In a burst of cleansing synchronicity, this week’s thing is a task that I’ve been consciously working on for at least a year (with some pauses) and which I have just recently come back to contemplating; I have also just been drafted in to help a sibling with a similar project. I’m hoping that writing about it for CPD23 will help me see how to move forward with these. But I have never thought about it as a brand, and I will admit to sharing some of the reservations about such terminology which Jo says were voiced by some of last year’s CPD23 participants. I would rather have a coat of arms than a logo, a seal rather than a standard signature automatically appended to every email that I send. But much of that can be ascribed to reading too many fantasy novels from an early age.
I prepared for this blog post according to Jo’s aforelinked post at CPD23 HQ, searching for myself on Google, having logged out of my Google account and having checked the “Private Browsing” box to be absolutely sure. My LinkedIn profile was the first result of a straightforward search on “Kathleen O’Neill”, and further down the page I found my Twitter account @kathleenoneill. The next result relevant to me appeared on Page 4 of the search results – my Academia.edu profile. I also did an image search using the same search terms, and my Academia.edu image was the first result.
Out of curiosity, having been surprised that my blog did not appear in the search results, I also searched for “The Victorian Librarian”. The first result linked to my blog homepage, the second to the blog “About Me” page, the third to my Pinterest account, and the seventh to my Tumblr account. This time, I didn’t look beyond the first page of results. I repeated the image search as I had done with my own name, and the first two image results were so lovely that I am posting them here. Sadly I don’t have such a library in my house, nor do I dress as does the librarian drawn by Mike Maihack. But I aspire to both; it’s about time I did something useful with the inherited sewing talents.
When I first began thinking properly about how to present myself, I thought exclusively in terms of my current role as Assistant Librarian, and as my responsibilities and professional relationships in this role grew, I armed myself with company business cards. I began using Facebook after a few months of working in London, to keep up with friends; although I now also follow several Facebook groups such as the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood and the British Library, I still use it primarily to keep up with my friends. I joined Twitter in January 2011, mainly out of curiosity, and have found that I tend to follow libraries and librarians more than other Tweeters; I do also follow writers, actors, journalists and various others who are friends or who have similar interests to my own, so it is something of a mixed bag. I have chosen not to have separate Twitter accounts for personal and professional comments. From the start I have used my own name as my Twitter and Facebook handle, and on both I am using a profersonal approach. My job and my interests feed into and off one another, and I cannot imagine a life without either of them; I talk about both aspects interchangeably as they are both part of my personality or informed by my personality. That sounds a little garbled, but I need to finish this post today, so it’s something to keep thinking about for the future.
I started this blog in September last year; I had been awarded a bursary from CILIP’s John Campbell Trust, to present at a conference in Toronto, and to find out more about Canadian librarianship. The blog’s purpose was to disseminate my immediate adventures on a daily basis; I could then use the blog entries to write a more detailed and reflective report for the Trust on my return. I chose the name because at the time I was spending almost as much time (figuratively speaking) in Victorian libraries as I was in my own library, researching the library habits of various Pre-Raphaelites. I never considered using my own name; I subscribe to the Anne Shirley School of Thought, taking great delight in words that have “scope for imagination”. The name also reflected my aforementioned profersonal approach, combining one of my favourite time periods with my profession.
Earlier this year, I decided to develop the blog into a website. Thus far, I have secured the domain name and agreed on the cost of the site design and maintenance with a friend working in the business; you can find her at http://aliwalker.net/. I will continue to use the name the Victorian Librarian, as even in real life now I am being explicitly identified by that name. It is my brand. I have even used it in my offline life. When I came back to Scotland, I took great pleasure in having time to cook and bake, and at Christmas, I made a great array of sweets from Grandma’s recipes, as presents for friends. I packaged them with labels “From the kitchen of the Victorian Librarian”. I do plan to continue with such projects as a hobby; I always enjoy having time to cook and bake, and it is particularly nice to do so for other people.
The next stage, then is to look at my various roles and personae, online and offline, and to bring them into harmony with one another, and to express these through my website in particular, when it is launched. My trip to Canada let me see how my understanding of the role of librarian as a blending of librarianship and research works in the library, and I am seeing increasing evidence of other librarians, like Karen McAulay, who, like me, like to work in both aspects. Through my website, I can record my work and development in each area, and show how they work together to make me a better librarian and more effective researcher.
I need to pay some attention to visual representations of me, online and in person. On this blog, Facebook and Twitter, I currently appear in a carnival mask (the photo only shows the mask and my eyes). Obviously this doesn’t make me very recogniseable in real life; I could wear the carnival mask at all times, and I would be quite happy to do so, but I suspect that it may present occasional security issues. On Academia.edu and LinkedIn, I am instantly recogniseable, and I think that as a result of this exercise I will use that picture instead of the masked image.
I also need to give my brand a logo – to use on my own business cards (as a researcher), my website, and various social media networks and professional sites. I haven’t decided quite what my logo will be yet, but I have a few ideas (no, I’m not telling yet). I am considering various colour schemes to use on both the website and business cards; I chose Misty Look as my WordPress blog scheme because I liked the colours, so I expect that I will use similar colours to identify myself in the future. I would like to roll out this more cohesive identity across all platforms at the same time, but I have to think first of all about how I plan to use these platforms. Over the past seven months, I have joined Pinterest and Tumblr, as the Victorian Librarian in both cases, and set up a new Library Thing account which I call the Victorian Library. But I need to decide how I can use these resources to properly represent myself, my roles and my interests. I joined Pinterest and Tumblr out of curiousity, and my use of them so far has been somewhat random. I would love to hear how other CDP23-ers use them, personally and/or professionally.
These are just some initial thoughts about how I plan to work with my brand over the rest of the year. It has helped to write it all down, so I expect that I will continue to discuss myself and the representations thereof as a work in progress. Once all the preparatory work has been done, I will then remove the mask.