Category Archives: Marketing&Outreach

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

August 20, 2013, 5:56 pm

The-3-Click-Dilemma: are library databases nearing the tipping point of obsolescence?

I had an interesting conversation with a faculty member last week that went something like this: “Brian, I want you to know that it’s getting harder for me to get students to use the library— especially the databases— anything beyond three clicks is just too many.”

 

In some disciplines this would not really shock me, but it was a historian. This is someone who is passionate about the library. This is someone who advocates for primary resources and through research. This is someone—who from what I can tell—is a very sophisticated database user.

 

If our super users are frustrated with database interfaces – what does that mean? Many of us spend a lot of time promoting library resources to students, but if faculty stop encouraging (or requiring) usage—what then?

 

The assignment is actually straightforward. Explore historical events by comparing coverage…

Read More

June 26, 2013, 7:53 pm

Aspirations: 100 elements

We’re revisiting our mission, vision, and values. It feels like we are in the early stages of a transformation—physical, virtual, philosophical, etc. This is very apparent in the types of positions that we’re hiring: Research Environments Librarian, Visual Literacy Instructor, Web Developer, and so forth. The whole concept of what we do (or what we can do) as an organization is greatly expanding as new capabilities are being added.

 

This summer we are exploring a big concept that I’m calling our aspirational identity. What words and images do we use internally to articulate why our library exists? What moods, feelings, and energy do we want to project outward? How can we support and amplify that Virginia Tech brand? It’s really about reframing the identity of the library and making a statement: this is who we are now. I’m drawing inspiration from The Container Store and …

Read More

May 29, 2013, 7:02 pm

How Embedded Are You?

What does it mean to be embedded? We have workshops, blogs, and books, but I’m not sure that we have a common definition. Perhaps it circles around the act of taking content or services outside of our traditional framework (spaces, websites) and integrating them into the natural habitat of our users?

 

But that feels too vague. If I provide office hours in a classroom building or if I interact with a class via the course management system— am I embedded? Technically, yes, but this is a gray area to me. There are different degrees of experiences.

 

roleThe more I think about embedded librarianship, and I will confess I have not read much of the emerging conversation, the question I’m having is with depth. How engaged are we? Are we simply serving a traditional librarian role in an nontraditional environment or is there something else to it? Are we changing our context or are…

Read More

March 18, 2013, 5:41 pm

Merchandising the Circ Desk: the importance of visual cues

As part of an upcoming renovation we’re spending a lot of time thinking about engagement and how to stage positive and productive user experiences. I met with members of our team last week to talk about current and anticipated interactions and touch points within our library.

 

merch1

What’s the visual cue here?

Lauren got me thinking about visual cues. For example, does your reference desk invite people to linger-and-learn or does it promote short discussions? At VT we’re seeing fewer questions overall, but we’re investing more time per person on instructional topics. So the issue becomes: how might we reshape the “getting help experience” to signify and accommodate long conversations?

 

This applies to circulation too. Much of their activity consists of quick transactions: grab-and-go. But consider…

Read More

January 28, 2013, 3:34 pm

Dear Mark Cuban… some thoughts I’d like to share about libraries

 

This is an actual note that I sent:

Dear Mr. Cuban,

I’m a fan of Shark Tank. I’ve learned a lot from watching the panel evaluate business prospects. Thanks for making the show exciting and educational.

 

I wanted to share a note regarding your recent post Will Your College Go Out Of Business Before Your Graduate? There are a lot of conversations right now about where higher education is heading. I appreciate your focus on the business model aspect. As a father myself, the affordability of education is definitely on my mind too.

 

I’m writing because of a comment you made questioning why anyone would construct new libraries. Today, libraries are some of the busiest buildings on campuses across the country. As more and more information migrates to online platforms, library spaces are transforming into knowledge or content creation centers. They are hubs for…

Read More

January 14, 2013, 3:17 pm

FOCUSING YOUR FOCUS GROUPS: Ten Ways They Can Enhance Discovery

I saw that there was a session at midwinter talking about focus groups. Since I won’t be there I wanted to take a few minutes and share my thoughts. I don’t have the original announcement, but I was disappointed with the phrasing. It asked something like are focus groups effective? I would prefer a conversation around how to use focus groups effectively.

 

I have found thematic conversations with various user (and non-user) segments to be an important component of my discovery strategy. Focus groups often get knocked because of three main things: loud people dominate the discussion, people tend to tell you what they think you want to hear, and people can’t imagine breakthrough change. Those are all legit criticisms, however, if you plan according you can neutralize those issues.

 

Students working through an…

Read More

November 17, 2012, 5:53 pm

Research should be produced, not just published

Here is an interesting case study on how to package an academic paper. (Found via the Heath Brothers.)

Slinky Video

It’s an interesting visual showing how an extended slinky hovers in midair when dropped. The dramatic demonstration is followed by the scientific explanation. What’s cool about the video is that the researcher shows the raw model on the computer and talks about the experiment, but it’s the intro that grabs your attention. The demo is intriguing and compels you into wanted to learn more. It’s Matrix stuff!

Along with the video there is also a link to the pre-print of the paper providing everyone with open access to the scholarly material. It’s a great way to promote a paper.

The video has over one million views and over nine hundred comments. Granted most of the comments are silly, but the video was effective in getting people thinking and talking about…

Read More

October 19, 2012, 1:15 pm

The Knowledge Drive: upload your content

We celebrated Open Access this week since we had Cameron Neylon (PLoS) on campus for a few days as part of our Distinguished Innovator in Residence program. I’ll have more to share about that later, but today I wanted to highlight an interesting component of our OA program: The Knowledge Drive.

 

Rebecca Miller developed the concept so I’ll let her tell the story:

 

Late last spring, I watched people line up to give blood at a Virginia Blood Services drive on campus.  I thought about what made it to successful; VBS had advertised the need for blood, so there was awareness on campus.  The drive was also convenient, since VBS took the blood drive to where potential donors were, rather than waiting for donors to come to them.  Donors were also receiving items like T-shirts, flip flops, or stickers that let others know that they were contributing to a greater good.

 

I…

Read More