One Hour, Three Libraries, Nine Words

  • Intuit.  Inquire.  Identify.
  • Claim Your Seat.
  • Always Be Connecting.

In the excellent Building a Library Aware Community webinar, three libraries talked about how they successfully articulate their value to their communities.  My notes are copious, but in reviewing them, I noticed that each panelist offered up a three-word phrase that expressed the essence of their project and their perspective.

Richland County Public Library staffers Tony Tallent and Susan Lyon spoke about the process behind developing outreach campaigns.  Librarians can often successfully intuit what might work, but they really need to inquire more about what their community wants, and only then can they successfully identify what they should actually do.  This process led them to their brilliant “E-Ready” campaign, which features library staff and trained volunteers who “take over” coffee shops, restaurants, and bars to show people how to download free ebooks from the library.  The “E-Ready” campaign had good planning, great execution, and amazing results.

Springfield Public Library’s director Molly Fogarty talked about showing up at meetings you aren’t invited to or expected at as a way to claim your seat.  After Springfield suffered huge losses from a tornado in 2011, the city undertook a major rebuilding and renewal effort.  Fogarty enlisted passionate, dedicated staffers who were willing to serve on civic boards and committees and had them show up at meetings.  When the city identified five broad priorities for civic renewal and mentioned the library as a key to one of them, Fogarty responded that the library was key to *all* of them.  A proactive and provocative way to position the library as essential to the community.

Calgary Public Library‘s CEO Gerry Meek is, in a word, amazing.  He made many compelling statements: Going out is the new way in.  Value relationships over transactions.  Show what you can do, not why you exist. But the three words that I think best represent his perspective are what he called Calgary Public Library’s ABC’s – Always Be Connecting.  Reach out, listen in, think big, partner up, go for it.

The webinar is archived and I only have two words for you – watch it!

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