Category Archives: Marketing&Outreach

September 5, 2012, 1:33 pm

What if you’re the Laggard? The story of the SPUN chair

Quick post to get this blog rolling again.


Last week our Herman Miller rep dropped off a SPUN chair for us to try out. As soon as I saw it I had a negative reaction. It was just too silly and impractical. When you spin around in it you feel like you’re going to fall off.


The story could have ended there.


The next day I heard library staff talking about it. They had seen it in the mailroom when it arrived and in the lobby of the Dean’s Office. It was mysterious. It was unusual. It was cool. Had I missed the point?


Like any good startup I knew that we had to test the concept with potential users. We put it out on the main floor and invited students to share their thoughts on Facebook and to tag the library.


Last night we had eight students offer comments, two included photos of themselves in the chair. That’s pretty good for the second week of …

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May 18, 2012, 1:59 pm

Target & The Branded Environment: using space to create a discovery experience

Last weekend I went to Target to do a little Mother’s Day shopping and I walked into a branded environment. I’ve written about this before for television and social media, but this example was implemented in a physical space.


Let me backup and say that renovation is in the air at Virginia Tech and I’ve been studying/observing a variety of retail experiences—from service transactions to the display of merchandise to wayfinding to in-store traffic patterns. I’ll share more in a future post, but I think that there is a lot that libraries can learn from commercial enterprise in terms of moving people through space and grabbing their interest along the way.


So Target— they recently launched The Shops. In a nutshell, they selected a handful of regional retail stores and packaged their goods (or you could say they curated their collections) and brought them into …

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March 29, 2012, 2:52 pm

How Do We Want Students to Feel About the Library?

This article has been lingering in my subconscious: How Companies Learn Your Secrets

There are good insights into companies monitoring buying habits with the goal of building better relationships. This is the main takeaway:

Once consumers’ shopping habits are ingrained, it’s incredibly difficult to change them. There are, however, some brief periods in a person’s life when old routines fall apart and buying habits are suddenly in flux.

Having a baby is one of those critical moments when everything becomes chaotic and new habits are formed. Target is on the lookout for women who start purchasing prenatal vitamins with the assumption that they are pregnant and hence, they can start advising or conversing with them along those lines. Target tries to position itself as the one-stop-shop for the busy mom. Amazon is also in on this as they offer a free year of Amazon Prime to new…

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October 25, 2011, 10:23 pm

A Branded House or a House of Brands? a conceptual brand portfolio framework

Brand Portfolio for an Academic Library


Since text is dead I’ll just load the media:

Thanks to Dottie Hunt & Steven Bell for the conversations that helped shape these ideas. Joseph Michelli (via Bell) turned me on to the whole transformation thing.

Maybe someday I’ll turn this into an additional chapter. (Second Edition?)


July 27, 2011, 5:19 pm

What does your exterior say about you? Grabbing interest with some Street Art

The exterior of my library building is quite boring. Function triumphed form with each addition that was added over the years. My campus has some very intriguing architecture, but the library would be low on the list if there were an official ranking. Granted we’re attempting to change that very soon, but for now it is forgettable facade, despite being the tallest building on campus. I believe that this is common occurrence with many older buildings—we can all be envious of the newer structures that patrons find inspiring.

I was pondering this problem as I walked to a meeting across campus. What do each of the buildings say to me as I encounter them? What impression does the exterior of the library make on new students or visiting families? As they tour the campus or during the first week of the quarter when they are excited about classes and meeting new people – what is their…

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June 5, 2011, 11:50 am

When talking about the library remember N3P3: an advocacy talking points framework for academic libraries

Brian_n3p3It seems I’ve been advocating defending the concept of the academic library lately. Different people respond to different attributes, so I’ve developed this framework to help express the narrative. I call it N3P3.

Libraries are…

  • NATURAL. A natural place where scholars gather. They offer the materials, tools, and learning spaces that enable people to access, discover, use, and share information.
  • NURTURING. A nurturing environment that promotes academic success. Librarians and staff are there to provide assistance with research and technical support. The space also promotes collaboration, enabling peer-to-peer mentoring and group work.
  • NEUTRAL. An open and inviting destination on campus. It encourages exposure to interdisciplinary encounters and freedom to relax and reflect. Everyone is welcome to use the library.
  • PRODUCTIVE. An atmosphere that generates…

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February 10, 2011, 2:10 pm

Thinking outside the box: external branding around campus

UCSB is a very outdoors oriented campus. If you put a university on the beach I guess that’s what happens. Everyone rides bikes and there is a skateboard lane too.  With nice weather year around it makes sense that students want to be outside.


I realized that we needed to do some external (outside our buildings) marketing. It is part of the culture here to drape and plaster signs & posters everywhere along paths and I wanted us to be a part of that.


I’ll skip the assessment and composition process, (read the book!) and just say that I discovered a handful of basic library services that needed more exposure— combined with a need to reenergize or actually clarify our campus brand. A large portion of our students have a narrow view of what the library is and so one of the tactics I wanted to explore is external signage.


We developed what we call our THINK LIBRARY campaign. (Ok, …

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January 18, 2011, 9:53 am

Are people really ready for eBooks? My attempt to give away 100 of them

Like many campuses we do a “one book” program every year. We purchase a ton of print copies, host a variety events, activities, and exhibits, and bring in the author for a public lecture. We also work with our local public library system and schools (including high schools) to push a common reading experience and dialogue around a thought-provoking interdisciplinary topic. (campus press release)


 Last week we kicked off our event by giving away 2,000+ plus print copies. In less than 3 hours we gave away 1,700 books. Before we started there were several hundred students (and some faculty) waiting in line. This is the fifth year of the program and it is great to see people get excited about receiving a book. I’ve enjoyed walking around campus and seeing those bright orange book covers everywhere I look.


This time around I wanted to dabble with something a little different and so…

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January 10, 2011, 10:59 am

My Five Blocks of Library Outreach: conceptualizing the engagement impulse

Outreach and engagement can be quite subjective. What one librarian calls outreach another might call instruction and still another public relations. I’m not going to try and establish a shared nomenclature right now—I’m just going to share my perspective in a graphical manner:


This image was a result from a planning session for the year ahead. I want our librarians and staff to think collectively about what we do and what we are striving to do. Obviously building and maintaining collections, offering assistance services, and providing space and tools for productivity and reflection is our core. But around that core is a vague layer of activities that are hard to describe.


What I’ve tried to do here is create target buckets of these activities with the objective of offering something related to each category once a quarter for each of our primary user groups: undergrads,…

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December 16, 2010, 12:02 pm

The Steps (or Pathway) to Pride: the ultimate goal of library outreach

This is another concept from my whiteboard sessions:


When I talk about outreach and marketing and related promotional matters— people often think that I am working just to drive up business… increase volume. That's not always the case… or rather, that's not the sole purpose. Our reference librarians would probably be upset if I brought in 10,000 more questions a year. Our reserves staff probably couldn't handle a doubling of materials from faculty.


My goal is not to just increase usage, but rather, to see it as a step toward a larger purpose. It's not to help patrons become better users of the library. Nor is it to design a satisfying library experience. Ultimately… my goal… right now… is to build pride in the library. Building a brand.

Library Spirit?
It's bowl season and there is all this mounting school pride channeled via football teams (UCF upsets UGA, you read it…

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