Friday, April 2, 2010

A Curious and Coincidental Confluence of Classroom Concepts

(For those of you who dislike that title: tough noogies.)

This semester of library school, I'm taking three courses: Reference and Information Services, Administration and Management of Libraries and Information Centers, and Storytelling. I chose to take the first course because answering reference questions is a pretty central part of many librarians' duties, I chose the second because it was recommended to me by my advisor as a good thing to have under my belt, and I chose the third because I needed something fun to do.

But it's interesting how those last two classes have started to overlap. One of the big ideas in the Administration class that keeps coming up is "telling the library story," convincing people—users, administrators, directors—of the importance of the library. This doesn't necessarily mean telling an actual narrative-style story ("Once upon a time there was an underfunded librarian who had to make do with really old books"), but it does mean considering the situation, the audience, the salient facts and how to present them in the best possible light.

These are all necessary tools for the conventional storyteller as well. One must always be aware of these elements while telling the story in order to be successful. Now, 'success' means two different things in these two situations: in one, it's to convince someone that your work is worthwhile (and, potentially, to give you more money), while in the other, it's to entertain. But in both situations, someone is listening to you, which gives you the opportunity to put something in their head that wasn't there before—and in both cases, the best way to do that is through a story.

I think it's kind of neat, myself.

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