The Badge of Expertise

With its emphasis on the “expert in the library,” the Libraries Transform campaign has entered a new phase, energizing and inspiring libraries to talk about the expertise of their librarians.

One library director who seized upon the potential of the campaign was Eric Suess, of the Marshall Public Library in Pocatello, Idaho.

“It is true libraries are very valuable to their communities, but when Julie Todaro picked up and ran with the expert in the library part of Libraries Transform, that spoke to me, because while libraries are a great resource to the community, the library’s greatest resource is its people,” said Suess.“I wanted to make sure that we could let our patrons, our community, know about the significant talents, interests and abilities that our employees have.”

Focusing on what the library employees do for the library, each of the employees wear the Libraries Transform “I’m an expert in…” badge with their area of expertise.

Suess said this has proved a learning experience not only for patrons, but also for employees, who have gained insight into their colleagues’ expertise.

The badges serve as conversation pieces that spark interaction.  “I have somebody who is an expert in family history,” he said. “A patron came by and had some questions. It made a difference, the fact that she was aware of the expertise.”

Suess said his badge bore the inscription “Intellectual Freedom.” He said this reflects his experience with the American Library Association, but added he could easily replace it with “Dylan Thomas.”

The badges don’t necessarily reflect specific library things. One staff member is an expert in CorningWare, another employee is an expert on dietary issues, while a cataloger extolled her expertise in processing metadata.

Suess said a young adult librarian changes hers several times a day, ranging from “young adult literature,”  “makerspace,” “3D printing,” and “graphic novels.”

“Patrons can see that, in fact, rather than warm bodies at desks, we have truly a team of experts.”

Expert in the Library badges are available at the ALA Store.