Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Putting the pieces together: my LISNPN competition entry

Last month I entered LISNPN's advocacy competition. The competition task was to create library advocacy materials that would raise awareness of libraries, and reach new, non-library audiences. When the competition was first announced I really wanted to enter with something that was different to the usual advocacy media of slidedecks, posters and videos. Katie Birkwood's knitting pattern set the tone for the inventiveness of the other entries. Then I went to TeachMeet and heard Sarah Pavey speaking about using jigsaws to teach her sixth-formers good essay techniques. One of the parallels between jigsaw puzzles and essays that Sarah pointed out is that you don't always know what the final thing is going to look like when you start out. This got me thinking that this could also work for stealth advocacy if done right.

So, I hunted around and found some library-related quotes (mostly from Lauren Smith's Tumblr as it turned out!) Then I used my 1337 paint skillz and made a set of 5x7" cards which I got printed pretty cheaply as jigsaws. I've started out with three different designs, the one to the right which is a quote by Alfred John Langley: "The only true equalisers in the world are books ; the only treasure-house open to all comers is a library.", the one below, and one which I failed to take a photo of, but the design is on my flickr here ("As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information" - Benjamin Disraeli, <3 Libraries)

They're all fairly simple designs, partly because of the small size the jigsaws were going to be, and partly (mostly) because by now this was the day of the deadline...

When they arrived, stage two was to box them up in little packages with big labels which said things like "Bored? Make me!" and "Long train journey? Make me!". I roped in my arty-crafty sister to make these cute little boxes, promising her conference freebies if I won ^^. In the bottom, which again I failed to photograph, there's a QR code and a short URL leading to the Voices for the Library website.

That's as far as I've got so far, the final stage of the plan is to leave them in coffee shops, waiting rooms, railway stations, anywhere where people will be waiting around for a while. My hope is that they'll see the box, think "why the heck not, it'll waste some time anyway", and make them, BAM, stealth advocacy accomplished!

Not entirely sure that'll work, but will keep you updated! I'm off to Spain tomorrow (alarm is set for 3.45am erk!) so it'll be all quiet from me for the next couple of weeks.

Related posts: Putting the Pieces Together: Part Two


  1. I love this! Bring a bunch to the next conference you go to and spread them all over the country...

  2. Thanks :) Jacqueline that sounds like a plan!

  3. This is brilliant! Good luck.

  4. AMAZING. Totally in love with this! <3 x

  5. Brilliant, I love them! It's like ninja advocacy (using ninja as an adjective, not a noun. We all know that ninjas don't need advocates. They're ninjas).

  6. Very 1337!

    These look great to me. To get all dragon's den, any idea on a unit cost for a 1000? To cut down on cost, a simple box with "Bored?" on it would work (although wouldn't be as pretty as you uber craft skillz).

  7. Thanks Ian! I don't really have any idea of how much these would cost to make in bulk I'm afraid. When I was first thinking about this I searched for companies that do corporate gifts hoping I'd find one that did cheap jigsaws to buy in bulk - didn't have much luck! So I ordered a few prototypes from snapfish, they probably cost about £5 each altogether. Maybe CILIP or another organisation with links to printers etc. would be able to get a better deal!

  8. These are great, could make interesting educational tools as well... Reminds me of $1,000,000 notes I've seen left in loos and public places (even libraries). Looks like real money initially, but has lots of religious questions on the other side relating to wealth and spiritual happiness.