Although all post-Midwinter survey comments were revealing and helpful, several were clearly best practices. Exciting successes so far include:
- I had dinner with my library director and talked to him about "changes" in the wording we have used in the past (instead of saying "We produce 1,000 handouts each week for Story Time attendees" "We reach 1,000 homes with messages from the library's Story Time" I have never thought in terms of paper content and how it means "Money" in terms of budgeting for library programs and materials.
- 3 times….At receptions and cocktail parties at Midwinter, or on the exhibit floor to new colleagues from the 2012 Bill Morris Seminar ….I spoke mostly about the importance of committee work, especially with ALSC members who had never joined a committee. The 2012 Bill Morris Seminar attendees are specifically interested in award committees, but I reminded them to seek out additional committee work as well. My colleagues agreed with what I had to say.
- More than 3 times - In the hall outside the Exhibits booth when working for an ALA candidate to interested passers-by. Yes, I changed it to appeal to academic librarians, public librarians and vendors. People were responsive. I think people want and need to be educated!
- At least 8. To a person in line for coffee, to a person in a publisher's booth, at dinner every night, at breakfast 2 mornings. At lunch once. Twice on the bus. Once in a cab. Members of YALSA but not ALSC, members of ALA/AASL but not ALSC, former ALSC members, one faculty member at a library school. ALA members but no division. My comments changed depending on the audience. People seem interested in the work of the division.
- At last week's staff meeting my supervisor asked for information to be used in an elevator speech that her supervisor wanted for the library board members. I was able to speak quite articulately about the components of an elevator speech. It was nice to save the day!
- I tried it out 3-4 times, and once was even in an elevator! The speech always changes to match the listener's interest. I think the best reaction came from my Associate Director, who commented on my positive, succinct message. He actually noticed the difference!
- I had a chance to try out this new factoid in Library Board Meeting. Our Marketing Dept. has asked for small facts to Tweet about......and I used "reaching 1,000 families" instead of "1,000 handouts" in my tweet message. I liked this exercise at Midwinter. The presentation had a lot of energy.....lots of movement. It was a good way to get to know each other. Positive..... I don't think I will ever use my old favorite statistic of 1,000 handouts again! :) Thanks for a worthwhile exercise. Time well spent.
- When I returned from the conference I have the elevator speech to my director. I am following it up with introducing her to fellow ALSC members at PLA.
- I have delivered an elevator speech twice to trustees here at my library. Since they pay for my conference attendance, I wanted them to know that their money was well spent. I actually used the phrase that we talked about at the meeting -- "Three days of incredible professional learning that I can put right to use here at the library." It was a great way to say thank you to them and I think they appreciated that I went beyond just expressing my gratitude. They both said something to the effect that they were glad that their money was so well spent.
- I have delivered a speech about the importance of the library and children's work in libraries in particular about 4 times. I am usually in a meeting with "external stakeholders," people who are outside the library but want to work with us in one way or another. Head of Training, State Department of Education, a researcher, a fellow committee worker and a funder/donor I didn't actually change the speech very much. Usually with outside people, the concept of the library having a role to play in larger, educational issues is pretty insightful and takes some absorption time. Very positive and at least in one case will lead to further collaboration. Learned that sometimes you need this speech when you don't expect to. I now always "bring" one with me to meetings. Sometimes they are important, not just because you want support from the person or institution for the library but sometimes these speeches give the library "street cred" to sit at the table with other civic problem solvers.
- 3 times….. At lunch with colleagues or with community members -- to fellow children's librarians, and to library volunteers. I also spoke with my colleagues about ALSC committee work, and with the community members, I spoke about the importance of programming for children's services. – The cost of attending (and joining) ALA remains a constant worry for those who would like to be more involved, especially in the large urban system where I work. In the past, committee members were given reimbursement, and now there is a rule that staff may only be allowed conference leave time if they are on a committee. Interest piqued when I suggested that my colleagues watch for opportunities to join virtual committees. The recommendations or lessons learned from your experience include it's important to continue to advocate for children's services and for all library services.
- I have been speaking to parents/taxpayers, staff, principal and superintendent about the value of children's and youth library work. I do adjust the speech to appeal to the audience! The more I speak, the more comfortable I get!
- This seems to be a daily activity as part of my job so it would be impossible to count. I communicate the value of children's librarian's work to parents, teachers, graduate students, graduate faculty, prospective parents, visiting educators, potential funders.
- I am quite comfortable delivering elevator speeches and often speak to the value of service to children and youth with staff, at training meetings, and in the community. The biggest lesson learned is to provide context for the big idea with a story that makes it real.
At least a dozen times, mostly in two venues: At a Library Advisory Commission meeting; I was doing a bigger informational presentation on Children's Services, but in socializing before the meeting started, I talked to two new commissioners separately using it. I don't think I changed it between them...I feel like I was still practicing. But I got very positive feedback: they were surprised and delighted to hear about the connections between story time activities, early literacy development, and later reading achievement. At a city wide coalition we have had a series of task force meetings to develop an award application around a literacy goal. I re-crafted my elevator speech into two distinct ones, to connect our story times to the "school readiness" and "parent engagement" strategies and Feb our summer reading program to the "summer slip" strategy. During a break out session I was supposed to pick just one of these strategy areas to work with, but by practicing my elevator speeches with everyone possible in the room in casual conversation, and drifting in and out of each group, I got the message across...so that these two services from the public library are now seen as integral in these strategies...in later meetings I've heard other coalition members saying parts of my speech back to the group, so I know something worked.