Regional and rural librarians
I’ve been thinking good and hard about this. Then I think some more, then I think some more. Because I just don’t think I’m coming up with the right answers. The fact is, I’m a city girl, born and bred. I really don’t know what it’s like to try and serve a client base and build a professional career in an environment other than a big city.
The best answer I’ve come up with is that I will continue ALIA’s support of the National Broadband Network, because everything I came up with to help rural and regional librarians relied on a fast, strong internet connection.
I thought about advocacy – I asked myself how ALIA (in this case I mean members of the Board and senior staff members) advocate on behalf of rural and regional librarians. In most cases they can’t be there – the distances are too far to visit frequently. But they can advocate by phone and, increasingly, through digital channels.
I thought about professional development. I know that when people think about professional development they often think conferences, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. What about professional reading, writing, conversations? What about attending online events, taking part in Blog Every Day of June? What about joining a mentoring program that doesn’t rely on face to face interaction (blatant plug here for the International Librarians Network, set up by myself, Kate Byrne and Clare McKenzie)? I’d like to encourage ALIA groups to broadcast their events online, either live or recorded, to share across the country.
But, you guessed it, so many of these things are reliant on a fast and reliable internet service. I keep returning to the NBN.
So I’m turning the sportlight back on you (collectively) – am I on the right track? Is this what rural and regional librarians need most, or is it something else? Perhaps the thing that I can do that would be of most benefit is to actually ask rural and regional librarians what they need to support their work and their communities? In which case, I’m asking you. Tell me about your world, and what support would make a difference to you. How can I help you?