On the Job: Information Literacy and Promotion

After a short break from other courework and a small vacation, I started a summer contract in Information Literacy at the Saint Mary’s University Library, here in Halifax.

Regular readers (you may be dedicated, but you are few) will recall that I’ve worked at the library part-time this past year at the reference desk, but before that time I was a regular instructor and lecturer at the University’s Writing Centre.  Long ago, I was also a student at SMU graduated there with an honours arts degree.  Due to this long-standing relationship, I was initially apprehensive when the library offered me this summer position; in many ways I worried that much of my CV would be attached to one organization and therefore might raise questions when seen by future employers.  But after listening to a little advice from colleagues, I decided to take on the role since it is demonstrates in a positive light that an organization is pleased with my work and is excited to strengthen its relationship with me.  So we’ll see how all this pans out, but I’m confident it’ll be an exciting term.

But enough about me, and now more about the job.  This summer, I’m going to work with a small cadre of professional librarians in the information literacy department at Saint Mary’s.  Although IL at SMU is fairly small – there are only three staff members dedicated to the area (however, most librarians do take part in library and information instruction), they’ve got some great ideas kicking around that they’d like to put into action, especially since the library is finishing a physical expansion and the spirit of change is in the air. I’m going to have a big role in expanding the library’s use of LibGuides and will do a lot of work on web and document design. And this afternoon I started putting together some scripts and gathered the software needed to develop a bank of podcasts.  I may also broach the idea of developing and maintaining a Twitter account for the library, but this may be better served by their folk in promotional services, especially since my contract ends in September.

Anyway, as I walked home from my first day on the job, I began to think about how so many parts of information literacy has to do with promotions and outreach.  Of course, there is always the mundane taskwork to complete, from statistical analysis (this was also part of day one) to committee work to marking coursebooks.  Regardless, those of us (and dare I count myself as part of that ‘us’) in information literacy constantly have to promote ourselves and make ourselves known, not only to the students but to the faculty as well.  That’s not to say that we should give up the steak in favour of the sizzle, but it is to again put forward the need to have a least a small understanding of marketing if the library’s information literacy services to be rendered are ever to be found by the its market – the students.