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Monday, July 21, 2014

Can You Express Your Library's Value?

Everywhere I look, I see librarians complaining that people are saying things like, "Why do we still need libraries?" They lament that stakeholders and elected officials don't understand what libraries are really all about.

OK, well: How will people know unless we tell them? Every single librarian, Friend, Trustee, and supporter needs to have an answer, an elevator speech, or a comeback, for these questions. What would be even better is if you didn't wait for the question, but rather, proactively told people about the value of libraries in the 21st century. You may think the need for libraries is obvious, but believe me, it's not. 

And so I thank the Metropolitan New York Library Council for commissioning me to give a webinar that addresses this topic. I hope you'll join me next Wednesday, July 30, at 4pm Eastern. Here are the details

Articulating Your Value
"We need to cut costs, so we're slashing your budget. People don't use libraries much anymore; it's faster to get answers online."
"Why are we paying you to put books away and fix copiers? Can't students do that?"
"Why do librarians matter in the 21st century?
"I keep reading articles that say libraries are going away." 
Have you ever heard such questions from an administrator, stakeholder, faculty member, dean, or even a friend? Chances are you have, and you've probably replied in one of two ways: You start listing all the little things you do all day (which sounds dull), or you are so taken aback that you can't articulate a satisfactory answer quickly enough (of course, you think of the perfect comeback an hour later). 
Every librarian needs to be able to articulate his or her value at any given moment. Otherwise, you lose a chance to explain your work, to advocate for libraries, and to teach someone why the internet can never replace a library. If you cannot explain what your expertise is and why it's vital in two or three brief sentences--in words that your listener will understand and remember--then you need this webinar. This will be an interactive program with individual attention. Each attendee will start by writing a response that they think will work in their own situations, then we'll dissect and rebuild them to make them stronger and more memorable.
By the end of this program, participants will: 
Know how to explain their work in a few sentences, without jargon
Be able to articulate their value at a moment's notice
Explain why librarians still matter without being defensive
Be more confident talking about their work
Understand how to defend their budgets if they're threatened
Create strong elevator speeches that are ready to use
This webinar has varying fees for those who are and are not affiliated with METRO, a hard-working non-profit that works to develop and maintain essential library services throughout New York City and Westchester County. This session is open to all. I hope some of you M Word readers will join me next week!

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