Access and Impact

[Originally posted to Facebook]

Ok I’m feeling preachy.

Repeat after “me access does not equal impact or knowledge or improvement”…Unless you are also talking about access to education, economic opportunity, good schools, good nutrition, transportation, and resources.
Yes libraries are part of a whole network where we meet Maslow’s needs, but we can’t simply assume all these needs are met. We must be part of a proactive system that seeks to ensure them. We are not simply doing collection development with books and databases, but with schools, faith communities, philanthropies, social services, government. We must seek to connect the vast and diverse players toward equitable access across our communities.
School librarians working with teachers, and nurses, and counselors is access.
Academic librarians working with student services, career services, teaching centers, and crisis centers is access.
Public librarians working with homeless shelters, prisons, and churches is access.
Medical librarians working with patients, doctors, care givers is access.
Librarians working across library type to ensure a student transitions to undergraduate to worker is access.
Here ends the

3 Replies to “Access and Impact”

  1. I have found it useful to distinguish between physical access (making it available) and intellectual access (teaching how to use), each of course being more complex than the few words I have used here to differentiate them.

    1. But it’s something more than that too…cultural access and an awareness of people in context. We say this, we teach this, we write this, but too often mistake simply providing access (to materials, to the Internet, etc.) is sufficient for impact. Or more, that librarians think that access is “theirs.” There needs to be recognition, education, and reward for creating partnerships. And partnerships across the spectrum from private, to public, to community, to religious.

  2. It’s interesting. In the 20+ years that I’ve been talking with clients about the value of the work we’ve done together, they have always talked about the outcomes (impact) for themselves & their research partners, students, patients, etc. They also talk about how this feels. These clients have demonstrated a much greater depth of understanding of the librarian’s contribution than many librarians (including library managers & leaders). They also demonstrate a greater understanding of what a librarian can be for, & (more importantly) with, her/his community, & what we actually do when we “be” their librarians. I sometimes wonder if we, as a profession, are (at the moment) working with a noose gently resting on our shoulders & that it is we ourselves who will be the ones to firmly tighten it around our professional neck over the next ten years. Keep up the preaching – we need to hear these things!!!

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