We’re always looking for new ideas when it comes to marketing and “outreach”. (I had to put that in quotes because I know how my friend Abby feels about it.) Our social media campaigns have gone well but we’ve had some duds along the way too. We’ve found that while people like the idea of contests we run, they often fall flat and don’t get the traction we had hoped for. This past year, we decided to get social IRL instead with our end of the school year #ClubLibCmich events.
I love living and working in an urban environment. Between never having to drive to work, having my pick of a million places to have lunch, my summer time walks to the farmer's market outside of the Museum of Modern Art, and the amazing network I've been able to develop - I feel like it would be hard for me to ever leave the city. One of our biggest benefits is the number of libraries (public, special, and academic) in our vicinity. There are over 30 degree granting institutions in the city (City Colleges, Private and Public Universities, Graduate Degree only - and for-profit schools on top of that!) and dozens more in the suburban area. Add in all the public libraries, the ALA and ILA offices, and other special interest organizations and I can hardly go a week without having a professional development or networking meeting in our area - and I wouldn't have it any other way. Unfortunately, along with all of these amazing benefits, unique challenges arise.
Recently I was at a conference that was full of amazing presentations and some great networking opportunities. The keynote speaker was a combination of hit and miss - for a long time the talk felt more like a promotional message than a keynote speech - but once the speech started I was really thrilled with the content. Throughout the presentation the speaker mentioned there are differences between marketing and advocacy. During the Q&A, an audience member asked the speaker to elaborate on what the differences between marketing and advocacy actually are. I could tell this tripped the speaker up quite a bit, and I really wasn't thrilled with the answer that was given. Here is my take on the differences between marketing and advocacy.
The next steps in the "Road to Relationships" process are identifying whom the new partner serves, and identifying key stakeholders. Some of this information can easily be gathered through the first stage. Even by acknowledging what type of partner (e.g. corporate affiliate, paying client, student organization, community group, etc.) can typically provide a good deal of clarity about their clientele or stakeholders.
University of Central Florida (UCF) Background
The University of Central Florida (UCF) is located in Orlando, Florida and is a member of the State University System of Florida. It is the country's second largest university by total enrollment (60,810) with 52,532 undergraduates, 8,278 postgraduates, and an academic staff of nearly 2,000. The university offers over 200 degree options through thirteen colleges and twelve satellite campuses throughout Central Florida. (Please see Acknowledgements below)
UCF Libraries' Scholarly Communication program
How does an academic library go about growing its own Scholarly Communication (SC) program with no budget, no staff, no dedicated office space, no partners, and no experience? The University of Central Florida Libraries responded to such a challenge during 2012-15 by creating a grassroots SC program staffed by a volunteer 20-member library staff advisory group.
The group began its work by creating an innovative “Research Lifecycle” model to help define an evolving menu of scholarly communication resources and services that could be turned on, when available, to UCF constituents.
Other steps to achieving success included creating a “Publishing in the Academy” workshop series with the College of Graduate Studies, a Grants Writing workshop series with the Office of Research and Commercialization, and a strong slate of academic faculty “Open Access Champions.”
How do you get your message across when your target demographic seems to get younger and younger every year? We’ve taken a peer to peer approach by introducing what we call the “Library Ambassadors” here at CMU. These volunteer students are essentially feet on the street for our marketing committee and their primary objective is to market directly to other students on our behalf.
The problem with our traditional approaches were always the same – the message was hard to convey when it comes from staff or Librarians to students. Getting that buy-in from the students seemed to be harder and harder for us, so we looked to the students themselves! We put the word out that we were looking for some engaging students who wanted to help spread the word about library services and resources and have some fun while doing it. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from them and has been pleasantly surprising in how they have approached it! The students we’ve recruited and trained have consistently asked to take on more and more the further we have gone into the program. We started with simply giving them the basics on the different areas of our library so they could be knowledgeable when approached and help us with face to face interactions but it has grown well beyond that. Early opportunities ranged from manning info tables in our corridor to walking in the Homecoming parade or getting people to participate in things like our Bookface contest.
Over the course of the summer we worked with our marketing team and the ambassadors to create a presentation for them to take “on the road”. We did it with the idea that it had to be simple, fun, and not too long in order to hold the attention of the audience. The prezi that we crated is focused on our current marketing campaign “Your Academic Success Starts Here” which builds on a larger campaign we have been using that encourages students to “Connect, Collaborate….Succeed!” with us. We have tied it all together in a prezi that our Ambassadors will be presenting to Residence Hall Councils, and RSO’s across campus this year. We’re also sending along a librarian to field any questions that may go beyond the expertise of our Ambassadors. While we created the presentation, the Ambassadors have really taken ownership of it. We purposely made it generic and asked them to each put their own twist and flair on it – make it personal to them. In the end, they tie the connecting and collaborating into their own personal story of success using the Library. By being able to show their peers how the Library helped them, we hope it will inspire others to do the same.
By the end of the semester I hope to report back with metrics gathered from these presentations to show how well this all went. We’ve gotten a lot of requests for the presentations for different groups on campus already and the Ambassadors are excited to get out there and do their thing.
There's a lot of advice circulating about removing library jargon from a website or promotional materials; most of this is great advice. However, I occasionally find this advice incomplete - especially when it comes to recognizing the needs of international students. These are three interactions I witnessed during the first week back to school:
While librarians are notorious for including too much library jargon in our materials, we also need to consider the cultural differences between us and our students. Age, ethnicity, country of origin, level of education, and comfort with asking for help will vary between all visitors - try to be as accommodating as possible.
Today is the official start date of the semester for most university programs. Students are back on campus in full force; to say their lives are chaotic this week is an understatement. Our head of circulation decided they needed a bit of a pick-me-up.
As we're a branch of the library in the middle of a downtown Chicago high-rise, we're not the highest traffic library on campus. However, students regularly report we're their favorite spot on our campus to go between classes, place to meet up with friends, and the best place to print and do general computing work. For these reasons we have frequent visitors for both short and long term visits.
As a welcome back, today we decided to have some muffins "on display" for students to take. They were very thankful, engaged with the staff, and have a generally positive attitude towards the library to start the year off. They'll definitely be back.
One of our staff members has a warehouse club membership, allowing us to buy several boxes of 12 muffins for about $5 a piece. 20 boxes can easily be bought for $100 if you have access to a discount/warehouse store, or even better - a community partner grocer who may cut you a bit of a discount.
Is this the most genius or innovative marketing strategy ever? No. But it's a great goodwill activity that keeps the students on our side, and can be as affordable as you need.
Here at Loyola, we have a strong commitment to social justice. Every department has a component of their strategic plan devoted to how that department will fulfill the university mission. Libraries inherently have a social justice component, as we try to select materials covering all aspects of scholarship and provide access to as many users as possible. However, copyright frequently prohibits our sharing. Several years ago, before I started working here, the University and the Library decided it was time to start an open access institutional repository to make faculty scholarship more widely available to the world. The following is a detailed account at our attempts to promote the repository and engage faculty in the open access discourse.
The Human Library is a one-day event that allows patrons to come in to the library and check out another human being with an interesting story. Attendees are able to choose a “human book” from self-authored description cards that are set out on a table. Each human book has selected a title that reflects a common stereotype. Examples of human books at Joyner Library’s events were HIV, Overweight, Dyslexia, PTSD, Deaf, Rabbi, and more. After making their selection, the person is paired with their human book for a 15-30 minute conversation. This event has strong social justice implications, in that it may help address common stereotypes and allows for transparent conversations to occur in a safe space.
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