Outreach, Marketing, Engagement– The new side of library services?

This week I was forced to reflect on what I’m doing professionally. I had to write my self-evaluation for my promotion dossier, the first time I’ve been up for promotion… ever. (Why does the word promotion make me think of relegation? I’ve been brainwashed.) It’s been an interesting exercise to step back and see what I’ve done with my career and reflect on what type of librarian I am. Make no mistake about it, I am a librarian and very proud of the title, but I also realized I do a lot of stuff that isn’t normally considered library services. Why not? I don’t know. They should be.

This picture was taken last week at the Region X reception at the TRB Annual Meeting. I really enjoyed it because it was a great evening talking to various transportation people and hear what they’re up to and thinking about. It really helps me have a much broader perspective of transportation research and the information needs of researchers, than I would have otherwise.

That’s what I struggled with most with my self-evaluation. How do I articulate my overall involvement in my field as it relates to library services? Often we just market a service or product, or conduct outreach to a community to highlight a very traditional band of services. Is it our job to engage users, but it often seems to be in relation to providing a service or assistance. What about taking it further? I’m talking about total engagement.

Now, this is sort of similar to embedded librarianship, but I see it more of a partnership and changing the overall relationship between libraries and the user community. I spend way too many hours on conference calls with different groups outside of my library, but I can see the value of doing so. I know I’m communicating the value of libraries and information for transportation research, so that our interests are also represented. I also am learning a lot about what’s going on in the big picture, so that I can adjust our services to meet those needs, and anticipate ways we might have to change. It’s a pro-active approach.

Eventually, I want to turn this total engagement into better integration of the researchers, their products, and the libraries, but I recognize that’s a long way off. Until then, I will spend a lot of time being involved with the alphabet soup of groups that set the transportation research agenda, filter it back to my users, and push for closer partnerships. That’s my service.

4 thoughts on “Outreach, Marketing, Engagement– The new side of library services?

  1. And to think, I am often jealous that you get to work at an actual reference desk! Sometimes I OD on engagement. Then I close my door and catalog.

  2. Eileen, I really wish I had more time on the reference desk! It’s sort of weird how often I’m not on it because I have meetings or working on stuff for TRB/AASHTO. Embarrassing really. I think that’s why we changed my job title.

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