Alchemical Thoughts

Quick thoughts on libraries and PR

Posted on: June 2, 2008

I was cleaning the mess in my desk. I had a big pile of things that simply needed to be put away, and I finally put some order to the chaos. Anyhow, I came across a handwritten sheet of paper, which turned out to be some reading notes. However, I did not jot down the book it came from, so it took me a bit of time to figure it out. Anyhow, it turns out it was a book I had started reading over as part of work. Things got busy, as they often do, and I had to drop the book. The sheet of paper joined the pile of other things (mostly materials from displays I have taken down but had not put away). So, I am jotting the notes here.

The book I was referring to, which I have to get back to as soon as I can, is the following:

Wolfe, Lisa A. Library Public Relations, Promotions, and Communications. New York: Neal-Schuman, 1997.

My short notes then:

"Typically, the successful libraries are those that have been telling their stories for years. They have developed strong programs and have worked hard to let their constituents know the value of library services. Then, when the day comes that those services need protection, there is an educated constituency that values the lirbrary and its services–constituents who not only see libraries as an American value, but who see their library as a community value" (from Preface, ix).

To which I replied:

  • It lays it a bit thick at the end, but it makes an important point. We can't take our libraries and services for granted. We need to show our value and educate people on that value. Here's the idea again: we need to tell our story.

I was probably thinking at the time about our publications and ways for us to tell our story to the campus.

Here was something else I questioned, also from the Preface:

"If you want people to know that your library has serious budgetary problems, then all your communications efforts should emphasize how you are doing so much with so little" (x).

My reply:

  • The cynic in me just thinks that's an opening for the higher ups to freeze the budget or cut it down further.

To be honest, I still think that. Personally, I am someone who is not above using shame if I need to in order to accomplish my goals. If I can show, for example, that our collections lack resources in some area, say Women's Studies, and it happens to be March, which is National Women's History Month, well, seems to me a good time to let a few key people know that we may be lacking displays due to lack of materials. We need to be telling our story, but we are not beggars either. It's time some people upstairs put their money where their mouths are. In my humble opinion. Anyhow, as you can see, I never managed to get very far on the book. But I am hoping to fix that soon.

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