learning to be a librarian: communication is key.

At this point, I’m halfway through the modules in INFO 5300, Management of Information Agencies, and I have to say that the one component that keeps coming up as vitally important is Communication.

Now I know I’m biased. I have multiple degrees in English, and I’ve been working as a writer in the marketing field for more than 15 years. But I can’t imagine a library – or any business, for that matter – thriving without good and open communication. And this has been underscored by the three modules we’ve gotten through so far, on change, planning, and organization. Communication is an essential part of all three.

For example, a good business is always evolving and changing, and communication is essential when an organization is going through change:

  • Communicating with staff that they are valued and that changing the structure of the library doesn’t mean that they won’t have a job
  • Communicating with patrons that the library is changing to meet new needs and improve experiences.
  • Communicating with shareholders that their investment in your organization is a worthy endeavor.

The most successful example we read about for planning, in my opinion, was a library in Palatine, Illinois, that was constantly communicating with the community about their plans and progress (Schwartz, 2019). Their plan began through a survey of their constituents in 2016, where they learned their community wanted more books, movies and services.

After careful consideration of what the community wanted and how best to meet their needs, the library realized they needed more money. So they worked with the city to propose a tax increase, and then communicated with the people of Palatine about why they needed more money, and what it would pay for. Even after the referendum passed, the library continued to educate the community about their improvements, and they have implemented their transparency as a permanent aspect of their communications.

And of course, the larger the business or library, the more important communication becomes. Whether it’s communication from the top to the bottom, or among teams and committees, good communication ensures that everyone knows what needs to be done and how each individual can contribute.

These are all things I’ve seen for myself, whether it’s through working for smaller companies as a freelancer, or being a part of a much bigger organization at SMU. Good communication has allowed me to plan for changes to websites and to build marketing plans with my clients from a distance — my clients have stayed in California while I’ve moved from Los Angeles to Hoboken, NJ; Atlanta, GA; Bethesda, MD; and now Dallas. It enabled me to grow my position from simple content management to Director of Production for one of them, managing subcontractors and eProfessors across multiple timelines — and state lines.

I will be shocked if communication does not continue to play a key role in our upcoming modules on human resources, leadership, and especially collaboration. And I look forward to seeing how my past experience in marketing communications ties into these new lessons on how communication ties in to the management of libraries in the 21st century.

 
Schwartz, M. (2019). Clear & simple. Library Journal, 144(9), 24.