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Further thoughts from the Historic Libraries Forum conference on hard times and how to cope.  It was great that the other speakers in the morning made points which linked with those I made in my talk, which I popped up earlier this week …

In hard times (or any times) it’s vital to proclaim your value and make the case for resources.  Phil Sykes of Liverpool University discussed how to do this, based on his experiences of persuading academic staff and managers to open access to journals, improve library funding etc.  I liked Phil’s talk because he took the standard stuff of marketing and advocacy (know your audiences, segment the market, use the right language) but made it real and engaging.  Phil emphasised the irrational side of decision-making, and how we can’t just rely on our wonderful logical arguments to make our cases.  Above all we need to think like the people we are persuading and understand what they value.

Social media and other new tech can really help us widen our audiences and engage in new ways. Katie Birkwood helpfully introduced 23 Things for Professional Development (CPD 23), a free online course which helps librarians explore these new media.   I didn’t actually do the course, as I had enough on my plate with the Handbook, but I can confidently recommend it from following the experiences of others via twitter and their blogs.  The CPD 23 blog is full of information and help … well worth a look.  For another angle on talk and conference, see Katie’s blog post here.

In the afternoon, we looked in more detail at specific ways of fund-raising etc  which could be particularly helpful to historic library curators.  Ed Weech covered the use of volunteers at the Bishopsgate Institute.  Karen Attar shared experience of a Friends’ Group at Senate House.  Jonathan Harrison discussed applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund.  All very honest, helpful, and realistic.

PS A couple of plugs:

I can highly recommend the Royal Asiatic Society for meetings etc.  Nice food, friendly atmosphere and round the corner from Euston and St Pancras/King’s Cross.

If you are interested in historic libraries, why not join the Historic Libraries Forum?  It’s free!  You don’t have to work in one to join, just have an interest.

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