recognize the social, cultural and economic dimensions of information use;
apply the fundamental principles of planning, management and marketing/advocacy;
Management and planning or marketing and advocacy are not usually driving forces for a prospective librarian. According to Brooke Sheldon in The Portable MLIS, librarians are not necessarily willing or pleased to give up the activities that enticed them into librarianship after they become managers or directors. (Sheldon, 2008, p. 60) However, as the profession continues to add paraprofessionals, librarians must move into management positions. Obviously, as this occurs; there are skills associated with the positions that are not related to organizing or finding information. In the MLIS program, there is a prerequisite class on the topic of management and market as well as other classes dealing with both. In my prerequisite class, the focus was on management and marketing. Several of the classes in the program do not directly deal with marketing, but there is a component of librarianship that is marketing related, such as telling the patrons about the services offered at the reference desk through printed materials. Management or marketing skills may not be what drove a person to becoming a librarian; the skills are not innate. They are acquired through learning and honed with practice.
My personal experience in the workplace has been flavored by a distaste for management. I recently left a company due to the incompetence of the direct supervisor. Several weeks following my departure, I ran into my previous vice president in a club and we discussed how that company was a terrible work environment. I found this shocking since I liked and admired this vice president and how could someone so high up in management also find the job difficult? Sheldon quotes Robert Kaplan as saying that having fifteen priorities is like having none at all. (Sheldon, 2008, p. 60) At my previous company every project was a high priority, which could explain the stress levels and unhappiness of so many employees. In the context of management, the fact is that employees, from the vice president down to the lowest developer, are affected by unpleasant working environments; no one is immune.
When reviewing my old posts from Blackboard, I was reminded of the importance of communication and how workers do not perform well when kept in the dark about the company’s activities. While the previous company was communicative about what it needed the workers to accomplish- it was not capable of listening arguably the most important aspect of communication. In my post, I wrote about my experimentation with active listening as described in Management Basics for Information Professionals. Active listening is a way to be present and hear what an employee is saying without thinking of what you will say next. The next step for managers after actively listening is the physical manifestation of change. This process never appeared to happen at my former company. It is unfortunate since I saw many talented people leave during my tenure because they were unable to thrive in, or handle the environment.
In my artifacts, I attached two essays dealing with my views and thoughts of management. One is a review of a previous web team and the other is a statement of my developing management philosophy. In retrospect, I realize the team I reviewed was not a healthy working environment where employees were thriving and growing. It also has the dubious honor of letting me see the pitfalls in creating a diverse team and the potential for racial tension and conflicts. While I was given plenty of autonomy, no direction was given to the team. The lack of communication within that organization was blatant and the direct supervisor made many mistakes. These mistakes help inform and shape my personal behavior and treatment of current team members. The final document is my professional management manifesto which is only a starting place in my foray into library management. This manifesto contains my thoughts at the time of what management meant to me and what I would like to proceed towards. Since writing this piece several years ago, I have grown, seen and experienced more in my career.
Planning in the context of management is partially addressed in the attached artifacts. Without planning, management and leadership would be rudderless. Planning is what a leader or manager does when reviewing the institution or group and deciding where it needs to move next. A leader needs to have a plan for the entire library while a manager should plan for her group. This planning will give the employees direction and focus, particularly if they have a say in the department's direction. My artifacts do address planning in marketing but less so in management. In other artifacts, I have talked about planning for projects and software changes.
Marketing is a relatively new concept for Americans. Mass marketing really only came into existence in the 1950's when consumers figured out they have power with their money. Previously, the demand was high for goods and the products scarce. Producers were able to wait for the consumers to come to them but now there are many choices and it might be easily swayed with marketing. Libraries are much like a not for profit company that is influenced by the political climate. For profit companies have a goal of making money while libraries want to provide information to everyone. In the recent American Libraries, a library was discussed in the gaming article about not marketing their purchase of video games properly and the public cried misuse of public funds. (Levine, 2009, p. 35) This is definitely not a position one would want to get their library into but might do if not considering the library’s political and funding history.
My marketing strategy paper completed for the Oakland Public Library is my evidence for understanding of marketing issues. This paper looks at the library's public documentation, makes suggestions and evaluates their current standing. The paper uses information that is widely available and tries to break down those numbers into a usable plan. However, an insider at the library would have more access to the collected demographics to make better suggestions and decisions. The main learning for me from this exercise is to know who the audience is and to target accordingly. In Christie Koontz's chapter in The Portable MLIS, she mentions that libraries have to compete both with other media providers and with other public institutions jockeying for public funding. (Koontz, 2008, p.80) The way the libraries are funded needs to be evaluated when creating marketing campaigns. Since the money comes from the public, it behooves the library to be thoughtful in the marketing. For example, the video game issue for the library might not have been a problem if the marketing had been thought out in advance.
Personally, in both marketing and management, I have more to learn. First, I would like to have more opportunity to practice my management skills. In addition, I have not had the opportunity to market or advocate for a library or company. Because of the classes, I do have a rudimentary idea of where to start with both topics but I do practice and study ahead of me. In my current career, there is opportunity to grow and develop these skills which may be the route I take in my continuing education.
Haycock, K. & Sheldon, B. E. (Eds.). (2008). The Portable MLIS. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
Levine, J. (2009). Gaming, all grown up. American Libraries, 40(8 & 9), 34-35.
Organizational Analysis of Virgin Mobile USA's Web Team
Blackboard Discussion Posts
Developing a Management Philosophy
Marketing Strategy Oakland Public Library