Monday, October 26, 2009

Article Note: On collaboration between library and marketing students

Citation for the article:

Duke, Lynda M., Jean B. MacDonald, and Carrie S. Trimble. "Collaboration Between Marketing Students and the Library: An Experiential Learning Project to Promote Reference Services." College and Research Libraries 70.2 (March 2009): 109-121.

Read via WilsonWeb.

One of my long term goals, assuming I can find the time between the various small interruptions, is to develop a marketing plan for our library here. I have been doing some reading on the topic here and there, and I came across this article. One of the ideas I had suggested early on was trying to get some of our business or marketing students involved to help us with our marketing efforts. So this article came at a very good moment for me. It made for some good reading, and it gave me some good ideas.

The authors provide an account of their collaboration with a marketing class on their campus. The idea was to get student input for the library's marketing efforts, specifically to market the library's reference services. The project started on the Spring of 2007. The benefit for the marketing students was gaining real world experience where they could apply the marketing principles they were learning in their class. The students were allowed to develop survey questions for marketing studies as part of their tasks; the advantage of this is that students have intimate knowledge of their peers and their habits.

Note that the surveys implemented were convenience surveys. Participants were drawn mostly from peers and acquaintances of the marketing students. However, the survey does confirm much of what the library literature says about the decline of desk reference services; also note the authors do review some of this literature in their literature review.

Among the findings, the survey found that campus students had a lack of knowledge of the services available, which is something we struggle with as well here. The library responded to the survey by implementing better signage, putting in place a new IM reference service using Meebo, and using some promotional techniques. I personally liked the idea of the whiteboards, but I know that I would not be able to afford a much larger number of the items (they bought about 2,000 boards; I don't think I could get away with that high a number, though it could make a very good premium promotional item here). Some of the things the authors did are similar to what we do now with our Welcome Tents every year. The authors also mention walk-in workshops, but they chose not to implement them. From experience, I have to say these types of workshops are not very efficient use of our time. I want to believe in the value of these, but we just do not get enough people to show up to make them worth it. I am still pondering this in the context of other articles on reference services I have read (here and here are two that came to mind, but there are others).

The authors also mention the importance of cultivating relationships with other campus organizations, something I have worked on, and that I have read about in other articles as well. For outreach, doing that is crucial. I also like the idea of chalking for library marketing. I would have to investigate if I could do that here (this is a very conservative campus. What works in other places does not always go well here due to image issues). But I think it could be a fun and quirky idea to get attention for the library, and right now, we can use a little extra attention and publicity.

In the end, the article is not only about a project, but also about learning to involve students in the conversations about our library services. The students need to know not just what we do, but what we can do for them (120). There are definitely some elements in here that I would like to replicate at some point.

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