Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

Moving On…With Style

With the drastic cut in hours to our remaining branches, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library staff have been shuffled around a bit to new locations. You have to love the way a children’s librarian can make anything fun! Take a look at this video from one of our librarians who is moving from ImaginOn to a nearby smaller branch. This is why I love libraries and the staff who work in them!

Radio Show: The Changing Role of Public Libraries

Listen here.

The June 28 broadcast features:

  • Sari Feldman, Executive Director, Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Public Library; president, Public Library Association.
  • John Hill, President of the D.C. Public Libraries Board of Trustees; CEO of the Federal City Council.
  • Camila Alire, President, American Library Association.

Buzz Buzz Buzz

I’m sitting on my porch feeling utterly exhausted as I write this post… It’s Monday and I’m annoyed at the tiredness because I should feel refreshed from the weekend. But I come off this weekend as I have each weekend since March: wondering why I can never catch up on rest and realize that there’s just no rest. Everyone wants to know how the library is doing so I feel like I’m always answering questions, internalizing emotions, and figuring how to capture the current buzz to my system’s benefit.

I’ve got a PR background and a degree from one of the best journalism schools in the country. I get buzz. I typically love buzz. Buzz means people are talking and when people are talking you have an opportunity to do something; anything. You can take that buzz and spin it into the story you need it to be. Why? Because you’ve got the hot buzz button.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library system is all abuzz. The number of media hits we get a week have begun to equal tens of thousands of dollars in free media. Most companies would love to have the kind of attention our library gets. And, for the most part, we’re okay with the attention because it means people truly care what is happening to their library. But at some point and time the buzz will either become the overwhelmingly annoying vuvuzela horns of the World Cup or a gentle hum that everyone ignores.

Somehow, my system, and yours, need to find a way to capitalize on the positive buzz NOW while also counteracting the negative buzz that seems just as prevalent.

 Intuitively, people LOVE libraries. They maybe haven’t had a library card since childhood but, come on, it’s a library. It’s harmless. How can you not love it? Try hearing repeatedly that your library system isn’t transparent when transparency is required and see how your community will shift from a generic love to a bit suspicious.

As with all stories there is your version, my version, and the truth somewhere in there. As researchers, book lovers, highly educated people, we should be the first to jump on board with telling the truth. Tell your patrons what is actually going on within your system. Your patrons desperately want to support you if you allow them the privilege to do it. But, first, get educated as to what your library system is doing during these difficult times. If your system is like mine, you get internal e-mails several times a week about the latest developments. You have Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. Follow along and understand what is being presented.

But also watch the TV news, read the papers, and listen to the radio reports to see how the story is being portrayed to those audiences. See what others are saying. You must be informed and ready to capture each opportunity presented to you.

Just today I sent a note to my friends in the area to request that they ASK ME any and all questions that they have; give me an opportunity to speak before jumping to a conclusion. Yes, talking is in my nature, and maybe it’s not in yours, but I highly encourage you to try it. Be ready to capitalize on the buzz. Remember, your reputation is all you have. Are you willing to let yours fall into the hands of someone who’s not nearly as invested? I’m not.

So, let’s accept the stories being told throughout all of our communities for what they are, stories. Let’s accept that we are a hot button in the buzz category and go after the potential there. When anything is in crisis it’s either fight or flight. I encourage you to fight for your library as I’m fighting for mine. Grab that buzz and make it work for you!