Marketing Strategies for Information Services: A Case Study of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (Ghana) Library and Information Services

By Anafo, Peter | Library Philosophy and Practice, January 2014 | Go to article overview

Marketing Strategies for Information Services: A Case Study of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (Ghana) Library and Information Services


Anafo, Peter, Library Philosophy and Practice


Background to the Study

In the current economic climate libraries and information services, as well as the general business community are facing a major problem: survival. Justifying their existence at demonstrating that the work which is done is useful and essential for the success of an organization in a competitive environment, feature high on the list of priorities of library and information unit mangers. Managers must devise strategic plans which take in to account all the factors influencing their survival.

At the center of other strategic plan is the issue of the service offered to the users or customers. This is where the concept of marketing features in the library management strategy- since no service is effective if the potential customer does not use it, it is essential to make use of the marketing concept to encourage users.

If the purpose of the library and information is defined by the needs of its customers, and the 'success' of that service is determined by the perception, and preferences of those customers, then, clearly, the customer community needs to be built into a marketing strategy program. It is this focus on customers that lies behind the 'marketing 'approach to service. Librarians sometimes feel uneasy with this concept partly because the idea of 'marketing' has acquired commercial connotations; and partly, perhaps, because the concept of a market - led service - driven by customer need- contradicts the traditional subordinate and independent relationship of 'client to professional'. In this traditional relationship, service is supply - led, determined by 'professionals' expertise and judgments. However, there is consensus, at least in the literature (if not always the practice) of librarianship, that library service should be community or user or client orientated.

Information marketing has become popular because of the reduced for library services world - wide. The competition for limited funding means that libraries must review their information providing activities in order to look for areas of "selling" its products and services to generates revenue.

There is always the feeling that library related information should not be marketed because the library is a social agency established to serve the educational and informational needs of society. But the current push towards developing self-sustaining information dissemination operations is changing this idea.

Successful companies understand and interact closely with their market and the principles of marketing apply as much to a service organization like a library as they do to a business corporation. This new enlightment had a librating effect which spread across disciplines and in due course by about 1970 the library and information profession began to display an interest in marketing theory. The gradual but sustained growth in receptive can be gauged by the frequency with which the word marketing occurs in the titles of journals articles and conference papers.

Simply being open and near shops was once all the marketing that the libraries required. However, we now know that with all the other opportunities available to our public and the demands that can be made upon free time, libraries have to consider how they serve their users and what range of services are appropriate for each user group. This leads us to consider the ways libraries gain the information to allow us to take decisions and present our service. This is usually known as marketing.

Today, information professionals are compelled to use new skills and strategies in order to change, survive and continue to compete in the world of virtual information. Radical change is necessary to restructure traditional libraries into knowledge centers which will be recognized for supporting competitive advantage and strategic decision-making. Information professionals must actively reposition themselves and their resources to become their organizations information infrastructure. …

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