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Q/A with Stacy Stanislaw, Communications Manager

January 11, 2017

Stacy Stanislaw joined the Drexel Libraries as the new Communications Manager In December 2016. I sat down with Stacy and asked her about her background in Communications and how she plans to raise awareness of the Libraries.  

Q.     Tell me a little bit about your background, both with communications and with libraries.

I got my BS in Corporate Communications and English from Drexel, so taking this job was a sort of a homecoming if you will, which has been a really cool experience. Shortly after graduating from Drexel, I started working for a small medical trade publisher, where I was writing and editing a trade magazine about imaging and radiation therapy.

After a few years there, I took a position with Taylor & Francis Group - a global academic books and journals publisher - and I spent the last 8 1/2 years working in the scholarly publishing arena. I started out in the editorial department, managing the company's Library & Information Science Journals program, and eventually moved into the marketing department, where I served as the Library Communications Manager for North and South America. In that role, my main responsibilities were to promote the company's products and services and also develop and maintain relationships with the company's key customer base - academic librarians. One of my favorite projects was working with a librarian from Florida Gulf Coast University - Rebecca Donlan, Assistant Director for Collection Management - to create a joint publisher/library information literacy program.  We co-wrote a few journal articles and gave several conference presentations on the topic as a result. I also ran publishing workshops in libraries across the US, Canada and also Brazil and Ecuador, which was an amazing experience.


Q.     Who do you hope to reach in your efforts as Communications Manager?

Everyone! I think it's really important that everyone in the Drexel community - from professors to students to alumni and even the local Philadelphia community - know about the Libraries and what we're doing here and how we can support them throughout their academic and professional careers. I also think it's important that the library community outside of Drexel see what we're doing. I want other universities to look to the Drexel Libraries for ideas and inspiration when creating new programming or resources or events.


Q.     What do you think people don't know about the Libraries? What might they find surprising?

I think a lot of people still associate libraries with print books and reading, but it's so much more than that. Libraries today have so many great resources that can help students and faculty with their course work and research. There are databases, and online books and journals, not to mention the Libguides and other online training and informational resources created by the librarians.

At Drexel, the physical space has changed a lot as well. Now there are comfy chairs and rooms for group work or quiet spaces for individuals to study. The Data Visualization Zone in W.W. Hagerty Library, for example, is an awesome resource -- here, students can examine data or explore the principles of geographic information systems (GIS) simply by gesturing in front of a large display screen. It's a great space that provides a really different way of learning and viewing information.


Q.     What challenges do you foresee in communicating with the Libraries community? How will your background help you address those challenges?

People are so overloaded with information, and it's always a struggle to get your customers to open your email or read your Tweet. Luckily, I've figured out the secret: food. If you offer food, they will come. OK, so it's a bit more nuanced than that, but food doesn't hurt. But in all seriousness, vying for people's attention is a struggle. I've had a lot of experience working with both researchers and even students in my past jobs, so I've picked up some tips on what generally interests most people, as well as how you can find out what interests your specific user groups and craft your marketing and communications plans accordingly. So much of communications and marketing has to do with knowing your audience and what is important to them. 

I think demonstrating value of the library is also a challenge, and it's something the library community as a whole has just started to delve into over the last few years. Library staff didn't always have to include a marketing or communications plan when deciding to buy new resources or host events, but now we do. We need to make sure we're doing as much as we can to promote the Libraries' resources and services and that we're clearly demonstrating the value the Libraries adds to the greater University community. I went through something similar when I worked in the publishing industry. When I started, our marketing messages were really simple: 'We publish journals, and you should buy them.' But with the growth of Open Access and other publishing models, we had to change our message to really focus on the fact that publishers add value to the content they're publishing. I think my experience with that organizational shift will help me in this position as well.


Q.     Are there any new, unique communications methods or platforms that you hope to introduce to the Libraries?

I definitely want to expand the Libraries' social media presence - mainly Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram. There are some new and interesting ways of using social media that I want to take advantage of to showcase what the Libraries is doing. For example, the Libraries is participating in the 2017 Love Your Data campaign via Twitter, which I'm really excited about. During the week of February 13, we'll be tweeting tips and information about data alongside other libraries and researchers.

I'm also really keen to implement some other products I've seen used by other institutions. For example, companies are starting to develop new software for digital content displays. This sort of software allows you to create some really interesting and dynamic displays for large-screen display monitors. You can display posts from your organization's social media feeds, or share weather forecasts or relevant news feeds. It's all managed through a single dashboard and can be really eye-catching and informative.

I would also love to trial some of the interactive presentation software that's been coming out over the last year or so. The software connects presentations with attendees through their mobile devices. Attendees can log into a presentation dashboard and then share presentation slides on their social media networks or ask questions directly through the dashboard. I think that something like that could really increase user engagement and the overall event experience.


Q.     What are some of the events you'll be planning for the Libraries in 2017?

Right now I'm planning the next ScholarSip event for the end of the winter term, along with the student version, ScholarSnack, which I'm looking to run in April sometime. And of course the 5th annual Celebrating Drexel Authors event, which is co-hosted by the Libraries and the Office of the Provost, is scheduled for April 26. I'm also part of a team that's planning the 9th International Evidence Based Library & Information Practice Conference (EBLIP9), which Drexel is hosting on campus this June. The conference will bring people from around the world to the University, and I'm really excited to participate in the meeting and to be able to showcase Drexel and the Libraries, and my hometown of Philadelphia as well.

On a more personal note, I'm really interested in Open Access publishing and institutional repositories, and I think their relationship with information literacy is really interesting. I would love to work with my colleagues in the Libraries to plan some workshops around educating students and faculty on Open Access and how it's changing the academic and scholarly publishing landscapes as well. If you have ideas or requests, email me! I would love to hear you!

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Sarah Rich