Wednesday, April 12, 2006

What's your bibliographic point of view?

I've been watching this truly excellent show on the Food Network called, The Next Food Network Star. On the show, contestants have to compete with not only their cooking skills, but also their personality, timing, organization, you name it. In one episode, the judges instructed them to create a dish that reflected what they called, "your culinary point of view." Surprisingly, I noticed that the majority of the chefs were all over the place, culinarily speaking, and I didn't get a good sense of what they were all about. Believe it or not, this made a huge difference to me in how I responded to them and I strongly favored those who could clearly express who they are and why I should care about their food. The existing Food Network stars are great at this, by the way! Rachael Ray gets her meals done in 30 mins. or less; Alton Brown (my personal fave) is the master of food "edutainment"; and Emeril kicks it up a notch with BAM!

The point, you ask? I got to thinking that librarians would have an easier time selling their libraries and services if they too had a POV - a bibliographic one! In services marketing, the person providing the service is a huge factor in the service equation, so we as service providers ought to figure out what the heck we stand for. Doing so would be especially helpful in situations where we have one brief opportunity to make an impression on patrons, like in instruction sessions, at fairs and in presentations. Knowing what we're about will help patrons to identify with and remember us. We already have great examples in the library world: Steven Bell is the "Kept-Up" guy and Nancy Pearl is the over-the-top stereotypical librarian lady. Some of you might be the "cool new technology librarian," the "librarian who always knows the latest news/books," the "scholarly communication guru," or "the librarian who is the fun anti-stereotype." This POV idea is a lot like the one-minute commercial people throw out at job fairs, but this is more about you personally.

One problem I notice with our profession is that we always want to be everything to everybody. Not a bad motive in and of itself, but it can be bad when it muddles communication. Instead, pick one thing about your job that love, are passionate about and good at, and try to eventually personify that "thing" when you interact with patrons. After they get to know you, they'll see your other sides, but your POV could get you a foot in the door (just look at that nametag guy! His "thing," by the way, is approachability!).

Category: tips_to_try


steven said...


Thanks for the mention in your post. I do hope folks will think of "keeping up" when they hear or see my name.

But I think you make a good point about creating an identify of sorts for yourself. I think this makes sense for blogging. I find quite a few blogs don't have a particular focus. The tag line may indicate a focus - or it might indicate the blog is about "librarianship" - but too often I find the blog is covering just about anything and everything - and has no particular focus. It's good to know what you can expect from a blog, and then you can do evaluate its value more effectively. A good example - a blog that sticks to good marketing ideas - you know exactly what you're going to get here.

Jill said...

Thanks for you comment, Steven! I thought you might be interested in this blog post about Personal Branding. I haven't read through "sermon," but it is interesting that there is an entire business based on this concept.