Friday, January 6, 2012

The 2010/2011 Annual Report

Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library, where I'm lucky to serve as the City Librarian, released our FY 10/11 Annual Report yesterday. It's a beautiful promotional piece that gives an overview of many of the most exciting things that happened at SSJCPL last fiscal year.

I'm especially pleased to have incorporated the use of QR codes in the report so that the reader can very easily access video content about the Library on their mobile device while they read the articles in the report. My hope is that, by embedding in the print report links that take the viewer instantly to our videos, the stories we're telling in the report will be that much more powerful.

Besides sharing our Annual Report, I want to take this opportunity to mention how none of the wonderful things described in our report could have been achieved if not for the truly wonderful and dedicated SSJCPL staff who serve customers throughout San Joaquin County. Thanks as well to the Library & Literacy Foundation for San Joaquin County as well as all of the Friends of the Library groups that work so hard to support the Library!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

CPD23 Thing #3 - My Personal Brand

If you're wondering what CPD23 means, just follow the link!

Today, we're thinking about our personal brand. Do I even have a personal brand? This isn't something about which I've given a great deal of thought. True, the tagline for my blog reads, "Libraries, Management, and Technology" so I guess, in retrospect, this was my brand statement when I started my blog. Those three topics are still certainly my primary topics of discussion on this blog, so I'm glad for the consistency.

However, those three words aren't truly a brand in and of themselves. The Mashable article Personal Branding 101 illustrates that a personal brand is more than just your interests or how you perceive yourself. That's only one half of the equation. Literally only half of the equation. In the article, the following equation is shown to represent your personal brand:

Your self-impression = How people perceive you

if the two sides of the equation are equal. So, in order to know if you've discovered your true personal brand, you have to have a good understanding of yourself, a good understanding of how others perceive you and have a good bit of overlap between the two.

That second half can be a lot more difficult to discover than the first. One way to figure out how others see you is through the vanity search. I have a pretty common name. When I google 'Chris Freeman', I don't find anything that refers to me until the 26th hit. I'm not an architect, a realtor, neither of the bad musicians on MySpace, an actor, attorney, nor dentist. And I'm certainly not the founder of the Science and Technology Policy Research Center at the University of Sussex.

But, if I google 'Chris Freeman librarian', which is a reasonable guess at how others might try to find me on the web, the entire first page of hits point at me. If you try this search, the first things you'll find are:
  • This blog
  • My LinkedIn profile
  • My Twitter profile
  • My Mendely profile (a hybrid social networking and scholarly document sharing site that I haven't used in a couple of years)
  • My Blogger profile
So, it looks like anyone searching for me is going to find information about me that projects a largely professional image. On the entire first page of links, only my Twitter profile would give any kind of peek at all into who I am on a more personal note. I'm OK with that. I use both Facebook and Twitter for professional and for personal interactions. For me, I think this is a good thing because I'm careful not to say anything to embarrass myself in either of those networks; however, someone who wanted to know more about me personally would see that I have a friendly personality and that I do have other interests beyond work.

In further trying to guess at how others might see my brand, I can look at the statistics for readership of this blog. Aside from the home page, my four most popular posts all have to do with technology (either eBook use or QR code implementations):
Knowing which of my posts are most popular likely tells me two things. First, those topics on which others see me as being credible and, second, topics for further writing on my part if I want to enhance the chances that I'll draw in readers.

Still, I'm really only guessing if I accept at face value that my G cred tells the whole story about how others perceive me. As Jo Alcock says in the post for Thing #3, it requires a bit of bravery to actually ask others to tell you their impressions. The question Jo asks specifically is: what does my blog say to you about my personal brand? I'm game: if anyone wants to answer that question, it would be fun to hear back from you.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

CPD23 Thing #2

I'm just a tad behind as I post my thoughts on Thing #2 of the 23 Things for Professional Development program in which I'm taking part. Most folks are on Thing #3 but I'm confident I can catch up! As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm participating in this program simply as a means of getting myself motivated to write on a regular basis once more. I've participated (and even helped plan and implement) a 23 Things program before so much of the content won't be new to me. However, I think the framework of the program will keep me focused and, coming back to some of the same topics a couple of years later ought to provide a different perspective compared to how I was viewing things back then.

Thing #2 asked that participants read blog posts by some other participants, leave some comments on their posts, and then come back here to write a little about what I read. The Delicious page set up to list all of the participants was helpful in that I could quickly pick and choose those blogs I wanted to visit. Because I work in public libraries in the US, that was where I placed my focus when reading other blogs. However, this program is definitely international with lots of participants in the UK, New Zealand, and Australia (not to mention some non-English speaking countries).

Reading a little about librarianship in other countries proved interesting. At Laura's Dark Archive (it's not nearly as spooky as it sounds...), I learned that librarians in the UK who are in the process of earning their degrees have a requirement from CILIP (the UK equivalent of the ALA) that they participate in reflective writing. I love this idea! I have found that the simple act of writing about an experience not only helps to ingrain what I've learned from the experience but also reveals thoughts and feelings about the experience about which I was unaware I even had until I wrote them down.

It would be nice to see more of this kind of requirement in American library school work as a supplement to the more common research and reading synthesis type of assignments that are typical of these programs. Besides, if students are required to write reflectively on a regular basis, they may be more likely to maintain this practice as they move into their professional careers. This development could only be a benefit to all of us and our library users!

Another blog I found while undertaking this exercise was Bethany Grabow - Enthusiastic Librarian. Her site is more than just a blog; it's her online portfolio which I thought was well done. This kind of online presence, which can be easily found by potential employers, makes a job candidate more competitive, I believe. Before I've ever met the candidate, I can see that they are technologically savvy, I have the opportunity to see a little of what the person is like aside from their "candidate" persona, and I can even get a sense of how well the person communicates using the written word (which is a skill that is really, really important if one hopes to succeed professionally).

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Going Mobile

Blogger recently added mobile templates to its range of features. I activated the mobile template for my blog this morning. After taking a peek, I'd say that Blogger did a very nice job of putting together a clean and very mobile friendly version of my blog. You can check it out for yourself by scanning the QR:

I guess now that means I just need to actually start writing again....I admit to have allowed other priorities push me away from reflecting on my professional activities. This is a failure on my part that has been nagging at me more and more as time goes by.

In search of a kickstarter to get my writing back on a more regular schedule, I'm going to participate in a new version of Helene Blowers' now famous 23 Things. This latest version is called 23 Things for Professional Development. Take a look; even if you've already run through this program, a refresher might be fun. I know I'm looking forward to it as a great way to refresh myself in terms of my desire to put a greater focus on personal reflection of my professional activities.
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