Photo of adult reading a book to a child at Halloween

Telling the library’s story, for real

I love stories! We all do. Which is why I’m bummed that story is becoming just another way to say market, advertise and brand. These three things are important in communications, and stories are a part of the complete package. But there needs to be a special place in our hearts for honest-to-goodness storytelling. Stories that have people at the center.

What we do together is the story

We are creating community together, through every interaction, every invitation, every response, every day. People are hungry for community and experience, the opportunity to get together and make and share. It’s this internal and external user experience that makes a brand. Not a logo, not a color scheme.

Here’s more on culture as branding in a short video on Inc. with Randy Hetrick and on Zappos’ blog with its CEO, Tony Hsieh.

Back to stories. We want to show we’re listening and responding, making and sharing. It needs to be personal.

Make + document

At our library, we make a lot of programs happen. For the ones that I lead, I find it rewarding to design an experience for people, then see how they make it their own. Documenting that experience leverages it further. People who are there in person have a way to share their experience with others who weren’t; faculty, authors and experts have an artifact that they can share with their colleagues and communities; and programs expand their audience.

Luckily, there is a talented team of people at our library who make documentation and sharing happen. We now have 70 videos on Vimeo, everything from stop-motion to documentary series to expert interviews to student productions. These videos wouldn’t be possible without our talented digital media specialist, Patrick Kammermeyer, and creative journalism students like Victoria Billings. It’s thanks to Patrick, too, that we have several podcast series’. To me, the value of having someone in this role is clear.

When you make something, document it. There is a lot of value in sharing. It’s a huge part of the maker community, too, for example, with resources like Instructables.

Share stories all the time

There are so many different channels to tell your story, most of which are social. With those channels in place, you can share pieces of your story every day. It may be a photo of new chairs or a podcast from a recent author interview. It doesn’t have to be an announcement. It does have to show that you’re actively engaged in the process. That you’re improving or learning or making and that you invite others to join you.

These frequent stories will begin to form your longer narrative, a stable of creative evidence that reflects your culture.


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