Monday, May 2, 2016

Make Your Library Sizzle, Not Fizzle

Awhile ago, I was on Twitter and tweeted:

I usually put out about two tweets a day (unless you catch me in a Twitterchat) and that day, my phone was dinging with notifications.  Looks like this resonated not only with librarians but educators and administrators as well.  And so, it got me thinking....what are some other things that we, as librarians, could tweak just a little, to make a HUGE impact?  Here is my top five list of
habit-breakers for librarians.

1. Evaluate your signage.  Our signage is used to direct, help, and inform but most all, it's put up to capture the attention of our library users.  But is the attention they're getting positive or negative? Students see enough negative signs telling them not to do this, or don't do that.  Librarians shouldn't fall into that quagmire of "no"s and "nay"s.  We need to rise above it and create signage that makes people at the most, smile and at the least, pay attention without frowning.  With space being a premium in libraries, use it to make our students and users want to obey the signs, not rally against them.

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2. Share and share...and keep sharing. It's difficult to admit the truth, but I'm going to do it...I'm a hoarder.  If I have one cute notepad, I have a hundred.  And I don't use them because they're too cute and I'll find something to do with it later.  Then five years from now, it'll still be there unused and perfectly archived.  That's okay with paper but it ISN'T okay with technology.  What happens if someone breaks it? What happens if it's never returned? This cost a lot of money.  Librarians can become Gollums with technology and over time, it's hard to keep up with all of my preciouses. And then the unthinkable happens - the precious becomes obsolete! So don't hold back on what we've purchased because innately, we purchased them to be used.  Have parameters, but along with that, have faith in your campus and patrons.

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3.  Look at the role you play.  What does the word librarian mean to you?  What does a librarian say or do?  If you were walking into a library, what would you like to see in a librarian?  Who are you describing?  If you see yourself in the description of a good librarian, that's good.  I believe have traits of a good librarian, but I know I don't possess every single one of them.  Oh,to please the masses!  So tweak what needs to be tweaked and flaunt what you got! And always know you're like (fill in the blank with all SORTS of similes that could work from wine to technology, to a new sweater et al!)...with time it just keeps getting better. 

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4. Focus on those other non-librarian things.  It's the small things they don't teach in library school that could have tremendous impact.  Can anyone say feng shui?  Nothing feels as good as stepping into a library that's pleasant to be in. Be intentional in placement.  Be aware of smells (for real!!). Look at patterns and use them to your advantage. Everyone has a creative side!  Try something new, like convo bubbles in book displays or using tabletops for makerspaces (and sit at these for awhile and see what happens!).  Oh, I know there are those out there shaking their heads, thinking they don't have a creative side.  That's okay.  One word to cure that remedy:  Pinterest!

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5. Do something impactful with everything you do in the library. If you read, do so with a goal in mind of what you're going to do with all of those great reads.  If you're online looking at sites, think about how you'll incorporate that into a lesson or with students.  Start creating curated lists of EVERYTHING to whip out when the time is right!  When you're making purchases consider the impact they will have on the library and the patrons you serve.  Don't just be a librarian, BE a librarian!  There is a difference.

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specialpaw said...

Thanks, Naomi! I needed this today :)

The Daily Librarian said...


I LOVE this post!! You make an excellent point...or FIVE for that matter. The ones that especially stand out to me are getting away from your desk and intentionally reading or crafting or whatever. And signage!!!...Good gracious! Are we still "no-ing" and "don't-ing" in our library?!?! Thanks for the points to ponder!


specialpaw said...

Thanks, Naomi! I needed that today!

Dayna Mellberg said...

FANTASTIC advice!!

Lanell Rabner said...

Thanks Naomi, for reminding us of what is truly important about what we do. We can have the best book collection on the planet, but if nobody walks in the door, it really doesn't matter. My library is often loud and noisy, but always full of kids learning to share, collaborate, and developing a love of learning just for the sake of learning.

~lanell rabner
Springville High School

Elizabeth said...

I think that you organized your thoughts so well with this. Thanks.
I want to comment on number two and the sharing of technology. As librarian, you do not need to know how to do everything. You can have students use technology that you do not understand or know how to use. I have learned so much from my students over the years. Technology prowess by the librarian is not essential--just the need to encourage the students to learn and use the equipment appropriately.

Anonymous said...

Where can I get that dress and wig?

Donna Kistner said...

You are so inspiring! I am going to make some serious changes in my library. This year did not go as planned so I was not in the library fully, but I am taking notes and learning more - so excited about what great ideas I get from Awesome Librarians like you! Thanks so much!!!