Reinventing with a brand–Change in the school library beyond the name

This past year I have finally wrapped my mind around the idea of changing my school library into an academic learning center. This is more than just a name change; it is a complete revisioning of my role and the purpose of a library within a school. In lew of the recent layoffs in Ogden, Utah (http://www.standard.net/stories/2013/04/26/ogden-school-district-notifies-librarians-job-terminations), I can see that we need to express the goals and purpose of what we do in a school library to let others know that we are not the librarians of their youth or the stern, sushing matron of the movies.

Low and behold, this week’s #TLChat on Twitter was on branding and re-branding. I wasn’t able to participate live, but luckily read the archive of the chat here. Several sources and quotes caught my attention and really starting me thinking in this new change to the space formerly known as the library, I really need to express the “why” behind the changes I’m making or the method to my madness.  Here are some quotes that stuck with me along with my thoughts in turquoise:

Calling your library a ‘media center’, ‘learning commons’ or ‘planet krypton’ changes nothing. Branding is about ACTION not labels.”Jennifer LaGarde (aka Library Girl)–Practice what we preach. The old stereotypes of librarians will stick around until we show people differently.

 @danielpink calls a brand a ‘promise.’ What promise do you want to make your students/staff/admins? There’s your brand!”Jennifer LaGarde (aka Library Girl)–I really like this one. A contract between the patrons and customers. In coming to this conclusion, then one can easily define their purpose within a school and let others know your usefulness.

Branding needs to be intentional”WHSLibraryRocksThere is a purpose and that purpose needs to have strength and backing.

“What qualities do you want most to cultivate in your students? Curiosity? Risk taking? Perseverance? There’s your brand!”Jennifer LaGarde (aka Library Girl)–Yes, a lot of what Jennifer said stuck with me the most. If it is not about what the space can do for the students and their learning, then why should it be in the school? Really the focus should be on students, but I would also look at ways we can provide services for teachers beyond collaboration. If we truly want to be the hub or center, then we want to be it for all individuals in the building, not just students.

Nikki D. Robertson (her blog) also tweeted a great resource, Simon Sinek’s TED talk “How great leaders inspire action“. I watched most of the video and the info just solidified all that I got from the TLChat in that we need to show people our “why”–really what is our purpose, our promise, our passion. It is a defining of our roles in meeting the school’s mission and goals. If school librarians don’t want to be on the next round of budget cuts, we need to use our brand to broadcast our definition, the one that fits the needs of our students and staff.

So, what would mine be?  What is my brand? What is my “why”? That’s for the next blog post…


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