Thursday, December 20, 2018

Research can be Romantic, by Lauren Connolly

You Only Need One by Lauren Connolly

Do you know who loves research? Fiction writers.

Fiction writers are constantly crafting new stories and worlds. They are fashioning characters and settings out of their imaginations, using knowledge they absorb from the world around them.

If authors could only create characters with the same expertise and interests they themselves possess, all the shelves in the world would simply be filled with autobiographies.

Who wants that?

Creativity and exploration are why research is so important to writers; they want their stories to go further than their own personal experiences. If an author wants their protagonist to work as a mechanic, but the author has never peeked their head under the hood of a car before, what are they to do? Research. If their character’s family member is suffering from a genetic disease the writer has been fortunate never to encounter, how do they learn about the symptoms? Research. If an author plans to write an interracial romance set in the American Wild West, how are they going to learn about the difficulties couples actually faced during that time period? Research.

Isn’t this exciting?! A gigantic group of people just clamoring for our librarian research superpowers! Well … maybe not clamoring. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say the majority of writers are introverted, and may not feel comfortable asking for help. They might not even know that you have these magical superpowers to share with them.

At this point, I think it is time I admit that I count myself among this wonderful group of people. When I am not at my librarian day job, I can often be found tapping away at my keyboard, creating stories about people falling in love.

I am a romance author.

This past year, I joined a local romance authors group. The women are supportive, funny, and understand my obsession with happy endings. I am a novice member of the group, which is why I was flattered when they asked me to be the speaker at the October meeting. They asked if I could talk to them about research.

That’s when I realized how lucky I am. While earning my MLIS, I learned how to navigate databases with ease, and what’s more, I now have access to a huge amount of academic information because I am employed at a university.

On the other hand, these women, all of who are extremely intelligent, had likely never received the same in-depth instruction on how to perform academic research, nor do they have access to the same resources my job provides for me.

My guess is they exhausted all the research methods they knew, and they wanted to find out what other tools existed in the world.

That’s where I came in.

My main goal was to find resources they had access to but probably hadn’t yet stumbled upon. The members of this romance authors group are residents of Ohio (mainly in the Toledo area) and are public library card carriers, which means they have access to both OhioLINK and the Ohio Web Library (OWL). OhioLINK is a fantastic resource for academic books, while OWL enabled them to search for academic research articles through EBSCOhost.

I spent an hour showing them how to locate these databases, detailing what type of content they contained, and then demonstrating a variety searching methods.

They loved it. One woman, whose most recently published book made it to Publisher Weekly’s best sellers list, expressed how she wished she’d known about these resources while writing her past books, and she can’t wait to utilize them in the future. Success!

So, how does me giving a presentation to my writers group affect you? The answer: I didn’t have to be a romance author to speak to them! For that hour, I was simply a helpful librarian. And isn’t that what the majority of us are?

Writers groups are everywhere; Romance Writers of America (RWA) has local chapters across the United States. And then there are plenty of general writers’ groups, too. Find out if there are any near you, and get in touch with them. A lot of these organizations are looking for speakers, and some may even have a budget to pay for presenters. But even if they don’t, it is a great way to get presentation experience and make connections in your community.

And who knows, one of those authors may even make the next hero of their book a helpful librarian …

Lauren Connolly is the Instructional Technology Librarian at Fort Lewis College. She tweets about books and romance and other random things at @laurenaliciaCon and posts info about her novels at This is her second post for LtaYL; the first was “Are There Any Questions? My First Month as a Full-Time Librarian“.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Interview Post: Amie Wright


Amie Wright (yes, I am ‘Amie’ with an ‘i.e.’)

Current job?
9 to 5 I am a Library Manager at the Edmonton Public Library; evenings and weekends I am the Co-Chair Convention Planning for the American Library Association Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table (GNCRT - follow us @libcomix). Formerly I worked at the New York Public Library as the Manager of School Outreach and Collection Development Librarian on MyLibraryNYC - NYC’s educational outreach partnership.

How long have you been in the field?
I have been a Librarian with a capital “L” since graduating with my MLIS from the University of Western Ontario in 2009; however I have worked in the field on and off since (*thinks and counts in head…*) 1999 when I started as a library assistant at the University of Calgary medical library. Before that I worked as a student assistant in an art museum and as a high school page shelving books so, yep, it’s been a while.

How Do You Work?

What is your office/workspace like?
Clean - except for my collection of Comic Con and Library Convention badges and my ever present and vigilant Ms. Marvel funko.

How do you organize your days?
Use a lot of life hacks (i.e. work on a project for a set amount of time - i.e. 50 mins then break) and GTD tricks (though I am ever attempting inbox zero I am more like inbox 30 on most days); also coffee. A lot of coffee.
What do you spend most of your time doing?
Email. Also a lot of communicating with teams via face to face meetings, phone calls, and emails - lots of email.

What is a typical day like for you?
Have I mentioned email….? But seriously, even as a library manager everyday looks a little bit different - which is one of the best things about librarianship! - but generally I start by checking my messages on my cell from about 8:30 am onwards. I need to see if anyone has called out sick and if there are any literal (or figurative) fires to put out - my library has a renovation currently underway, while still being open, so this is a constant concern - is everything OK with the contractors? How is the work going today? Etc. I usually arrive at work between 9-10am depending on my schedule that day - and how late I need to stay. I work one evening a week (a 1-9pm shift) and every third weekend (full shifts on Sat and Sun). Once I arrive I check in with my team before the library opens to ensure the daily schedule looks OK and I give the weekly schedule a double check. If there any holes I will start making calls to our sub and part-time call-in pool - or call nearby branches to see if any staff can be reallocated. My library system is a mid-range urban system; Edmonton is a city of a million people and we have 20 library branches. My branch is a smaller, community library with 17 staff members - 5 full-time staff and 12 part-timers including 3 high school pages. Then, once the library opens, I flex my fingers, and start with paperwork. There is a lot of admin running a library branch and this can include balancing the monthly financials (petty cash, discretionary spending), forgiving library fines, checking in with library patron feedback, responding to emails (have I mentioned emails?), and, of course, forecasting ahead for the next 1-2 months - who do I need to check in with? what are some critical dates / programs / events coming up? I will also check in with my leadership team.Then my days are usually a mix of meetings, preparing for meetings, and, as I am able, I like to catch up even 30 mins per day on  library / education / publishing news.On my lunchtime and after work I respond to ALA GNCRT emails, and help with our social media channels. This is a lot of work but a labour of love. Our Round Table just got official status this past summer during ALA Annual in NOLA.

What are you reading right now?
Currently reading the award winning and gorgeously drawn My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris; I recently finished reading The Strange by Jerome Ruillier - a new graphic novel published by Drawn & Quarterly that - similar to Shaun Tan’s The Arrival - follows an unnamed, undocumented immigrant’s experiences as he tries to forge a new life in a Western country where he doesn’t speak the language. Finally, I am also reading Worry-Free Money - which has been super inspirational as I contemplate (big gulp) leaving my full-time library job to head back to school full-time. I have been wanting to further my history studies and specifically look at improving accessibility and educational outreach of library and archival collections.

What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
Allow yourself to be surprised and allow yourself to be inspired. Say yes to things that scare you. Allow people to help. Also - and, most importantly, enjoy the moments and the people; if you are a manager or leader, be good to your team. Build people up, don’t tear them down. My professional mentors are all people who came to the profession in unusual or surprising ways - maybe it was a midlife career change, or they ended up doing something radically different than they originally studied for, or they bring interesting side projects and interests to their work. They all showed me that librarianship - our leadership, our values, our collections - is (or - should be) as diverse as the communities we serve. There’s no ‘one path.’
What have you found yourself doing at work that you never expected?
Considering my current trajectory as a comics and education librarian? 100% my career has gone in places and I have found myself doing work I never expected and truly didn’t realize existed. I worked in non profit for a few years post-undergraduate as I was figuring out what to do with my life. I came to the library because I saw it as a perfect fit between helping people and connecting them with resources. I never thought that my personal passion for comics and history could be further combined with helping people and connecting them with resources. Certainly I never expected that would result in me working to get comic books like March into NYC schools, then presenting at San Diego Comic Con, then planning an event like NYCC @ NYPL, and then working with an amazing team to get the GNCRT created! Definitely the past few years have shown me that librarianship can be so surprising and rewarding in the big moments and the smaller, more personal ones too.

Inside the Library Studio

What is your favorite word?
SO MANY! (I am sort of obsessed with the Merriam-Webster Dictionary iphone app - they have a word of the day feature!) Most recent favourites: abscond, dulcet, mellifluous, and asseverate.

What is your least favorite word?
When I lived in NJ somehow ‘irregardless’ was integrated into the state lexicon. To hear it is like fingernails on a chalkboard.

What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
I wanted to be a vet growing up. Unfortunately, I pass out at the sight of blood so I figured a career in veterinary medicine probably wasn’t a good fit.

What profession would you never want to attempt?
Making a profit off of others - looking at you, for-profit pharmacology industry.
Everything Else

What superpower do you wish you had?
If anyone has ever heard me present or appear on a podcast they have probably heard me talk about Wolverine and his healing factor - and I just going to leave it at that before I fan (again) about Wolverine.

What are you most proud of in your career?
The work I am doing now and the people I am working with: helping to contribute to starting a new Round Table at ALA and one that is all about Graphic Novels & Comics has been the culmination of a lot of separate projects and passions and amazing committed individuals all coming together in such an awesome and unexpected way. But truly, all of the professional development sessions I have been involved with for schools and libraries, big and small, have felt so meaningful. And, like most librarians, some of my top career highlights have been with fellow teammates and community members themselves - a kid whose face highlights up when you suggest a new title to read, someone who needed help with their resume who has found a job, or when you hire someone who is as excited about the profession as you are! The library is an extension of the communities we live in, and I am just happy to be able to assist in anyway with the ebb and flow of that. 

*also, my friends would find this remiss if I didn’t say that getting Mover and Shaker in 2017 has given me a steady supply of dinner party jokes that feel like something out of A Christmas Story - as I tried to explain to my (non-library) family that it’s a major award.

If you're willing to share, tell about a mistake you made on the job.
So many mistakes…! If anyone has one hour I will tell you all about that time we tried to issue library cards to every student in NYC! But seriously, and without sounding too Oprah like (hey Oprah - you are awesome tho), I don’t consider them mistakes. Truly they have been learning opportunities and like, ‘oh hey, I didn’t know that…’ or, ‘hmph….good to know for next time.’ Working in a public library so long you meet so many different people. Most of the ‘mistakes’ I've made are around making assumptions about people or interactions; what I have learned (and have to keep reminding myself over and over again) is that it is always best to make no assumptions - have high standards certainly - but don’t take things personally, be open to change, and allow yourself to be surprised by people and situations.

When you aren't at work, what are you likely doing?
Thinking about work. And when I am not doing that, I am spending time with friends and family and traveling and thinking about traveling. I went to so many amazing large and local cons throughout North America these past few years, like the Toronto Comic Arts Fest, Small Press Expo, and San Diego Comic Con. on the agenda for the 2019 and 2020 are some international conventions like Angoulême in France and Thought Bubble which has a comics scholarship conference concurrently hosted at the Leeds Library. Maybe a Latin American Con too? Also IFLA and the Graphic Medicine Conference and one day I would like to visit the Nelson Mandela Centre for Memory.

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Carla Reimer @carlawr  Marcela Peres @marcelaphane Matthew Noe @noethematt

Amie tweets at @librarylandia.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Recharging Professional Batteries

picture of batteries in and beside a battery charger

Last week, I talked about some questions to ask when you reach a mid-career slump. This week, I want to talk about one way I've been able to recharge a little. I started writing this post in the Spring, before I ended up taking an extended hiatus from blogging, but I think it's still important to share.

Back in the Spring, I spent about two days meeting with library staff - predominately library administrators - from all around the SUNY system. I have to be honest: I was kind of dreading going to this meeting. I was already behind with my to do list before I'd had the flu a couple of weeks prior, and the prospect of missing a bunch more time in the office was not filling me with delight. Who wants to sit around and talk about things that may or may not have anything to do with my day-to-day - think about how varied the schools in SUNY are, and you'll have an idea of why I thought that - when I had plenty of day-to-day to attend to.

I should have known I would be wrong about my dread. Sure, there were things we discussed that didn't have as much bearing on my school as they did on other schools, but the updates about  OLIS and the new chancellor weren't my big take-away from the time I spent with the other SUNY staff.

There were quite a few other take-aways, though.
  • I got to hear what all the other campuses are up to, especially other community colleges.
  • The social time I was able to spend socialising with and getting to know other cc administrators in SUNY because SUNY is different from the other consortia I've been in, etc., was invaluable.
  • Even beyond the other community college library administrators, there's something so very validating about being around people who have same kinds of problems, challenges, and successes as me.
  • Also, it must be said that it was nice to get  away from the office for a bit so I could recharge.

We all need that. Time to recharge. There's a multi-day training thing going on this week for people who are involved with, in one way or another, the change over from one OPAC to another (SUNY is switching from Aleph to Alma), and though I'm sure the training will be valuable, that's not why I'm excited for my staff. I'm most excited for the recharge opportunity this presents to library faculty and staff. It's the end of the semester and things are always stressful this time of year, so I'm glad they all have an opportunity to get away.

How about you? Do you find time with peers, outside of your normal context, to be refreshing and renewing?

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Just for Fun: Learning How To Be Me

This post is somewhat of an experiment, and very different from what I normally publish for this monthly series of posts that are less library-y and more blog-y. You see, I've been buddy-reading How to Be You by Jeffrey Marsh with a friend. We read one chapter a week and then discuss. Sometimes we share the answers we gave to the questions Marsh asks. Sometimes we talk about the memories that arose as we read. Sometimes we talk about how hard but important it is going to be to embrace the ideas the author discusses. This week I'm jumping the gun, though, because one of the exercises in Chapter 5, "Let Go of Punishment and Control", really hit me hard, and I want to share.

On page 96, Marsh invites their reader (Marsh is famously non-binary, which is yet another reason for me to like them) to: "Ask someone who loves you what they like most about you." Wow. This is an exercise in vulnerability if ever I saw one, and I - like so many other people - am horrified at the idea of being that vulnerable.

But I did it. I asked the person who is Dante to my Randall what he likes best about me. His answer? My sense of humor. I couldn't help but smile, because that's a thing that I value about myself as well.

Before I asked him, though, I'd been thinking - and here's some more vulnerability for you - that I'm also someone who loves me. I not always kind to myself, but I do think I'm pretty rad on the whole. I'm going to be 46 soon, so it's about time that I started liking this person with whom I have a life long relationship, right? So, in keeping with the ideas from Marsh's book and as an exercise in self esteem and vulnerability, here are some things I like about me:

  • I'm clever. Yes, I'm smart, and I'd like to think that I've earned a certain amount of wisdom, but I'm also clever. I can see how seemingly disparate things fit together, sometimes in ways nobody imagined before. It's a thing I used to think everyone could do, but it's not. I'm not unique in this attribute, but it does seem to be rare, so I value my cleverness.
  • I'm a good friend. I am, for a few people in my life, the one person who is allowed to call them on their bullshit. I think that's because I do it lovingly and always phrase it that way. "I love you no matter what, and support you in your decisions whatever they may be, but..." is a thing I've said to friends - and meant every word. I also do the opposite. I've lost count of the times I've exhorted my friends to be kinder to themselves. "Hey, that's my friend you're talking about there. I think you should cut them some slack."
  • I have a culinary imagination. This is another thing I thought everyone could do until I learned otherwise. I can think about a recipe and rearrange it in my mind with other flavors that people might not think would work together, but that are fantastic. I have made risotto everywhere from pure as heck vegan to meat meaty meat. I can tell you which cheese will taste better in a specific circumstance (even though I'm now lactose intolerant). This talent also made it easy for me to sell wine back when I was a waitress.
  • I'm always looking for ways to improve myself. I will admit that I don't always enjoy the "why am I not best at this already?" part of learning something new, but I've come to embrace that stage as just a part of the process. I can easily tell you all the things that I'm currently trying to improve, but that's not the point of this post. However, I can say that the things I'm trying to improve are about skills and not the core of who I am.
  • Kindness is my highest aspiration. I'm not nice. Nice doesn't get the work done. Nice is... well... nice...? But nice always seems to want to tell people what they want to hear even when it's not the truth. Kindness, on the other hand, wants the best for people, even if that means a failing grade or a less than stellar evaluation. Kindness is also compassionate, and compassion is something we are sorely lacking in our culture.

So how about you? What's something you like about you? Feel free to tweet it or put it in a comment here, but you don't have to. Please, though, take a moment at least to ask someone you love and trust to tell you what they like about you. I know when I told the friend with whom I'm reading this book the thing I value most about them, it really resonated and I've seen that friend really embrace that quality in themselves.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Vocational Exhaustion

There's this thing that happens to a lot of people when they hit the mid-career. You look around and think, "is that all there is?" It's not about doubting your own skills, although I've had my share of that. There's the struggles for budget control and the struggles for respect from colleagues and the struggles for the next big idea, and then - once you get beyond all those struggles - things can start to feel old hat. Very "been there, done that, lost the t-shirt already." You ask yourself what's to be done, and yourself answers like this:

It's pretty much the polar opposite of vocational awe (and if you haven't read that excellent article yet, I suggest you stop reading this blog post and instead head over to In The Library With a Lead Pipe right now. It's okay. I'll wait.). You can see librarians/librarians for all their warts and peccadillos, for all the systemic racism and gendered nonsense. It's not burnout, per se, but it it is definitely a point at which you've run out of the optimism that propelled you into the profession and you're wondering what you'll do with the rest of your life.

I've known people who left librarianship at that point, and that was absolutely the right decision for them. I've also known people who stayed where they were and everyone else around them was made all the more miserable for their coworker's misery. When I've hit this wall (and it's happened to me multiple times - vocational exhaustion is not a one-and-done phenomenon), I had a serious talk with myself and found ways forward:
  • Is it librarianship or is it your employer? The last time I had this issue was about 5 years ago, and when I asked myself this question I realized it was definitely where I was working. I took my time and found the right new opportunity, and am so much happier now.
  • Are you putting too much of yourself into librarianship? If you've been reading my blog for even a second, you know how much I harp on the need for work/life balance and choosing librarianship over Librarianship. Spending more time with family or friends or with yourself doing something other than librarian stuff has been the right answer for me time and time again.
  • Are you focusing too much on what's left to do and ignoring your accomplishments? Wow, that to do list can be overwhelming, am I right? I've never in my 6 years of being a director been able to to argue for an increase in funding or staffing, and that kind of admission can make me feel like a failure and like change never happens. But then I look at the students who found their way to my classroom with whom I'm still in touch. I look at the collections I've built. I look at the people whose careers I helped launch.
  • When was the last time you took a real vacation? Not a weekend where I'm still checking my work email or a conference where I'm still consumed with librarianship. Time where I genuinely unplug and stare at things that aren't screens. I'm the worst at this, but I've got some time off coming up.
  • Are there really no more challenges left for you? I'm getting involved with a statewide effort to recruit the next generation of library leaders and foster the growth of people who've recently taken a step into administration, and I'm super excited about it. I'm also reaffirming my commitment to this blog and trying to get new voices to publish here. There are plenty of horizons left for me to conquer, and I bet there are horizons left for you as well.
How about you? For those of you who've faced this hurdle, how did you get over it? 

Credit goes to "Everything Is Awful and I'm Not Okay: questions to ask before giving up" for the form this post took; lots of credit goes to Jim DelRosso who helped me name the phenomenon; and thanks again to Fobazi Ettarh for giving us the term "vocational awe" in the first place - I never would have written this post if not for that article.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

When All the Small Things Add Up, by Alison Gehred

At this stage of my career, I wish I could go back and share all the lessons I’ve learned with younger me, especially what I’ve learned about imposter syndrome (which is something I struggle with) and how to deal with my depression. If I could go back, I’d talk about how I was good at what I did and that I needed to get out of my own head.

My first job was as a library page when I was 16 years old and I’ve pretty much continuously worked in libraries since.To my surprise, I got accepted to every graduate program I applied to. When I graduated from school, I felt completely lost. It seemed like everyone else had their life together. All of my graduate school friends were happily paired up romantically and had an idea of what their futures would be. I applied to work at colleges all over the country and felt utterly tetherless. I felt I wasn’t competitive enough to get a job. I would wake up in a cold sweat about how I was going to pay back my loans. I felt like I was a B person in a field where you needed to be an A + person to stand out.  All through graduate school I had thought it was some kind of fluke that I got in. Now I was in a competitive job market where I felt I wasn’t good enough to get my foot in the door. When I was in high school and I wanted to be an actress, I had this fear of being constantly told that my nose was too big and I couldn’t do it. This felt the same, only I wasn’t smart enough and I was begging for menial jobs. It was like the world shrugged and said, “you tried. Here’s what you get. You peaked here and the rest is disappointment.”

I fell into a depression so deep my parents paid for me to ship my clothes to their house and told me to give my furniture away rather than stay for an extra two weeks and wait for them to pick me up when my lease expired. The original plan was to get a small apartment in my college town, work at a non-professional job, and then slowly apply for a professional position. My depression was too great and I was barely functioning. When I moved back home  to Ohio, I found out that my license had been expired so long I had to take my driver’s test again. Nevertheless, during those six months I applied to about 80 jobs. I made a list and then would highlight it either red, yellow (for interview), and green if I ever got offered the position. I did a few phone interviews. I was told, “I was going to get hired soon but this wasn’t the right job for me.” I felt desolate. I called it being “funemployed.” I wish I could say I had this unshakeable sense of self, but I didn’t. I just narrowed my focus for applying for jobs. I realized that I wanted to stay in Ohio because my family was there and I had a network of friends nearby. I kept on adding to my spreadsheet and learned about new technology to add to my resume. I cooked all the time. I figured if my parents were letting me stay there, the least I could do was cook for them. Once I passed my driver’s test as a 26 year old, I went on road trips all over. I made sure to see the people I wanted to see. I read all of the “Game of Thrones” books. I got really close to both of my parents. I kind of re-centered myself.

Even though it was such a time of uncertainty, I can actually look back on it fondly. I learned that if you like an organization, it doesn’t hurt to get your foot in the door. You have no idea where your life will take you and the best thing you can do is not compromise what you truly want. Sometimes what you really need won’t look like your vision board. Librarianship is a really big tent. You can dive deep into a really specific collection. You can hang out and catalog to your detailed heart’s delight. If you have the stamina to make it through graduate school and work hard, you can be a successful librarian.

I love having a job where I can think creatively and I learn something everyday. (Yes, I did eventually get a job.) When I graduated and was scared that I had made a terrible mistake. I didn’t realize that some things are worth more than a ton of money. Get paid what you are worth, but make sure you are happy in your job. Has my depression snuck up on me? Of course. But now I know how to brace for it. I wish I had learned more about handling mental health when I was growing up because depression and anxiety is made to seem like a weakness. In reality, it’s a way of viewing the world and it has made me a more intuitive and empathetic person. These are good skills to have as a librarian. This is not to say my anxiety and depression is a cakewalk but I have to see them as part of myself and not something to be ashamed of. This was the time I really learned the meaning of Anais Nin saying, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Blossoming and accepting that my life was changing was not an easy process but I did it and it made me a better person. I hope this helps someone who is struggling. I’m a big fan of being truthful and open. Please know that sometimes when things seem really bleak, you need to remember that you’ve got a drive in you and you are going to be in a career that is fabulous and important. Oh and the imposter thing? As someone who has now been on job search committees- if you are chosen it is not a mistake. You are worthy of earning what you worked for. If you got into graduate school, that was not a mistake. You worked for it and got in. This seems really simple but when you are depressed you are lying to yourself. We need more thoughtful and reflective people in this world. Welcome to a profession that celebrates that.

Alison Gehred is a reference librarian at the Grant Morrow III Library at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. She blogs at Radiance Reflected and Columbus Moms Blog. She is also on Instagram @radiancereflected where she shares pictures of her cats and various food she has made. She graduated from Bowling Green State University for undergrad and the University of Wisconsin-Madison for her MLS.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Librarians as Recruiters

I've written about this before, but it's obviously time to write about it again. Prospective students may not chose a school based on the library, but it does influence parents and guardians. Admissions will appreciate the help. It will make you look good to your bosses that you are reaching across the typical barriers. With fewer traditionally aged students to go around, we're all in the recruitment business. Besides, you really don't want to hear some of the things student and other tour guides make up when they aren't getting the information from you.

Here are the kinds of things parents and guardians care bout:
  • breadth and depth of the collection;
  • study spaces available;
  • assistance and support provided;
  • technology;
  • safety of the space;
  • whether or not it looks like their mental concept of a library.
And here are the kinds of things that are important to students:
  • online resources and support;
  • building hours;
  • comfort of the furniture;
  • assistance and support provided;
  • anything "fun" in the library;
  • whether or not it looks like their mental concept of a library.
So how do you translate that into a format that is digestible and usable by tour guides? You have to get to know the people and the department responsible for tours. In one case, I walked around the library and gave a tour to the person who oversaw the tour guides. In another situation, I was on the agenda of every beginning of semester meeting that was held to train new and remind returning tour guides of their duties. More recently, I offered to write the script that was being used for an online tour.

It's important to mix numbers and anecdotes, no matter the audience. It can be as simple as, "We have this many computers and that many books, and we host this contest every spring." Also important is to always encourage conversation and feedback. One of my favorite ways to get a tour guide, particularly student tour guides, thinking about it is to ask what kind of information they wished they'd gotten when they were considering that school.

The most important thing about the library having some say in the information presented on tours is that we are all part of the same team when it comes to recruiting new students. Not even the most well off institutions are going to survive without sufficiently big student bodies, so why not help out?