2012 is the 11th year we have organised our annual Make a Noise in Libraries Fortnight (MANIL)
The campaign has 3 key objectives:
To highlight the need for more accessible library services.
To encourage and support libraries and help them reach out to people with sight loss in their local community
To encourage individuals to speak up about their reading needs
Local authority budget cuts have continued to impact on library services with many libraries and mobile services being reduced, merged or facing closure. Despite this difficult environment, we are delighted that a record number of libraries participated in MANIL 2012. Twice as many events were organised as last year and we had new libraries getting involved plus regular supporters doing more.
Our theme for MANIL 2012 was the Six Steps initiative, led by Share the Vision in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians and the Scottish Library and Information Council. RNIB is an active member of Share the Vision. 181 out of 205 UK library authorities have pledged to undertake six low-cost actions to improve what they offer. Participation in MANIL is one of these six steps, giving us a great opportunity to raise the campaign's profile and encourage libraries to do more and make contact with blind and partially sighted people in their community.
Activity during MANIL 2012
Materials and support
We provided free bookmarks and posters once again this year. This combination of materials continues to be the most appropriate and cost-effective way of supporting and incentivising libraries.
Our bookmark this year was a general RNIB National Library Service promotional tool rather than the MANIL-specific designs we have chosen in the past. We wanted to create a giveaway for libraries that we could also use throughout the year at other events and exhibitions. We sent a supply of 20 bookmarks (and a poster) to each branch library with our promotional letter. No adverse feedback was received from libraries about the new design - in fact, we ordered a reprint due to high demand.
An A4 poster was produced as in previous years and was also available by download from the website.
A template poster was provided on the website for libraries to print off and add details of their local events. Other web resources included links to audio author interviews for download, an 'ideas bank', and sample braille and giant print books and photographs and artefacts from the RNIB Archive.
Feedback from library staff shows that the free resources we offer are appreciated and used to support a variety of reading and book activities during MANIL Fortnight.
We also worked with RNIB's Media & Culture Team to offer a free hands-on ebook reader taster session and talk for staff and/or customers. Peter Atkin visited 15 libraries to demonstrate a range of mainstream ebook readers and answer questions about accessibility. These sessions were very popular and we are grateful to Peter and his team for supporting MANIL in this way.
The date of MANIL 2012 was announced to regular library supporters by email in December 2011. A letter was sent to all UK library branches and HQs in March 2012, outlining the campaign and inviting them to participate. The letter included 20 bookmarks and a poster. A reminder email was sent in May 2012.
A homepage article appeared on RNIB's website and on Reading Site. MANIL was promoted internally via isite and weekly global news email. A message was included on May pay slips.
We liaised with RNIB and Action colleagues in the English regions and the countries. Action colleagues in Cumbria and Exeter attended and organised events with their local libraries.
In Scotland, we enlisted the help of the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) and the Scottish Council on Visual Impairment (SCOVI). In Wales, we promoted MANIL via CyMAL (Museums Archives and Libraries Wales) and the Wales Council for the Blind. MANIL was promoted on the Vison2020 website and events noticeboard and to English local societies via Visionary.
We were particularly pleased that the Scottish Parliament passed a motion commending MANIL, moved by Stuart McMillan SNP and supported by 42 other MSPs of all parties.
We were notified about 100 events (86 libraries) which were listed on the website. This was twice as many last year and reflects a year-on-year improvement with 35 events in 2009 and 43 in 2010. Events are still mainly in England but we had more participation in Wales (5 libraries), Scotland (10 libraries) and RNIB Londonderry in Northern Ireland requested materials. Closer links with the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) through Six Steps helped to promote MANIL north of the border with good results.
Events included ebook taster sessions, talks by authors and audio book narrators, adult storytelling, poetry, live music, sensory story time for children and the launch of new reading groups. National Library Service staff attended events in Monmouth Library in South Wales, Merton Libraries in London and Manchester City Library.
Hundreds of libraries participated with displays of audio and large print books. Five libraries requested Archive packs. Peter Atkins delivered 15 ebook reader sessions in libraries all over the country from the Isle of Man to Bromley in Kent.
Building on last year's successful ebooks survey, we again provided an activity for blind and partially sighted people to get involved in. We invited the National Library Service Focus Group to take part in a Six Steps survey by visiting or contacting their local library to ask a series of simple questions about the provision of audio and large print books, accessible IT, catalogues, self-service machines and reading groups. Our volunteers also asked for advice about other sources of reading material such as Talking Newspapers. A total of 32 libraries were surveyed and a separate report of the findings will be available and will be shared with libraries to help them improve what they offer.
We ask libraries to tell us what they're doing during MANIL Fortnight but we don't always hear from them, particularly if they are “just” organising a display of audio and large print books. However, we had more notification of events this year, and more requests for materials, due mainly to the impact of Six Steps.
Materials are often ordered by a librarian on behalf of a number of branches, which helps us to estimate that MANIL was promoted in around 400 libraries across the UK this year.
A separate online survey with Six Steps 'champions' in each library authority was also carried out. We will compare the findings from our reader survey with what the Six Steps champions reported to us in order to get a balanced picture of activity, provision and customer service.
Feedback from libraries this year indicates that MANIL is very much appreciated by those who take part as a way of reaching out to blind and partially sighted people in their local community. Here is a sample comment:
"Just to let you know what a great day we have had today! Not all those who had promised to come to man stands turned up but the quality of the day for those who did was really good. Action for Blind People especially did well and attracted a lot of interest as did the Diabetic Eye Screening Team. We will certainly do this again at other service points next year. The Mayor opened the event and two other councillors visited so that's really good for us as a service. Many thanks for all your help."
Jill Craven, Barnsley Libraries
Not all events are well-supported however, which can be disappointing for libraries who put in a lot of effort. For example:
"Unfortunately we got a low number of people despite all our publicity which I was disappointed with if I am honest. We have quite an active reading group at Norton and we only got one person to our poetry event ....Still, not we're not deterred. We like to do our bit!" Mark Freeman, Stockton-on-Tees
Individuals This year's survey gave people an opportunity to do something practical to help improve their local library services. Feedback shows that participants also enjoyed furthering their own knowledge and understanding of what is available and investigating something new.
"I am grateful that I was pushed into doing the survey and visiting the library again as I had been very put off by my previous experience. It was very enjoyable talking to the Stock Manager as we discovered that we shared so many favourite books."
Marie Freeman, Bath
"Staff at our local Blind and Partially Sighted Resource Centre were very interested in seeing what I found out - they called me a mystery shopper! " Mary Walmsley, York
"I was very encouraged by the helpful attitude of the staff and left feeling confident that I would be helped as much as necessary on any future visit." Pam Hyett, Cwmbran, Torfaen
One of the aims of MANIL has always been to encourage people with sight loss to visit their library to ask about what is available. In this way, we hope they will discover/rediscover services they can use whilst also demonstrating the need for accessible library services.
Looking ahead to MANIL 2013
The dates of next year's campaign have yet to be decided but will be early June as this seems to be a good time for most libraries.
A theme has yet to be decided but there will be an opportunity for individuals to get involved in a practical activity during the campaign fortnight.
We will aim to raise the profile of the individual campaigning element of MANIL by using RNIB Member Forums and regional campaigns officers, and Action for Blind People.
We will continue to build on the Six Steps initiative as a way of retaining and increasing their participation in MANIL.
We will continue efforts to recruit libraries in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by
- using RNIB staff in the countries
- using regional case studies of libraries that support MANIL
- using regional library networks e.g. Cymal, Scottish Library &
We will make more use of digital / social media including Facebook, Twitter and public library email lists.
Materials – review quantities and costs. Could we do anything digital?