MLA 2013 Annual Meeting: CE Course “Business Communications Library Style”

June 7, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Posted in Professional Development | Leave a comment

How timely that one month after Kathy Stemmer-Frumento’s  post  “Writing and Publishing a Book – 101” appeared in this blog, NAHSL’s Professional Development Award enabled me to attend the “Business Communications Library Style”  CE class   at MLA 2013. Now in addition to Kathy’s guidance on writing well, I have a new set of tools I can use to effectively communicate information about my library’s services and resources.

Barb Jones and Marty Magee are engaging instructors who make a compelling case for librarians to adopt and regularly use various business communication methods and tools in our work.  They describe and discuss each tool and its applicable use in detail; here are some key points of each.

White papers: Use to persuade or convince an audience; present the recommendation as a “win-win” with the audience being the biggest winner. Never present just the problem – always include viable solutions as well. Research, plan, write and rewrite – a white paper is a valuable tool. Very likely we all have ideas for projects, solutions, etc. – creating a white paper on the subject is an excellent, proactive approach.

Budgets:  Quantitative descriptions of our work.  Always frame our budget within the mission of the institution. Budget narratives should be factual, not emotional.  For example, providing high-quality  information through services and resources leads to knowledge which leads to evidence – but none of that is free; it’s a cost of doing business and cuts will diminish the value of the organization’s work.

Business Plans: Not as extensive or detailed as a true project management plan, a business plan serves as the “how to” description of a project or product start-up. Good information on creating business plans is available at the US Small Business Administration’s website 

Grants/Awards: In awarding grants, the funders are essentially hiring us to do their work in furthering their mission. Before seeking any funding, make certain your goal(s) align with the organization’s. Equally important are making sure to identify and track measurable outcomes – that information is crucial for the required final report. 

Annual Reports: The “Christmas Letter” – warts and all – of past year, annual reports are an excellent method to communicate a consistent message about the intrinsic value of our work. Elements include the director’s message, a review of operations, a management analysis, statistics and financial statements.

Business Letters: Including emails, these serve as the record of our business communications. Here is where we can say whatever we need to say, as long as it is said in a civil manner. Use appropriate language and “voice” and concrete nouns to create strong statements.

Although Barb and Marty welcome questions and discussion, this is not a writing workshop class. Given the extensive amount of information provided, there really isn’t time to practice and critique our own writing – especially when you consider that each tool described could be the sole subject of a separate class! They do provide a bibliography of resources for improving that skill.

Looking for more? This class is being offered at our 2013 NAHSL Conference on Sunday, October 27th  Conference registration is now open

“Writing and Publishing a Book – 101”, Kathy Stemmer-Frumento

Submitted by

Kate Cheromcha, MLIS
Health Sciences Librarian
Windham Hospital, a Hartford HealthCare Partner
Willimantic, CT 06226


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