Why Do I Do It?

There’s a question to ponder!  The reason this question raises its head is because I sometimes question why I advocate libraries (I like to question my beliefs from time to time – believe it or not!).  Not because I don’t believe in them (I do obviously….have you not read my blog before?!) but because I wonder about my motives in sharing my passion for them.  Is it because I think I know what is best for individuals, or is it because I think that people don’t know enough about the service to make an informed judgement about whether it meets their needs?

I have a real aversion to the old fashioned Victorian idea of knowing what is best for them (although not in the same way as the modern Conservative party I hasten to add), and I am loath to let anyone think that I am sharing my belief in libraries because I think I know what is best for them.  I think that not only is it patronising, but it is also highly likely to turn people off the very thing that I am advocating.  So where does simply sharing the services on offer at public libraries with non-users end and patronising them begin?  I’m not sure (perhaps I should though!?).  But I do think a delicate line has to be trod between the two.  Some people just simply aren’t interested in using libraries not matter what is on offer.  Sometimes I guess you have to accept that (although it is hard) and not try to batter them into believing that using the library is ‘good for them’.


7 thoughts on “Why Do I Do It?

  1. Good question! And it’s bold of you to ask it as well.

    I have sometimes wondered if I defend libraries so vigorously only because I have a vested interest in them. If I was outside the library sector, would I care so much about public sector cuts or volunteers in libraries or digitisation copyright battles?

    • If I was outside the library sector, would I care so much about public sector cuts or volunteers in libraries or digitisation copyright battles?

      Well perhaps, perhaps not. But, while you have a vested interest in the sector remaining strong, that shouldn’t be an issue. I hope no-one uses that as an argument against any of your advocacy. If they do, it does rather tend to suggest that they have no other arguments!

    • I think it is good to probe your motivations and reasoning from time to time…nothing wrong with some critical thinking 🙂 And yes, I wonder the same. Although I would say I have always valued such public services (even before working in the library service)…I wonder how passionate I would be about protecting libraries. I hope I would be as keen an advocate as I am now.

  2. I manage a remote LIS service and travel around England promoting the service to social workers – essentially trying to tell them that they ‘should’ use the LIS because it ‘will’ improve their front-line social work practice BUT I can’t physically make them use the library. It’s tempting to browbeat them into submission but will their use of the library then have the desired effect on their practice and the outcomes for children?

    *All* I can do is let them know it exists, make it as easy and user-friendly to use as possible, make sure the library stock is relevant to their needs (and updated regularly) and give them an excellent service.

    The phrase ‘You can lead a horse to water…’ leaps to mind frequently! My point (yes, there is one!) is that it’s important to tell people about libraries and librarians and why they matter but we can’t force people to use them. They have to make the choice – we just have to make it impossible to resist!

    • Yes, I agree, we do have to tell people about what is important about libraries…I hope I do so without making it sound like I am beating them over the head…but sometimes I worry that that is how it is being perceived :-S

  3. You could actually ask why your beliefs are what they are, rather than just questioning your beliefs per se.

    As for motives, your expectations follow from your beliefs and values, goals and expectations being synonymous, at which point we are in the realm of goal theories of motivation.

    As well as beliefs though the context and what your senses tell you of the context are a factor (but having said that the context only acts on your beliefs I would guess).

    So your beliefs are very important[1]. Preferably as close to reality as possible 😉

    [1] Along with the skills for the environment.

    • Psychologically your motive may quite simply be one of your best option for the future being in the libraries.

      However as a public servant you have been entrusted with task of being the public’s expert on the ground on the subject also.

      I think this is what is known as goal congruence 🙂

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