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Whooo Says…

Dear Whooo,

Because of the budget cuts at my hospital, I was unable to attend MLA this year. I really missed seeing all of my hospital library colleagues and hearing the new things that others are doing. However, what I really wanted to hear about is what MLA is doing to help hospital librarians. We really need someone to help save our jobs. I am too busy doing my daily work! I can’t add anything else.

Shakin’ in my shoes

Dear Shakin’,

I’m so glad to hear from you! I’m sorry you missed MLA this year. Hearing about all the new programs and changes in other libraries is so helpful in planning your own library focus and operations.

I think you will be excited to hear about the new Values2 Initiative that the Hospital Library Section is developing. Under the leadership of helen-ann brown epstein, MLA Rising Star Roy Brown will be working with section members to create the HLS Values2 Initiative. The initiative is dedicated to “keeping the Hospital Library doors open” and “keeping the Hospital Librarian in place.” It will focus on three key areas: the Hospital Administrator, the Library as the Center of the Hospital, and Making the Hospital Librarian the Very Best Possible. (Kudos to MCR members Jerry Carlson, Brenda Pfannenstiel, and Barb Jones who are involved with this project!) Also as part of this effort, the Vital Pathways bibliography will be updated.

I anticipate that this initiative, combined with the wisdom of the Vital Pathways Project will provide hospital librarians with a wide variety of needed tools to promote their skills, libraries, and impact on the hospital operations. Watch for the initiave’s release in the next year!

I’m a bit concerned about your comment that MLA needs to be doing something to save your job. As our professional organization, MLA does a great job advocating for our profession and organizing the work of the members. In terms of library advocacy and marketing issues, I think of MLA as a manufacturer of life preservers. The MLA staff members take the contributions of members and make them available to all. These contributions are the life preservers: policy statements, initiatives, classes, listservs, etc. After that it is our responsibility as professionals to use those life preservers in any way appropriate to save our jobs. We can all find great wisdom in the collection of documents and programs donated by our peers.

In your question, you mention that you are too busy with your daily work to take on any other activities. As a hospital librarian, I know that you are very busy and involved in many different types of activities. However, the marketing and promotion of the librarian (YOU) and your library are activities that you CANNOT ignore. On those extremely busy days, you may only be able to smile and offer your elevator speech to someone you pass in the hallway or even the parking lot. On other days you may be able to get out onto the various floors and introduce yourself and your services. You may be able to network about how your services can be useful with members of various committees that you serve on. You may be able to post information on your hospital’s intranet. There are as many ways to advocate for your services and library as there are ideas in your head.

Take a moment or two, Shakin’ and think about your overall program. What are you accomplishing with your work? What is the impact of your work on the individual patients, the physicians, nurses, departments, and administrators? What do you want others to know about your contributions? Think carefully about these questions, and then start to plan the various ways you can communicate your value to those making decisions about your survival. Some items that you should definitely include are an annual report (complete with an interpretation of the statistics you collect) and a budget proposal. Otherwise, you have a wide variety of choices for your time and creativity.

Remember that repetition will help make your case! Think about how many times you see the same ads on television, in magazines, and on billboards. The more you tell others how you can help them, the more likely they are to remember you favorably. In fact, there is a common adage stating that a person needs to hear something at least three times before they remember it, and up to seven times if they read it!

I hope to see you at MLA in Austin in 2015, Shakin’. I’m eager to hear how your advocacy efforts have paid off.



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