by Aileen Marshall, Virginia Chapter, Business & Finance, Competitive Intelligence Divisions
Here we are, March 2011…am I ready…are you? The job landscape for librarians and information professionals is more than tough, as we all know. Long-employed librarians face lay-offs, and students who are graduating soon are worried about finding work in the first place. Those who are fortunate to be employed face budget cuts and worry how they can keep up their level of service. In addition to all of this we have to fight a constant battle to demonstrate that librarians are needed! Add personal issues we all face to this mix, and I’d say this could be a very stressful year.
But fear not! Don’t think the glass is half-empty when, with a little bit of creativity and boldness, we can make it half-full again. Complaining about everything that is going wrong is tiring and does not lead to anything, really. Instead focus on how you can improve existing services with non-traditional resources and your passion for our profession.
About two weeks ago I attended a webinar facilitated by Scott Brown, a competitive intelligence professional, who spoke about using social media for business research. He showed us how to extract information from sources that are absolutely free! Using non-traditional sources for our work can be a huge deal, not only to gather valuable insight but also to stretch the budget. Just looking at his resources and how he utilizes something that most people see as completely unrelated to work inspired me to look for these kinds of information sources.
But social media is not only a great tool to obtain information. Working as law librarian in a public library, I use Facebook and Twitter to promote what the Central Rappahannock Regional Library has to offer. I have managed to increase patron awareness in our services by making use of social media and our blog. Many of my patrons are even willing to speak up for the library at the next budget meeting. Statistics and personal testimonies can go a long way when fighting for more money. I also advocate for my library and our profession in general as much as I can. So many people are not aware of the vast amount of materials that the library offers, and they are amazed when I tell them. And usually they come back with friends and family. So advocate, advocate, advocate. Involve your patrons and clients in your problems in a reasonable manner. You will see results in time.
Librarians are all about collaboration. So if you find a great new resource, let others know about it. Make use of our collective knowledge and wisdom to discover new ways of doing your job and getting results. Try to get out of your comfort zone, at least a little bit, and let people know how important libraries and information professionals are. Our future will be brighter than the present if every one of us contributes just a little bit.
Aileen Marshall is the law librarian at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library in Fredericksburg, VA.
She posses a MA from the Westfaelische Wilhelms-University in Muenster, Germany, and will graduate
from the University of South Carolina with her MLIS in May 2011. She can be contacted at www.cyndera.com