Tuesday, June 05, 2007

An Introduction and some navel-gazing

Hello Library Angsters - I'm the newest contributor on LA, and I've been somewhat remiss in doing my first post. I'm here to rectify that situation post haste! (sorry for the terrible pun)

I come from a (fairly typical) undergrad in English literature and History. But the majority of my time has been spent as a secretary in one form or another. I've been a file clerk, a receptionist, marketing assistant, customer service manager... in each, there was a strong emphasis on customer service - but only as far as it could be provided while still keeping the company profitable. One of the greatest draws to librarianship for me has been serving the public instead of working them over for a buck.

I understand that libraries need to be "profitable" in their own way, but there's a distinct difference between a library's successful operation and a business. For a business to be considered successful, it must make more money than it spends. The more money it pulls in, the more successful it is. For a library, success is measured in customer satisfaction. Satisfaction is measured in participation in library programs and use of library resources. We receive funding based on the perceived success of our programs and resources, but that funding is a simply a tool we use to achieve our goal.

Being able to focus on service instead of profit has changed the way I look at business. I now read RSS feeds from over 20 marketing blogs every day, and instead of recoiling in horror at the marketing tactics described there, I can evaluate them openly and see if they could be turned on their head to suit the library's purpose. That's a wonderful thing.


John Klima said...

Welcome! Glad to see you here! Yes, marketing is perhaps the librarian's typical weakest suit. It's not fun, but these days it's important.


Jeff Scott said...

Your comments about service hit the nail on the head. That is exactly how I feel about working in a library. Thanks for sharing.