Friday, May 20, 2011

Talking Archivists

Seven Triad (Winston-Salem, High Point, Greensboro, Burlington) archivists and one friend of archivists gathered for the first Society of NC Archivists Triad Social on Thursday, May 19.

Wake Forest was well represented with Z. Smith Reynolds folks Rebecca Peterson, Audra Eagle-Yun, Craig Fansler (the friend) and me, Dianne Johnson. Then there was Gwen Gosney-Erickson and Liz Cook from Guilford College and Bennett College's first dedicated archivist Marcellaus Joiner.

We enjoyed homemade macaroni and cheese, sweet potato hush puppies, salmon salad, collard greens with peanuts and more at Lucky 32 in Greensboro. The early evening atmosphere was pleasant and allowed for all kinds of conversation.

For example, Marcellus learned that he wasn't the only who had to process materials before digitizing them. And some of us even got to know Greensboro better whether it was a description of Super G from Audra or some behind the scenes details about the Civil Rights Museum from Gwen. Some personal stories were shared so it was a great time to leave our collections to get to know our fellow colleagues.

Next up is probably a tour of Etherington Conversation Services, followed by social time at another eating place!

Here's the group, post-dinner:

From left: Craig, Audra, Liz and Marcellus

Gwen (first) and Rebecca

Thursday, May 19, 2011

MLA Musings

Marketing As If Your Library Depended on it.
Presenter: Pat Wagner, Pattern Research

At MLA, I attended this CE class on Saturday, the 14th. I have always avoided marketing-type courses because I thought the information would be too obvious. It turns out that this class was very useful and focused more on understanding who your customers and how to speak to them.

The most important things I learned:

  1. Avoid being smug. We need to learn what our patrons really want and stop trying to convince them that our way is the better way.

  2. For each event/publication/class we should identify the target audience and play to that.

  3. Develop partnerships with users.

  4. Understand the difference between a feature and a benefit. A feature is what we can offer people, a benefit is what the user gets from the feature. This should be the focus of marketing.

  5. Be willing to change and/or eliminate what doesn't work.
There is a difference between Marketing Public Relations and Advertising.

  • Marketing is being aware of what people want and adapting to the change.

  • Advertising is about giving people a compelling reason to "buy" your product.

  • Public Relations is more passive, less specific and ongoing. It says "Remember me fondly and often".

Finally, the presenter suggested that we look at the activites we focus on and figure out how much time, money and effort we spend on each.

  • The Past - this is driven by what we are known for and what people love about us (books, journals, quiet space, etc.)

  • The Present - this should be driven by customer demands (mobile computing, e-materials, coffee bar, etc.)

  • The Future - this is about vision and what we might do that we have never done before (embedded librarians, 24/7 access, etc.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Past to Meet Present Part 4

A quick review since it has been exactly three months since the last post on this subject.

And the subject is Dr. John Monore's collection of antique medical instruments that are eventually going to be displayed downtown in the Dean Research Building, specifically Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

In March and April, Karen Richardson (public relations officer for WFIRM) and I:
1. Cleaned out the six display cabinets donated by Dr. Monroe
2. Figured out how to install the glass shelves into those cabinets
3. Worked on new locks for those cabinets
4. And finally, actually made many trips with a cart from an office where the instruments are stored to the cabinets!

Since we are not the most "visual" people, we re-organized several times but finally got the instruments grouped according to our themes: bloodletting, feeding, general diagnostic, pharmaceutical, etc. After that, we started researching museum cards to describe the different instruments. Karen has done most of the legwork on this which was finding the slips of paper in which Dr. Monroe described each piece and then finding the "matching" piece - great puzzle solver! She then started typing up some descriptions for each piece. We learned along the way that there really isn't enough room in the cases to place physical description cards for each piece so we were leaning toward framed descriptions to hang on the wall.

Meanwhile, while going through some collections in the Archives, specifically Dr. Lawrence C. McHenry who did research on the history of medicine, I have found awesome and relevant materials for antique stethoscopes and brain/neurological-type instruments.

So, Karen is doing her thing (creating first draft of descriptions) and I'm doing mine (collecting and learning all about old medical instruments) when...

Dr. Tony Atala, director of WFIRM, who seems to have a great insterest in the history of medicine, decided that he wants more pieces displayed. We barely touched the surface, really, out of 1,300 items.

When she sent me an email update just this week, she said:

Just wanted to give you an update on the mini-museum ....
Dr. Atala has decided to purchase additional cases since only a small portion of the collection was displayed.

So, can guess the 1.5 words that have made my entire week?

Ahhhh ... "mini-museum"

And of course, I replied with:

Dr. Atala needs to think bigger J I am ready to display all the things here too!

Okay, slight tangent there. Needless to say, Karen hopes to have the display completed by early Fall 2011.
Stay tuned!