What an interesting discussion this has turned into! I have quoted Tanya's original post below. I find it fascinating that her ideas about promoting the usefulness of librarians in providing *valuable* information services turned almost immediately into a discussion of making sure everyone knows the librarian has a master's degree, and then into a discussion of certification as a marketing tool. In other words, a discussion of services (actions) became almost at once a discussion of qualifications (traits). As if the problem were that "other people" didn't realize how highly *qualified* librarians are, not that they haven't been fully informed about the valuable services a librarian might provide.
The issues being discussed would certainly provide ample material for one or more doctoral dissertations and books - and perhaps even someday, a professional association for librarians, rather than libraries.
Sheila Thomas
Delaware Academy of Medicine
Newark, DE
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From: Medical Libraries Discussion List on behalf of Feddern, Tanya
Sent: Fri 4/20/2007 2:04 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Promoting LIBRARIANS not libraries

***cross-posted; please feel free to forward***

Hi, everyone.  I'd love your dialog on this... 

With the exception of AHIP, it seems to me that MLA and ALA spend more time promoting libraries than the unique & specialized skills that librarians have to offer.  With more users becoming confident in their searching skills (despite reality), and the online availability of materials and/or ease of ordering print materials, after a while, I can easily see management saying, "let's cut out the middle man," aka the librarian. 

The "if you build it, they will come" motto does not work.   How many times have our users been completely ignorant of our services and even collections?  Has your library funded a librarian to take a *semester-long* Public Relations course at the local university?  (Please email me if yours does.)  Does your library's annual reports specifically detail public relations activities during the year that promoted the librarians or even the library itself?  How many businesses would succeed without advertising by someone skilled in public relations?  Even the most well-known businesses on the planet (Disney, McDonald's) still advertises. 

However, I still strongly feel that promoting just the library is a mistake--as we've all seen, there's a number of libraries without any librarians.  Many of us complain about our salaries and/or despair of getting funding for additional librarians.  But why should management address this if we don't show them *specifically* how the librarian saves them time or money or how we offer specialized services/programs that can't be adequately delivered by anyone else?

Take care,


Tanya Feddern-Bekcan, MLIS, AHIP, MOT, OTR/L <> 
305.243.6648 - [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>  - 305.325.9670 (fax)
EBM Theme Co-Director & Reference and Education Librarian
Louis Calder Memorial Library - University of Miami Miller School of Medicine