Recently Johanna Anderson (@Jo_Bo_Anderson) of Voices for the Library has been campaigning to save Gloucestershire public libraries from massive cuts. Despite her amazing work some have argued that because she is a librarian her campaigning is fuelled by self-interest. The reasoning goes that because she benefits from the continued existence of libraries, her campaigning is less ‘pure’ or less valid. This argument is often raised against librarians defending libraries and is fallacious and irritating for several reasons.
Isn’t a defence of libraries more effective coming from an expert in libraries than from someone who knows little about libraries? A librarian, a library assistant, a shambrarian, or anyone who works in libraries knows about libraries and is therefore in a privileged position to assess their benefits. More so than a member of the public, a librarian sees who uses libraries, how libraries are used, and knows why they should be protected. Campaigning as a librarian should be an advantage not a disadvantage.
Edit: 'someone who knows little about libraries' previously linked to Tim Coates' Good Library Blog. It's been pointed out quite rightly that this is an ad hominem jibe. Whether someone is or is not a librarian, they have equal cause to campaign for libraries. Maybe if I'd learnt more critical thinking in school...
It has even been suggested that Johanna hide the fact that she is a librarian. Misrepresenting yourself or your beliefs to win an argument is not winning the argument at all. Lying to win does not make you a winner.
People are free to argue against public libraries in various ways. They can present statistics and graphs: campaigners will counter and defend. They can present ideological differences: campaigners will point out flaws in the logic and differences of opinion. But arguing against the people who defend libraries because they are passionate enough to have devoted their lives to libraries is an argument that can never win.