“Apply the fundamental principles of planning, management and marketing/advocacy.”
Limited budgets continue to cripple libraries of every stripe. School libraries are closing and laying off librarians. Universities have extended hiring freezes. Public libraries are offering early retirements to longstanding employees without refilling the positions. Corporations are choosing to axe archival departments rather than continue to cover their costs.
This is the unfortunate reality present in 2009. The economy as a whole spiraled downward in 2008, and the process of rebuilding it will take time. Libraries, subsisting so frequently on a combination of public largesse, grants, municipal taxes, and stock-heavy endowments suffer in this environment. A librarian must know more than just information architecture to handle this environment; as the managers in their workplaces, they need to have fundamental business skills such as planning, budgeting, leadership, and fundraising to help their libraries prosper. Moreover, whether they work for a small branch library or a large University, they need to actively promote their library so it remains important to their users.
Taking the time to create a viable annual plan and budget can be tedious. I can’t imagine many librarians dreamt of planning meetings when they entered the profession. However, a well-crafted annual plan can help protect jobs and resources during difficult economic times, and then allow for greater expenditures and capital improvements when the economy picks up. Therefore the library’s staff and patrons feel the consequences of good planning in a very concrete way.
Prior to entering the School of Library and Information Science, I had extensive experience in planning and budgeting through my operations role at The Nature Conservancy of California. I applied that personal experience when reviewing a number of articles on planning during my LIBR-204 course (Information Organizations and Management), and I submit the resulting paper as evidence of my professional and academic experience with the subject.
While planning and budgeting often go underappreciated, good leadership and management takes on a higher visibility in an organization. Like any business or venture, information organizations require strong visionary leadership if they are to thrive. Schools of Library and Information Science are structured to train the next generation of information professionals, turning out professionals skilled in technological tools, teamwork and instruction. Leadership isn’t always a part of the equation. I feel fortunate that I took LIBR-204 in person with Dr. Bill Fisher, who placed great emphasis on the subject of leadership and management, leadership styles, and organizational hierarchy. This emphasis provided me a structural understanding of business that I will still look back on ten or twenty years into my career. I submit this paper on leadership as evidence of my understanding of business management.
With a stunning array of options available for information seekers, librarians cannot sit back behind a desk and wait to be approached. In order to keep the library in the mind of our users, to keep it vital, we need to know how to reach out beyond our walls and be present in the community. This can take both physical and digital form.
When I was a reference intern at the University of San Francisco’s Gleeson Library, I sat at a promotional table at USF’s Health and Benefits Fair. We demonstrated the library’s resources for health-related questions and issues to USF Staff & Faculty. Gleeson Library’s management understood that in order to be a part of the USF community, they needed to engage with the University staff and make it clear how the library’s resources can benefit them. My turn at the table was memorialized in the Gleeson Library newsletter, Global Update, Vol 1, No. 2 from Fall 2009 (Available here. My picture appears on pg. 4).
Today’s myriad technological tools give us new techniques for connecting with our potential users. One much ballyhooed option is facebook; for an assignment during LIBR-246 with Professor Debbie Faires I posted my thoughts (positive and negative) on using facebook as an outreach tool for library promotion.
I have also had the opportunity to actively participate in virtual library promotion. During my (ongoing) tenure as an intern at the research library of the California Academy of Sciences, I composed a post for their blog, “From the Stacks”. The intent of the Academy’s library blog is to reach out to both the general public and internal staff and give them a better sense of the services performed by the library and a window into their archival collections. It’s important for the library to remind its stakeholders — the researchers and curators of the Academy, and the museum’s general members — that the library is both valuable and vital.
I submit both of these posts — the first analyzing a potential avenue for library outreach, and the other a practical application of online marketing techniques — as evidence of my understanding of contemporary library advocacy and marketing.
Exhibit C: Reaching Towards our Users (blog post on The Pinakes).
Exhibit D: The Fiske Is In (blog post on From the Stacks).