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.
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…
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.
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.
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 …
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 …
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…
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…
It 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.
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.
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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is Associate Dean for Learning & Outreach at Virginia Tech. This blog is about designing better user experiences and the pursuit of use-sensitive libraries.
In his new book, Brian Mathews speaks directly to the academic library practitioner. The guiding principle, that marketing should focus on the lifestyle of the user, showcases how the library fits within the daily life of students.