February 17, 2018

Penny Sympson | Movers & Shakers 2008

Creating Customers

Penny Sympson knew when she was hired as corporate librarian for Wiss, Janney, Elstner (WJE) Associates that the firm was considering outsourcing the library. She found that challenge irresistible—and met it. Now WJE’s professionals rank their satisfaction with her library as 6.59 out of a possible 7, and the company’s president brags that once he “called Penny for a book, and by the time I hung up the phone, she was standing at my door with the item.”

In fact, Sympson routinely hand delivers materials. She also enters library users into drawings for gift cards, welcomes new hires with offers of library support, and lures staff to the library with food, only to hold them with new databases. She finds out what projects department heads are working on and immediately sends them relevant article abstracts, links, and books.

“Above and beyond” is what Sympson calls “basic service.” Who wouldn’t be a satisfied customer?


CURRENT POSITION Solo Corporate Librarian, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc., Northbrook, IL

DEGREE MLIS, Dominican University (Rosary College), 1997; M.A., Economics, Western Illinois University, 1987

POETIC JUSTICE Used to be a paralegal