Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Thousand Small Gestures

"You're just anybody without your identity." - Grenville Main, DNA Design

On Monday, February 1, 69 participants joined a webinar about libraries and librarianship, "What is in a name? A discussion about identity and vision."

Some of us have continued the conversation via email and are now considering what we feel to be a key issue, branding.

According to marketing consultant and social media marketing strategist Laura Lake, "branding" (the image of a product in the market)
"is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem"
A good brand results in a recognizable product that appeals to consumers on both a practical and emotional level. The images it evokes elicit product loyalty and customer commitment.

In this time of fiscal uncertainty, when school districts are being forced to make difficult budget choices, it is vitally important that libraries have a "brand," a unique identity that conveys the mission and scope of the services both the program and its guiding force, the teacher/librarian, represent.

If school administrators, and the community at large, visualize libraries as a place and librarians as clerks, storytime entertainers, and babysitters, then they will be more likely to feel comfortable scaling back or even eliminating funding in that area.

We need to market our school libraries, emphasize the services we deliver, remind the public of the impact we have on student learning.

But, more than that, teacher/librarians must constantly look for ways to expand and promote what they are accomplishing.

There is an increasing emphasis on teacher development: offer to provide training for staff members on emerging technology with classroom applications. Actively seek out teachers and suggest ideas for collaborative units that incorporate essential information skills. Be sure that student projects are prominently displayed in the library media center, preferably at times when community members will be able to see and appreciate them. Make yourself available for committees and extra-curricular activities. Regularly attend board of education meetings to explain how your school library is a vital, contributing part of children's educational experience.

Fight the perception that people with a laptop and Internet connection can be their own librarian. Demonstrate your value. Make the library brand a dynamic one. Then go out and market it.

"A brand is a living entity - and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures" - Michael Eisner

"Iconic Brand Alphabet" by scbr


Carolyn Foote said...


I'm so glad you've brought our discussions out of email and onto your blog.

I do think that perceptions about libraries is both cultural but also local, and that we can each make a difference at our local level in perceptions of what school libraries are.

I have mentioned this before, but I do highly recommend Made to Stick, by the Heath brothers. It has some excellent insights about marketing and branding.


diane said...


Your thoughtful conversations, comments, and blog postings always inspire me. I will definitely read that book!

gwyneth a. jones said...

Thank you so much Diane! What a great way to synthesize and interpret our message! Staying mum and suffering in silence as our profession gets marginalized is NOT the way to go!
This is the time to get creative, get vocal and get active! Cheers!

diane said...


The library as steampunk: elements of the past with nifty technology infused!