Family Feud ER&L Style!

Librarian and Publisher ‘families’ competed to see who knew more library lore in the first ever Family Feud at 2017 ER&L. Under all the hootin’ and hollerin’ was the serious topic of communication. The goal of the session was to open communications amongst librarians and publishers, to break the stereotypes apart.  A survey was sent to the 2017 ER&L registrants (minus the contestants) and the results were used in the game. The contestants were not provided a list of the questions prior to the session but were told to be prepared to talk about stereotypes and communication.

Starting the session was the query “Name something librarians do at conferences”. The publishers took this category, recognizing the number one thing librarians do at conferences is … drink.

Next, contestants were asked to “Name a publisher”.  Sadly the publishers could not name their own … librarians swept this category! Commercial and university presses were represented in the survey answers.

In a strange twist, the publishers grabbed the next “Name a type of librarian”. It wasn’t the sweep but they did name the top four of six, missing both Academic and Serial.

Everyone was warmed up and ready for the topic “Name a librarian stereotype”.  Many of the typical stereotypes were not on the board – the survey did not note knitting or comfortable shoes.  Shhing and wearing glasses at the top, with cats well represented in the survey.  The librarians, having heard these stereotypes since graduate school, took this round.

Then came “Name a Publisher Stereotype”.  As the answers revealed, the crowd grew quieter. Number one was greedy followed by pushy and ending with evil. The librarians won this round but with only three of the six answers revealed.

After the scores were tallied, the librarians won by a slender margin.

The floor was opened to discuss how to break the stereotypes and open the communications.  Bias of answering the survey questions was addressed, the majority of the respondents were either librarians or library workers. Overall, the audience was fine with the librarian stereotypes but the publisher stereotypes as noted in the game were stunning.

An audience member suggested getting involved with the programs the publishers have, such as round tables at conferences with the developers to discuss what is and is not working. She noted opening that dialog rather than only complaining.

Another audience member talked about a book chapter recently written “vendors are people too” and felt this was the most important thing to do – get to know your vendor and realize they are individual people and not a greedy entity.

The panel agreed, open up the trust between librarians and publishers – it is all about the relationships.  Get to know the motivations from both sides, it is not all about money. One side is not evil and the other good, we are all people and should collaborate to make everything better.  The panel noted building a rapport and opening the dialogue.

Audience member talked about how in library school you are not taught how to interact with vendors or publishers. You don’t know if you should go to lunch or if that is taboo. She suggested appreciating the fact that they [publishers] travel all this way to come and see you, appreciate the time they are spending – try to see it from their perspective.

A final point from the panel was remember the time and effort it takes to make things work and that both parties want something to work out. “It’s not that we [librarians] don’t want to give our money away but that we want to get good use out of it”. It is important neither side feels taken advantage of.

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