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I made a quick trip to Pittsburgh after Commencement on Monday to attend the remainder of the Academic Library Advancement and Development Network (ALADN) annual conference. I try to go at least every other year to keep up with what is going on in library fundraising. I knew I was in the right place when I went to the registration desk and the guy said, “Wake Forest? Didn’t you win the ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award?” I am not making this up.

I missed the first day of programs, so I tried to catch up with others who had been there from the beginning. I loved seeing old friends and colleagues from other parts of the country, along with many of my buds from the Southeast.

The keynote on Tuesday was billed as “Hard Conversations at Work” and I have had my share of those, but it was really a leadership development kind of workshop. The best nugget I got was, “People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.” A big HMMMM on that.

The best program I attended was on “Persuasive Writing: Getting Them to Say Yes Before You Ask.” Since we are getting to the stage in our WFU campaign where we need to prepare materials (they call it “collateral” in the trade), this was timely. The presenter was an experienced professional and she gave great advice. Especially useful was her categorization of the four types of donors:

  • expressives: they want ideas, new directions, and are easily bored,
  • analyticals: they want facts and figures, testimonials work well
  • bottom liners (that’s me): they value brevity, like summaries, and make quick decisions
  • amiables: they want to be your friend, tell you about their families, and value face-to-face conversations

In another session, a panel of library deans/directors answered these questions (with greatly simplified, bottom-line answers):

Q: How do you go about positioning your library? A: Success breeds success, and the squeaky wheel locks up over time.

Q: How do you come up with a theme to transcend all constituent groups? A: Go back to your mission and vision (here is where our ZSR mission beats all)

Q: What is your most difficult constituency? A: Faculty, faculty, faculty. (But also the most ardent advocates)

The rest of the programs did not give me any new information, sorry to say. But perhaps the most valuable experience of the trip was dinner with a couple from Pittsburgh who are ultra Deacs. Both are alums and they have two children at Wake. And both of them worked in the library as undergrads! They asked me lots of questions about libraries today and were very interested in how ZSR had changed since they were there. Lots of fun!