Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

The Google Online Marketing Challenge and Distributed Learning

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

The Google Online Marketing Challenge and Distributed Learning

Article excerpt

Stagnant perceptions continue to persist in the general public regarding the services libraries offer. LIS research suggests an increased need for marketing, yet LIS programs and students may not view marketing as core to the degree. The Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC), a global competition for online marketing, was incorporated into two LIS courses to build skills in project management, industry analysis, marketing, and search engine optimization. A qualitative analysis was conducted to investigate whether they perceived the marketing project as relevant to their courses and degrees. A model was created to represent the factors that had an impact on project success. Overall students experienced an increased interest in marketing. Leadership, teamwork, and communication played strong roles in how students dealt with project challenges and their perceptions toward the end of the project.

Keywords: marketing, LIS education, distance learning, grounded theory, LIS graduate skills for the 21st century, group dynamics


In an age of increasing technology, stereotypes continue to follow libraries and the value of the services they provide. Based on previous studies of user behavior and library perceptions Connaway and Dickey (2010) compiled a list of implications for libraries. Three implications that stand out are: the catalog needs to function more like a search engine, users desire seamless transitions between resources, and libraries need to advertise in addition to providing access to different formats and content. The need for libraries to adopt improved marketing strategies has been documented elsewhere. Hepburn and Lewis (2008) suggest descriptive language, distinct names, and more instruction could be used to improve library branding at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Mandel (2010) acknowledges the need to improve library marketing and suggests that libraries selectively place advertisements along the most traveled paths in the library. Du (2009) concludes that "computer and Internet usage give libraries yet another opportunity to promote the variety of print and electronic materials and programs that they offer" (p. 51). Lin, Tzeng, Chin, and Chang (2010) argue word of mouth increases the intention to use e-books because patrons inherently trust that mode of communication more and perceive it as less of a risk. While research supports the need to use a variety of marketing strategies to assess and improve use of library resources, it presumes graduates from LIS programs are adequately prepared to implement these strategies. This case study contributes to this research by evaluating the participation of graduate level LIS students from two online courses in a global marketing challenge and offering best practices to improving marketing education in the field.

Problem Statement

The traditional viewpoint of marketing can be problematic to LIS because it invokes images of advertising, or maximizing sales, tasks more generally associated with business perspectives. Marketing encompasses many more perspectives such as advocacy, promotion and public relations. Dempsey (2009, p. 13) defines marketing as "... a process where the ultimate goal is moving goods and/or services from the producer ... to a consumer." It is this process in which students and LIS professionals need to be educated so they can assess the progress of their efforts to complete everyday tasks such as promoting e-journal services, branding database products, or advocating for their information organization.

Despite this need to conduct marketing activities of various types, there is a paucity of research investigating student perceptions of marketing, student preparedness for executing marketing plans or how educators might provide more relevant marketing experience and education to LIS students. Exploring how LIS students conceptualize marketing could be considered a first step toward addressing gaps in LIS marketing education. …

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