Startup Communications

I just really love the honesty in Meredith Farkas’ latest column in American Libraries. In talking about pitching an idea that didn’t take and then one that was a good fit, she reminds shiny new librarians (that means ME!): “The problem wasn’t [XYZ]; it was trying to solve problems that didn’t exist” (Farkas, 2015).

I have always been an ideas person. and I get really excited about all the library things, but the things I do have got to fit our community. I have let projects go because they don’t work, but that’s the nature of this thing–you have to keep figuring it out until you get a sense of what will work at your library. It takes time. (You have to think like a startup.)

For example, last year, to keep the library on the radar, besides my monthly email update, I was also doing a weekly feature called Tech Tuesday where I would share three apps, websites, or other technology tool. It was really time-consuming, and I never really heard back from anyone, so I stopped after a couple of months. What purpose was it serving? Was it just to keep people reminded about the Library in a non-traditional-to-them way? I realized right then that it was pointless to do this. As faculty, we are inundated with emails–committee updates, college advertisements, listservs, etc. I was just adding to the information overload problem and making myself frustrated.

Fast forward to this year. What I did for faculty and staff at the beginning of the semester (about 3 weeks in) was one big online newsletter using Smore. It was bright and colorful, and it had a hilarious video about books that parodied Mark Ronson’s/Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.” I got great feedback! Our small campus also has an email newsletter called Tuesday Tidbits (it used to be called the Monday Memo) where faculty submit updates for committees on which they serve as our campus’ representatives and other relevant campus news. Our faculty lead puts it together. Since more people read that, after I did my initial newsletter and email introduction, I started supplying updates on a weekly basis to Tidbits. In my first update this semester, I also resubmitted the link to my initial online newsletter for those who may have missed it. It seems to be going a lot better doing it this way!

Our college recently started a distance education newsletter for updates related to online education. The distance education coordinator, who is also a history professor, recently asked for people to send ideas they may have for the newsletter. Since I am really into DIY visual content, I asked her if she thought a resource list for online presentation and infographic-making tools might be of value (obviously, this also has value for web-enhanced classes). I didn’t want to start off with “this is what the Library can do for you, etc.” Plus, since this is for the whole district, it’s probably not appropriate for me to do anything like that without talking to my colleagues or our temporary director! I actually would really love to write on the behalf of the Library, but my hope is that maybe the list will show that we should be writing something, perhaps on a rotational basis?

Anyway, the DE coordinator agreed! I submitted my draft last night. Distance education is the hot thing in our college district, so I suspect this might be a great place to spread the word about online library services and librarian expertise. I am hoping this can help solve our district-wide library faculty-instructional faculty communication (image?) problem. We actually do a lot of face-to-face advocating, but since there are only four of us, we only can go so far.

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