Who Are You?

I was just thinking about marketing librarians as individuals in the library. I don’t necessarily need to see color features or biopics in the local newspaper. But I don’t see the downside of, say, a poster bearing headshots of your librarians, along with their educational information. Where did they go to college and what did they major in? Nothing to hide there, right? If a student approached you in the library and asked what was your major in undergrad, you’d tell her, right? If a librarian is a refugee from a significant prior career (i.e., a former lawyer or teacher), you could show that experience, as well.

Displaying this kind of biographical information can benefit both the library and its patrons in several ways.

1. It identifies your professional librarians and distinguishes them from an otherwise indiscernible group of library employees.

2. It makes your librarians more approachable to patrons. It does this in two ways. First, the poster helps create order. Newbie users tend to walk into a library with hesitation and uncertainty. Who are these people? Where is the stuff I need? A front-door display of who your information professionals are instantly makes their initial activity easier. Secondly, the display humanizes your staff. And when I say “staff”, I mean your oft-feared and woefully misunderstood librarians.

3. It shows student-users a direct link between attainment of education and application of knowledge and skills in a resultant professional position.

4. To a lesser degree, it can enable users to seek a librarian who, with a concentration-specific bachelor’s degree, may have a knowledge base that can better aid their topical research.

Underrepresentation of the profession is a culprit in the recent decline in library support. As librarians seek creative ways to market their institutions, they should bear in mind that their degreed professional staff are both a crucial information resource asset and a living marketing tool. Concurrently, we should be mindful of the potential for missed opportunity and that we don’t underestimate the impact of old-school do-it-yourself techniques. So many marketing tools, such as the poster I suggest here, are really elementary–so much so that they can be easily overlooked.

Funny how the absence of all those little things can leave such a big, empty space in a library’s marketing plan.


About Steven V. Kaszynski
librarian, editor, contributor

One Response to Who Are You?

  1. svkaszynski says:

    To follow up, I am sensitive to the stalking issue that seems to be intrinsically tied to this minor professional marketing push. I’ve read many comments and blog posts citing concerns about potential hazards stemming from the sort of breach of privacy that goes along with this type of professional disclosure. Get a little dose of the discourse here on David Lee King’s site. Still, I stand behind anyone who shares the thoughts I put forth in this post. I’m totally content that there is nothing inherently damning in this marketing gesture.

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