Me, myself and I: marketing yourself & your library

27 May 2003

Review by Kristel Petrou

Last night SALIN put on one of its excellent networking-professional development events. The theme for this event was Me, Myself and I: Marketing you and your library. The setting for last nights event was the CPA building in Pultney St and it provided a new, professional and fresh atmosphere for the evening.

After a brief introduction by committee member/co-organiser Sarah Morphett, Ann Luzeckyj spoke on how to market yourself by using your past to develop your future. Having worked in various trades (paver/bricklayer/women’s refuge/clerk etc etc) and travelled extensively, Ann realised she had gained many skills that have enabled her to progress and develop through many careers and jobs, to her current position as Campus Librarian at UniSA’s City West campus.

Ann explained that by moving out of her comfort zone to speak in front of people (which she assured us always makes her nervous, despite the fact she always looks calm and confident) she has gained a skill that can be transferable to other personal and professional situations in life. Using her varying past jobs and personal achievements, Ann explained how all these previous achievements are not only relevant, but useful, sustainable and transferable. Her career examples included:

Job as a Paver: shows you can cope with boredom and tedium in the job. Travel: shows you are good outside your comfort zone and possibly a bit of a risk-taker Women’s Refuge: shows you can work with a diverse range of people in varying situations. Customer service: shows you have good communication skills.

Using real-life scenarious in answering interview questions, to prove your skills is also an effective way to market yourself. According to Ann, ‘if you can plan a wedding, you can plan anything!’. Other examples Ann gave were, planning a dinner party or renovating a house – both provide you with invaluable, transferable skills in project-co-ordination and negotiation and are useful ways to market yourself to any potential employer.

Along with these real-life professional and personal experiences, Ann touched on other methods of marketing yourself such as CV development, team involvement (such as being a member of a sports team) and getting on executive committees like SALIN and ALIA group committees, and helping in the development and planning aspects. Ann’s final point was to encourage everyone to enjoy the challenge of finding out about what you want to do in the Information Profession and to use opportunities from South Australia’s very welcoming and highly active library network.

As is often the case at SALIN events, attendees were divided into groups (first by a color code, then by Positive ‘P’-word), and the first groups’ activity was to read a Case Scenario where someone held a previous job (outside the library industry) and now has the opportunity of an information profession job. The activity was designed to build on Ann’s talk and show transferability of skills (For example: Mike the Mechanic/Car Detailer is injured and placed in a position as a cataloguing assistant => His transferable skills are: attention to detail, follow-up communication skills, negotiation skills, practical problem solving skills, ability to learn a trade and recognise errors/mistakes and correct them).

Following Activity 1, Roz Davidson from Fisher Jeffries Barristers & Solicitors spoke thoroughly on Marketing your library to your organisation. As a solo law librarian, Roz markets her library’s services to her firm’s 100+ staff (including 45 practitioners) over 3 floors, by using many different methods.

The location of the Fisher Jeffries library is behind reception on the first of the three floors and, as such, is a highly accessible and somewhat central area with door entrances either end. Roz finds the library’s location enables staff to pass by and this creates marketing opportunities because people will stop for a chat, see new items on display, and often remember a query/request they need the library to research/chase up. On the occasions that Roz leaves the library (to hand deliver a request – another in-your-face marketing tool), she always takes pen and paper ready to jot down any sudden requests staff may require. This shows initiative, organisation and professionalism.

The way Roz looks at marketing the library to her organisation is through Appearance and Action. Both the library’s appearance (tidy, reshelved, classified by the law library classification system MOYS for universiality) and personal appearance (dresssing professionaly). Roz’s view on marketing is to present yourself and your service to your organisation, to show our profession adds value, through actions such as: Setting up Current Awareness services, daily newspaper alerts specific to the firms’ Practice groups; recognising, after completing a request, that other staff may find the information useful, and distributing it.

Recognising the intangibility of the library’s service within the firm (and in most organisations) becuase most organisations determine value by billable hours and profits, Roz has found ways to prove to management the service is valuable through the use of statistics documenting the library’s various services and using her skills as a librarian coupled with the resources the library has electronically and in hard-copy, to obtain timely and accurate information on request – saving the practitioner’s time (which can then, of course, be freed up to be billable time!). With the law being ever-changing, Roz needs to be aware of changes and pass on any relevant updates to respective members of the firm.

Roz also touched on the importance of marketing the library through the Intranet – by acknowledging that different staff will search for information in different ways, the Intranet needs to be set up with multiple access-points so the information is accessible to all staff. Other useful marketing methods Roz spoke of were getting involved in office meetings and social events, to put yourself our there and let the organisation your resources and services and therefore help them gain a sense of the value of the library and the librarian. Roz feels the most important marketing tool is in delivering what you say you are going to.

After Roz’s talk, new groups were formed for Activity 2 – Discussing three actions that you can do to market your library to non-library colleagues. My group came up with: Using the Intranet page to post a FAQ’s link; putting coloured marker flyers with the library staff names on each hard-copy completed request/current awareness service for instant identification; regular newsletter circulation with images and tips relevant to staff; using ‘buzzwords’ from office meetings and researching them post-meeting to send up-to-date information to relevant staff; Add-on services etc.

This concluded the evening – A big Thankyou to Ann and Roz for their excellent, informative, inspriational and entertaining talks. And, of course, a big thankyou to Sarah Morphett, Robyn Ellard and Gewain Letheby and the rest of the SALIN committee for producing yet another excellent and entertaining professional event.

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