Several years of political and personnel issues left the administration at East Baton Rouge Parish Library in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, wondering what could be done to rebuild internal and external relationships. According to Mary Stein, Assistant Director, Administrative Services, Geek the Library™ came along at the perfect time. The team used the campaign to rebrand the library as a place that's relevant for everyone and to make community connections. It provided an opportunity for change and development in all areas of the library, especially with staff. Staff buy-in, involvement and enthusiasm drove the program to success.
The East Baton Rouge campaign ran from fall 2011 through summer 2013. This lengthy time frame called for a solid plan and continuous development, something Mary viewed as another opportunity for long-term impact. With a large system, including multiple branches and more than 500 staff members, Mary's plan posed some challenges. For example, communication to staff needed to be well-timed and purposeful, which they handled through planned one-on-one meetings.
One of the most tangible outcomes of the campaign was data gathered at each individual branch's "geek week," which included community insight about strategic planning questions. The experience also provided ideal circumstances for staff to actively contribute to the library's mission. The "What do you geek?" question allowed even the most reserved staff members to partake in meaningful conversations that often led to partnerships or other referrals.
Even with activity at each branch, co-branded programming and many speaking engagements, Mary still feels she could have done more. "You can't do everything," she noted, "and that's part of the beauty of the program. There are no strings. There's no set prescription. And it's totally scalable. You can make it fit whatever your capacity is…and you're only limited by your own imagination on how to make it work."
To learn more about Geek the Library and to find out how other public libraries have used the program, visit www.geekthelibrary.org.
View Mary's TEDx talk featuring Geek the Library.