Gretchen Gfeller

Gretchen UMaine USA

I want to begin by thanking Elaine Mulholland, one of the blog co-ordinators, for inviting me to contribute. Elaine and I worked together during her time at the University of Maine (USA). I am delighted to have the opportunity to share my experience with the group.

What is your current job?

And so, to begin… I am the Public Relations Manager at Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine, USA.  I was attracted to the opportunity to work with students in a university setting.  My current position offers opportunities to collaborate with faculty and staff as well as with our students.

I have a B.A. and a Master of Arts in Romance Languages. I am one of a growing number of professionals in the US who bring very specific skills to a library environment.

What does your job involve?

As Public Relations Manager, I am responsible for planning, developing,  and implementing PR strategies, liaising with and answering enquiries from media, individuals and organizations, writing and editing press releases and publications, organizing events , engaging with users on social media (Twitter and Facebook, for example), and developing community outreach initiatives.

Can you describe a ‘typical’ day or projects you have been involved in?

Every day is different. Some days are spent in my office working on newsletters, posters, and other publications. Some days are spent teaching a workshop series that introduces users to the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator). These workshops are open to the university community and the general public and are one of a growing number of services to our users. I have to say that my favorite projects are those involving our students. One example is our therapy dog visits, which I organized in response to student requests. Certified therapy dogs visit the library during fall and spring term Final Exams and during the early part of September, which can be a stressful time for our new students. We set aside a corner of our first floor reading room for the visits and the students love it. Just watching them interact with the dogs always brings a smile. Another favorite project was our library band, “The Renewals,” which included both staff and students. We wrote, choreographed, and performed songs about the library, which were shared via YouTube. Our “hits” included, “My Library” and the ever-popular, “Inside Fogler Library.”

What skills do I think are most important for today’s information and library professional?

This is an exciting time as libraries strive to re-define themselves to meet users’ needs. We need to learn to take risks and to accept failure as a beginning.

What advice would I give to anyone considering a career in Information Management?

Remember that information is well-managed only when it is easily found and understood by users.  In addition, we must continue to value and develop the library building’s role as a place within our communities.


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