Under slept from a year of baby #2 who struggled immensely to sleep through the night, and trying to be relaxed as I faced my last summer of courses for my master’s, we climbed into the Nissan Rouge, my husband, my 1 year old and my 3 year old, and our 17 year old Dachshund on a 516 mile journey to the Rio Grande Valley, the place where my husband and I are from. In this plan, my children and I will be staying with my mother for four weeks – mainly to achieve two objectives – having the kids spend ample grandparent time after a year of quarantine and for help watching them while I worked on my classes.
It proved to be a good choice. Each day, one set of grandparents helped watch the kids for a few hours while I got classwork done. Good memories were made as well.
However, some of the most notable memories were are related to my parents and their view of the library. This summer I am taking INFO 5420: Introduction to Youth Literature, where, you guessed it, there is quite a bit of reading – 25 books total (although 15 of those are within the Pre K-6th range). This proved to be quite challenging for two reasons:
- Not every book I needed/ wanted was available as an ebook or audiobook
- I am not a resident of Edinburg, Texas, so cannot check out books.
If I am being completely honest, I could get away with checking out books in another city. Plano libraries have kiosks where one only has to put in their library card number and last fours digits of their telephone and off they go.
So, in order to check out the books I needed, I had to ask my parents to take me to the library. My parents do NOT frequent the library in any capacity.
When I first arrived to Edinburg, I first wanted to go to the library not to obtain books for my class, but to obtain books to read to my daughter and son. My mom paused and looked at me quizzically, “Vanessa, I have all the Golden books from when you were a child!” It took me a moment to bounce back from this. While that may be true, I had some questions –
Where are the stories of Latinos in the Golden Books of yesteryear (1980s)
Where are the representations of Native Americans, Black Americans, Asian Americans, LGBTQ communtity, people with disabilities?
Where are the representations of science, and more acutely, the representations of women in science?
Where are the representations of being kind and good to yourself and others?
No, the Golden Books are not good enough for me, and they are not good enough for my kids and they are not good enough for young people.
My dear dad did not finish high school, but he reads everyday. He reads the newspaper front to back and had been, surprisingly to me, a champion for underrepresented people and minorities. I ask him for help, trying to give my mom a break for waiting for me as I browse the library. My dad arrives and helps me out my pushing the baby around in the stroller, an impressive feat for him, who never changed a diaper in his life. I find the books I wanted and we both go up to the circulation desk. It turns out that he already had a library card, but needs a replacement card. I pay for the replacement card. After the staff check out my/his books, my dad asks:
“So how what do we owe you?”
“How much for the books?”
“Oh, sir, they are free”
“Wow, well that’s just great. Thank you very much.”
So there it is. My dad did not know that library books are free.
This anecdote, unfortunately, is representative of a much larger demographic.
How does one, whether a person, school library, public library or academic library, advocate for the innumerable benefits of the library? Through the lends of brand advocacy, where the library is conceptualized as a capitalistic establishment that has tangible value. In the article, “Community connections: Advocating for libraries through effective brand advocacy,” Singh and Trinchetta focus on three strategies to this brand advocacy – word of mouth, branding and advocacy. The first of these “represents one of the most influential sources of information transfer by consumers” (Sing & Trinchetta, 2020, p. 296). Though literal word of mouth is of tremendous benefit, a strong social media presence is essential.
” branding can evoke a memory,
a collection of feelings, associations, experiences, and behaviors – a perception,
when people think of their libraries
School libraries can be extensions of advocates for the public library. In one librarian’s web page, there were easy to access links to the plano public library. In another, I saw public library summer reading challenges offered to students in their last days of the school year.
My parents might not become “Friends” of their library or help volunteer at events, but perhaps their summer exposure introduced them to what the library can begin to offer.
Singh, R. & Trinchetta, G. G. (2020) Community connections: Advocating for libraries through effective brand advocacy. Public Library Quarterly, 39:4, 295-309, DOI: 10.1080/01616846.2019.1613626