3 Books Arts Managers Should Add to Their Office Libraries

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Books are a great way to brush up on skills, act as a point of reference, or personalize an office space - but the sheer number of business-focused books out there can be intimidating. Moreover, it can be difficult to screen which ones can apply to the art management world, especially pertaining to technology.

We’ve done some of the leg work for you and picked three books to add to the shelves next to your desk. Happy Reading!

1. For Everyone in the Office:

Brilliant Email: By Monica Seeley

This book has every tip and trick you need to use e-mail effectively and efficiently in both external and internal communications. Although the subtitle suggests it’s about getting over your e-mail addiction, it actually goes into great detail about how to manage your email folder, properly compose the right message for the right purpose, and generally use the tool to your best advantage.

The downside is that all the screenshots of specific capabilities are specific to Outlook, and if you use another email management system, it might take a little more time to figure out an equivalent tool. But a majority of the content is on best practices, not the bells and whistles.

Although there is a brief section on adhering to legal regulation and avoiding viruses, this should not be your only resource for those concerns. Consult someone experienced in IT or legal, and maybe use this book to prepare you for questions to ask.

Because of how this book is structured, it’s easy to pick and choose from depending on your needs. I recommend flipping through the table of contents or the first pages of chapters to decide what information is most relevant to you. The ends of chapters have useful bulleted summaries for your reference, so you’ll never have to hunt down the key points.

Overall, this is a great book that every office should have a copy of - I guarantee you’ll learn something you didn’t know you could do with email (and it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to have this on hand for an intern who is unaccustomed to the corporate email flow).


2. For Those Who Want to Build a Social Media Strategy:

The Art of Social Selling: By Shannon Belew

While this book will not give you a template for a strategy, it will give you some very essential frameworks. This also not a guide to social media; while there are short sections dedicated to tips for Facebook, Twitter, and other specifics, Belew assumes that you are already familiar with the basics. So, if you need help building a Facebook page, this is not the book for you. If, however, your already have social media profiles established for your organization, but they are driving awareness and engagement and not ticket sales – start reading. Who knows what the internet landscape will look like ten or even five years from now, so it’s important to build and develop your skills in this area.

While this book is more geared towards the for-profit sector, particularly merchandising and retail, and it does give some attention to those operating under a B2B framework, the core principles still apply to non-profit arts organizations if you expect any posts to drive ticket sales.

To get the most out of this book as an arts manager, you should:

  • Read Chapter 3, “The Ten Most Important Rules for Online Social Interactions” first and memorize every word
  • Bookmark Chapter 7, “Tools of the Trade” – you will definitely want to refer back to the resources listed
  • Read Chapter 10, “Developing Your Social Selling Strategy” – It provides a useful mental scaffolding as you read up on the other principals.

And of course, read rest of book at your leisure.


3. For Those Who Want to Revamp Their Education Program:

Minds Online: By Michelle Miller

This book probably flew below your radar because it is a university press book and is mainly aimed at those working in higher education. Although it is very theory-heavy, it would be a very useful addition to any library for organizations that run education programs.

You can probably skip past the first two chapters, and spend your energy on the ones proceeding, where you will get a great perspective on how to approach technology from an education standpoint and how to evaluate new technologies you might be itching to try out. Rather than investing in every new toy that emerges, you’ll be able to apply the concepts in this book to figure out how technology will interact with your education program.

If you don’t think you’ll have the time to sift out the tools from the university-specific examples, then I recommend simply reading Chapter 7 “Incorporating Multimedia Effectively,” which lays out the ground rules of deciding to use video, simulation, or other multimedia and gives some quick tips to make it the most user friendly. It also includes an informative section about adapting any multimedia to maximize accessibility, which is becoming more and more important as we embrace universal design.

Overall, this is the least approachable book on this list but still a great resource to have at your fingertips


What are your reading recommendations for the successful arts manager? We'd love to hear your what's on your bookshelves in the comments below!