Posts Tagged ‘communication’
One of the things I love about my job is making connections. Sometimes it’s a connection between individuals and the information they need. Sometimes it’s a connection between two people who can help each other. Sometimes it’s a connection between a person and a unique opportunity. Recently, I was able to connect a two colleagues: a librarian from Mansfield University and a professor at Millersville University. The result was a chapter on visual aids for Public Speaking: The Virtual Text, a free online public speaking textbook.
I love this project—Creative Commons-licensed, well-written by authoritative speech professionals, an alternative for FAR too expensive communications textbooks. Really, what’s not to like?!
Anyone with an upcoming presentation who is considering using visual aids (Midwinter, ALA, and ACRL librarians, I’m looking at you) should take a moment to check out Chapter 13: Visual Aids. Sheila has great advice on:
- Identifying when and how visual aids will enhance a presentation
- Identifying the different types of visual aids
- Identifying effective and ineffective use of visual aids
- Applying basic design principles to slide design
- Identifying best practices to incorporating visual aids in a presentation
I’ll be keeping these tips in mind when I work on my upcoming presentations—no more crappy slide decks! Seriously, give it a read. You can download each chapter as a PDF in color or grayscale. Share this resource with anyone interested in public speaking!
I’ve been following a great NMRT listserv discussion about business cards for MLS students/new professionals. I thought it might be nice to synthesize some of the advice in a blog post, along with offering some thoughts of my own.
Traditionally, print business cards were standalone pieces, designed to provide a glimpse of an individual’s qualifications and contact information. Cards included things like an individual’s name, mailing address, phone number, fax number, office location, etc. However, business cards have undergone major transformation within our increasingly digital era. They now have the potential to provide a gateway to an individual’s full-fledged online persona.
So, what should we put on our print business cards? As a designer, I am a fan of less text. Using visual elements to create an impact is something I am always striving to improve in my own work, and that includes personal branding/identity management. Instead of listing every little detail in lines of uninspiring text (typography is the most difficult design decision for most individuals), I would advocate for the following:
- Email address
- QR code AND/OR a link leading to a landing page or something like an about.me profile
- Optional – If you are a student, you may consider including “MLS Candidate, Institution Name, Year of Graduation” next to or beneath your name. This indicates to potential employers and new contacts that you are on the market.
Potential things to include on your landing page: LinkedIn profile (if you don’t have one, go make one now), Twitter (if you tweet professional or pseudo-professionally), email, Skype, e-portfolio, blog, major awards/recognition (Library Journal Mover & Shaker, ALA Spectrum Scholar, ALA Councilor, etc.).
Using a QR code on your business card is a quick and easy way to link smart phone users to your virtual persona. QR codes are becoming more and more popular (I recently spotted one in a Sephora magazine and another one on a table tent in the University dining hall). You can generate a barcode for free as sites like this QR-Code Generator. The only thing to keep in mind is that not everyone has a smart phone (I don’t), and some who do may not have downloaded a barcode scanner. I would recommend including a short link in addition to the QR code for individuals who either don’t have barcode-scanning capacity or who are unfamiliar with QR code technology.
If that seems sparse, don’t worry. White space is one of the most valuable elements designers can have in their toolbox. Consisting of the empty space between and around graphical elements and text, white space provides breathing room and is sometimes referred to as negative space. It gives the viewer’s eye a chance to rest, along with subtle cues regarding intended visual path. Although a business card is small space-wise, visual clues and breathing room are still important. Use remaining space on the card to make some kind of personal statement, through colors (fun, professional, minimalistic), a logo, a quotation, embossing, etc. You can find some great examples on The Business Card Flickr group. Be wary of cramming too much on both sides of the business card – many people like to write notes on the back about where and when they met you, things to follow up on, etc.
Some might argue for including your job title on your business card, but I think if you want to remain flexible, leave it off. You can always include a section on your job/institution on your landing page. Plus, when you purchase business cards (check out sites like VistaPrint and MOO), you usually have to buy them in large quantities. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck with a box of outdated and useless business cards (although there are some fun things you can do with them; check out cards of change). However, you could put a more generic title after your name (one that’s not tied to your business or institution), like “Information Professional”, “Graphic Design Guru” or “Instructional Designer”.
There are lots of other voices out there, some even pondering whether print business cards are dying.What do you think? What’s on your card?
At the request of Jen & Jason of The Dean Files, I’ve put together some conference tips for ya’ll. To be sure, the tips below are based on my own experience and your conference experience could vary based on a number of factors (where, when, weather, personality, roommates, alcoholic tolerance, available technology, etc). I’m drawing from my attendance at various state, local and regional conferences (the State System of Higher Education Library Cooperative Organization, the Pennsylvania Library Association Annual Conference), two ALA Midwinter Meetings, and one ALA Annual Conference.
(in no particular order)
1. Volunteer for something. It doesn’t matter what, just do it. If you’re a student, it gives you something to put on your resume other than just attending a conference. You can volunteer at the exhibit booth for your alma mater or for one of your professional associations (ACRL, PLA, LITA, YALSA, etc.). Try being a NMRT resume reviewer or greeter. Some conferences seek bloggers/microbloggers to cover certain presentations which can help you get your name out there and hone your journalism skills. I know for the ACRL Virtual Conference we’re going to be looking for volunteers to moderate webcasts and give tours in Second Life. There’s something for everyone! It’s a way to build in some structured social interaction to your conference experience and you never know who you will meet or what you’ll be invited to do next time once people realize that you’re reliable.
2. Some of the programs you are really looking forward to will inevitably disappoint you. Maybe this is just me, and it’s probably just because I read about the programs weeks in advance and literally plan my entire day around them. Maybe I just build things up too much in my mind. But the point is, you should have a “plan b” for almost every session you want to attend. Just in case there’s no room, the speaker winds up droning on and on to a text-heavy PowerPoint, or you realize that you already learned all of this in library school or real life.
3. I have to second Steven Bell’s suggestion to leave the program book behind. You do not need to carry the weight of that book around with you all day in addition to your laptop, food, water, notebook, smartphone, cords, business cards, etc. I usually end up looking at the schedule online or the night before, tearing out the one page with the hotel map, and tossing the whole thing into a garbage recycling bin in the hotel. I think the program book could probably get phased out if conferences are really looking to be more green. You tell me, do we need printed programs with the net and all this mobile? Just a thought.
4. To borrow a phrase from Stephen Abram, don’t hoard your business cards. “They’re like smiles – they only have value when they’re given away.” We’re all at a conference to learn, not only about libraries, but about each other (aw, so touchy feely, but true). Personal connections are really important, so trade information with the people you meet so you’ll remember each other later. There are also some technologies that help you do this without having to hand out actual cards, like QR Codes or the iPhone Bump app. Follow up with your new friends after the conference about collaborative projects, job opportunities, and shared interests.
5. Things to bring: ibuprofen, band aids, water bottle, granola bars, a sweater, mints/gum (sooo much conference coffee breath!), cold medication for days and nights, at least 2 pairs of comfy shoes.
6. Make a schedule. You will probably deviate based on how you feel that day and what opportunities come up (a colleague or new acquaintance cancels or asks you to join them for dinner, you don’t get enough sleep the night before because you’re adjusting to the hotel bed so you sleep in, etc). But having a schedule will give you a starting point. Another note on schedules – pace yourself! Resist the urge to cram one thing after another day after day because you will wear yourself out. Leave enough time in your schedule to accommodate spontaneous activities (these are often where you learn the most!). Allow yourself to enjoy being in the presence of others who care and make sure you have time to test the local flavor (a bar, restaurant, theatre performance or local band).
7. It helps to know a few people who will be attending the same event as you, so utilize your computer-based social networking connections to facilitate real-life networking opportunities. Conferences are a great place to meet the colleagues you have been tweeting with virtually for the past six months or that blogger you follow religiously. Let people know you’ll be in the area and put out some feelers for meetups, dinner, coffee breaks, etc. Lots of this happens serendipitously as you network, but you’ll feel more confident if you can recognize a few familiar faces.
Some other library conference tips can be found here:
- Five Tips For A Better ALA Conference Experience by Steven Bell at ACRLog (lots of good tips in the comments, too)
- Conference Tips for Newbies from Meredith Farkas’ ALA Chicago 2005 wiki
- Conference Tips by Stephen Abram
And interesting non-library specific conference tips can be found here:
- 27 Things To Do Before a Conference by Chris Brogan (good tips in the comments as well)
So tell me, what conference tips do you have?
Yeah, yeah, we all have cool jobs, but what I mean is this: Is yours the job of a lifetime??
If you think so, I’d like to know about it. I am going to be working on a column called “Job of a Lifetime” for College & Research Libraries News featuring interviews with people who have interesting jobs in the realm of the college & research library world. If you would like to be added to the list of potential interviewees, let me know! Or feel free to submit ideas or leads on other people I should contact. Just as a disclaimer – I can’t promise everyone an interview, but I will definitely try to include as many “jobs of a lifetime” as I can! In the meantime, you will always have the personal satisfaction of knowing you’re awesome!
Thanks for your help!
Over the past six months I was able to arrange viewings of the College of DuPage Press library teleconference series for RIT Libraries. These teleconferences are free for institutions within New York state, so basically I just had to reserve the room, login to the website, and handle a few technological difficulties (with the assistance of the library technology services team). Some of the teleconferences were better attended than others, but I think everyone appreciated what they did get a chance to see. I personally found the last teleconference, Tools of Engagement: Engaging and Attracting Library Users on May 9th, to be the most interesting. Below are some notes on the hour and a half long session. One highlight was the blunt yet continually overlooked fact that libraries are not selling a product, not even the product of information. We are selling critical thinking and civic involvement.
Questions to ask yourself (or your library): Are you making the benefits obvious to potential users? Are you picking a narrow target audience? Are you considering optimal timing for delivery of events or new services (for academic libraries, consult the academic calendar for times of the semester that might be high stress for both students and faculty and break periods)? Are you assessing your efforts (i.e. a raffle simply asking “Where did you hear about this event?”)?
A Few Ideas:
- Placing a “dorm pack” in every on-campus room for incoming freshmen with information & freebies.
- Have a succession plan in place, be transparent, and document publicity and assessment efforts.
- If library staff wants to help, but are worried that they don’t have any marketing background, there are ways to involve them by making use of their library-related skills. For example, librarians are excellent at doing research, so they could be helpful in conducting target audience and venue research. Writing is another popular library strength, as well as creative thinking.
- Have “outposts” in the library for the career and writing centers.
- Student orientation party with root beer floats and massages.
- Holding a summer party for faculty.
- Use Twitter or text messaging to send hold notifications.
The Power of Words: Choosing the right words can make or break a press release or marketing copy. Carefully consider word choices to be positive and uplifting. Including “education” is always a plus, as the general public sees education as important and worthwhile (Howard County Library).
Partnerships: Creating partnerships are one of the best ways to engage with the community (public, faculty, students). Offer library spaces for local events. One partnership example was between a local library and the town tourism industry, based on planting commemorative trees on the library grounds (Howard County Library – Blossoms of Hope).
Unique Library Experiences:
- Hold an annual community gala/multicultural events at the library.
- Create or participate in a community-wide book reading event.
- Design and give away car magnets.
- Partner with schools for a spelling bee.
- Investigate unconventional initiatives – One library had an artist-in-residence in the library for a year, working on different exhibits. Another offered yoga classes in the library.
Tips on Marketing to Faculty: Find the faculty gatekeepers, they will tell others of your greatness. How can you make services easier and more accessible?
Communication Tools: University-wide blogging at the University of Minnesota
One really neat project was transforming librarian/library liaison business cards into trading cards (Gould Library at Carleton College). Jennifer Edwins, Loan Services Manager and Assistant to the College Librarian has given me permission to repost the images below. I love them!
So, what is your library doing to engage and attract users? Some of these things? Other great things?
So I’ve been trying to make plans to visit two of my friends who live in Boston, MA. We’ve been discussing possible dates via Facebook messages because Facebook allows you to write and respond to more than one person at a time, with your conversation saved so you can see the history of what has been discussed (this is called a thread). Yesterday I received this email from one of the friends (my emphasis):
“Yo dudes. I can’t get on Facebook so I thought I’d use some older internet tech and actually email a person!”
Facebook was down for a couple of hours for maintenance. Which got me to thinking… my friend is right. Email is starting to become obsolete. I didn’t even think about the fact that when I initially wanted to ask my friends about visiting, I went to Facebook. I didn’t consider emailing them. It was an unconscious decision on my part. I just assumed that they would have access to their Facebook accounts sooner (and more frequently) than their email.
Then I started thinking about my own correspondence habits. I contribute to multiple blogs. I comment on my friends’ Facebook walls and message them. I text message as if my life depended on it. I very, very rarely email a friend. I use email chiefly for work, to deal with the administration & bursar at Syracuse University for my graduate courses, my NMRT mentor, and the occasional miscellaneous email to people in my life who aren’t very techno-savvy (i.e. my parents who don’t know how to subscribe to the RSS feed for my personal blog and who can receive but not send text messages). I know many people who use Twitter (micro-blogging) in a variety of different ways to communicate with friends and colleagues.
What does this mean for library users? What does this mean for library professionals? Is email going to go away? Are more immediate and public modes of communication taking precedence? Are students even using email anymore?