Thursday, December 15, 2005

Go Where the Users Are

After reading this post in the OH!Libraries blog, I went to the LibraryLookup Project page and downloaded the bookmarklet so that now with just one click I can find out if books from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other sites are available at my library.

This is such a cool program! I know it's been around awhile and I've seen it mentioned in other blogs, but I didn't get it until I tried it. This is another functionality libraries need to promote to users and nonusers alike. At work, we're constantly talking about how to be where the users are. In real-life this means posting flyers and publicity for library resources and services outside the library. It means taking library services and resources directly to the user no matter where they are. Online, it means integrating with online services the users are already using, like IM, Google, Amazon, etc.

So, if you haven't already, try the LibraryLookup Project bookmarklet and after you see how cool it is, start spreading the word.

What else is your library doing to go where the users are?

Yes Virginia, You Are a Marketer

Some people have asked me, who's job should it be to market the library? The answer: It's everyone's job. Every person from the student worker to the reference librarian to the janitor, is marketing the library. And they're doing so every hour, of every day. So we might as well do it effectively.

Thanks to Jill and the Library Marketing-Thinking Outside the Book blog for pointing out the article "In Your Business, Everyone's a Marketer" by Matt Blumberg and for reminding us of this important point.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Market Research You Can Use

Others have already mentioned this (ResourceShelf, ACRLog), but after looking at OCLC's "Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources" report, I had to write about it too.

The report provides the "findings and responses from the online survey in an effort to learn more about: library use, awareness and use of library electronic resources, the Internet search engine, the library and the librarian, free vs. for-free information and the Library "brand."

What's great for academic libraries, is that the report separates out the responses from college students. Some of the findings from the college students' responses:

  • "College students have the highest rate of library use and broadest use of library resources, both physical and electronic."

  • Only 10% of college students indicated that their library's collection fulfilled their information needs after accessing the library Web site from a search engine."

  • Only 2% of the college students that responded to OCLC's survey typically begin their search for information on a particular topic at the library's Web site (versus 1% of total survey respondents)

  • 89% of college students typically use a search engine to begin their search for information on a particular topic (versus 84% of total survey respondents)

  • After search engines, 33% of college students learn about electronic inforation sources from a librarian (versus 8% of the total survey respondents)

  • What's the first source/place college students will choose next time they need information? 72% - search engines, 14% - physical library, 10% - online library, 2% - physical bookstore and 2% - online bookstore.
See the report for much, much more including sample verbatim comments.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Library Marketing Resources from Elsevier

If, like me, you're always on the look out for new library marketing and PR resources, you may want to check out Elsevier's Library Connect Pamphlet, "Marketing Library Resources: An Annotated Bibliography".

The OhioLINK Marketing Idea Gallery is mentioned, but it's buried under the article "The OhioLINK-YBP road shows: A partnership for vendor/library collaboration." Go figure. Still, I'm glad word is getting out about our marketing resources, and I hope others outside of Ohio find them helpful.

The latest Library Connect newsletter, from October 2005, also has some good stuff, including the article "Can You Lead a Horse to Water? Teaching Users About Electronic Resources," by Scott Walter.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Need Wombat?

No, not the marsupial. In this case Wombat stands for thr Word of Mouth Basic Training Blog, which is a project of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. I just found it so am still exploring, but it looks like some cool stuff.

Library Survival Guides

Popular Mechanics has archived 17 ways to survive worst case senarios like how to survive a riot, airplane crash, sandstorm, etc. The situations are adapted from the popular "The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook." (link via lifehacker)

What does this have to do with marketing libraries? Well, it got me thinking, what about creating brief snappy guides to using library resources to survive real life situations like, perhaps, "how to survive your first college paper" or "how to survive starting a business without going crazy"? Then give users simple, easy steps on how the library can help them. Bonus points if you can use some humor.

The point? Done right, these guides could help show users the library isn't the stuffy, over-serious organization the stereotypes portray. And they just might teach users something about library resources too.

$50M Business Launches from Library

The Kansas City Star fills readers in on the Johnson County Library's lesser known treasures:
"Library in Rare Company" (Bullers, Finn. November 30, 2005)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Words of Wisdom from Roy

Here, here to several bits of wisdom from Roy Tennant's November 15 Library Journal article, "What I Wish I Had Known":

-I wish I had known that the solution for needing to teach our users how to search our catalog was to create a system that didn't need to be taught

-Read outside of the profession. Libraries do not drive the engines of innovation. Libraries are part of a niche market that either rides the coattails of other markets or gets left behind.

-It's about the user, stupid. While we were focused on crafting integrated library systems that served our needs, our users got left behind. Is it any wonder that they can't understand why our systems aren't as easy to work with as Amazon?

Summer Reading Clubs - They're Not Just for Public Libraries

Show 'em that academic libraries can be fun too:

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

UD's Funny Library Video

A funny library video? Impossible you say. Oh, but I must contradict you friend. It is possible! And the University of Dayton Libraries has done it.

How you ask? Admit the stereotypes and common perceptions about libraries and then exploit them. Another great tip from the UD video: if you're targeting students, use students as your spokespeople.

View the video here. (Warning: you need to be on broadband for this, it's a 26MB file. Oi.)

Want more examples of how academic libraries are promoting themselves? Visit the OhioLINK Idea Gallery.

(Thanks for sharing Heidi!)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Capturing Students' Interest with Fun Facts at Cal State Library

True or false - you can capture students' interest and teach them about library resources using fun facts and reference stats? True, says Rachael Green Clemens, distance education librarian at California State University Fullerton's Pollak Library.

Today on the AcademicPR discussion list, Clemens shared how she created a twist on commercial advertisements like those you might see projected onto large buildings in a place like downtown Los Angeles. Clemens created her "reference slide show" two years ago by creating a long, continuously looping PowerPoint slide show and projecting it on a very large wall abover the reference desk area.

"I collected about 150 Q&A's and made eye-catching slides that project for about 16 seconds each...akin to the trivia questions you often see in a movie theatre. I intersperse these Q&A's with library information - such as advertisements for chat reference service, photocopier info, library website tidbits, etc." Clemens wrote.

Clemens describes the project as a fun one that really gets results. "Students often linger at the desk waiting for the answers to the questions. I made a point to add the 'source' of the information - hoping to highlight library resources and model good citation practice."

The slides include a wide variety of facts and fun trivia. Examples include:
Q: What was the median home price in Orange County in July 2005?
A: $603,000 (source: Los Angeles Times article accessed through Proquest Newspapers)

Q: How many new hybrid vehicles were registered in the U.S. in 2004?
A: 83,156 (source: Article in AdWeek accessed through TableBase)

Q: How many gallons of soft drinks were consumed in the U.S. in 2002
A: 15.2 billion gallons (source: Beverage Aisle through Lexis-Nexis)
The slide show, which provides one and a half hours of programming on a continuous loop, is updated each semester to keep it interesting. In the future, Clemens plans to move the slide show onto a new large plasma screen that is hung in the library atrium.

Many thanks to Rachael Green Clemens for sharing this information and giving me permission to post it.

Interested in subscribing to the Academic PR list? Instructions are available online.

Friday, November 04, 2005

It's Time to Shout Presentation Handouts

To anyone who attended my session (It's Time to SHOUT! Using Blogs to Tell the Library's Story & Educate Users) at the Academic Library Association of Ohio's conference today and didn't get a copy of the handouts here is the PDF. If ALAO posts presentation content I'll add this there too.

If you weren't there and you wonder what these handouts are all about, feel free to take a look. The three page PDF contains my points to remember about how academic libraries use blogs, what to consider before you start a blog and how to market your blog. Then there's the all important list of example blogs and articles that will tell you even more about library blogs and RSS.

Congrats to everyone who helped plan and organize this conference. It looked like a great success to me and I know how hard conference planning is!

More on this conference later.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Libraries Are Great, Pass It On

How nice to read about how great libraries are and the resources they provide. All this from "civilians."

Libraries: Like Barnes & Noble, But Free from Deeper Motive
Hacking the Library: Where Information Is Already Free by Ned Wolfe (great post title!)

Improve Your Next Presentation with Presentation Zen

I'm giving a presentation next month. So I've been thinking a lot about what makes a presentation great, especially when it comes to the slides (or lack thereof).

My favorite blog on this topic is Presentation Zen. It's a great resource for learning about different presenters' techniques and slides designs (found via Seth Godin's Blog). I'm finding it really, really helpful and thought you might too. At my next presentation there will be absolutely no bullet points in my slides!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Apply for Library Marketing Awards

1. 2006 IFLA International Marketing Award - will honor organizations that have implemented creative, results-oriented marketing projects or campaigns. Three finalists will be recognized for their outstanding achievements. From these three finalists, the winner will be chosen and receive airfare, lodging and registration for the 2006 IFLA General Conference and Council in Seol, Korea, as well as a cash award of USD 1,000 which must be used to further the marketing efforts of the recognized organization. All libraries worldwide are eligible. Applications are due before November 30.

2. 2006 John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award - The award honors outstanding library public relations programs that support a specific project, goal or activity, or a sustained, ongoing program (e.g. the promotion of a summer reading program, a year-long centennial celebration, fundraising for a new college library, an awareness campaign or an innovative partnership in the community). The contest is open to all libraries and agencies that promote library service.

Entries can be calendar year 2005 (January-December), school year 2004-2005 (Fall-Spring) or any special project ends in 200. The awards and $3,500 cash grants will be presented during the 2006 ALA Annual Conference. The deadline for entries is December 9, 2005.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Attention Library Bloggers - Feedback Needed!

Hey Library Bloggers,

I need your help.

I'm giving a presentation in a few weeks on using blogs to promote the library and I need your help to make sure I've covered all the angles. How do you promote your library's blog? I have the basics down: on the Web site, in library publications, e-mail signatures, talking to users, faculty/staff meetings (for academic library blogs) and during presentations. Do you do anything else? Leave a comment and let me know.

Also, if you use your blog to do something besides promote library resources and services, serve as an internal communication channel for librarians and staff, or to give updates on projects and events I'd love to hear about it.


Monday, September 19, 2005

Learn PR Tips From Pros Around the Globe This Week

Learn from a group of global PR pros during Global PR Blog Week 2.0, a free week long online event.

What is Global PR Blog Week 2.0? Basically, it's a blog where a group of PR pros will publish 70 articles, podcasts and papers from September 19 to September 23, 2005. The articles are free and anyone can participate via comments, asking questions, etc. Learn more from the Global PR Blog Week 2.0 About page. You can also check out the archives from the first event, held in 2004.

The entire program is available online. Librarians might be especially interested in:

September 21:
  • Customer Generated Marketing: from Mayhem to Marketing. Why WOM is back on marketers'’ agenda and how to make it work for their brands by Joël Céré.
  • Consumer Generated Marketing: The Customer is always right by Kevin Dugan.
September 22:
  • Easter Seals & Camping case study - Implementing blogs to engage donors, parents and consumers (campers) by Robert French.
  • Blogs for Events - blogs offer a cost-effective solution for non-profits to promote, cover, discuss and wrap-up events by Josh Hallett.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Word of Mouth Marketing That's No Accident

The Library Marketing - Thinking Outside the Book blog points to an interesting article on called How to Create the Accidental Evangelist by Sean D'Souza. I agree that little things done at just the right time can make a big difference.

It's the really simple, yet genuine, things that make a difference to me. The generic birthday card from a company you barely do business with feels pointless and fake. I just got some more of them last week and I thought, what a waste of a stamp!

Today, decent service can sometimes seem remarkable because it's so rare. I don't understand people who can't at least reign in their grumpiness on the job. I mean, sure, everyone has bad days at work. But even when I'm having a bad day, I try not to take it out on the people I work with, or for (i.e. customers). But I don't get that in return often when I'm the customer. I'm usually happy if a salesperson, waiter, etc. is friendly. Not overly gushy, just naturally friendly. It's something that's so simple, but it also makes such a big difference.

Understanding Your Users' Mindset

LISNews recently pointed to Beliot College's Mindset list for the Class of 2009, whose members were born in 1987. I find these lists intriguing. I'm not sure how accurate and helpful they are, but they sure are fun to read. I doubt anyone from the Class of 2009 reads this blog to let me know how true the list is, but if I'm wrong, let me know!

The closest one to when I graduated college is 2002, which is still three years after I graduated. (there goes the mystique about my age). Can people who are just three years longer than me really be so different?

Here's how I differ:
#8 - I vividly remember being in school and watching the Challenger blow up. Very sad.
#10 - Knew what polio is because my best friend's grandpa had it.
#12-#14 - Had records and a record player, maybe that's why I understand the lingo in #13?
#15 - Pac Man - yes, Pong - no.
#21-#25 - Apparently my family is old-school because we had a black and white TV when I was little, no cable, no answering machine, my grandma had a beta, and I WAS the remote.
#32 - I saw Jaws while on vacation in Florida. Not a great idea, mom.
#36 - I remember watching Mork and Mindy.
#41 - So not true.
#42 - No again.

Usability 101

Market research and usability go hand-in-hand, don't you think? I can't remember where I saw this link, but the University of Minnesota Duluth's IT Department created this interesting list of usability resources.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Know What Your Reporter Wants

Chicago Sun-Times reporter Jim Ritter recently discussed what he wants from PR people with Joe King in a PR Newswire article. Even if you're not a full-time PR person, it's worth remembering Ritter's tips. You've probably heard them before, but another reminder never hurts.

Ritter's key points:
  • Know what beat(s) your reporter covers.
  • Know how the reporter prefers to receive information.
  • When e-mailing reporters, use a short and sweet subject line.
  • Never, ever e-mail an unsolicited attachment. (This rule isn't just for reporters, think twice before e-mailing a big attachment to anyone. And remember that files size is relative to the speed of the recipient's Internet access).
  • As Joan Stewart suggests, find out the best time to call each reporter and the worst time.
  • If you put your news releases on the Web, make sure contact information is accurate and easy to find.
[Thanks to Joan Stewart's "The Publicity Hound's Tips of the Week" free ezine for the link. Subscribe at]

New Month, New Marketing Treasures

The August issue of Chris Olsen's Marketing Treasures e-newsletter is online now.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Writer Says Library Databases Are Useful, But Hard to Find

Check out the positive article on using the library's online databases, "Google Isn't Everything" by Stephen Manes on

Manes warns of the most common complaint with library databases:

"None of these databases is perfect, since most were initially designed for trained librarians rather than mere flailing mortals, so the user interfaces can be daunting until you get the hang of them."

Manes also calls for libraries to do a better job of promoting their online resources:

My biggest complaint is that some libraries' Web sites don't detail the amazing range of services they offer online until you cough up a card number. Memo to those insular institutions: Put the info in the shop windows out front and I bet you'll see a lot more card-carrying customers walking through the electronic doors.

This isn't the first time we've heard this (see advice from Gary Price in this article) and it won't be the last. Even if you have a link on your home page about your library's electronic resources, you still need to repeat your promotional messages seven times for users to start noticing. [Thanks to ResourceShelf for the tip]

ALA Announces 2006 National Library Week Grant

ALA recently announced the 2006 Scholastic Library Publishing National Library Week Grant. The $5,000 grant will be awarded to the single library with the best public awareness campaign incorporating the official campaign theme 'Change Your World @ your library' during NLW 2006 (April 2-8, 2006).

All types of libraries and library organizations are welcome to apply. See ALA's press release for complete details.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Merchandising the Library In NJ

Interested about incorporating merchandising tactics in the library? Learn from the experiences of Mount Laurel Library, New Jersey. (Thanks to ALA's PRTALK list for the tip).

Also see the article "Retail Interior Layout for Libraries" by Christie Koontz in Marketing Library Services (January/February 2005).

Speaking the Same Language

Podcasting, RSS, and phishing. What do these terms have in common? According to a July 2005 Pew Internet & American Life Project report, most people have no idea what any of these terms mean. The fact that podcasting and RSS are not understood doesn't come as a surprise, but with all the media attention the topic of identity theft is getting, I was surprised that only 29% of American Internet users "have a good idea" of the meaning of phishing.

How do you think library jargon would fare in a similar study?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Need ideas? Check out the gallery!

Need ideas for fall promotions? Want to see marketing tactics from other academic libraries? Then the OhioLINK Idea Gallery is the place for you. Now the Gallery has even more ideas and inspiration. We (meaning the OhioLINK Marketing Task Force) recently added a ton of new pieces including bookmarks, flyers, posters, brochures, promotional products and more.

I'm especially fond of the large array of Research posters that many OhioLINK libraries have created and produced themselves. You can see some of them here. If only ALA Graphics would offer posters that feature celebrities and a message thats relevant for academic libraries, like research. Wouldn't that interest academic libraries nationwide more than the current Read posters? Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the Read posters, they're well done. But academic libraries need a different message than "Read."

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Resource Round-Up

I know I've been quiet lately, but I've still been collecting the interesting things I've found online and offline. Here's a resource-roundup so I can finally catch up:

  • Find Out About Helsinki's Information To Go Station Library Journal. June 15, 2005) According to the Library Journal the barrel iGS (Information Gas Station) has been placed in train stations to conferences. The LJ article also states that the Helsinki Library was the first to win Bill and Melinda Gates annual $1 million award. And I'm not just mentioning this because I think Finns rock. Though they do of course.

  • The latest issue of Ragan's Grapevine (a free e-newsletter from Ragan Communications) includes Please Release Me a reminder of press release basics. You can view and sign up for all of Ragan's free newsletters here.

  • If you haven't heard, the June 2005 issue of Chris Olson's Marketing Treasures newsletter is out. There's some good articles in this issue.
  • How do you get men to join a book club? Make it about sports. The Smithtown Public Library, NY, is hosting what it believes to be the first all-male book club. (via Library Hotline, March 16, 2005).
Ok, that's all the catching up I can handle for tonight.

Rev Up Your Readership

Ann Wylie's free e-newsletter, Revving Up Readership, contains tips and advice on improving your writing. You can subscribe and read it yourself online. To get a taste of Ann's tips visit her online article archive. Some articles to check out:

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Art of Good Writing

I'm hesitating a moment before writing this because I know people that live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. And when it comes to writing, I certainly live in a glass house. However, writing is such a fundamental part of public relations and marketing that improving that skill is well worth the effort. So here's a few sources of writing tips that I felt were good reminders.
  • "Does Your Writing Suck?" Expert PR Newsletter. May 2005.
    • This short article describes e-mail no-nos, but the tips apply to any medium. My favorite tips: 1. Lose the all caps. Figure you get one word in all caps per day. 2. No exclamation points - ever.
Number one is a cinch for me because I absolutely, positively hate all caps. Oh, it's fine for emphasizing the rare single word but anything beyond that is just annoying. As far as never using exclamation points, well that may be a little harsh. I happen to have a strong fondness for the exclamation point. It's my favorite piece of punctuation. I agree, however, that a little e.p. goes a long way. Using too many exclamation points makes me think someone is either on uppers or is trying too hard.
  • Plain English Campaign Site - Your messages won't be received if the audience can't understand them, so keep it simple. Best tips:
    • Keep your sentences short
    • Use active verbs
    • Choose appropriate words for your audience
    • Use positive language
These are all great tips to keep in mind when writing for any purpose.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Using Brand Colors Consistently is a Tip to Treasure

The May edition of Marketing Library Treasures by Chris Olson is now online. I've mentioned this resource before but I'm mentioning it again in case (1) you don't read my archives (nah, I'm sure that can't be...) and (2) there's a good article about "The Role of Color in Branding."

Some of Chris' color branding tips are:
-Make sure the color supports your brand’s attributes.
-Select a color that can be relevant to your primary audiences.
-Maintain the same shade and hue in your brand color.
-Display your brand color to all members of your community, inside and outside the organization.
-Ensure that color branding is consistently applied at every turn.
-Make sure all materials and items carry the brand color

When it comes to branding using all your branding elements consistenly is key. This includes color, font, logo, etc.

Usability Testing On a Budget

Chris Nagele's article, "Practical (and Cheap) Usability Testing," on explains how you can conduct your own usability testing without a big budget.

Nagele breaks usability testing down to four steps:
  1. Define tasks and location
  2. Identify and schedule participants
  3. Conduct the tests
  4. Review your findings
Nagele reminds us that don't need a large budget for simple usability testing. Make the participant comfortable, ask open-ended questions and learn from the [participants'] confusion.

Do Your PR Materials Need a Makeover?

LAMA's Swap-N-Shop committee is sponsoring an interesting contest at ALA this year. You could win a brochure makeover by noted library communicators Linda Wallace and Peggy Barber from Library Communication Strategies.

The PR Makeover is a new addition to the Swap-N-Shop at ALA's Annual Conference and is sponsored by the Swap & Shop Committee, from the Public Relations and Marketing Section of the Library Administration Management Association division of the American Library Association.

To be eligible for the PR Makeover contest, send two copies of your library brochure to or LAMA PRMS PR Makeover, 5109 Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60640.

Three entries will be chosen for a makeover. Makeovers, including the before-and-after brochures will be on display during the ALA Conference on Sunday, June 26, 2005 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

See the official announcement for complete details.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Two Interesting Library Marketing Articles

In case you missed it, Gary Price's ResourceShelf pointed out two articles that might be of interest:

1. Manager Educates Library Patrons by Greg DeLong (NYU NewsNet)
Favorite quote: "Call him a library communications guru. Call him a manager of communications and public relations. Just don’t call him a librarian."

2. Marketing an Online Library Service by news staff (Government Technology)
Explains how staff marketed L-net, a 24 hour online chat reference service. Be sure to check out the L-net marketing wiki!

Jazzy PR Materials Wanted for Conference Swap-N-Shop

The Library Administration and Management Association (LAMA) Public Relations and Marketing Section is inviting libraries of all types to send 150-200 copies of their Swap & Shop display and give-away featuring the best library public relations materials of 2004. This year's program, entitled "Hit the Right Note with Jazzy PR," will be held on Sunday, June 26, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the American Library Association (ALA) Conference in Chicago.

Swap & Shop submissions must have been created in 2004. To have your materials included, ship 150-200 copies of each item to: Swap & Shop, c/o Dollester Thorn, LAMA, 50 E. Huron Street, Chicago, IL, 60611, 1800-4-2433, ext. 5032. Materials must be postmarked no later than Friday, June 3, 2005 [via PRTalk dicussion list]

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Silverman Asks: Do Journalists Read Press Releases?

Ben Silverman, from PR Fuel, surveyed journalists at daily newspapers in order to find out what they think about certain aspects of PR.

The purpose of the survey was simple - to gather some quick insight into how journalists receive press releases, whether and where they read them, and how journalists view weblogs and online press rooms.

Some of the same old mistakes PR people and anyone seeking publicity make were mentioned again. Tips:
  • Don't send press releases as attachments - EVER
  • Do use a relevant, attention grabbing headline
  • Do ask the media representatives you contact how they prefer to receive your news. Some, but not all, prefer to receive news by e-mail. Others still rely on faxes or mail. Find out!
  • Don't send media news on a topic they don't cover
  • Do post your press releases and contact information on your Web site
  • Don't expect the media to use a "contact us" form
[Thanks to Tom Murphy at PR Opinions for the link]

And now LibTalk will be on hiatus while I'm on vacation. See you next week!

Bacon: A PR Resource

The April issue of Bacon's ExpertPR newsletter has two articles that especially interested me and might interest you as well.

1. Continuity: Creating an Image Greater Than the Parts, by Jim Schakenbach.
Ignore the business jargon and pay attention to Schakenbach's overall points.
  1. Pay attend to your library's image and brand.
  2. Hone a consistent image by creating a style sheet for librarians and staff on how to use the library's logo, colors and fonts.
  3. Use a consistent message including your vision statement and tagline.

2. Top 5 Reasons to Use RSS by Fergus Burns. And the reasons are:
  • Avoid Spam Filters
  • Make Journalists Happy
  • Improve Your Web Traffic
  • Monitor Your Online Reputation
  • It's Easy - Even for a Non-Techie
Ready for more? Read the articles for details.

[Thanks to Tom Murphy at PR Opinions for the link]

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Where's the Library Fan Club?

A comment by Jill on my last post and a news story on our local NBC station got me thinking. Where's the big open-source marketing effort for libraries? (psst... you can learn more about open-source marketing from James Cherkoff's manifesto, "What is Open Source Marketing?" on ChangeThis.) Or, in other words, where is the library fan club? I'm not talking about Friends of the Library groups. They're great, but they're not enough. We need to inspire a movement.

How does Firefox come into play with this concept? If you haven't been following Firefox, it is an open-source browser that continues to gain momentum and take some of IE's marketshare. Firefox is succeeding because of the large number of Firefox users that are zealously seeking to spread Firefox. Go to the Spread Firefox site and check it out, the devotion of so many Firefox users is amazing.

So where are the library users? Why aren't they screaming about the proposed cuts to Ohio's libraries and other systems around the country? (have there even been any other editorials in Ohio except for the excellent by Thomas Suddes in the April 27 Cleveland Plain Dealer?) And, even more importantly, why don't they speak up at all except for during financial crises.

I think we have to inspire and cultivate widespread support for libraries on the level of Spread Firefox is we're to stop the trend of decreasing library budgets and decreasing library profiles.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to get this ball rolling?

ALA Runs Smartest Card Ads in Magazines

ALA is running ads that feature George Lopez and promote the Smartest Card campaign. The ad will appear in the April issue of Parents Magazine, the spring issue of Ms. and the May issue of Redbook. The ads will reach a total circulation of 4 million people.

In related news,the Public Library Association (PLA) is offering $100 cash prizes for the best examples of how libraries have used "The Smartest Card @ your library®" campaign. See the press release for details. You only have a few days left to turn in your ideas. The deadline is May 2, 2005.

For more on the Smartest Card Campaign visit the PLA site.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Newspaper Article That Should Appear in Every Paper Nationwide

"Why pay for free stuff? Go to the library," a column by Gregory Karp, personal finance writer for The Morning Call, a Tribune Co. newspaper in Allentown, Pa recently appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

The column points out what all librarians know and try to communicate to their audiences: libraries offer books, information, and entertainment for free. The article details how people can save money by visiting the library for Internet access, entertainment, business resources, recorded music, videos, meeting rooms, instructional programs and research help.

Now shouldn't an article like this appear in every US paper?

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Business Week Online Features Cover Story on Blogs

Are you still wondering what the whole blogging thing is about? What about RSS and podcasting? The cover story for the May 2 edition of Business Week might help you out. You can read the story, "Blogs Will Change Your Business" online now.

Yes, this story has a business slant, but it still provides a great overview of blogging and it's benefits. Why should libraries pay attention to blogs? In my view:

1. Blogs are learning tools and sources of information.
2. Blogs are communication tools.

Blogs, if they are successful, can help you reach greaters numbers of your audience than ever before. As the Businessweek article says:

Look at it this way: In the age of mass media, publications like our print the news. Sources try to get quoted, but the decision is ours. Ditto with letters to the editor. Now instead of just speaking through us, they can blog. And if they master the ins and outs of this new art -- like how to get other bloggers to link to them -- they reach a huge audience.

How many libraries are trying to reach a huge audience? All of them I hope.

I Missed the John Cotton Dana Library PR Awards!

I totally missed the announcement of the John Cotton Dana Library PR 2005 Award Winners. Congratulations to:

  • The Riverside County Library System (CA)
  • The Seattle Public Library
  • San Diego State University Library & Information Access
  • The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana
  • Maricopa County Library District (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Calgary Public Library (Calgary, Alberta, Canada)
  • North Suburban Library System

I know the winning entries will be displayed at ALA, but for those of us who won't be able to attend, it would be nice if the entries, or as much of them as possible, could be displayed online. I would think that a nice benefit of this award is to share best practices, but how can you share them if you don't provide case studies online?

Or am I missing something? Will this be covered in an upcoming library publication?

If you want to try for next year, applications for the 2006 awards will be due December 9, 2005.

RLG Offers Promotional Toolkit

The April 2005 issue of the RLG Focus newsletter contains information about new promotional kits that are available for RLG products. See the story for complete details.

RLG now has promotional kits available for:

Anthropology Plus

Bibliography of the History of Art
Chicano Database
RLG Archival Resources
RLG Cultural Materials

Links to promotional information from other vendors is available on this OhioLINK Marketing Toolkit site.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Listening to Your Users Isn't Stupid!

Don't miss Todd Miller's column in the March 15 issue of Library Journal. In the column, "In Defense of Stupid Users," Miller questions librarians' general disregard of federated searching.

Google gives its users a pitiful solo search box. How can it compete? The answer from the old guard is that it's dumbed down. The reality is that Google gives its customers what they want: simple searching, powerful results.

As Miller explains best, listening to users and giving them a single search box is good marketing. It means your finding out what users want and then giving it to them.

This is not lowest common denominator; it is listening to the market and giving it precisely what it wants.

Users just want to find the answers, right? Most of them don't want to know the intricate ways to do an advanced search in every single database that's available. You don't have to have a computer science degree to use a computer. You don't need to be a nutritionist to figure out the basics of eating healthy. Should users really be expected to know expert search skills just to get information to write a paper or research to complete a work project? Miller would answer this question with a resounding no.

The job of information professionals is not to make all users into information professionals. Our job is either to give them the right tools for the job or do the job for them.

Guardian Article Explores Ohio Libraries' Budget Struggle

There's a good article in The Guardian which discusses the funding problems of Ohio's public libraries. How ironic that such a great article appeared in a foreign publication.

"We cherish our libraries, but is it more valuable than school funding? No," said Republican state Rep. Jim Trakas. "Is it more valuable than Medicaid for a sick person? No. It's a matter of priorities."

[Thanks to Library Link of the Day for the tip]

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Celebrating National Library Week

Happy National Library Week! How is your library celebrating?

The University of Dayton's Library staff created a new set of Research posters to promote the library again this year. Instead of using the "read" theme for posters like ALA, UD Library uses the research theme, which definitely seems like a better message to academic audiences to me. Too bad ALA seems reluctant to print their own research posters with celebrities.

Once again UD library staff proved that you can create a fantastic series of posters on a small budget. To accomplish this, staff recruited a visual arts student to take the photographs and design the posters. Relying on the talents of students is an excellent way to get quality work at a lower cost. You can view UD's 2004 posters, along with a selection of posters from other OhioLINK libraries, in the OhioLINK's Idea Gallery, which is part of the online Marketing Toolkit.

The library is also hosting their third food for fines campaign this week. Users can reduce their library fine by $1 for every nonperishable food item they donate. The food is later donated to a local food pantry.

(Thanks to Heidi Gauder, at Roesch Library, for keeping me informed)

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Why Libraries Need Marketing: Reason #106

I hope I'm preaching to the choir here, but for-profit companies and Internet information providers (e.g. Learner's Library, Questia, Google Answers, etc.) are marketing many of the same information resources and services that libraries provide to your users and potential users. Sadly, most users don't know that those same resources, or better, are available from their local library for free. And they have no idea about how many resources they can access electronically through the library. Sometimes these for-profit services are fee-based, other times they just provide inferior information. Either way, you can be sure that someone else is talking to your users about them. So if you're not constantly informing and reminding your audiences what information the library provides electronically and otherwise and that they ALREADY paid for it, then you're losing opportunities and users.

Case in point:

Gary Price recently reviewed LookSmart's five new sites aimed at different user groups. Each offers access to FindArticles material along with an interface to search the LookSmart Web index.

There's certainly no mention of libraries on the about us page of 24hourScholar:

24HourScholar is a vast archive of published content, providing a comprehensive resource for academic researchers. Visitors can search or browse thousands of articles on subjects in the humanities, sciences and social sciences. Content is drawn from dozens of quality magazines, academic publications and professional journals. All articles can be read and printed in their entirety at no cost. 24HourScholar is powered by FindArticles, a service of LookSmart.

As Price said:

I've said many times before that it's really sad when students and the general public for that matter don't know that thousands of public libraries offer full text and free access to thousands of sources (newspapers, magazines, full text reference books that are accessible with a library card WITHOUT having to visit the library.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Libraries Should Embrace Feedback Marketing

Are you paying attention to feedback marketing about your library?

Gary Stein includes a definition of feedback marketing:

Feedback Marketing (n): 1) a marketing approach where consumer desires are directly connected to product development; 2) the communication of such a system.

Also see Canuckflack for more discussion. This seems especially critical for any library designing a new service, upgrading an existing service/ resource, considering a new resource, building a new library...the list goes on.

Today's Front Pages From the Newseum

The Newseum, the interactive museum of news, has an interesting online exhibit, called today's front pages. Every morning, more than 300 newspapers from around the world submit their front pages to the Newseum, located in Washington, D.C., via the Internet. Sixty-eight of those front pages are then selected for an outdoor exhibit. All the front pages received that morning are also posted on the Newseum's Web site.

[From Dynamic Graphic's Liquid Treat]

Marketing Tip From Toronto: Get the Spring Breakers!

March is the busiest time of year for the Toronto Public Library. The library helps draw in the crowd by offering two weeks of special events and programs at most of their 99 branches to help entertain the kids on spring break. The schedule of free events includes: storytellers, magicians, clowns, mimes, musical entertainers, puppet shows, and theatre. See the Library Hotline, volume 34, issue 12, March 21, 2005 for more details.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Attention Libraries: Why You Need Good PR

Head on over to WebProNews and check out the article "Why Good PR Warrants Your Attention" by Robert Kelly. Kelly discusses the importance of monitoring what your publics think about your organization. Research first, then plan. Easy to know, but how many libraries follow that advice?

And Then There Were Two Library-Marketing Blogs

Finally, another blog that involves marketing AND libraries. I couldn't believe that LibTalk was the first and only blog of this genre for so long. That's why I'm glad to announce there's a new blog in town: Library Marketing-Thinking Outside the Box, a blog written by Jill, an undergraduate services librarian at Virginia Commonwealth University. The blog "is a collection of resources, readings, and creative marketing ideas to help librarians communicate with their patrons about what they have to offer." Jill welcomes your ideas and contributions to this new effort.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Communicating the Financial Squeeze

It's a sad reality today that library budgets continue to be cut nationwide. How can we communicate the consequences of these cuts to our communities in hopes of creating a public outcry that prevents the cuts from happening afterall?

Ohio's public libraries are slated for another 5% cut this year. My local library system, the Columbus Metropolitan Library system, is asking users to contact their legislators. The Ohio Library Council is also working hard to change legislators minds, and they're providing a forum for users to contact the governor about the proposed cut.

Ohio's academic libraries are not immune to funding problems either. OhioLINK is currently facing yet another year of flat funding. For the first time creative solutions will no longer work and services will have to be cuts. We're communicating this with users electronically through the Support OhioLINK Web site. OhioLINK's member libraries are handing local communications on their campuses.

What strategies have other libraries taken to communicate financial problems? Has anyone gained funding or staved off a cut as a result?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Emerald's Library Link Has Marketing Section

Resource alert: Learn more about marketing your library from Emerald's Library Link.

Need More Analytics for Your Web Site?

From time to time I check the Dynix Institute's seminar archive. Here's one that might be of interest to those who want to find out more about their Web sites statistics:

Issues and Opportunities in Web Site Analytics for Libraries
March 22, 2005 | 8 AM to 9 AM Pacific

by Stephen E. Arnold

For more information or to register go to

You can also find a list the Institute's archived seminars. A few seminars of interest include:

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Marketing Treasures for Librarians

Yes, I'm still alive. In case anyone wondered (which according to the lack of comments on this site, they didn't).

A helpful librarian from Otterbein College recommended the resource Marketing Treasures to me.

Marketing Treasures is (and I quote):
an electronic newsletter with with marketing ideas for informational professionals from Chris Olsen and associates.

In the current issue you can learn about the essentials to include in a marketing plan, what drip marketing is, and more.

Archive issues are also available.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

OCLC's Library Advocacy Campaign

OCLC is in the midst of an advertising campaign on behalf of libraries. The campaign is "aimed at library budget decision-makers. The 12-18 month campaign consists of a series of national print ads and customizable, local posters."

The ads will run in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Educase Review, and Governing magazine.

There is also a poster that public libraries can customize for local use. There's nothing equivalent for academic libraries.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Marketing Is Key to Success of Virtual Reference

The article "Virtual Reference: Alive & Well" by Brenda Bailey-Hainer (Library Journal, 1/15/05) points to examples of statewide virtual reference collaborations that are thriving.

One of the examples she cites is Ohio's own KnowItNow, a coperative 24 x 7 reference service which serves the entire state.

The key to a successful service, these statewide-cooperatives agree, is marketing.

Even natural users like teens need to know virtual reference service exists. All collaborative services agree that effective marketing is essential. Targeted marketing, implemented in a planned, consistent, and creative manner through a single coordinated effort, can pump up the volume of questions. Collaboratives that focus on marketing and brand a single service with a single logo statewide have the opportunity for far more exposure than a service provided and marketed by a single institution [for more on branding, see "Target Your Brand," Library Journal 8/04, p. 32]. The placement of a service's logo on every library's web site, with coverage in the local media and newspapers, has a huge impact on the volume of usage.

Other ways successful cooperatives mentioned in the article have marketed their service include: holding a media conference to promote the service, getting coverage in local press, adding a link to the front page of the state government web site, and distributing promotional materials (e.g. temporary tattoos and refrigerator magnets) in local schools.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Interesting Article: Delivering the News with Blogs

Library Link of the Day pointed to an interesting article yesterday, entitled "Delivering the News with Blogs: The Georgia State University Library Experience." The article is a preprint. The actual article will be published in Internet Reference Services Quarterly, Volume 10, issue 1 with expected publication in March 2005.

From the abstract:
To deliver information about library news, services and resources to the science faculty and students at Georgia State University, several librarians developed a blog, Science News. Despite the increasing popularity of blogs (or weblogs), few libraries have taken advantage of what they offer. Blogs can be updated easily, frequently and continuously, making them an appealing alternative to static newsletters.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Monitoring Online Communications: Find Out What's Being Written About Your Library

I'll admit it, I'm a latecomer to using automatic, online monitoring tools. I read about PubSub, Google Alerts and other online communications monitoring tools some time ago, but I didn't try any of them out.

If you haven't used any of these, they help you monitor news stories, stories about your library (or blog, business, yourself, etc.), stories about your competition, etc and inform you when something new is posted. Some tools will e-mail you when new hits are found for your search, others offer RSS feeds of new results. I recently set up some PubSub feeds, which resulted in finding some stories that mention OhioLINK that I would never have found otherwise.

If you want a more in-depth look an online monitoring tools, see Robin Good's post on online tracking tools. Or just give one of these tools a try and you'll quickly understand their value.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! No, It's Super Librarian!

Super Librarian just appeared on my radar. Apparently the New Jersey State Library launched a statewide marketing campaign using the Super Librarian theme last September. Nice artwork.

From the press release:
The campaign was created by Parker and Partners Marketing Resources of Absecon, NJ. It is centered around a television commercial airing on cable networks throughout the state. Launching the campaign in September coincides with the American Library Association’s National Library Card Sign-Up Month. Other campaign elements include posters featuring the “Super Librarian” character, a new web page ( for the public to connect to their local library’s website, signage and promotional items.
[Link via Library Hotline 12/13/04]

ALA's National Library Week 2005 Materials

I stumbled upon ALA's materials for National Library Week 2005. NLW will be held April 10-16 and it's never too early to start planning. Go to ALA's site for a sample proclamation, resolution, press release, public service announcements, a letter to the editor and an op-ed piece.