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March 18, 2007



Never work... here's why:

Beyond a certain age, which seems to be getting younger all the time, people do exactly what you do... stop being receptive to commercials at their face value and insted deconstruct them as an intellectual exercise.

If the Library is going to aspire to be where the students want to be, it first has to *become* where the students want to be. Then, it has to draw the students in (tours, events, game nights, whatever) so that they can experience it first-hand. If the library has succeeded in the first, then they will return and tell their friends, etc.

Messages from peers are valued much more than those from a party with a vested interest in the message. Advertising of any kind other than "What, When, Where" will be looked on with skepticism at best, more likely disdain or outright mockery.

Just my $.02

Brian Want

I agree with the point that libraries have tended to emphasize quality over utility when promoting their services. Worse yet, I'm not even sure the quality that librarians are so smug and self-assured about is there to the degree it's touted. Or perhaps the quality comes at such a price that it's a case of diminishing returns. Maybe I am just having a down-on-libraries week, but I really think that libraries and librarians tend to overestimate how indispensible they are. I would definitely welcome more of a sincere focus on user satisfaction and even "satisficing" for lack of a better term. As I see it, if libraries are truly providing stellar services and resources, then those things will catch on with users and word will spread. When I was in college (late 90s), we knew (from word of mouth, from upperclassmen, etc.) which reference librarians were efficient, helpful, and "with-it" and which ones would not be worth the time and effort needed to consult them (despite their expertise). At any rate, I guess my point is that I'd rather see good services that people use rather than the allegedly superior services that people not only don't use but actively avoid. In other words -- we may be failing in marketing, but I also think our product is frequently flawed.

So, thanks for this post -- you seem like an especially dedicated librarian!


Fantastic post! I couldn’t agree more. Library marketing needs to focus on utility and highlight “the stories that unfold” within the library. I’m tired of READ posters – I think our patrons are too.
Check out our Meet Me @ McQuade campaign at http://www.noblenet.org/merrimack/meetme.htm
which is inspired by the American Express My Life, My Card campaign. We feature students’ stories and promote our library as a place to “get connected.” It's also an example of marketing by using messages from peers.

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