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Annual Reporting and the Importance of Librarian as Communicator

May 22, 2009

It’s annual report season at my institution, which forces me to think about what I’ve actually accomplished this year. It provides a great opportunity for me to re-examine the wonderful things that I’ve learned at the various conferences and workshops I have attended this year.

One of the most common themes I’ve encountered this year is the idea of the importance of the librarian as communicator:

  • Communicating with students about appropriate resources
  • Communicating with faculty about changing library policies and new resources
  • Communicating with administrations and governments about the role of the library at your institution
  • Facilitating communication with the public about science and scholarship

What strategies do we employ (or should we employ) to help us meet our various communication needs?

Traditional tools such as newsletters and posters aren’t as sexy as web 2.0 applications, but they remove the barrier to entry and reach a population that isn’t always wired.

Social media can help connect libraries to their users, but time and effort must be expended to reach the audience you are seeking. Social media can also become insular: librarians following other librarians on twitter, Facebook pages for a library whose only “friends” are other librarians. My library has a Flickr account and a Facebook page, but both are badly in need of updates. Do we jump in on twitter, too?  With a limited staff can we replicate the success of a colleague using twitter at a larger university?

Those tools can help you connect to and interact with users in a way that is impossible with the mass-mailed newsletter, but only when used appropriately.  This is something I am constantly working on.

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