I was thinking how the events we plan to be “life changing” are so easily overtaken by the things we hadn’t planned for. My husband and I thought we were changing our lives last year when we bought our dream house. It was an 1830 beauty that had great bones but needed lots of TLC to bring it back to life. Halfway through the renovation process a friend emailed a job announcement from NoveList - they were looking for a person to lead the development of a new marketing product. The company was based 450 miles away but the job sounded very intriguing. If what I was reading was true, they were looking to create a software program that would automate the design, delivery and measurement of promotional materials.
They had my attention.
In my job as the marketing director of the NJ State Library, my passion was trying to help librarians market their libraries. We offered training and even developed strategies and materials for statewide initiatives. For many libraries the lack of time and money prohibited them from following through with those strategies for their programs.
I wondered if a library vendor could create a product that was better than what was on the commercial market.
What I was seeing from vendors was pretty much more of the same. They offered materials to promote their products but not much in the way of helping libraries promote other products and events. Some For the most part, libraries were designing with MS word or Publisher. Constant contact and Monkey Chimp that created great eNewsletters and Hoot Suite that help organize and post to social media, etc. Each piece helped but no one was putting it all together for libraries to do what they needed to promote all of their programs and services through the all free communication channels available to them. (Do I sound like one of those infomercials? Sorry- I’ve been living and breathing this product and I guess the talking points are pretty much imbedded in my mind at this point!) I think my dissatisfaction culminated at a presentation I gave at Internet Librarian Conference, when I proclaimed that we needed to demand that our vendors create products that meet our customer’s needs.
Did I dare even look at a job that was so far away from home?
I went on the interview to learn more (just to hear them out). When NoveList said they wanted to hire me, I was excited about having the chance to build something that really worked. When I returned home, my poor husband tried to look encouraging but I had the feeling he was about ready to kick over the paint cans and ladders in frustration. I used the phrases “make a real difference” and “everything I’ve worked my whole life to do” to persuade him it was the right move. There were a lot of conversations. In the end, we agreed, and after a tearful good-bye to my boss, family and friends we were on the road to North Carolina.
Did we build it right?
Since coming to NoveList, the LibraryAware team has collaborated to create a product which I am proud to attach my name - at least so far. We are still in production but will be ready to launch at PLA. We are also going to announce a new award at the launch party. (If you want an invite to the launch party, email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you one.)
So why am I proud of this product? Because it will help you promote ALL of your products and services and help your entire community become aware of everything your library does. (Yes, even other vendor’s products.) And because it really is easy to use, creates amazing materials, saves time and reaches your audiences … Sorry, I‘m getting carried away again aren’t I? Well back to my story ….
Was it worth it?
Even though my husband and I had agreed to come, it wasn’t easy. We left behind our families including our first grandchild, lifelong friends and the Jersey shore. We couldn’t sell our house and are living in an apartment for the first time in a very long time. But I think whenever you make the right decision, everything eventually works out. We’ve discovered how Facetime lets up keep up with the everyday moments of our granddaughter’s life, we were able to rent the house and we are getting to explore the beauty the south offers including the Blue Ridge Mountains, beautiful shore lines and some of the best hospitality I’ve ever known.
Life is good.
Working on the “vendor” side of the equation gives me the ability to make a product that works for libraries instead of complaining about what doesn’t work. The folks here at NoveList are amazing. For those of you who wonder what it’s like to work for Duncan Smith – it’s a lovefest. He manages from love and it permeates throughout everything, everyone does. The only bad thing is that most of the folks here are foodies and they are always bringing in something good to share.
Are you being called?
Some of my friends have been hesitant to move from the security of their jobs and have asked me for advice. I’m not one to give advice of how others should run their lives, but I have a coffee mug that I recently bought from the JFK museum that sums up my thinking. On it is the quote, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” That’s how I feel at this stage of my life. I believe in the future of libraries and I believe that each of us has to utilize our talents and abilities to ensure that our communities don’t lose us. For me, that talent is marketing. For you, it’s something else.
If you believe you can make a difference but have been afraid – afraid of losing a pension, a position, or anything else, then perhaps my little mug might have an answer for you.