Back to the Basics: Communicating Your Value

November 5, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Posted in NAHSL Annual Meeting 2013, Professional Development | 1 Comment

Mid-way through our recent annual meeting on Cape Cod, I realized that there was a common thread running through the various programs I had attended.  It was a basic theme and we’ve all heard it many times before, but somehow it was good to hear its simplicity as a counterpoint to all the technological glitz surrounding us.  I thought of it as “communicate your value.” 

My conference experience started with Barb Jones and Marty Magee’s Business Communications: Library Style.  Marty endeared herself to me immediately by talking about her golden retriever, but more importantly (NAHSL is paying for my programming, after all) showing how well-crafted library documents can be used to communicate a message tailored to a specific purpose.  Using the principles of good business communication and appropriate language helps emphasize the value and legitimacy of the message and its content.  For example,  an annual report can be an excellent tool to communicate your library’s value through targeted statistics, concise bulleted accomplishments, clear graphics, and focused visual elements.  A one-pager can showcase skills, new tools, or service enhancements.  (Too bad Barb and Marty didn’t include blog posts in their presentation; I could use help with this one!) 

After this written language tune-up, I was feeling a bit more confident about my communication tools.  However, what about the value part of the equation?  Here is where I really appreciated the 2nd plenary speakers, Marshall and Sollenburger, who reported on the updated Value Study (  This study updated the Rochester study of 1992 (Marshall, JG. The impact of the hospital library on clinical decision making: The Rochester study. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association. 1992 Apr;80(2):169-78) and specifically examined the value of library and information services in patient care. (Marshall JG, Sollenberger J, Easterby-Gannett S, Morgan LK, Klem ML, Cavanaugh SK, Oliver KB, Thompson CA, Romanosky N, Hunter S. The value of library and information services in patient care: Results of a multi-site study. Journal of the Medical Library Association 2013 Jan; 101(1):39-46).  The results and implications were fascinating; the authors point out that they would like to hear from libraries that have used the data or methodology in their own institution.  I hope to be able to use parts of the methodology for a much smaller study in my own institution. 

An additional way to demonstrate and communicate our value is to expand or reconfigure our scope of practice to include knowledge management.  Many of these activities and projects are things we are doing already and, again, we need to display and communicate our value.  As the panel on Knowledge Management showed, many NAHSL members are doing this in a variety of ways.  Are you thinking about moving in this direction?  Have you already expanded the scope of your library?  If you would like to “Widen the Lens” either individually or as a department, please send your ideas to me or any member of the NAHSL 2014 planning committee so that we may continue to explore this theme at our next annual meeting.

Lucinda (Cindy) White

Eastern Maine Medical Center



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  1. I think you did a fine job communicating through your blog post!
    One of my favorite quotes during the Knowledge Management panel was when Margo Coletti said “don’t wait until you are an expert because the field is constantly changing.”

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