But first: a correction…
I’m keen to move on from the whole Newsnight thing now, but there’s one thing I need to state here. In my previous posts, I said that as I understood it, Newsnight offered CILIP the slot and CILIP didn’t take it up. I now understand that in fact CILIP contacted Newsnight in the first place – although they ultimately couldn’t make it happen. For me, even though the end result is the same, there’s a huge difference between those two scenarios – in one, CILIP is shirking a fabulous opportunity, but in the other (in actuality) they were tryng to MAKE an opportunity offf their own proactiveness… Which is great. Shame, obviously, that it didn’t work out, and I stand by the idea that hevean and earth should be moved in such a scenario, but the most important thing to take from this new understanding of the events is that it shows CILIP is already moving in the right direction.
So, back to the point of this post. I don’t want to sound like a broken record but I need to repeat something important for the purposes of this post: I believe one of the major barriers to marketing libraries and the information profession in general, is that people outside it do not know what we actually DO. If we can achieve that, then people can make an informed decision as to whether they want or need libraries in their lives (or, indeed, whether they’d like to come and work in one!).
CILIP have responded well to the recent issues of media representation, and part of what they’re doing is asking us, the library community, to provide 1 minute messages about our value. Nicola Mcnee has taken this concept a step further, and asked for one line tweets explaining what we do – crowd-sourcing our skills set, as she puts it. Her first tweet as an example was: I’m a librarian and I teach students how to use information sources on the Web #CILIP1. I came up with I’m a librarian and the difference between Google and me, is like the difference between overhearing a conversation and participating one. Not sure about that though, really - librarians are doing a lot of Google-bashing of late, with perfectly understandable motives and good intentions. The message is an important one. But people LOVE Google – trying to present a positive image of ourselves via a negative image of Google might end up being seen as us just whining or bleating on about stuff. We can learn a lot from Google (not least in our library catalogues) so if we are going to make the point about finding the right information with a librarian’s help, perhaps we could just say ‘search engine’ as the comparison? Anyway, I digress.
I think both these initiatives are great, and reflect the current way people digest content online – one minute is quick, one line in 140 characters or less is REALLY quick! You can see an archvie of all the CILIP1 tweets here.
Providing the same information or message in different formats increases its chance of breaking out of the (fricking) echo-chamber. Phil Bradley has set up a space online to record audio 1 minute messages, which is great – I’m going to add one of these, and you should too if you feel you can. It would be nice to have something video based too, which is what this post is leading to.
Pastiching the Zeitgeist
A great way of getting a message across effectively is to frame it in something people already know and understand. Of late there’s been a couple of examples of librarians or libraries taking something zeitgeisty and pastiche-ing or parodying it – some I like and some I don’t. The famous Librarians do Lady Gaga vid was admirable in many ways, although I wasn’t a big fan – in fairness though (and I actually mean that phrase, I’m not using it like a footballer would use it, ie vapidly!) they were making no claims to be representing the profession as a whole, they were just advertising their services in a fun and novel way – and 500,000+ views on YouTube is brilliant.
The iPad advert spoof, on the other hand, I thought was absolutely ace:
Only 5000 views though, shows how hard it is to reach people. (I say “only” – 5000 is pretty good, but not compared to half a million.)
I’m a PC / Windows 7 was my idea
I keep making the connection in my head between the cilip1 tweets, and the recent Microsoft advertising campaigns. In the ‘I’m a PC’ one, loads of people said really quick things about who they were and added “I’m a PC” to the end or begginning - as a badge of honour, in response to Apple’s campaign, featuring Mitchell and Webb as a cool, chic Apple and a geeky nerdy PC. The Windows 7 ad campaign is also quite quick-fire, with the ads typically lasting 30 seconds, and someone talking about a new feature of Windows 7, in isolation, and adding at the end that Windows 7 was their idea. Both nice ideas for ads, I find them slightly annoying but nevertheless, they’re both suitable for ‘I’m a librarian’ pastiches, no?
I’m a librarian
I’m imagining a series of extremely quick-cut pieces to camera, of Information Professionals in various visually arresting situations, saying their CILIP1 tweet lines out-loud. So all the cliches that typically denote exciting and dynamic people could be there – someone Sky-Diving shouting “I’m a librarian & I connect people with questions to people with answers!” (@alanfricker) then maybe someone in a school surrounded by fresh-faced pupils saying “I’m a school librarian and I train teachers to teach using new technologies,” (@stormfilled), then someone striding towards the camera in an office saying “I’m a librarian and I save taxpayers money” (@twistedwillow) then someone in a hi-tech looking modern computer lab saying “I’m a librarian and I don’t just point you to a resource I also show you how to get the most out of it” (@ekcragg), then Phil Bradley in maybe wearing some headphones in a studio saying “I’m a librarian and I like helping to make things better by providing timely, quality information to people who need it” (@PhilBradley) etc etc – and finally a close up of a librarian, who whispers “I’m a librarian..” then it pans out to her/him in a library and they shout really loud up at the camera “…and I make people’s lives better!” (@MarianneBamkin). Then it could all close with some url on the screen which would give people more info if they went to it, and a voice over saying “Libraries. It’s what we do.”
The Libraries. It’s what we do. slogan could be an umbrella for all sorts of efforts to explain ourselves, via all the different media we could employ, and across several countries.
Is this a good idea? Should we actually try and DO this? They don’t actually have to parody the Windows ads – they could just be stand-alone vids. If so, we could set up a wiki and do some more crowd-sourcing – people could send in decent quality vids of themselves saying their cilip1 sentences and I’ll edit them together into a short, sharp ad – maybe we can get some viral marketing going. (Actually, it only takes a second to set up a wiki; I’ve done so just in case: http://librariesitswhatwedo.pbworks.com/ And incidentally, I tried to create a mock-up of this with Xtranormal but they’ve started charging to publish the animations online…)
What do you reckon?