SMALL ACADEMIC LIBRARY PERSPECTIVE
Managing library image as a
Bryan College, Dayton, Tennessee, USA
Purpose – The purpose of this article is to discuss the importance of managing the library’s and the
Design/methodology/approach – The approach is to introduce the idea of image as a resource and
then discuss how it should be properly managed.
Findings – The ﬁndings are that the library’s image is closely related to that of its director and an
image of great service is a key to the library’s general health.
Originality/value – The value of this article is in learning how to cultivate the proper image as a
director and for the library in order to reap the beneﬁts of better funding and other types of support.
Keywords Libraries, Corporate image, Resource management, Financing
Paper type Viewpoint
The image of the library is an asset that must be acquired and maintained just the
same as the other resources of the library. With the emphasis today on name
recognition and branding as public relations tools for the library, it might be assumed
by some that a library can acquire a good image through a slick ad campaign or an
elaborate branding scheme of visually attractive logos and catchy phases. These are
helpful in building name recognition but are no substitute for the main ingredient in
the library’s image: great service. Libraries are, after all, service institutions, and the
only way to build and maintain positive name recognition that will last is by providing
consistently great service. Without that, library patrons will regard other public
relations efforts as empty ﬂuff, or even worse, as sarcasm.
The most important key to building great service and therefore a great service
image is, of course to have service oriented people working in the library. This attitude
is ﬁrst and foremost the responsibility of the library director. It is the director who
hires people with a service orientation and also the director who sets the tone for this
service orientation by his or her own attitude. If the director is seen by his/her library
workers as uncaring about their working conditions or unconcerned about the level of
service they produce, they will become apathetic and begin to exhibit this same
attitude to patrons.
The importance of perception should be emphasized here. The director can be a very
hard-working individual with a strong service orientation, but if that is not the image
he or she projects, the library will not beneﬁt from his or her work. The library’s image
is inextricably tied to that of its director. The director must therefore manage his or her
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
as a resource
Accepted February 2010
The Bottom Line: Managing Library
Vol. 23 No. 1, 2010
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited