Promoting EPIC resources – ideas from the vendors at LIANZA11

One of the sessions I attended at the recent LIANZA conference was about the promotion of EPIC databases, with the session being presented by the vendors themselves.  You can find all their presentations from the session on the EPIC website .  Below are some of the ideas I took particular note of.

Most vendors provide:

–          posters that either you or they can customise for you

–          Search widgets for your website

–          Training for library staff in their resources

Liza Fisher from Gale Cengage talked about “shelf talkers” to make the link between hardcopy and print – they can provide these for libraries. This is what they look like:

Example of a Shelf Talker: Photo courtesy Gale Cengage

Liza also made a point that I whole heartedly agree with – you absolutely have to identify key content for your customers. In some library contexts promoting big databases can be overwhelming for staff and irrelevant for customers. Liza suggests taking opportunities to highlight journals that might appeal to your customers – for instance if you someone asks where the golfing books are this could be an opportunity to promote access to golfing magazines on the EPIC databases. This “would you like fries with that” approach is not so alien to us – it is an extension of our customer service values. As Camille from Britannica said at the same session, we librarians are in sales. Every great sales person worth their salt knows their product – and we have to know our products and resources too. Liza mentioned what they did at Auckland City Libraries a few years ago now where they ran a display competition between branches, with each branch promoting a different resource. In this way staff at each branch become familiar with at least one of the resources on offer.

In one of my earlier posts I included some ideas for promoting EPIC databases from the nz-libs list. Be sure to check that out – there are some great ideas there from libraries around New Zealand and staff training was a key tool. I also included a link to Julie Badger’s excellent article about the challenges of promoting library databases. If you only have time to read one article on libraries and marketing, make it hers 🙂

Survivor: Revalidation Island

Update  16/10/2012 – LIANZA have developed a new and improved journal template which really does away with the need for point #3 – a great improvement! The rest of the advice is still valid I think 🙂  

Many of my colleagues have heard plenty of my thoughts and complaints about the complexity of the revalidation process for professional registration via LIANZA 😉 When my time came I just decided that rather than have it sitting around for months I was going to get onto it and get it sent off. I did this just before the recent conference, and was rather pleased to get my revalidation certificate in the mail yesterday!

There have been several forums offering advice about keeping and submitting your journal, so I thought I would just add mine to the mix. The whole process is a damn sight easier if you do record what you have done, and include a sentence or two reflecting on what you did. Brenda Chawner offers some good advice about that in this column. I had managed to record quite a few things I had done in a blog set up for that purpose so that probably saved me hours of stuffing around. And as my boss Jane Brooker reminded me, you can check out what you have done on your peformance reviews. This whole process of recording and recall is going to be different for all of us. I hear that LIANZA are working on some other sort of blog like (?) recording tool rather than the excel spreadsheet, hip hip hooray for that.

So apart from the obivious (make sure you keep notes about what you do) here are my tips:

1. Get in the cloud. Join up to a site where you can store your journal in the cloud and access it from work and home. I kept mine in Dropbox. This made life so much easier as I wasn’t having to bother about flash drives, emailing documents or the like. It meant I could work on it when I had a few minutes to spare wherever I was. Which leads me to ..

2. Find what works for you when you are putting your journal together. I made a decision (or maybe it was a plan!) to do a little and often. So I actually decided to work on one entry every night. As I got into the swing of things I would end up doing several entries a night. Horribly girly swot huh? Well it got it done.  Of course (so a lesson for me) if I had been using the original excel template to start with then I would haven’t had much to do at all really – but that just didn’t work for me. I think I had to go through the process once just to get familiar with it.

3. Keep a table that maps what you have done to what Bok. I set one up with the BOKs along the top, and then what I had done under each of the 3 years down the left  – then marked in the cell where the activity fell. This allowed me to tally things nice and quickly and to see where I was missing activities in a Bok. I did change my mind about which things went into which Bok to get it looking more even. This is what it looks like:

My summary table – you can click to enlarge this

Which leads me to ..

4. Next time I will try not to stress out about the BOKs too much. I find them rather complicated – I think we all do – and I have endless notes and scribblings on a printout of them to try and sort it.  Good news is that LIANZA is working on clarifying the Boks – hooray to that too.

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff (and it’s all small stuff) – the Board are after your best entries – I think they are now saying no more than 10 a year. So if you have more than 10 be sure to cull some of them out. Having said that I didn’t bust a gut trying to recall and polish every last thing I have done. There may have even better examples I could have included, but I got to the number required and that was it.

6. Check out the completed journal examples at the bottom of the page here. In particular have a look at the way the reflections are written – I found this quite useful.

Ok so that’s it. Hopefully some of these tips will be useful for you!  I still have reservations about the whole process but am heartened by the fact I know that LIANZA are looking to make changes. And I’m especially heartened that I survived my first revalidation experience 🙂

Now what BOK can this blog post fit in 😉

Jenica Rogers – passionate librarian

Ah Jenica, where were you years ago when I needed you?

Jenica’s Roger’s keynote at the recent LIANZA conference was all about how to keep moving forward despite the odds stacked against you. Her talk was full of metaphors – climbing hills, moving through walls – accompanied by powerful imagery and sparse words on her powerpoint slides. There were times when I thought to myself that her keynote was sounding too much like something out of a self-help manual. How cynical of me. There were some real gems in what she said, some solid reminders of how to approach what you want to get done. Days later her talk is still resonating with me, and after finding it pretty much verbatim on her blog I suddenly feel the urge to print out some of the images she has there and put them around my desk.

So here are some of the things I noted from her talk:

• You are your own best weapon in the things you want to change
• Why are you fixing on an idea? What resonates for you? If you can figure out that then you have something to act on
• She talked about an actionable passion – a belief in something and a belief that it can be done. It is important to name your passion and be optimistic about it
• Important to challenge legacy processes
• You come back from conference and then you are just one person. What next?? Jenica used climbing hills as a metaphor for facing challenges. But you have to figure out which hill is worth climbing. Not all hills are worth climbing and some battles are not worth fighting. We have the power to choose what we work on.
• The secret is to approach success as you would any project. You have to plan for it, organize it, and manage it. She thinks any goal, every goal, should be project managed. You need to make a plan, draw yourself a map and then follow it. Having scripts helps to deal with unexpected.
• Build an ugly rocket to get you where you want to get to – you may not like everything you have to do to get where you want to be
• Success requires some tolerance for failure
• What’s the worst that can happen?
• We must not have fear driving us?
• Ask yourself why someone is blocking you? Can you find an ally? Find yourself a team. Sometimes finding someone to speak for us is our power.
• Build a world of professional peers – use the internet (my comment on this would be absolutely – find great people on Twitter and follow them!)
• You need to network – this is not your last job!
• Know yourself and set your priorities accordingly

Her best metaphor was left till last. It was all about farmers, and how whatever happens they never feel like they have had a good year. Extending this to librarians she said – we have been here a long time, and it’s never been a good year for libraries – get over it.


Some of this stuff I knew, some I wish I had heard years ago. I’m pleased I got to have the reminder about what’s important to help get the job done and not go crazy.

Measuring the impact of marketing activities in academic libraries

The question of measuring the impact of marketing efforts is a fraught one, even in the business world. Check out what Farris et al. have to say on the subject from Marketing Metrics: The Definitive Guide to Measuring Marketing Performance (2nd ed, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2010):

In business and economics, many metrics are complex and difficult to master. Some are highly specialized and best suited to specific analyses. Many require data that may be approximate, incomplete, or unavailable.

Little wonder then that many libraries don’t tackle it – in the US, one study found that less than 33% of academic libraries evaluated their promotional campaigns.

Farris et al. offer this:

Under these circumstances, no single metric is likely to be perfect. For this reason, we recommend that marketers use a portfolio or “dashboard” of metrics. By doing so, they can view market dynamics from various perspectives and arrive at “triangulated” strategies and solutions. Additionally, with multiple metrics, marketers can use each as a check on the others. In this way, they can maximize the accuracy of their knowledge … Being able to “crunch the numbers” is vital to success in marketing. Knowing which numbers to crunch, however, is a skill that develops over time. Toward that end, managers must practice the use of metrics and learn from their mistakes.

Brian Mathews in Marketing today’s academic library: a bold approach to communicating with students (American Library Association, 2009) offers up some of the potential components of that dashboard:

Response-based advertising
For instance getting a customer to visit a website, or take advantage of an offer. The website could be a campaign-specific secondary page to better track statistics.

Market share
This could be calculated by counting the total number of users and dividing them by the total student population. For instance if 4000 students checked out a book at least once during the year out of a total student population of 10,000 then the market share would be 40%. And then we might think about the other 60% who didn’t borrow anything and how to reach them.

How did you hear about us?
This involves inviting students to share their experience. This can be done face to face or by using a follow-up email.

Web analytics
Analyse total hit rates and click-through rates to your website via tools such as Google Analytics.

A customer service survey administered by the Association for Research Libraries (charges apply).

A technique that can be used in focus groups, surveys or one-to-one interviews.

Dorm (hostel) surveys

Longitudinal studies
This involves tracking student usage over time – how do they find out about our services and how do they use the library over time? Mathews’ example involves selecting 6 new students each year, who he meets with once a semester throughout their degree. He notes this isn’t scientific but it allows him to get a feel for selected user groups and to learn about their experiences.

As Mathew’s says, ultimately there is no silver bullet when it comes to measuring impact and as Farris et al. suggest we need a range of metrics. Critically we also need to remember that this is part of a bigger task – we need to figure out what success would look like – which is all part of the goals we set as to what we want our marketing activities to achieve – right back at the start of the cycle of our marketing activities. For Mathews:

… success, from a marketing standpoint, is a combination of familiarity along with usage, across the span of a student’s tenure. The longevity of library use from day one until graduation is what matters


I feel instead of simply focusing on generating awareness or even just increasing use of resources, we should approach communication more philosophically by viewing our marketing as a chance to elevate the role of the library in our students’ minds. In this manner, our advertising encourages them to expect more from us. We are not just providing more books, more journals, more computers, or more staff to help them, but rather more relevance. We should aspire to smash their preconceptions of what a library is and instead demonstrate what it can become.

He proposes the following:

1. List all of the library products and services that are relevant to undergraduates
2. At the end of the academic year ask a random sample of thirty students from different classes and ask them to
a) tick the products and services they have heard of and
b) tick those that they have actually used.

This allows you to track the effectiveness of your communications and the usage of your library.

What tools do you use to measure the impact of your marketing activities?