Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What online resources?

Making "E" Visible, a recent Library Journal article by Lesley Williams, presents the problems and pitfalls in promoting libraries' online resources. I'm sure most of us share the same frustration when patrons overlook terrific, needed e-resources that are right under their noses on library Web sites. One solution Williams advocates is getting vendors to pick up the marketing slack by helping to promote their databases as well as the libraries that provide access to them. Her rationale makes great sense, and hopefully we will see more vendor/library partnerships along these lines. Williams points out that Thomson Gale is off to a good start with its, which directs researchers to their local collections. I would disagree slightly with Williams' statement that librarians are not marketers. I fully concede that marketing is a profession in its own right, and that most libraries don't have marketing departments and can't be expected to do all the things marketers do, but I believe that by knowing some basic principles, we can apply marketing to make our collections more user-friendly and appealing. In fact, Williams suggests doing just that by advising librarians to group databases by subject (package services) and describe how they're useful (put resources in the context of patrons' needs) and so on. Marketing is mainly about shaping services to match user needs, which is exactly what librarians are expected to do. Marketing is one of many skills librarians should have to some extent, just like Web skills, communication skills, basic statistics and budgeting skills are important parts of librarians' repertoire. It seems that Williams' argument focuses more on the promotional aspects of marketing, which I agree, is a responsibility that could be shared by vendors as well. Williams will be speaking at the Internet Librarian 2006 Conference in a session called, "Increasing the Use of Online Products."

If marketing e-resources is of special interest to you, you may want to see the King County Library System & University of Washington's Virtual Reference Services: Marketing Guidelines. The document outlines considerations for creating a marketing plan for virtual reference services, but seems to be applicable to other online services as well.

Categories: must_reads | tips_to_try


Amanda said...

I certainly agree that partnering with vendors makes a lot of sense, if only financially. At the hospitals we serve, I created goodie bags for nurses during Nursing Week. Each paper bag contained some typical vendor goodies (pens, mouse pads, quick search guides, sticky notes, etc.) as well as our library brochure. The outside was stapled with a note from the library with "Happy Nursing Week!" and a couple points from the brochure about our services. Total cost was minimal, I bought the paper bags and had our student workers fill them up. The vendors provided their goodies for free. The nurses appreciated getting free stuff and now when they see that Ovid logo, they remember the library.

Jill said...

Hey, Amanda! This sounds like a terrific idea - thank you for sharing it! :)