Using branding in the library isn’t new, but I’ve been thinking about personal branding in regards to my role as a school librarian. A Google search will bring up several pages of articles covering library branding and promotion, which provide useful information for branding our libraries. If you refine the search, you can find articles going back almost 10 years, which provide useful information for branding individual librarians. We are the product now, and there’s been some debate about whether this is a good thing or if the risk of branding is really worth the benefit.
If we’re utilizing personal branding, are we taking away time from our actual jobs and creating an image of ourselves that may be unintentionally (or not) disingenuous? Curated Instagrams, blogs, tumblrs, etc. manipulated to appear almost too perfect and designed to attract followers (along with financial gain) continue to pop up online. The recently released movie Ingrid Goes West is a gritty look into the potentially smoke and mirror world of online branding, where online persona doesn’t always match up to reality.
Others, like The Daring Librarian, assert personal branding is teaching part of digital literacy and citizenship in regards to maintaining an online presence and making responsible choices online. For example, monetizing your platform, selling ad space, or doing paid promotion is probably not the best way for librarians to utilize personal branding. Creating and maintaining a personal brand is work. Even if you enjoy elements of design and/or social media, promoting your personal brand takes discipline and patience. How much effort do librarians put into branding before we see any positive returns, and what exactly are we trying to achieve with personal branding?
My personal goals center on widening my exchange-of-library-ideas/opinions circle. I want to share my thoughts with more people, and I want to read/hear what more people are thinking, doing, reading, and wearing in their school libraries. Personal branding also implies the librarian is a key component of what makes a library so much more than simply a space for books. Ultimately, I may not have the motivation, discipline, or time to fully engage with personal branding, but I am working on my Twitter and Instagram presence.
Although we can’t expect to have total control of how we are perceived online, I don’t think we should be afraid of experimenting with personal branding and how others see us online and in real life. I think the trick may be finding one’s most authentic angle for personal branding. Anyone cultivating a personal brand or thinking about personal branding? How did you get started, and how would you describe your personal brand?
Author: Mica Johnson
I’m a school librarian at Farragut Middle. I like the lib to be loud, messy, and full of student activity. I love tech stuff as much as I love books, and I’m part of an awesome rotating maker space.