Wow, a lot happening in the library marketing/outreach world these days! Nancy Dowd, former director of marketing at the New Jersey State Library and current project lead for LibraryAware Publishing, sent out this announcement yesterday via the pr talk listserv:
We are partnering with Library Journal to announce a new award at PLA. I can’t tell you too much about it but I can let you know that it will be of interest to all of us who market libraries AND the first prize is $10,000. We’ll announce it in Philadelphia at the LibraryAware product launch party on March 15.
LibraryAware has been generating a lot of buzz and questions in advance of its unveiling — Why is EBSCO/NoveList getting into the marketing business? Can marketing really be accomplished with a bunch of templates? Will it be as easy to use as they say? How much will this thing cost? — and this award is sure to add to it.
Stay posted. I hope to make it to the launch party in March, since Philadelphia’s nearby.
There’s been a discussion happening over on the academicpr listserv about good (library) marketing books, so I thought I’d gather the collected wisdom here as a sort of to-read list for myself and others who are interested in keeping up with this field. I’ve read some but not all of these. I highly recommend Marketing Today’s Academic Library to anyone who does outreach for an academic library and The Accidental Library Marketer if you’re in charge of marketing at an academic, special, or public library. I teach heavily from both of these texts in my online course, “Marketing Your Library.” Steve Krug’s books are essential for anyone getting started in web usability. I read them back when I was in grad school and interning at Credo Reference (then called Xrefer), and I was asked to work with the founder on the first usability test of the site. I also referred back to Krug when spearheading a redesign of the library site at Lafayette College (that was a few years ago, and now we’re once again in the thick of a redesign). No one mentioned Seth Godin’s books, but they always come highly recommended and are definitely on my to-read list.
Marketing Today’s Academic Library: A Bold New Approach to Communicating with Students by Brian Mathews
The Accidental Library Marketer by Kathy Dempsey
Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems by Steve Krug
Don’t Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug
Creating Your Library Brand by Elisabeth Dovcett
Creating the Customer-Drive Academic Library by Jeannette Woodward
Marketing and Public Relations Practices in College Libraries by Anita Lindsay
Bite-sized Marketing : Realistic Solutions for the Overworked Librarian by Nancy Dowd, Mary Evangeliste, and Jonathan Silberman
The Visible Librarian: Asserting Your Value with Marketing and Advocacy by Judith Siess
Listening to the Customer by Peter Hernon and Joseph Matthews
I would also add:
Building a Buzz: Libraries and Word-of-Mouth Marketing by Peggy Barber and Linda Wallace
Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear by Frank Luntz
Once I figure out how to do it, I want to display these visually (help, anyone?).
What are your favorite (library) marketing books?
This past semester, we had a rash of laptop thefts. They started earlier in the semester than usual and just didn’t let up. These were not library laptops but student laptops that were being stolen — nice Macintosh laptops. Of course, we were working with our campus public safety office to try to identify any patterns and catch the thief or thieves. And we put flyers up around the library (which kept getting taken down), table tents in our cafe, and notices on our web site and Facebook urging students not to walk away from their belongings. Still, students continued to leave laptops, backpacks, textbooks, calculators, and sometimes cell phones and money unattended! I brought public safety staff in to talk to my library student advisory group, the Library Ambassadors, and we discussed ways that we could all raise awareness about the problem without compromising the undergoing investigation. Students suggested putting a big sign up when you enter the library with statistics about the thefts, but I didn’t think our admissions office would appreciate that during their prospective student tours. I realized that we weren’t going to change behavior with a bunch of flyers and notices…we needed to give students something to do. In an ideal world, we would have lockers in the library, but that’s a long-term goal (we’ve put requests into the capital budget for this in previous years but haven’t gotten anywhere with it). So I suggested we purchase and circulate laptop locks for students to use with their own computers. We already lend out locks with the library-owned laptops we circulate, so this wasn’t a big stretch. Still, students weren’t so sure their peers would use the locks, and I had my doubts, too, since I’d seen them go unused with the library laptops. However, I just accessed the statistics and am pleased to find that, in the less than three weeks we had these in circulation, the seven laptop locks were checked out twenty-seven times and renewed four times. A display that I set up at the front of the library helped to drive attention to the new items for the first week. I locked a laptop (admittedly, a busted one even though it shouldn’t have mattered) down to a desk in the lobby with one of the new locks and a sign indicating that they could be borrowed at the circulation desk. It was a roundabout way of advertising the thefts. What I’m particularly pleased to have “locked down” here is a discrete marketing opportunity: I identified a need, found a way to fulfill it and am now able to assess it. I’ll need to return to the campaign in subsequent semesters — if I had more students working for me, I would have had them walk around the library with the locks to encourage students to use them — but for now, I’m really happy with the low-cost and high-return I got on improving library culture.