This Week in LIS - 3 August 2012

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Headline of the Week: Library Marketing?

An ongoing topic of discussion was revisited this week – library marketing.

What comes to mind when you think of marketing? For some the first idea is advertising. In the trade it is sometimes referred to as “demand generation.” In the best sense that is about getting the word out to segments of folks whose “pains” you believe you “ease” – or – more positively – opportunities you can enable. The marketing problems being solved are awareness, communication and education leading to “demand.”

A working operational assumption, based on experience, is that LIS indeed has offerings that would be more broadly used if constituents were aware and that the value of “easing those pains” is worth the “cost” of time a new user will expend in engagement and learning and implementation. New offerings must include effective communication. Experience suggests raising and broadening the level of communication and understanding about LIS offerings will ultimately lead to good things for students, faculty and staff.

Alternatively, in the worst sense you might think about manipulation, coercion, bait and switch, half-truths (or worse), and efforts to make you do something you do not want to do or to buy into offerings you don’t need. If this is what comes to mind when you hear the word “marketing”, then you might be very anxious about “library marketing.” To avoid any of this one might move to high ground and claim that marketing is not required. Library value transcends such a need. In a stable environment, and over long periods of time, the set of offerings might become clear to constituents. Intuition suggests it was truer in the past than today.

Another, perhaps more important, dimension of marketing is the “product marketing” side. This is the facet of marketing that is all about understanding potential users, understanding their pains (and especially new pains or pains you could address before), and then transforming that understanding into requirements and new offerings on terms attractive to users. This is the engine of innovation and invention. This dynamic is essential to sensing change and seizing the associated opportunities. A culture of innovation encourages and thrives on this sort of marketing.

Both of the referenced podcasts (see below) provide some interesting context for thinking about library marketing. Although Bell was invited to talk about the future of libraries, his comments begin considering changes to higher education in general and how the academic library might respond. Mathews speaks directly about the changes to academic libraries driven by digitization and changes to teaching and learning and how the academic library might respond. His whitepaper goes on to make analogy to entrepreneurialism as a model for being open to engaging in experiments, fast iterations and willingness to pivot as one learns from the experiments.

You are encouraged to listen to the two twenty minute podcasts. There is excitement and energy around doing new things; you might find the whitepaper on entrepreneurship enthusing. Finally if you can see yourself engaging deeply in library marketing including both the “demand gen” and “product marketing facets” you’ll get many ideas from the Mathews book. A most interesting one relates to studying how to assist students with the problems they have without mapping that through the lens of existing services.

Suggested reading/watching:

Startup culture and the future of academic libraries: An interview with Brian Mathews hosted by Paul Zenke from the University of Minnesota. “Paul Zenke”: is the instructional designer at the University of Minnesota-Libraries and PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis

The Future of Academic Libraries: An interview with Steven J Bell hosted by Paul Zenke from the University of Minnesota.

Think Like a Startup: a white paper to inspire library entrepreneurialism by Brian Mathews.

“Marketing Today’s Academic Library – A Bold New Approach to Communicating with Students” by Brian Mathews.

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LIS Blog Highlights from the Week

The following articles are sampled from those available on the LIS Blog:

Notes from LIS Council

LIS Council is the leadership team within LIS. Among the topics discussed the past two weeks were:

  • LIS Operational Agenda
    • Council members will be reporting on LIS operational views (metrics for processes and status of projects) regularly at LIS Council meetings. This week’s reports included the following:
    • Archives
      • We reviewed measures over the last 4 months of user interactions by type of user and uses of the collection by the various points of access. As the value of what we have that is unique goes up and we enhance the visibility of the collection through the Nordic site, we anticipate usage to increase.
    • Network and Systems
      • The wireless in the apartments is working although there may be changes required to accommodate the possibility of a dropped ceiling. The path into the President’s home for the new fiber is under consideration. The wireless system and phones are being re-installed in Dieseth as part of wrapping up the remodelling project. A fiber between the hospital and Luther is being pulled by the subcontractor as a part of the overall Decorah Metronet project. Adam shared some performance graphs that suggested that for moving large files (e.g. video files) we should try to use/implement 1Gb connections end to end – 100mbps connection is the bottleneck. It is important to capture more detail when we discover network performance problems so they can be diagnosed.
    • User Services
      • We reviewed the metrics received through the LIS Feedback Survey and metrics related to OS distribution on campus. Diane shared updates on a number of projects underway that will be wrapping up by the time students and faculty come back to campus. In addition, we began conversation related to the MISO survey and how best to share the information with LIS and the campus community.
  • New Items
    • Move-in Weekend Hours
      • Proposal was made and accepted to open and staff the library 9-4 Saturday and 11-4 on Sunday of move-in weekend August 25 and 26.
    • Start of Year All LIS-Student/Staff Gathering
      • We agreed we should have an LIS wide student/staff gathering.
    • Veterans Kiosk Location in Library
      • Luther has received a gift for a kiosk that would display information about Luther grads that are also veterans. A discussion is underway about where to locate the kiosk. The library was asked to consider possible locations. Four possible locations were identified. Additionally the idea surfaced of making the information available from any of the existing kiosks. The relative appropriateness of any of them requires a better understanding of the intended usage, understanding linkage to other capabilities, and any expectation constraints. Paul will talk to Tom and Keith to get a better understanding.

Upcoming LIS Training, Instruction, and Professional Development Opportunities

Click on the event below for specific information and for a link to register. More information on training and development events is available.

Course Format Date Location Enrollment
Creating a Faculty Website Using Reason Workshop Aug 9 2012 – 9:00am 12:00pm Olin 301 – Round Table Room Open
Senior Projects: Creating Meaningful Culminating Experiences in the Major Faculty Development Aug 16 2012 – 9:00am 1:00pm Dahl Centennial Union – Nansen Open
Luther College as a Community of Faith and Learning (Day 1 of 2) Faculty Development Aug 20 2012 – 9:00am 3:30pm Loyalty Board Room Open
Paideia 111/112 New Instructor Workshop (Day 1 of 2) Faculty Development Aug 20 2012 – 9:00am 12:00pm Main 114 Open
Updates for Academic Advisors Faculty Development Aug 20 2012 – 9:00am 12:00pm Dahl Centennial Union – Nobel Open
Luther College as a Community of Faith and Learning (Day 2 of 2) Faculty Development Aug 21 2012 – 9:00am 3:30pm Loyalty Board Room Open
Paideia 111/112 New Instructor Workshop (Day 2 of 2) Faculty Development Aug 21 2012 – 9:00am 12:00pm Main 114 Open
Writing in the Disciplines Faculty Development Aug 22 2012 – 1:00pm 4:00pm Main 112 Open

This Week in LIS is published most Fridays by Paul Mattson, Executive Director of LIS at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

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