Marketing: Realistic Tips for Planning and Implementation in Special Libraries; Market the Importance of Librarians, the Caretakers of Librarians Adapt to the Ever-Changing Forms of Knowledge

By Kassel, Amelia | Information Outlook, November 2002 | Go to article overview

Marketing: Realistic Tips for Planning and Implementation in Special Libraries; Market the Importance of Librarians, the Caretakers of Librarians Adapt to the Ever-Changing Forms of Knowledge


Kassel, Amelia, Information Outlook


Time for Marketing

MANY LIBRARIANS ARE AWARE OF THE NECESSITY FOR MARKETING, and yet they are not able to find the time for it. But some of the wisest know an exceptional secret: Marketing and writing a marketing plan (which serves as a guide to implementing marketing goals) are critical to the future of the profession and to increased support for libraries.

While this may sound great, most librarians still have a number of questions and concerns, such as these:

* How do you find the time for marketing?

* Isn't writing a marketing plan boring?

* Who will do the marketing?

* I just don't have time.

* I don't have a budget.

Fortunately, there are a number of librarians out there who have dealt with these issues. Some conduct low-cost marketing and promotional events, and others write marketing plans or study various marketing methods. They plan and then implement their ideas. Some have learned marketing through osmosis or trial and error, whereas others budget for and retain consultants who play an invaluable supporting role. Included in the group are solo librarians and consultants, as well as corporate librarians, who share marketing responsibilities with other staff or a team or are solely responsible for marketing.

Various library types, settings, and job functions differentiate these people, but one commonality is that all have found a way to allot time and funds for marketing. Moreover, all enjoy marketing and are enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge with others. Planning and preparing to market your library or information center does not have to be agony, although that's a common perception. The words of wisdom of these people will encourage those of you embarking on this new adventure and, at the same time, support you with practical and realistic techniques.

Finding Time

Laura Claggett (UOP LLC and formerly librarian at Helene Rubenstein Library for 18 years) summarizes a not especially obvious yet remarkable way to find time for marketing: "Marketing is part of the fabric of a normal day." Claggett has integrated marketing into her daily professional life; she doesn't consider it an extra activity. "Marketing is a way of thinking and acting," she said. "It's about getting the word out, always."

Others admit that marketing activities are time-consuming. Although it takes dedication, Laura Zick (formerly of Clarian Health Partners Medical Library and Informatics Training Program and now at Eli Lilly and Company) says, "You gotta do it, no way around it."

Lorene Kennard, librarian at Morningstar, conducted a user survey that gave her good ideas for a marketing plan. Then she sent out daily "Did You Know?" e-mails describing services during National Library Week. They were well received -- users told her they couldn't wait for the next one. She says that, for the solo librarian, marketing and PR fall under the category of "be careful what you wish for." Kennard says, "I put off marketing for a long time because I was already swamped and I was afraid of being overwhelmed." She admits, however, that it must be done.

Budgets and Marketing

Marketing can be low-cost or sophisticated, but it should be considered imperative. Each organization must realistically assess the financial and staff resources necessary for an investment in marketing programs. Ann Swing Kelly's paper, "Marketing Information Products for Your Library/Organization: From Nickels and Dimes to Dollars," (1) focuses on marketing strategies with a variety of price tags.

Debbie Hunt, library consultant and one-time solo librarian for an engineering firm with 300 employees, has some practical suggestions. "Walk around to see what employees are working on," she said. "Find ways the library can help."

Judith Siess, publisher of the OPL (One Person Library) Newsletter (http://www.ibi-opl.com), calls this "personal touch PR" and covers the topic in her upcoming book about marketing and advocacy. …

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