Yesterday I completed a 24 hour journey to visit the DOK Library Concept Center in Delft, Netherlands. I never would have made this trip had it not been for two of my favorite “rock star” librarians – Erik Boekesteijn and Jaap Van De Geer. From what I hear, I am only one of thousands who have traveled from distant shores to visit this library. Are they rock stars? For sure! But more than that, they have helped to make a small library in a tiny country known around the world. Does that open doors for their library? You betcha!
The more people from my library that I can get into the newspapers, on a podium or winning an award, the happier I am. There are several reasons why PR people encourage library staff to stand up and be seen:
- Free publicity for the library. The formula is simple: news/award = photo op= publicity in newspapers in print and online. A good PR person also wants to send releases to your alumni magazine, volunteer organizations and local paper.
- Every time a person from a library makes a positive impression in the community, it speaks well about the library. Some people may never step into your library and yet an impressive presentation at a Rotary Meeting may turn a person into a strong supporter at the polls.
- People like to associate with popular or famous people and that can open doors to new community sponsors or it may create connections that will give your library an important seat at the table.
- Great for morale. Now this can be tricky because if only one or two people are receiving recognition, it can backfire. But if all of the staff is encouraged to shine, then it can create a very positive uplifting work environment.
- Great political leverage. Politicians read newspapers and watch news. When your library is well represented in an article or news item, those same politicians are hearing you loud and clear!
David also spoke about highlighting talented individuals within the library. His library promoted the talents of their children’s librarian. Absolutely! I also love the idea of highlighting staff on the website as reviewers, writers, or any other role that will demonstrate an expertise. I know many people feel uncomfortable having a spotlight pointed toward them but it is important for customers to know the level of expertise they can find in the library. It is also a valuable comfort creator to have a face that people who are new to the library can recognize. Of course it is also important to be careful not to make it seem as though there is only one person who can help people. Every person in your library plays an important role in making your library great. Why not flaunt the excellence that makes that possible? DOK’s annual report includes photos if the janitor! Why not? A clean building plays a major role in the customer’s experience. The key is to have the library represented by all of its employees. It portrays a fuller picture of the library and won’t set your customer relations back if an employee moves on. A trick is to highlight individuals as part of a team. (This is Suzi, she is part of our YA team.)
Whether you are being promoted or promoting someone else in your library, as long as it paints your library in a positive light, its all good. So go ahead and rock on!