Magazine article Information Today

Booking It

Magazine article Information Today

Booking It

Article excerpt

From the March/April issue of Marketing Library Services (MLS) come two interesting and instructive articles about the power of books in designing outreach programs. While the target audiences for each program could not be more different, books are used to draw in participants. At their core, both pieces illustrate how turning pages can also turn heads--in the direction of the library.

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When the provost asks the dean of libraries to host a reception for the college's recently tenured or promoted faculty members, she doesn't say no. Molly D. Boyd, assistant to that dean at the University of Arkansas, tells about all that has come from this 2010 request in her article "Our Faculty Outreach: Celebrating Tenure."

The team in charge of the reception, which included Boyd, brainstormed the idea to make its focus commemorative books. Each professor being recognized was asked to designate a book that had been instrumental in his or her life or career. All the selected books would be featured in an exhibit as well as in a commemorative booklet that honored the professors who chose them.

Reception planning for the first year meant learning on-the-fly; now, the team has the planning phase down pat. First come the letters of invitation to the honored faculty members, which are sent jointly by the provost and the dean of libraries in the spring. As well as offering congratulations, the letters invite the faculty members to the fall reception, ask them to select a book, request their RSVP and the number of their invited guests, and alert them to schedule their faculty portrait with the university photographer.

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Boyd keeps track of all the information she receives in an Excel spreadsheet. As the deadline approaches, she has to send out multiple reminder emails to those who haven't responded. Even then she has to track down some faculty members post-deadline. Boyd shares that while she is "respectful, polite, clear, and direct" in her correspondence, she is not above "stimulating competitiveness" by letting the slackers know that others have already responded or provided better submissions.

During the summer, Boyd works on the four parts of the program: the commemorative booklet, the exhibit, the reception, and the webpage. Each entry in the glossy, color booklet includes the professor's portrait, name, college, department, and new rank or title (or just "tenure"), along with the book selected, its date of publication and author, and the professor's comments about its significance.

Collecting the designated books for display begins as soon as the titles are received. Each copy is book-plated, and placards are created that have the same information as the booklet. The reception includes flowers, food, and drinks. An ongoing webpage lets people browse the submissions for a particular book or faculty member.

Boyd says the reception has proven to be a win-win for all involved. The faculty members are made to look and feel good, while relationships are forged with faculty and the library staff. She concludes, "The stronger the relationships we can build with our faculty ... the better off our libraries will be."

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Chris W. Henning, marketing communications manager at the Denver Public Library, penned the issue's How-To: "Denver's Successful 'Summer of Reading. …

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