Library Marketing & New Professionals

On Tuesday eveing I attended my first SLA event; Library Marketing & New Professionals, with speakers Ned Potter and Bethan Ruddock. It event was hosted by SLA Europe, and was also my first time in Leeds!

Ned Potter: 6 things you, yes YOU, can do to market your service

The slides from Ned’s presentation can be found here. I don’t want to just reproduce the presentation as notes, so I’ll just mention a few things that stood out to me.

  • We are all marketers. But what can we do as new professionals? In terms of face-to-face and online interaction, it’s important to give a positive impression and good service. Word of mouth is very powerful!
  • New perspectives. Senior people will LIKE it if you come to them with ideas!
  • Social media is a huge way for new professionals to get involved, as we can bring expertise. But you need to consider what social media does for the institution which isn’t happening now. How can you help solve an existing problem?
  • 1-in-4 rule: With Twitter, for example, of four tweets only one should be about your organisation. The others should be retweets, @replies, or just tweeting something your audience might find interesting. Which leads on to…
  • The ‘at a party example’: If you were at a party, you wouldn’t stand in the corner, making announcements. The same goes for social media; you need to interact with your audience.
  • Benefits, not features. Focus on what the library can do for your audience. A course titled Advanced Search would be better marketed as ‘Getting the most out of Google’, for example.

Bethan Ruddock: Marketing yourself

Bethan’s website for the LIS New Professionals Toolkit can be found here. Instead of presentation slides, coloured cards were distributed around the room, with various terms on them. We waved them in the air, and Bethan spoke a little about each one.

The cards were divided into three criteria; Motivation, Medium, and Message. Again, I’ll just pick out a few things that I found particularly interesting or useful.

  • Be authentic: Your message has to engage people, it has to get across different media and audiences. It has to be who you are. Otherwise, you’ll get caught out eventually!
  • At work: This is the best place to market yourself. The best way to advocate for yourself is to do your job well.
  • Flows from your activities: It’s much easier to share ideas and projects when it’s something you know about and are enthusiastic about.
  • Success criteria: Make goals for yourself; ‘I want X number of views for this blog post’, for example. Then celebrate meeting these goals!
  • Marketing yourself is not something to be scared of! It should be part of what you do, not something extra. Once you start thinking of opportunities to build a profile and project yourself a certain way, you’ll start seeing them.

Once the presentations were finished, COMPETITIVE UNSEEN-SLIDES BATTLE-SUMMARISING took place. Two brave souls, Katie and Laura, volunteered to live out my worst nightmare; giving a summary of the two presentations with slides they had never seen before. They both did fantastically! Well done!

I really enjoyed this event, and it’s always nice to meet people from Twitter in real life! I’m looking forward to my next SLA event, the Summer Social, in a fortnight’s time, and then it’s onto the SLA Annual Conference in Chicago!

The Postmodern Library

Social theorists argue postmodern society is characterised by an emphasis on plurality, a weakening of the high/low culture dichotomy, and a rejection of the authority of grand narratives; ‘big stories’ that attempt to explain the world – such as science, religion, for example.

The movement from a modern to a postmodern society can be seen in many facets of the library. In this post I’ll be musing on three different aspects of the library and how they relate to postmodernity; library design; public libraries; and academic libraries.

Library Design

This is perhaps where postmodernism is most apparent.

Postmodern architecture rejects the functional design of modern architecture, where the building is designed round its purpose, in favour of aesthetics.

Another aspect of postmodernism is pastiche; the borrowing of elements from other styles, or historical periods. In this way, there may be a juxtaposition of classical elements with cutting edge design.

The Harold Washington Library Centre in Chicago mixes old and new design – credit: http://dft.ba/-2Sl2

The Information Commons here in Sheffield is an excellent example of a postmodern library, both in its architecture, and in its use of space inside – catering for a variety of learning styles.

The Information Commons – credit: http://dft.ba/-2Sl4

Public Libraries

Some may argue that public libraries are a product of modernity, as they promote grand narratives of education, professional knowledge, and bureaucracy [1]. However, an important manifestation of postmodernity is pluralism, and this is reflected in the need for pluralistic library services for previously marginalised groups. Postmodern society is increasingly diverse, and public libraries should be, and are, responding to this in their provision.

Additionally, community-run libraries, though generally seen as a last resort for public libraries faced with closure, could be argued as a weakening of power of the grand narrative of overarching government.

Academic Libraries

When considering academic libraries, again pluralism is relevant. With changes in pedagogy to accept and for a range of learning styles, libraries too have had to change how they cater for students who may wish to work in a variety of ways [2].

The IC has a range of study spaces to suit all needs – credit: http://dft.ba/-2Wh2

The Information Commons does just this, with a number of study spaces suited to different needs.

There are still the traditional silent study areas and individual desks, but students also have the choice of group study areas and bookable rooms, as well as flexible spaces to arrange how you wish.

This is all of course open to interpretation, and many authors argue that we are not even postmodern yet, rather society is in a stage of late, or high, modernity [3]. Either way, it is clear, particularly in the case of library design, that there has been a movement away from the traditional library and that change is occurring.

[1] Black, A. & Muddiman, D. (1997). Understanding Community Librarianship: The Public Library in Post Modern Britain, Aldershot: Averbury.

[2] Brophy, P. (2000). The Academic Library, London: Facet Publishing.

[3] Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and Self-identity: self and society in the late modern age, Cambridge: Polity.

#cpd23 Thing 7 – Real-life networks

I have decided to use this post as a reflection on why I haven’t joined CILIP (sorry!).

Firstly, I just want to say it’s not because I don’t think professional organisations are worthwhile. I think they are, and I am happy to be a part of them (I am a member of SLA Europe).

My main reason is far more practical… Money.

As a Graduate Trainee last year, I was in no way earning nearly enough to be living in Oxford. I was lucky enough that my boyfriend moved to Oxford just before me, so we shared a flat. Even splitting the rent between two meant I rarely had much left over at the end of the month. Paying for CILIP membership, even at student rates (which you can do as a trainee apparently), sadly wasn’t really my priority with my disposable income.

Right now, it’s a similar situation. I am extremely grateful in that I was awarded funding for my Masters, but I have to spend a lot on train tickets to see the boyfriend in Oxford (train travel is so overpriced, damn you privatisation!). Again, CILIP isn’t really a priority; though I must add I have thought about joining many times, and hope to join when I am working full-time.

That being said, I haven’t really thought it through. If I had joined in September 2010, I would have paid student rates and would have already been a member for nearly two years. As it is, I will now have to join, if I wait til I’m in full-time employment, a much higher rate.

I feel the jump in membership fees between student rates and the other categories is huge. This is hard for those of us just starting out, potentially not earning that much. You can see the membership fees here.

Maybe somewhere under there, subconsciously, I feel it’s not value for money. But I can figure that out when I join!

#cpd23 Thing 6 – Online Communities

For this post, I will focus on LinkedIn and LISNPN, as I have spoken about Twitter in previous cpd23 posts, and I don’t use Facebook as a professional network (though I do follow some libraries on it, such as The British Library and the Bodleian).

LinkedIn

I set up a new profile, and the next day the LinkedIn leaked passwords were all over the news. So not the greatest of starts!

Currently I only have my library work experience on my profile, but I will be adding more to it when I get a bit of time. I also tried importing my CV, which seemed to work well, with some slight formatting issues, so this might be a good way to fill out my skills, interests etc.

To be honest though, I don’t feel I will be using LinkedIn for the groups. I don’t feel it offers much that I don’t already get from other sources. However, I will be keeping my profile, as LinkedIn generally ranks highly in Google search results, and as such offers a guaranteed professional image if someone were to Google me.

LISNPN

The LIS New Professionals Network is a great idea, as it gives a place for us all to come together. Though, I must admit, I do not use it to its full potential.

I found the anonymous Library School reviews very useful when applying for Masters courses, but I don’t tend to utilise the forum features. I am more of a lurker, which I imagine is the case for the majority of its users.

I’m going to try to use it more. I think I’ve been quite lucky in that my first proper library role was as a trainee at Oxford, where there were about 20 or so of us – a ready-made network and support structure! If I had been more isolated when starting out, and perhaps this will be the case in my first professional role after library school, LISNPN would be very useful for connecting with other new professionals and sharing ideas.

Online networks I don’t currently use…

  • Google+ – haven’t tried it, because I haven’t heard great things about its privacy settings. Perhaps I’ll give it a go in the future, but right now I’m in no hurry.
  • Pinterest – I do use Pinterest, a sort of online mood board where you ‘pin’ things from around the internet to various boards devoted to a subject. For example, I have a Recipes to make board. I find it useful for collating recipes, but I definitely don’t use it for networking, and I’m not sure whether libraries need to be on it (NB I found this article which discusses libraries using Pinterest). I think a focused social media strategy that concentrates on a few tools is far more effective than one which tries to keep up with the flavour of the month, perhaps to the detriment of quality.
    But in terms of my own social networking? No, I won’t use Pinterest for that. I enjoy it, but I see it as quite flippant and fluffy!

Tomorrow is International Archives Day

June 9th is International Archives Day, a day to celebrate and support archives, and get to know a little more about what they do.

Follow the #archday12 on Twitter for tweets from archives around the world, and insights into some of the unique collections held in archives. International Archives Day is all about raising awareness of the importance of records and archives, and why we need to preserve and provide access to them.

It looks like a fantastic range of archives will be participating in the day, including the Bodleian Libraries, who will be showcasing some gems from their collections today and tomorrow. From just a quick perusal of the #archday12 tagged tweets, I see the Parliament Archives will also be tweeting for International Archives Day, as well as the British Postal Museum & Archive, and of course many more varied archives from around the world!

So follow the action to see why archives are awesome!

 

 

#cpd23 Thing 5 – Reflective Practice

Reflective Practice

As part of the Management for Library & Information Services module of my LIS degree I had to keep a reflective journal, involving 8 entries reflecting on my experiences of management or an exceptional learning experience.

At first I found it a little tedious, but now I can see how it can help keep track of how and what you have learned, and to put down in writing a concrete account of what you have learned.

This tends to be the model I take when writing reflectively; what happened? What did I learn? What will I do differently in the future?

I thought it would be useful for this Thing to actually reflect on something, so I will look at the last piece of work I did for my Masters, which was a research project for the Archives & Records Management.

What?

The project involved researching an area of interest, setting a research question, and answering it using an archive or collection. The final paper was 1,500 word long, and I chose the subject of the views of Karl Marx on women, using the Marxists Internet Archive for the basis of my research.

Karl Marx – excellent beard. Credit: http://dft.ba/-2K_j

So What?

I enjoyed the opportunity to use an archive for research, as it’s not something I’ve had experience in before. It has always seemed something for people studying Olde English, or family history. However, I do now wish I had chosen a more ‘traditional’ archive, as it, I feel, would have given more focus to my research.

The topic itself was quite straight-forward to research, but the archive was perhaps not the easiest to use. My initial ideas included looking at the representation on capitalism in comic strips, but the documents I found contained no metadata as to the date or providence.

My research project was relatively small, but I can definitely see the problems this might hold for someone doing serious research using this archive.

Now What?

What can I practically apply from this experience? Well, I was unfamiliar with archives before starting this module, except from a few visits to archives during my traineeship. Now, I feel I could legitimately suggest an archive or special collection to a library user looking for resources for research.

For example, I can recall during my time at Oxford a student asked me to point him to some primary sources for researching something to do with China. I remember giving him some tips with using certain databases and search tools, which I think (and hope) served him well enough, but if this happened again, I would search for useful archives and special collections that might help him.

Reflecting on reflection…

I will definitely continue to reflect on learning experiences and events, as it is a really useful tool for LIS professionals to develop and progress by learning from one’s experience.

In future I will try, when blogging about an event for example, to write evaluatively and think about what I learned from it, rather than simply writing a description of what happened.