Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Keynote I: Callie Crossley

Callie Crossley clearly loves libraries and librarians, and the feeling is mutual. So first she told stories about ways her life has connected with libraries: experiences in childhood, using her local Cambridge branch, her eagerness to hear Nancy Pearl talk today, mentioning that she's read Jessamyn West's blog (, if you haven't seen it), and that she's a longtime book club buddy of Em Claire Knowles (I want to be in *that* book group!).

But do other people value the library the way we do? And she spoke of library closures and threats to library services--in Oregon, and closer to home, Medway, Saugus. How many people can articulate the benefits of the public library? Librarians have been working on expanding their mission, but that takes resources.

It's good that librarians advocate to engage the attention of the nation's policymakers. But this effort is too narrow; we need to engage the public, since as the bumper sticker says:
“When the people lead, the leaders will follow.”

"If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect."
Thomas Jefferson, Poor Richard's Almanack

Crossley herself encourages others to use free wifi at the library, encourages others to get reading suggestions there, and to get library cards. We need to “rebrand” libraries, with new terminology and imagery. We could use a tagline (e.g., “save the cheerleader, save the world"). We need to tell our stories with passion to let people know what libraries are all about.

She ended with: “Act now, tell the stories, save the libraries.”

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