Librarian as Consultant #InternetLibrarian

Paul Barrows, Federal Resrve Bank of San Francisco


Pyramid: transacter -> problem solver -> consultant -> trusted advisor

Problem solver: more involved than a simple reference question.

Consultant: someone keeps coming back with a subject.

Trusted advisor: someonce comes to you when they’re really lost and they trust you to get them started.

The pyramid narrows at the top, because you can’t be a trusted advisor to very many people.

New MLIS: “My boss is very smart, she must have had a reason for hiring me.”

Perpetual curiosity, ask lots of questions, be a team member, speak up, change leader.

Fewer ready reference questions, needed to transform services.

Positioning the librarians as advisors, partners, consultants.

Transforming staff: re-training, tough decisions, playing to strengths, honing existing skills, emerging skills.

Think about your mission as furthering the success of your parent organization, rather than self-preservation.

Find about your organization’s mission, your management’s priorities. Commitment to customers’ goals (they want to look good and do well), future of librarianship, and your own professional development.

Librarians are already generally trusted, but people don’t know what we do. People think they’re bothering you. Soft skills, like empathy and emotional intelligence (know the difference between panic and curiosity!). Get in on the ground floor of projects. Iterative approach improves the product — and the relationship (don’t give all at once, make sure you’re on the right track). Regular brief meetings during larger projects. Over-deliver and maybe offer more. Learn and ask about something personal.

Build awareness of services, esp. online subscriptions. Have a strong web site, self service but can come to us for deeper levels of service. Pop-up tables.

Catch key clients: Meet with new executives and give them targeted recommendations. Presentations to departments and divisions. People are happy to find out you can help them do their job better. Check-in regularly: “What are you working on now?”

Trust your gut, even in the deep end of the pool.
Periodic SWOT analyses (organizational and personal)
Are all your strengths being used?
Go on field trips to where people are
Polish how you talk about the library, yourself, and your colleagues
Influence without authority (peers, executives)
Suggest the wacky if you can explain how it serves the mission
(Something for everyone is part of their goals.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s