Is Your Library Program Remarkable?
Dictionary.com defines remarkable as “worthy of notice or attention”. In a 2003 TED video of Seth Godin (“Seth Godin on Standing Out”), he describes remarkable as “worth making a remark about”. Is your library program defined, is it worth making a remark about? Have you been spreading your word, your programs, and your ideas; or do you feel stymied by management and teachers?
In this time of educational flux, library media specialists need to use marketing techniques to promote our efforts. In the same TED video, Seth Godin talks about “idea diffusion” and I took this to mean, in library speak, “collaboration”. It’s taking one good idea and spreading it so people will buy into the idea and want to purchase more. As a media specialist, I have used collaborative successes to effectively market my programs to my principal and teachers.
Marketing Starts with Self Promotion
At the 2010 GLMA Summer Institute, colleague Martha Powell and I gave a presentation titled “Turn Your Desk Around”. This title is descriptive about our media programs; if we are open, friendly, and visually show that we are willing to help (hence the outward desk) we have begun the first step in marketing ourselves. We need to become self marketers and promote our programs and accomplishments to our patrons. Furthermore, I’d suggest that we need to review and update our library programs regularly so we have new things to promote.
Change Perceptions – One Idea, One Program at a Time
As teachers we know the foundations of our lessons are based on a student’s prior knowledge of the subject. Prior knowledge can also be the source of how our library programs are perceived by teachers, principals and our parent community. Patrons who have been exposed to exemplary media programs are more likely to support our current endeavors. Likewise, if their prior experiences of a library program were not positive, you may need to market your media programs in order to change their perceptions.
One way to self promote yourself and your program is through teaching. Find a teacher or a team who you can share ideas (“collaborate”) with about a lesson that incorporates state standards. Offer to teach the research skills of the lesson plan so you become an integral part of the class. Market the collaborative process and the class success to other teachers. Don’t be shy, ask the teacher(s) to give you positive recommendations. Let your principal know about your accomplishments and add them to your newsletters. Use these achievements as springboards for other collaborative lessons.
Other ideas for self promotion are to keep candy on your desk, observe and listen for ideas to help the staff and students in leadership meetings, and attend team/curriculum meetings. I have an M&M dispenser (the Statue of Liberty) and a bowl of Life Savers always available in my office. Many of my lessons and library programs have begun from an idea that was garnered from a brief discussion as a teacher was picking up a Life Saver!
In addition to teaching lessons, I started another new concept for teachers this year. After my media paraprofessional commented that staff morale was low (due to various reasons) we decided to see if we could modify the school atmosphere. With the backing of my principal, we coordinated a monthly café with Publix donating sweets, the school providing the coffee and tea, and the media center staff hosting and providing the location. Teachers smile as they walk through the media center looking for their cup of Joe and we have subtly marketed our library as being a sanctuary for their minds and body!
More ways of marketing your expertise include teaching a workshop on Web 2.0 topics (Prezi.com, Animoto, Movie Maker, etc), sponsoring a Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl team, and volunteering to help in various capacities. Media specialists may also want to review and revise reading programs each year. Each time you put forth positive ideas and changes that demonstrate a willingness to support your patrons you are marketing yourself and your library program. Once you get a few accomplishments promote them to your principal and ask their help in marketing your program to the teachers and community.
Let’s Be “Remarkable”
Let’s not let library programs become stagnant. Continual revision of lesson plans, adding new displays to our libraries, partnering with new teachers for ideas, welcoming students to the media center, and being a leader in our schools are all ways to positively promote media programs. Let’s be remarkable in our personal positions and for the overall promotion of our profession!
Beth Miller, Library Media Specialist