Jerk: the Current Library Brand?

I found this to be an interesting quote from Tim Sanders, who wrote The Likeability Factor, in a news article I read today.

“In this bloggable, cell phone camera world, your brand on the inside is going to be your brand on the outside. If you have a bunch of jerks, your brand is going to be a jerk.”

I think libraries as a whole have to consider the “plays well with others” factor in who they hire — for sure.   It’s pretty simple, if libraries send jerks out to the community — the library is going to be considered a jerk too.   And, however stereotypical, it’s hard to say that “grumpy & scowling” has not been part of the library brand for quite a while now.   (Jerk?   Well, I’d agree with that too, but I won’t add a link for that because I might end up calling some nice guy or girl a jerk).    Thank goodness for efforts to change that image [snark].

This only goes to show that a user-centric library may have to also be fairly librarian-centric in the end.   If we want to change our brand to something positive, we will have to invest our time and energy in attracting positive non-jerk librarians in the end.   For alot of countries (and the U.S. is an exception to this) that are going to be looking at labor shortages in the next couple of years, this is going to be more and more difficult.   In other words, it goes to show that going on a manifesto of user-centricity is not going to be enough to satisfy the needs of our users in the end.   We have to consider the whole package.   We can’t be user-centric, if our employees are jerks.

6 thoughts on “Jerk: the Current Library Brand?

  1. That is absolutely true. It’s not just staff, but also with patrons. If our good patrons only see disruptive or bad patrons, that looks bad for the library too. Libraries need to have more customer service training. The in-person interaction goes the farthest to spread good or bad news about your library. Word of mouth is the top way people see your library or any organization.


  2. […] Two thoughts collided in my head while waiting in a Charleston hotel lobby. One thought came from observing a group of conference going librarians standing nearby and nodding in tight-lipped agreement with a colleague loudly declaring “we don’t have coffee and socializing in libraries, that’s not what we are about”. The other came flying in from a post I had just read from Ryan Deschamps at the Other Librarian called “Jerk: the Current Library Brand”. […]


  3. At the public library I used to work at there were five of us who did some manner of reference work at the reference desk. The fact that I was known as “the smiling one” should tell you chapters about how far we had to go….


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