In academic libraries, one of the ongoing challenges faced by librarians and staff is making patrons aware of the services we offer. This is especially important because we get new patrons every year: new students, faculty, etc. How do we keep up?
Traditionally, libraries have offered tours to incoming groups, where new students and faculty hear about services offered, and take home a handful of printed materials listing everything their library can do to help them in their work. Unfortunately, most of this information is never looked at, and ends up in a “circular file” (i.e. the trash).
Since the invention and proliferation of social media — blogs, Facebook, Twitter, wikis, Second Life etc. — libraries have new venues for outreach and promotion. One software-as-service online tool that might be considered here is the ability to create short animations on any subject, such as “What is interlibrary loan?”
GoAnimate.com: Interlibrary Loan 1 by Firesidelibrarian
In addition, special events of all kinds are used to attract “diverse diverse, underserved and expanded user populations” (Fabian, 2003) to library events and resources. At the University of Buffalo, Arts and Humanities librarians formed partnerships with cultural institutions and academic departments to reach out to new audiences in new ways: teaching assistant workshops, multi-media kiosks, book talks and library exhibits.
In each of the four outreach activities, the Team found that the efforts of partnership produced more effective and successful results. For the library exhibits, partnerships with area cultural institutions and academic departments helped to ensure not only stimulating content, but an expanded market for our offerings. Additionally, librarians found that embracing technology solutions for their exhibit space limitations not only engaged unexpected users, but also opened up new opportunities for applying emerging technologies to more traditional library services, for example, library instruction.
Eccles library faculty are looking at ways to use similar events to draw in patron groups. Watch for more information in coming weeks. And if you have an idea to share, tell us about it!
Fabian, C. A., C. D’Aniello, et al. (2003). “Multiple Models for Library Outreach Initiatives.” The Reference Librarian 39(82): 39-55.