Transforming Our Image Parts I & II

PLA On-Demand Webinars logoWould you like to learn about a simple, effective strategy that will make you, your library, and our profession indispensable? It does not require changing anything we do. What is involved? Modifying what we say.

Based on the instructor’s award-winning article, “Transforming Our Image through Words that Work: Perception is Everything” (Public Libraries, PLA/ALA, Vol. 48, No. 5, Sept./Oct. 2009, p. 24–32), this webinar describes a straightforward concept that enables libraries to heighten their importance by replacing traditional terms with powerful, intuitive, value-enhanced terminology that people understand. Learn how strategic vocabulary can immediately convey your true value—even to someone who has never set foot in a library.

Most importantly, transforming our image through strategic vocabulary involves categorizing all that libraries do under the complete definition of education. Learn how applying the easy-to-visualize “Three Pillars” positions your library as a major component of your region's strong education system—along with public schools, colleges and universities. Why might we want to align ourselves with education? Because it's what the world values most. And what is valued… gets funded.

This archived webinar was originally presented May 18, 2011.

Running time: 1 hour, 58 minutes

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this on-demand webinar, you will have gained the skills and confidence you need to describe your work and profession in terms that people understand and value. You will explore proven techniques, participating in a concluding discussion to:

  • Redefine libraries in a new, innovative way
  • Align the library with what the community values most: education
  • Incorporate intuitive, value-enhancing words that speak for themselves into your everyday lexicon
  • Heighten the library's visibility and stature
  • Develop strategies that you can integrate immediately into your work
  • Introduce the Three Pillars philosophy and strategic vocabulary concepts to your staff, Board, elected officials, Friends/Foundation Board, customers, community, and the media

Who Should Attend

Library leadership and staff members at all levels; Board of Trustees; Friends/Foundation Board members.


Valerie J. Gross

Valerie J. Gross
President & CEO
Howard County Library System, Maryland

Valerie J. Gross has served as President and CEO of Howard County Library System (HCLS) for 10 years. A passionate promoter of libraries, she believes the most effective way to convey the value of libraries is to speak in value-enhanced, intuitive terms people understand. Ms. Gross has led the process to reposition HCLS as a major component of education, which has resulted in nearly tripled library visits (1M to 2.6M), the more than doubling of materials borrowed (3M to 7.2M), research assistance interactions exceeding 1.3M annually, and yearly attendance at classes and events totaling 186K—in a county with 282,000 residents.

Ms. Gross credits the HCLS Board of Trustees, Howard County Executive, Howard County Council, Maryland State Legislators, Friends of HCLS, philanthropic partners, devoted volunteers, dynamic community, and, most importantly, HCLS’ innovative staff, for repositioning HCLS as one of the nation’s great public library systems (American Libraries, November 2009).




This on-demand webinar is available 24/7 for viewing at your convenience. You'll have access to this on-demand webinar for one year from date of purchase.


  • $28 each (less 10% discount for ALA/PLA members)


  • $119 each (less 10% discount for ALA/PLA members)

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How to Register

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Tech Requirements

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Credits or CEUs

PLA does not award credit hours, or CEUs, for its on-demand webinars and cannot verify participation.


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