To celebrate Canadian Library Month in 2014, GVPL chose to engage the public by showcasing both the many different aspects of our staff and the library work that they do. During Library Month we wanted to show off the staff that are at the heart of the library with a social media site celebrating the individuals who work at GVPL. Modelled after the popular Humans of New York site, we spotlighted a different staff member each day in October.
Each post included a first name, photo and short vignette based on the answers to the following questions.
- The best part about my day is ___________.
- Something that surprised me about working at the library is ___________.
- When I’m not working at the library, I’m ___________
- My favourite item in the collection is….(could also be your favourite goofy/unique item) (ideally staff could pose with the item)___________.
- I’m inspired by ___________.
I initially sent an email out to all GVPL staff asking for their participation. A week or so later, I sent a more personal follow up message, and sometimes phone call (phone calls work well for added pressure!) to specific staff that I thought would be particularly interested. The final staff list was narrowed down so that we would have a relatively diverse group of staff from a variety of branches, in a variety of positions etc. I used a brief MachForm to receive staff responses and this was an effective information gathering tool as I was notified when each staff member had completed the form.
Our timeline included doing the initial planning for Canadian Library Month in August & September, and the implementation in October. We promoted the site externally through our Facebook and Twitter accounts multiple times every week to show the library & library staff in a different light and reinforce that the library and our staff are part of the wider community.
Overall, I found Tumblr very straightforward and easy to use. The theme that I chose was The Minimalist Theme, created by Pixel Union, a local Victoria web design & development company. The minimalist theme is (surprise, surprise) a very uncluttered one, which I thought was best so that the photos & content were the focus. Through Hootsuite, a social media management system that we already use at GVPL, I was able to schedule posts ahead of time, which meant very little ongoing maintenance was required. I would recommend scheduling posts ahead of time so that they can be reviewed and edited in case changes need to be made
The photos that accompanied the vignettes were taken mostly by staff who had photography experience but participating staff could also choose a personal photo if they preferred.
The site helped to foster a positive work environment for staff and celebrated their personal contributions to the library system. The site also acted as a community-builder because patrons and community members could like, share, follow, or comment on the posts. It was also a great opportunity for the staff to get to know one another better and encourage one another. One of my favourite posts from Joy, Children’s & Family Literacy Librarian said, “I’m inspired by the smart, creative people I work with, who meet challenges with positive spirits, who read and discuss ideas, who enjoy their jobs and look for new ways to bring literacy to young children and families.” If we do this project, or something similar again in the future, it would be a great way to focus on and highlight favourite parts of the collection through staff recommendation.
You can take a look at the final product by following the link below:
I would encourage any library system to try out this type of project! Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Isbister is a Children & Family Literacy Librarian at the Greater Victoria Public Library