Article: Working with campus marketing classes to improve reference visibility

This article* describes how a library worked with marketing classes at Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU) to improve students’ interest in using reference services. This gave the opportunity for students to engage in a real-world problem, while meeting the academic needs of the course and providing the library with ideas as to how they could improve the visibility and usefulness of the service. Some key points from the article for me were:

  • the Library only specified two questions, the students generated the bulk of the survey questions
  • the survey results confirmed that the students love the library facility but fail to use its resources, specifically the reference desk to the fullest
  • students tended to be technology savvy, time poor, and unwilling to ask for assistance
  • students used Google as their main resource, and would ask peers and lecturers for help, but were unlikely to ask librarians
  •  the words “reference” and “information” were meaningless to students

Students provided recommendations for improving reference services, which were then considered by the librarians. As a result of this project:

  • a secondary sign was added to the “Information desk” sign – a large yellow “help” button
  • an instant messaging (IM) service was initiated (apparently marketing students “strongly advocated” this – Meebo was eventually chosen)
  • promotional materials were developed for the IM service and for the email reference service
  • walk-in workshops on specific topics were suggested by students, but were not pursued as they had failed to attract student interest in the past. As an alternative the library did decide to work on relationships with student groups – a “handful” of these scheduled time on sessions to improve research skills
  • the seating arrangements of the student assistant/librarian at the reference desk was reversed, with the librarian taking the front and center seat and the student assistant moving to the back

The article notes that the number of reference transactions jumped as a result of the changes, but overall “aggregate numbers continued to trend downward, though less dramatically”.

A second round of marketing class/library collaboration was undertaken with students developing marketing plans for the library. Ultimately this was considered less useful than the original collaboration as “the suggestions did not fit for the image that we wanted to portray and were not as appropriate for the real world as they seemed on paper”.  Of the suggestions that did fit, one was the adoption of a  standardised visual identifier (which eventually replaced the help button), that was used in a consistent manner across the website, on handouts etc. This identifier – the “AskeAmes” logo was created by a graphic design student.

I’m wondering now if there would be scope for something like this at the university I work at. I’d be very interested to hear if anyone else has undertaken similar collaborations.

Spotted on the M Word – Marketing Libraries blog

* Duke, L. M., & MacDonald, J. B. (2009). Working with campus marketing classes to improve reference service visibility. Marketing Library Services, 23(6). Retrieved from http://www.infotoday.com/mls/nov09/Duke_MacDonald.shtml

Marketing journals you can access online

I’ve added a new links section for marketing journals you can access online – first to be added is the Marketing Bulletin from Massey University:

The Marketing Bulletin is a refereed academic marketing journal that provides a forum for reporting research and disseminating ideas relating to the theory and practice of marketing and marketing research. The Marketing Bulletin is listed in the Australian Department of Education, Science and Training’s (DEST) Register of Refereed Journals.

This site provides access to the full text (PDF format) of all of the articles published in the Marketing Bulletin to date. In addition to the traditional articles, a special feature of the Marketing Bulletin is our Technical Notes section, which provides access to user-oriented software and information for various marketing applications. Please feel free to browse the site and download what you like, so long as you agree to abide by our Terms of Use Policy.

An academic library with a great Facebook site

Weill Cornell Medical College Library have a great Facebook page with plenty of useful newsy updates. They also feature a quiz to find out what sort of library user you are – and you then get suggestions for what appeals to your “type” – and more importantly suggestions for other services you might like to use. It’s a nifty way of using the quiz application we see so often on Facebook to promote library services. I like the way they allow library users to use Facebook to RSVP to workshops and classes too.

They also have some great little videos – this  one demonstrates how much a student can save by using online resources, and the link below it goes to a video promoting Google Scholar.

I LOVE their strapline “Start with us” which I could see being combined with all manner of promotional messages “want to save time searching … start with us” etc etc.

The Google Scholar video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X83rCyF

Winning hearts and minds …

… or how a “big green budgie of love” has been a bit of a hit on youtube, Facebook and Twitter.

This post has nothing to do with libraries, but everything to do with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation capitalising on the interest generated by a Youtube clip, gaining followers on sites such as Facebook and Twitter and turning one kakapo into an online phenomenon. (With an increase in interest in the conservation of the whole species – which is no bad thing!)

Read all about it at http://blog.doc.govt.nz/2009/10/08/sirocco-the-kakapo-an-online-phenomenon/

And the video that started it all: