Academic journal article Journal of Library Innovation

External Communications and Promotions: The University of Regina Library Experience

Academic journal article Journal of Library Innovation

External Communications and Promotions: The University of Regina Library Experience

Article excerpt

Abstract

This case study documents how a structured group of library staffcoordinates external communications and promotions activities at the University of Regina, a mid-sized liberal arts, publicly funded, post-secondary institution in Western Canada. The paper discusses the value of having promotions activities tied to objectives in a library's strategic plan. There is a discussion about promotions strategies undertaken within the library, with other academic and administrative units on campus, and with organizations offcampus. Implementing an undergraduate library award has been the most ambitious project and, along with purchasing branded promotions items, has required the most funding. The author illustrates how library staff, having little or no promotions experience but possessing creativity and a desire to inform and collaborate, can run a successful external communications and promotions program.

In the last few years, the University of Regina Library has implemented a strategy to more effectively communicate and promote its programs and initiatives to the university community. This case study looks at the accomplishments of the University of Regina Library/Archives External Communications and Promotions Team (LAECPT) since 2011. New activities were undertaken and communication channels established with administrative units such as Student Awards and Financial Aid (SAFA), Donor Relations, Student Recruitment and Enrolment Services, and Human Resources. Even if academic libraries do not directly generate revenue for their institution, they should not be complacent or hesitant to explore working closely with targeted units to promote activities and programs. This author believes that revenue generating units, or those that employ people with marketing backgrounds, are likely more adept in promotional activities. While it is advantageous for library staffto have promotions experience, many academic institutions will have a marketing department that can assist with promotions.

Literature Review

Much has been written about academic library marketing strategies; therefore this literature review is limited to research published in the past five years. For clarifying terminology, Duke and Tucker (2007) write:

Marketing library services is another term for communicating with users about what the library has to offer the community. Historically library marketing practices in academia was viewed by many as beneath the profession. It was easy to become complacent about this activity because libraries were the primary information providers to their institution's users. (p. 52-53)

However, Dempsey (2009) states that the basic rules and terminology of marketing can be easily misunderstood and jeopardize marketing campaigns and that true marketing is comprised of different actions: publicity; promotion; advertising; and public relations.

Cronin and O'Brien (2009) write that while marketing resources and services in public libraries and the non-profit sector has taken place since the 1970s, it is a recent phenomenon in academic libraries. Alire (2007) also states that academic libraries have historically been well behind public libraries in the area of marketing library services to their patrons. Despite many academic libraries having long lost their monopoly of being the exclusive source for providing research, marketing campaigns have not been practiced for very long. It is arguable that academic libraries still expect students will use their specialized resources, particularly online databases, rather than sources like Google, to complete assignments.

Cronin and O'Brien's (2009) case study of the Waterford Institute of Technology Libraries in Ireland illustrates that despite little or no marketing expertise and even less of a budget, practical low-cost marketing measures enhanced services, raised their profile, visibility, and goodwill and could be of benefit to any academic library. …

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