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

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Charles Loupot, <i>Les Cigarettes Mekka,</i> 1919. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Plinio Codognato, <i>Cicli Fiat,</i> circa 1910. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> L.N. Britton, <i>Warning! Consider the Possible Consequences,</i> c. 1917. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Leonardo Bistolfi, <i>Première Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs Modernes,</i> 1902. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Paquet Pernot / Biscuits Pernot,</i> 1910. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Francesco Nonni, <i>Font Meo / Acqua Minerale Naturale,</i> 1924. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Frederick Winthrop Ramsdell, <i>American Crescent Cycles,</i> 1899. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> <i>Be a Tight Wad! Own Something!</i> designer unknown, 1925. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Candido Aragonese de Faria, <i>Chamonix–Mont–Blanc,</i> c. 1910. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> W.E.J., <i>Irishmen Avenge the Lusitania,</i> c. 1915. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <center><b>Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books<br>Fine Art<br>Antique Engravings & Lithographs<br>Works on Paper<br>Accepting bids until August 7</b>
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Maitres Affiches by MUCHA - Papier a cigarettes Job. 202. $5,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> De Bry - Map of the West Indies (including Florida, Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas, Parts of Central & South America, Sea Monsters, Ships). $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Gould - Short-billed Toucan (Ramphastos Brevicarinatus). $5,000 to $8,000.
    <center><b>Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books<br>Fine Art<br>Antique Engravings & Lithographs<br>Works on Paper<br>Accepting bids until August 7</b>
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Redoute, Folio - Pale Iris - Iris flavescens. 375. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Gillray - Light Expelling Darkness or The Sun of the Constitution. $200 to $500.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Gerard - Wild Hemp or Weed, Cannabis. 708. $150 to $450.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Shaw & Nodder - Head of The Dodo. 165. $100 to $300.
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Your Own Sylvia:<br>Sylvia Plath’s letters to Ted Hughes and other items,<br>Property of Frieda Hughes<br>9 to 21 July 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Family photograph album ("The Hughes family Album"), 1957-1962. £30,000 to £50,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Typed letter signed, to Ted Hughes, on "my own private doctrine", with a poem, 5 October 1956. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Pen and ink portrait of Ted Hughes, [1956]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Your Own Sylvia:<br>Sylvia Plath’s letters to Ted Hughes and other items,<br>Property of Frieda Hughes<br>9 to 21 July 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Joint autograph letter signed, to William and Edith Hughes, March 1960. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Photographic portrait by David Bailey, inscribed by Plath, 1961, and another press photo. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Tarot de Marseille. Deck of cards owned by Sylvia Plath. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Pair of gold wedding rings. £6,000 to £8,000.

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