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Librarian Urges Colleagues To Prioritize Marketing

The following is a guest blog from Michelle Kraft, the director of the Floyd D. Loop Alumni Library at the Cleveland Clinic. You can follow her blog here.   

The availability of online resources has made it easier for patrons to find information outside of the traditional library space and hours. But this situation also has made it harder for the patrons to realize how great of a role the library still plays in their search for information.

Prior to the arrival of online journals and electronic books, and before it took only the flick of a finger on a smartphone to access the world, people had to physically enter the library to look at books and journals. It was clear to everyone that the library was a monopoly for information.

Today, librarians that are good at their jobs seamlessly connect people to full-text information. They use all sorts of resource access points: EMR, Google Scholar, PubMed, LinkOut, etc. But because of these tools, patrons can lose sight of the library’s actual physical presence and importance.

Let The Public Know 

To keep the library from fading from public view, luckily, there are ways to promote or market it and its resources. For instance, some libraries hold events to promote awareness. Kaiser Permanente Libraries used a 70th anniversary celebration as an opportunity. The libraries reached out to their geographically diverse users to showcase their talent and resources, and to strengthen alliances with departments (See: Melberg, D. Aiello, M. McLeod, B. Makie, M. Melton, E. Getting Attention: How We Used an Anniversary to Promote the Library to Our Hospital System and Beyond. Medical Library Association; May 18-23, 2018; Atlanta).

Other libraries choose to promote resources or services. For example, the VA Portland Health Care System library used social media, brochures, and newsletters. The intent was to increase the visibility and awareness of the physical and electronic library to hospital staff, patients, and family members (Whitehead, S. Advertising the Library (ATL). Medical Library Association; May 18-23, 2018; Atlanta).

Boosting Library’s Profile 

Previously, our own library tried different approaches to market its resources and services. Unfortunately, while we had a marketing expert on our institute’s staff, we didn’t even consider using that person’s available know-how. It might have helped us. Our efforts to improve outreach to other hospitals in the health care system had limited success. And, the staffers felt they’d heard the public too often ask: “We have a library?”

So, the staff members decided to make library marketing a priority. They created and implemented a marketing plan to raise awareness of the library among employees within the hospital system. The library staff partnered with a member of the Education Institute’s marketing department to create the plan and investigate opportunities.

Value Of Marketing

Simply using an Impact Effort Matrix, the library staff learned (to its surprise) there were several identifiable, high-impact, low-effort opportunities.

Next, the staff created a marketing schedule, assigning various tasks to individual members.

With a plan and marketing department assistance, and by organizing all efforts, we hope to boost library resources and services awareness. We’ll track this by the number of new library accounts created and library website usage trends. We’ll also check this for long-term sustainability.

We make education, research, and access to information a priority. Only recently did we prioritize marketing. Think about it: What good is it to have a gold mine of educational opportunities, research databases, journals, and high-touch services if nobody knows we exist? We now know marketing the library is as important as providing excellent resources and services.

Doing both well should be an imperative to every library, large or small. That way, all of us in the field will hear the question: “We have a library?” less often.

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