When Karen G. Schneider (or K.G. as I’ve known her on Twitter) said that she wanted to interview me for an article about librarians and personal branding, I was confused. While style is something I think about a lot, I’ve never considered personal branding in regards to what it can do for a librarian. I thought personal branding was something Kardashians or Sonja from Real Housewives did. You know, like sticking your name on a diet pill or a toaster oven to get more name recognition.

After talking to K.G. and reading her well-written article, I started ruminating on the idea of personal branding for people other than rich lady reality TV stars. Why do librarians need to consider personal branding? Is it different from building a good reputation or cultivating your image? Is this something that should be taught to librarians?

All my life, I’ve wanted to be an introvert who dressed in black and beige and liked it. Maybe adorned with a piece of jewelry I didn’t change up too often. Maybe a gold locket? Something tasteful and simple. I’m serious. This always seemed like the ideal librarian and worker to me. This kind of person appears stable and hardworking. Everyone wants to hire this person. I didn’t think someone like me could really get a job. I don’t know too much about personal branding, but what I do know is that I got much happier once I let my weirdo flag fly and stopped trying to be someone else. A happier Ingrid made a better librarian.

The pink hair and glitter shoes helped me get remembered at conferences, but being memorable only gets you so far. All these unicorn brooches and dinosaur earrings and heart-covered dresses can project MORON if you’re not careful. I want to make my mark, but not at the cost of seeming all hair/crazy clothes and no substance. As They Might Be Giants have sung, “Don’t want to be known as the freak who just comes around to catch your eye.”

Totally unrelated, my neighbors at Queens Public Library are being everything librarians should be. It’s not just librarians and NY-ers taking notice: They got Boing-Boinged! Read about all their great work here. Want to support all their great post-Sandy work? Have you thought about donating children’s books or cold hard cash to Urban Librarians Unite’s Book Drive? Why not? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?

This is how it’s done, folks.

What are your thoughts on personal branding? How about librarians helping out in times of crisis? Remember, I need you to comment. My self-esteem lies in your hands.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

About magpielibrarian

Children's and Teen Librarian, Mediocre Crafter, Urban Magpie, Glitter Addict, and Worshiper of Ridiculous Outfits, Emerging Leader 2012, Rainbow Book List Member, and GLBT RT Director-at-Large! This is what a librarian looks like, kids.

7 responses »

  1. I don’t know what personal branding is. Well, maybe I do and just can’t translate it into my life. Diet coke fiend, romance reader and information access guru? We should talk.

  2. Caitlin says:

    I didn’t really think of it in terms of personal branding at the time, but when I started my current job a few years ago I made a conscious decision to change the way I dress. I was coming from an job in an archival storage facility–lots of moving boxes around and lots of dust, so lots of jeans and t-shirts–and even though my new job didn’t have a strict dress code, I embraced a sort of business-casual look because it was a nice change from dusty jeans. Nowadays I wear lots of pencil skirts and slacks and cardigans and a lot of black and white, but I like using pops of color like a lime-green top or bright teal shoes, so I guess what I’m going for is “I’m a professional, but I can be a professional in loud, bright colors if I want to”. Calling it a brand feels odd to me, but I wouldn’t mind projecting that message to people I meet in my job.

    And I admire your style a lot! I can see what you mean about not wanting to seem “all hair/crazy clothes and no substance”, but personally, when I meet someone who embraces a style that might seem weird or crazy, I take it as a sign of confidence–it might be a bad idea to show up in dinosaur earrings or heart-covered dresses if you DIDN’T know how to do what you do well, so when I see someone in a professional position going for that kind of look I tend to automatically assume they DO know how to do what they do well.

    I am also full of admiration for New York librarians right now, and am going to write myself a note to make a donation after payday.

  3. Shannon says:

    I am not sure I have a brand. I tend to buy clothes that are comfortable, and most of the time I feel like I can’t pull off something I might think is neat (pink streak in the hair, for example!). I do think that reading your blog has helped me in this area though. You inspired me to get rid of my boring grown-up glasses and order some pink plastic ones! :)

    • If you *want* to pull it off, I know you can. If you don’t, why bother? But sometimes a little thing like pink glasses can make you smile on a bad day, so if that’s going to make you happy, you should definitely go for it. Wear them with pride. <3

  4. […] A happier Ingrid made a better librarian. The pink hair and glitter shoes helped me get remembered at conferences, but being memorable only gets you so far. All these unicorn brooches and dinosaur earrings and …  […]

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