Many academic research institutions with multiple campus libraries have been closing science libraries over the past several years. Believing that everything is available electronically, university administrations in search of space have supported this trend. In 2014, our university closed its Engineering Library, which was located conveniently within the School and was heavily used. Most of the hard copy collections were relocated either to our new Science and Engineering Library or to a storage facility. Our staff recognized that it was essential to work closely with the students and faculty who used the Engineering Library to assure them services like reserves, reference, and instruction would continue to be offered. We also recognized it was important to communicate the strong electronic collections we have and would continue to expand.
A trend within our Science and Engineering Libraries has been to move away from the traditional role of subject librarians and towards more functional responsibilities. Professional staff worked together as a team that serves all science academic departments and schools. Our Research Services Librarian and our Collection Assessment and Analysis Librarian joined together to develop a three-step approach for outreach and marketing our collections and communicating with users.
The first area of our outreach approach revolved around effective communication, which is often a challenge libraries face. To combat this problem we created a newsletter that consolidated information into a brief summary four times a semester. To encourage patrons to subscribe to our newsletter we deployed a promotional campaign centered on the theme of emphasizing the attractive aspects of our collections and services with a “want to know…” tagline. One example is “Want to know about new technologies? Sign up for our newsletter.” This promotion included a raffle for users who signed up during orientation weeks to encourage participation. To date we have received almost 200 subscribers who receive our newsletter directly and have a higher than industry average open and click rate.
The second area of interest centered on increasing awareness of our growing electronic collections. In this campaign, we emphasized the quantitative breadth of our collection with a “Free for You” branding tag line. We also provided vendor giveaways such as branded pens and post-its.
The third area revolved around the creation of an engineering targeted thematic workshop series, which was then expanded to include all science departments. We provided our users with several hour-long workshops outside the library as well as a weekly Library Clinic in the Sciences and Engineering Library. Some of the topics for these workshops included Copyright, 3D Scanning for 3D Printing, and High Performance Computing.
The way in which we have experimented with outreach and marketing has potential for growth and development. In order to make informed decisions, we have assessed each aspect as it develops. Our assessment method included tracking bit.ly link hits, subscriber lists in Mailchimp, attendance at events, as well as word of mouth testimonials. We will continue and improve this new holistic approach to outreach and marketing in the coming years.
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