This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Contact to report an issue.

Yesterday a large group of ZSR staff gathered in LIB204 to watch an ACRL webcast on marketing ideas that work in academic libraries. The format was a ‘Pecha Kucha‘ presentation which is a Japanese word that essentially means the sound of conversation. The general idea of pecha kucha presentations is that several speakers talk for very short periods of time back-to-back – kind of like a lightening round. While I’m not sure the webcast was really a pecha kucha, it was nevertheless very valuable. Five speakers from five different academic libraries each spoke for about six and a half minutes and then took questions for 3 minutes and then we moved on to the next one.

I’m not going to go through item by item of what was discussed but here are some of the great ideas folks had done in their libraries. Many of these sparked the Marketing Committee to start thinking about what we could do in and around ZSR over the next years. If any of these sound like something you would like to be involved in let me know, even if you aren’t on the Marketing Committee!

  • Have students draw mental maps of the library – this can give you a good idea of the things they pay attention to and the places that are important to them. It can also tell you what they don’t know about or don’t see when they are in the building.
  • Include students in all areas of marketing – this was a theme of a couple of the presentations. Libraries had students conduct focus groups, develop marketing plans, do graphic design and even serve as ‘spokesmodels’ (more on that later). The upshot is that students know best what will get the attention of other students plus you can give them real-world experiences that can help them build resumes and/or portfolios.
  • Give mini-staplers as giveaways with your logo/website/catchphrase on them. Seeing how many big staplers walk away in this library each year, I actually think there is some merit in this – if we had a basket of mini staplers at the Reference Desk……
  • Host a reading/discussion program that includes books and documentary films. The library that did this focused theirs around sustainability and had good results. This would be a way to draw in participants from outside the campus as well.
  • Bring in ALA traveling book exhibits. I actually didn’t know you could do this, but you can. Some of them look very interesting. Personally, I think our students would love the Harry Potter one, don’t you??
  • Host a documentary film series. This is a given, I think, after the auditorium opens up.
  • Host a monthly ‘bookmobile’ on your campus. Bring books, films, etc. out of the library to a central campus location for check-out. The library that talked about it organized theirs around themes like Valentine’s Day, etc.
  • Have a week-long birthday celebration for your building. The library that did this was celebrating it’s 10th anniversary. They had cake one day, had a place where students could get their picture taken for their own ‘Read’ poster and hosted a wine/book pairing event. As the Wilson Wing turns 20 in the Spring, this is something we could do. Ideas welcome!
  • One library developed a tag line which was ‘Ask. Discover. Create.’ and they used it on all their branding and marketing materials. I’d like ours to be ‘You can do it. We can help.’ but don’t want Home Depot suing the pants off us…..
  • One of the favorite ideas presented was having students hold up signs with the word ASK on them and getting their pictures taken – the students signed waivers, and the library printed up the pictures on bookmarks and used them other places. They called the students who were photographed ‘spokesmodels’ and used them as a group to help market. They sent the link to the pictures to these folks who in turn posted them to Facebook, used them as profile pictures, etc.

I am sure others will remember other ideas and I hope they share them in the comments. You never know what you will get with these WebCasts, but this time I think we got our money’s worth and more. Several folks who were there have mentioned how useful it was. Thanks to ACRL for hosting it!!