Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2009 Issue

Exploiting Marketable Skills - The Bookseller as Knowledge Manager

Oldfashionedknowledgemanagement

Old-fashioned knowledge management.


By Renée Magriel Roberts

I can't seem to make the same dinner twice. Can't do it. I know that homemaker skills may have traditionally had the pot roast night or the fish night, with well-honed recipes, perfected over the years. I just can't get my arms around that kind of planning. I like to look at the available ingredients in an ad hoc way, sort of re-invent the meal as a one-time-only event. It is a standing joke at my house that you can go ahead and enjoy the meal, but you'll never see it again.

So when I moved into a new organizational structure (for those of you who didn't read last month's column, that meant starting to work for a large non-profit housing agency, in addition to running our bookstore and publishing company) my behavior was, shall we say, consistent with my culinary methodology. I started out cranking out grants for shelters, foreclosure prevention counseling, affordable housing and the myriad other activities that my non-profit engages in - and very successfully, I might add. But quickly, I could see that there were other skills I could bring to the table that could enhance the agency's bottom line.

Specifically, I became interested in the need for unrestricted funds that could be applied to any part of the agency. This kind of money is the most valuable for a non-profit, as it is not tagged specifically by a donor, a foundation, or a government agency to be used for a particular purpose. My first instinct was to create a little eBay business, something I knew, by encouraging vendors to donate a portion of their proceeds to the non-profit. I've successfully set this structure up (see May, 2009 AE Monthly), but I realized more was needed.

The problem is that our agency, like many others, provides services within a specific geographical area - in our case, the Cape and Islands in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, not being in a major city, like Boston, is a handicap from a grant writing point of view. There are only a limited number of foundations willing to donate to our area for the services we perform, and this is a rapidly contracting universe in the current economy.

I realized that if I kept writing grants (like well-worn recipes) from the same set of foundations, the returns to the agency would be limited and decreasing in amount and success. How to explode that paradigm?

I started looking at the agency's assets, like any good business person would, and discovered that there were many solutions to problems related to housing, from "I'm feeling kind of homeless", to "I am homeless", to eventual placement in affordable and stable housing. Solutions are valuable. Solutions are worth money. How could they be exploited in order to provide financing to the agency.

The answer was to mine what is called "intellectual capital" - the explicit and the tacit knowledge that the agency has acquired that is not only resident in its paper and electronic data, but inside the heads of the seasoned program managers. By organizing and then disseminating the intellectual capital and becoming, in effect a knowledge manager (which is not unlike being a bookstore owner and publisher) I could help the agency break through its local reference point and begin to play on a national platform, a place where many other funding possibilities exist.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Rackham (Arthur). The Old Hag Standing Outside a Cottage, original drawing, signed by the artist, [c.1909]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> FIRST EDITION, first printing, signed by the author, original pictorial wrappers, 1997. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Castiglione (Giuseppe, after). Twelve plates from <i>Twenty views of the European Palaces of the Yuanming yuan,</i> 1783-1786. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Spanish Antiphonal.- Antiphonal manuscript, [Spain], ca. 1650. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Almanach de Gotha.- Almost complete run 1769 to 1945, 12mo & 8vo, Gotha, C.W. Ettinger [- Justus Perthes]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Bible, Greek.- New Testament [Greek], Novum Iesu Christi D.N. testamentum, ex bibliotheca regia, 2 parts in one, Robert Estienne, Paris, 1550. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Lithgow (William). <i>The Total Discourse of the rare Adventures… from Scotland, to the most famous kingdoms in Europe, Asia, and Affrica…,</i> woodcut illustrations, 4to, I. Oakes, 1640. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Spanish Interest.-16th -18th Century. Large collection of letters related to prominent members of the Spanish court and clergymen,; v.s., late 16th-mid 18th century. £1,800 to £2,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Darwin (Charles). <i>The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex,</i> 2 vol., FIRST EDITION, first issue8vo, John Murray, 1871. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Loewy (Raymond) ARR. Mickey Mouse, original gouache and air brush illustration of Mickey Mouse, signed by artist., n.p. [1946]. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Potter (Beatrix) & Sendak (Maurice). <i>The Tale of Peter Rabbit,</i> NUMBER 2 OF 250 SIGNED COPIES, WITH AN ORIGINAL DRAWING BY SENDAK, New York, 1995. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Wolstenholm (Jonathan) ARR. Books on Books, original watercolor, signed and dated by the artist, 2005.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

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