Earlier in this series I mentioned relationship definitions, and understanding the scope of your partnership with a department. If a short term partnership was expected, you might be interested in skipping this step; however, I would advocate that you at least leave the relationship with an open invitation to partner on future projects, even if a new project is not immediately defined.
Why is post-success follow up important? Lets say a department was working with you on a trial basis. As a potential benefactor of this relationship, quantifying your achievements and reporting them back to the other stakeholders will show exactly how valuable your partnership was. This is a great opportunity to capitalize on momentum; perhaps there is an opportunity to repeat the same type of project the following year. Maybe the department has learned something else about your services, and realizes a new way you can fit into their strategies. You are also now well-positioned to ask for a relationship that might benefit the library in a time of need. The big take-away is - never miss an opportunity to start a discussion about how to work together. You don't have to immediately commit to a high cost or time consuming project - but following up with your partners will give you an advantageous position.
Celebrate Your Success
I didn't initially have this component on the relationship worksheet, but after our last ALM meeting we decided it was a necessary addition. It is important to share your success with your partners, administrators, students, and other stakeholders. Here is a short list of ways we came up with to help celebrate success:
- AWARDS: There is no shame in nominating yourself, your library, or your colleagues for awards. It is an excuse to keep in touch! You or your colleagues can send annual updates to the faculty and students about awards, recognition, and other notable items. The fun secret is - nobody cares how large or small the award is! Our library gets nominated for things all the time by students, like prettiest library, best coffee in the library, etc. Sometimes these lists just end up on Buzzfeed or Thrillist, but it doesn't matter! It still gives you something positive to share on social media or in a casual way with colleagues. Our Provost/Interim President even mentioned how frequently we get awards/nominations at the last State of the University Address - word gets out!
- SOCIAL EVENTS: In a previous post I wrote in great detail about our Celebration of Faculty Scholarship, which serves many purposes. This is also a great opportunity to get the academic faculty to recognize you as a peer. Librarians should submit their work, tenure achievements, and publications for any of the same awards or recognition that traditional faculty are encouraged to apply to. Celebrating in a social way seems very casual and not forced. Slowly the faculty will recognize you as a peer, and not the librarian stereotype.
- NEW SERVICES: Rolling out a new service is an easy excuse to get in touch with your faculty, and gives you an easy way to humble-brag. For example, "Hello Faculty! During my most recent mentoring session for tenure track faculty, I noticed many new faculty mention having trouble keeping track of their data. The librarians can resonate with that, as we know the tenure anxiety and time crunch can well out-weigh best practices! As a response to your needs, we have rolled out a new data management consultation service!" This gives you a valid reason to contact the faculty, solves a problem they have, and points out that you've done this before! You know the ropes (that is, if you're tenure track - not all of us have to go through that).
We chatted about this step for a surprisingly long time at the last ALM meeting. There is one fundamental problem with constant contact - constantly following up! The merits of staying in constant contact are clear, but logistically this can be troublesome. First of all - if you email too frequently faculty can just start ignoring you. Second - let's say they don't ignore you; now you have to keep following up! It's important to find the right balance for both you and your partner for the appropriate amount of follow up. The major take away from this topic is - don't wait until you need something to get in touch with a partner! Make sure you're maintaining a beneficial and amicable relationship with your partner so both of you feel comfortable reaching out when the time is right.