for many of those that read it. The article pointed out that much of the work done in libraries is behind the scenes. As such, it becomes unnoticeable, not only to patrons, but oftentimes to administrators and community stakeholders as well. In libraries, we spend a lot of time on the back end of projects, programs and services, working to provide a finished result that looks effortless and seamless. By making it all look easy, we immediately cloud our ability to effectively communicate the time and effort that has gone into the planning and implementation. If no one knows or understands what is involved, resources (including the need for staff) may dwindle from internal and external sources. In addition, it is hard for library staff to feel that what they do is important if their efforts are not easily ascertained by patrons and others. As we continue to confront post-pandemic issues with short staffing and hiring, let’s come up with some new methods of acknowledging and articulating the significant amount of library work that currently goes unnoticed. Let’s challenge ourselves to communicate the value of all of that back end effort in ways that make sense to our communities. Doing so will allow us the opportunity to move people beyond their established assumptions of library value and will add a new dimension of worth for those working in our libraries. Together we are maximizing library potential.
Have a great week!