Category Archives: Marketing&Outreach

September 30, 2014, 3:53 pm

Learning to Pitch (make it hard for me to say no)

At conferences I often end up in conversations that go like this:

“I want to do this innovative thing but my administration won’t get onboard—what can I do?”

This is difficult because there are so many factors that need to be unbundled. A common problem I’ve realized is that librarians never learn the art of pitching. [Note to ACRL: I’m willing to do a free webinar on this topic sometime in Summer 2015.]

In the entrepreneurial world there is a lot of talk about recognizing the difference between ideas and opportunities. That’s the real challenge—separating things that might be cool from things that might help people succeed better.

An example. A dentistry librarian once told me we wanted to offer 3D printing but that his boss shut him down. As we talked I realized he had just asked about the idea and didn’t pitch the opportunity. It was as simple as: “can we…

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September 19, 2014, 2:15 pm

Why do people who love libraries love libraries?

Why do people who love libraries love libraries? This has been on my mind a lot lately. Whenever I find a patron who is passionate about their library I try to decode those tangible and intangible qualities that made the experience so powerful for them.

Our library’s feedback form a great source of insight. Each semester we have a handful of students point out customer service problems, confusing policies, or facilities issues. They are telling us these things because they care and want us to improve. We address matters when we can. For example, one student suggested a new software configuration in our scale-up classroom that we enacted and it greatly improved usability.

This week I had a student share an opinion about our bathrooms. She was frustrated because while we are renovating some parts of our library we are not upgrading the restrooms. Our original building is from the 1…

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September 10, 2014, 4:04 pm

Wait. Stop. What is a photocopy? Three insights from our Library Student Advisory Board

The mission of our Library Student Advisory Board is to help us gain a better understanding of the student experience at our university. We talk about a lot of different ideas and issues. I want to share three that surprised me.

Photocopying? We were talking about printing and I asked the students if they ever photocopied (we have all-in-one machines that do printing, copying, and scanning) and the students were silent. After some strange looks someone finally asked what’s a photocopy?

Apparently everything is a print these days. Reproduction of a page of paper doesn’t seem to be a very common activity. I explained what it was and felt like I was describing a telegraph. I guess with journals migrating to predominately digital formats that most undergrads do not need to photocopy articles. Most of their own content is digital as well — so there is no copying notes, forms, or…

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May 9, 2014, 7:20 pm

LIBRARY BINGO: finals edition

Finals kicked off today at Virginia Tech. I have to admit that I actually like this time of the semester because of the intensity that students bring. I love being surrounded by mass-productivity!

I was looking through our school newspaper this morning and found a library-themed bingo card. There are a lot of tongue-and-cheek elements, but it was nice to see this unexpected and unsolicited shout-out for the library. I think they could have done some more unusual things (like someone spinning) but we’ll take the free publicity.  Enjoy:

lib_bingo

 

 

 

 

Blog Break: I have a handful of posts in the works but I’m planning to take a short hiatus. I hope to get back to blogging on June 1… if not sooner.

January 29, 2014, 6:26 pm

OUR SIX ASPIRATIONAL QUALITIES: openness, curation, creation, community, catalyst, knowledge

Last summer I posted about our aspirational identity project. We started with a long list of words and explored many concepts. We wrapped that up just before winter break and officially launched yesterday.

This is what we came up with:

OPENNESS
We design pathways to information, access, ideas, and discovery.

CURATION
We partner with people to produce, disseminate, preserve, and use information and data.

CREATION
We enable people to design, make, and express their ideas.

COMMUNITY
We bring people, ideas, and resources together.

CATALYST
We ignite people’s curiosity and sense of possibility.

KNOWLEDGE
We stimulate creative, cultural, social, and intellectual endeavors.

Obviously these are very broad—that was our intention. We wanted to keep one hand in the past (ideals of librarianship) while stretching the other hand out toward the future. The qualities are all very…

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January 21, 2014, 6:40 pm

… It’s How You Say It

The theme of language keeps popping up in my conversations. I’ve become very conscious with how we communicate with users – not just the content, but the tone as well.

A recent interaction with Google stimulated by thinking. They offered me a Glass upgrade and this was their confirmation message:

glass_email

I was struck by the informal conversational nature of the email. It’s totally on brand for them, but it made me feel happy. Obviously getting free hardware is a positive occurrence, but the whole sequence of transactions left me with a good memorable experience. They want me to feel excited about their product and my ongoing relationship with them.

Lauren and I have been talking about this concept. Could you craft a personality for a library? A common voice for all written transactions? An experiential brand that manifests through text? Think about how you would want to be treated…

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January 6, 2014, 3:41 pm

THE HARM OF BOOKLESSNESS

bookless1

The future of libraries… actually looks like an Info Commons from 10 years ago?

You’ve probably seen the press about BiblioTech, the first bookless public library system in the country. It is being hailed as a “big success” and “the future of libraries.”

While I can appreciate the marketing tactic they are using, I actually think they are doing more harm than good. This library has been hyping the “bookless” concept for a while now. In fact, I’ve had faculty and administrators on my campus forward me renderings/press and suggest that we move in a similar direction.

My primary concern is that this might (or already has?) create false expectations of what “all libraries” should become. It’s setting a precedent. The key issue for me is funding. Why do we need a library anymore? Let’s…

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December 17, 2013, 7:09 pm

Welcoming Students… On The Day They Are Accepted?

I’ve always been interested in reaching out to students as soon as possible. Conceptually I like that space in the summer – the metamorphosis from high school senior to college freshmen. It feels like a prime time to engage and cultivate a positive relationship.

I use to consider the traditional route. Devise a fun print piece and have that item included in a welcome packet or other mailing. Of course incoming students receive a barrage of info and you’d really have to standout. They also have immediate (deadline-driven) needs like financial aid, housing, course selection, meal plans, and football tickets.

Facebook groups are another possibility to start the conversation. I wrote about making a good impression on incoming freshmen several years ago. Students form groups (i.e. Class of 2014) and interact with each other on social and academic matters. I’ve engaged with…

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December 10, 2013, 7:48 pm

Confess Your Stress: selfies as therapy

Like many libraries, we do a lot of things for students during finals. We give away food. We bring in therapy dogs and cats. We add extra tables and chairs. We’ve done mindfulness (and related) programs. We’ve done games and gaming. We’ve done bubble wrap. Our folks are always looking for new ways to help students during this challenging time.

My new favorite thing: Stress Confessional Photo Booth.

stress_boothbooth_sideVirginia Tech has a portable photo booth that pops up at different campus locations; it’s a great value-add for events. Pretty straight forward — students snap their photos and print them out for free.

We’ve hosted the booth in the library before and it always gets a good reaction. This time we added a creative thematic element: stress confessional. The idea incubated via a Fast Company article How Selfies Are Re-Energizing The New York Public Library and we mashed that…

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September 13, 2013, 1:37 pm

FRIDAY SOCIAL MEDIA GRAB BAG (old school type of post, pre-Chronicle style)

This is what social media looks like when it works right:

printersThanks Scott for managing this. It’s not just about us pushing out content but about us listening and engaging when appropriate. I’m planning to tweet this student next week to make sure everything connected okay.

#firstdayvt

Another social media project that I’m glad we hosted was #firstdayvt. This was a VINE contest inviting students to submit super short videos based on their first day of school. Not a huge response, but this was my favorite.

What I like about this effort is that it wasn’t the hey-we-have-JSTOR style of marketing that I often see from libraries. In fact, this wasn’t about promoting the library at all. This was an opportunity to organize and serve as a campus-wide platform for expressing the stress or excitement associated with the new year. I really like that we can step beyond just “being a…

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