Marketing Future Libraries

By Morgan, Eric Lease | Computers in Libraries, September 1998 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Marketing Future Libraries

Morgan, Eric Lease, Computers in Libraries

Eric Lease Morgan works in the Department for Digital Library Initiatives of the North Carolina State University Libraries in Raleigh. His e-mail address is, and his home page is at

As of late, the reality has set in that libraries have fallen from their positions as centers of the information universe. While we as librarians never truly had a monopoly on information, our "market share," especially with the advent of globally networked computers, has dwindled considerably. Put another way, there are many more people and institutions providing information services today than even 5 years ago. Consequently, it behooves us to think more aggressively about marketing our information and knowledge products and services if we expect to be around in the future.

Marketing is an exchange process whereby two or more individuals (or groups) exchange goods or services for items of value. In Library Land, one of these individuals is almost always a librarian. The other individuals include taxpayers, students, faculty, or in the case of special libraries, fellow employees. The items of value are information and information services exchanged for a perception of worth--a rating valuing the services rendered. This perception of worth, a highly intangible and immeasurable thing, is something the user of library services "pays," not to libraries and librarians, but to administrators and decision-makers. Ultimately, these payments manifest themselves as tax dollars or other administrative support. As the perception of worth decreases so do tax dollars and support.

Marketing is not another word for publicity or promotion; publicity and promotion are just two aspects of the marketing process. Marketing also includes product creation, pricing, and distribution.

Marketing has been traditionally associated with physical "goods." As our economy moves more and more into the distribution of "information goods," we can easily predict an increase in the marketing of these services simply because there is increased competition. Because of this increased competition, expectations surrounding information services have increased. Couple this with our society's undying thirst for technology, demands for convenience, and the self-service mentality, and you can only conclude that we have to do more to improve our services and to convince people that they should use libraries instead of other information providers.

The key to this process is customer satisfaction, and one of the keys to customer satisfaction is employee satisfaction. Studies have shown that service organizations having high levels of employee satisfaction also have high levels of customer satisfaction, and low employee turnover is also closely linked to customer satisfaction. Similarly, employees who feel accountable are more likely to provide better customer [service.sup.1].

Using Technology to Employ Market Research

With these things in mind, there are a number of ways libraries of the future can employ computer technology to improve marketing efforts. But first, a library must come to better understand its customers through market research. The use of transaction log analysis, circulation records, user surveys, focus group interviews, and information interviews will provide insight on what your customers really expect.

For example, similar to the process of data warehousing, libraries could extract reports from the log files of their computerized services. All of a library's computerized services from OPACs to Web servers to bibliographic databases produce reams of log files. Libraries of the future should be able to analyze the disparate log file formats, normalize the data, and report on the real information customers are seeking. Libraries of the future will provide direct and sophisticated feedback mechanisms for customers. These mechanisms could include simple electronic user surveys, video conferencing, or Web-based suggestion boxes.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Marketing Future Libraries


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?