Monday 3 June 2013

The Secret Underbelly of the Library World

In the recent ALIA Sydney Event we heard from Sue McKerracher, Michael Gonzalez,Cecilia Kugler and Julia Garnett of ways to:
Advocate, Promote, Brand. Your Profession, Your Organisation, Yourself

For those of you who were able to attend, you missed out on a fabulous night.

It was exciting to have Sue Mckerracher in her usual style open up the evening. She enthralled us with thrilling stories of the early years in her career and left us with some pretty serious lessons to be learned. Here are her top tips: 

  • Be Honest and True to yourself
  • Don’t send out mixed messages
  • Be Positive and Enthusiastic about what you are doing (want to do)
  • Keeping Learning

Michael Gonzalez is innovative in his thinking and I have to agree with him that its kinda cool having a secret underbelly in the library world. Where else can we incorporate zombie walks (UTS Library) with something as educational and potentially boring as a Library Tour or bring out those secret acting skills in your very own films.

It sounds like UWS Library has huge scope for doing new things and experimenting with different media; it will be different at every Library, but there are things we can all do. Here are some tips on how you can get started:
  • Get the Fundamentals right - do the core work, then you can begin to work on value adding projects.
  • Look at what you do have and see if it can be done in a different/better way
  • Examine where you fit – how can you use that to your advantage i.e. Michael promotes creativity in his team
  • Demand – what is your demand and can you supply it? E.g. UWS have now made the whole library technology friendly and their website targeted towards usability
  • Measure as much as you can – not everything can be measured but you should aim to measure everything
  • Leverage – by measuring you have more leverage
  • Take Risks – we are not in the business of saving lives
  • Substance over style – although it would be nice to have both, if it comes to a choice, please chose substance 
  • Know what you want and what it is that you want to achieve then go and do it

Cecilia Kugler is the Director of CK Design International, she presented on a topic very close to our hearts; how to create a beautiful yet functional space for the library?
It’s all about branding and wayfinding, but what exactly does that mean?
Branding is comprised of three parts:
  1. Brand –The perceived emotional corporate image as a whole.
  2. Identity – The visual aspects that form part of the overall brand.
  3. Logo – Identifies a business in its simplest form via the use of a mark or icon.
And wayfinding is defined by Duane Fast, Leading Vancouver environmental graphic designer as:
“Wayfinding is how we navigate and orient ourselves in an environment. To understand wayfinding is really to understand how we use the information that the environment provides”.

So how can we achieve this?
  • Signage – ensure that it is thought out at that design stage, it will influence the identity of the library
  • Brand Identity – do you have a logo?
  • Design Brief – identify how flexible it is, e.g. if you are at a public library the local council may have very strict guidelines, you can work within these guidelines even if it is merely using the colours in a different more exciting way
  • Focus on the patron’s experience – we all want them to have a positive one
  • Answer their questions in the signage e.g. “where do I borrow my books?” “Borrow Here”
  • Be Consistent – in the look and feel of the library
  • Be Clear in your Design – if you don’t know what you want it will reflect in the design

Last up Julia Garnett, who was amazing. She had just arrived back in Sydney after flying Vancouver to Los Angeles then into Sydney. Her presentation was enough of an example of how to market yourself, but here are her top tips:
  • Make your presence known – have an e portfolio (find Julia @jzgarnett)
  • Be positive
  • Build relationships
  • Stay relevant and keep up to date
  • Be Consistent in your image and voice
  • Build on your skills and have a wide range of interests
  • Have a PLN – Personal Learning Network
  • Have a clear idea of what direction you want to take
  • Have a mentor – at least one, look at the people you admire in your field and draw on their experiences.

Overall it was a fantastic night. Thank you to all of our guest speakers, I trust you all enjoyed our small gifts of appreciation over the weekend.


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