Your library is a lab: don't be afraid to experiment

Advice on marketing your library resources: get your feet wet, say librarians from Providence College and Bryant University speaking at ILI

Not one size fits all!

In their session at Internet Librarian International, Jenifer Bond of Bryant University and Beatrice Pulliam of Providence College described some of the practical experimentation they have undertaken to enhance their marketing and outreach activities. It's not one size fits all, noted Jenifer. A variety of initiatives ensure that there are multiple points at which library outreach can interact with and enhance the life of the institition - for example, time spent face to face with faculty members ensures that they create buzz for the library and recommend services to their students.

If you're not already on Facebook you need to get there, stressed Beatrice, noting research that indicates that 94% of college-age adults think of their smartphones as internet appliances first and foremost.

Cultivate the mobile experience

Beatrice described how her library has added mobile services to the outreach mix, stressing that you don't need to be a developer to go mobile. It's important to test and make the most of vendor innovations in the mobile space, and also to use your own skills as an authority expert to create a mobile collection for your users.  At the same time, it is important to take the same care in cultivating the mobile experience as you would for face to face and website interaction.

Beatrice decribed Providence College's use of QR codes to target potential points of need - for example, positioning codes alongside cash card dispensers to assist students with uploading funds onto the cards.

The two institutions have also experimented with digital signage. Bryant uses the Axis TV service to market library and campus events, while at Providence College they have used the Concerto open source product for their signage.

Ultimately, according to Beatrice, the message is "jump in and get your feet wet. Marketing is a group effort and some things won't be succesful - but experimentation is part of the experience. Think of your library as a lab!"