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Marketing Today’s Academic Library – available today

March 23, 2009, 9:36 am

Marketing_Library_Book_Mathews

ALA sent me ten complimentary copies of my book this weekend. I read it on Saturday and it was strange—it was like reading someone else’s book. The original manuscript was finished in September, so it’s been a while. I wish I had worked just a little faster so that I could have had a chance to sell a few copies at ACRL, but that’s how it goes.

I really have to thank ALA Editions, particularly Laura Pelehach, for taking a risk on me. I have not always shared the most popular views of our profession and people look at me strange whenever I talk about things like need states, psychodemographics, coolhunting, recall, and permission marketing; this book will probably confuse them even more. Thanks to J. Michael Jeffers for helping me down the home stretch. Tara Patterson and Dottie Hunt were also immensely helpful, and I addressed them in the acknowledgments. Thanks to Del Ross for a kind Foreword—I only stay at Crowne Plaze Hotels when I attend library conferences! Oh and Jane Jerrard did an excellent job of stitching it all together.

I am very grateful that ALA didn’t pressure me to write a 2.0 or social technology book. It would have been a disaster. While those elements are included in the text, the scope is much wider. I worked (struggled) on and off for 2 years on this project. It is very personal. Writing a book is very draining. You feel vulnerable—or at least I do. I spent so many mornings up at 4am gulping down Jone’s Soda, trying to get the words right. This book is really my personal handbook, my personal approach. I feel like I am in a defensive position now, waiting for all the bad reviews to come in. (I’m sure the annoyed librarian will hate it.) Oh and just a note, if you’re looking for a nice cookie-cutter, paint-by-numbers approach to marketing, this isn’t the book for you. In fact, in many ways it isn’t a marketing book at all, but a vision for public service. Here is the final paragraph that really encapsulates the spirit:

“The academic library can become a place for experiences. It is not just for research and reflection, but also for creation, collaboration, design, and display. The library functions as a workshop, a gallery, a museum, a canvas, a stage, a lecture hall, a platform, a case study, and a showcase of student work. The future of libraries isn’t simply about digitizing all of our collections, but rather, it is about providing, encouraging, and staging new types of learning encounters. Instead of using marketing to try to persuade students to use our services, the library becomes the natural setting for academic activities–an environment where scholarship happens.”

So there it is. I won’t hype the book anymore on this blog, but I will say that Chapter 6 (Building Relationships) is probably my favorite one overall; it is the most personal and probably the one that stretches out the furthest from the traditional librarian mindset. I am looking forward to going to UCSB and experimenting more fully with the techniques and approaches described in the book. Georgia Tech was a great testing ground for experimentation, but the real test will occur over the next few years out there when I get the opportunity to guide my own communications program. In closing, the book reads a lot like my blog, so if you like the stuff you see here, you’ll probably enjoy the book too. I actually miss not working on it anymore. I feel like I still had another 2 or 3 chapters in me—perhaps for the second edition?

Contrary to what it says on the ALA site, the book is actually 171 pages, not 136.

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