IOLUG Spring Program

On Friday, May 20 I attended the Indiana On-Line User's Group (IOLUG) Spring Program called "Marketing your library on the Web", and this text outlines what I learned there.

Marketing your public library via the Web

Hamilton East Public Library
Hamilton East Public Library

Glenn Peterson (Hennepin County Public Library, Minneapolis) gave the keynote presentation, and he essentially advocated using the library to build communities of users/patrons. Statistically, Peterson has noticed a trend; remote use of his library is increasing despite the fact that he supports about 1,000 public access computers. Their website gets about 5.3 million hits per year, and it is managed by 3.5 full-time employees.

Peterson described three types of communication that happen in his library:

Peterson strongly advocated a more synergistic relationship between a library website and its integrated system. "They should look the same" he said, and "Services provided throughout the library should be seamless between these systems." While they use chat reference at Hennepin County Public Library, they are beginning to wonder whether or not their implementation is the right one. Instant Messenger may be a better solution. He recommended Jybe as a possible alternative co-browsing tool. Perterson uses a lot of Rich Site Syndication (RSS) technology in his work. RSS is used to syndicate blogged materials, new book lists, and email notifications.

Creating a library portal

church in Mexico, IN (courtesy of Feng Shan)
church in Mexico, IN
(courtesy of Feng Shan)

Susan Metcalf and Joanne Artz (both of the University of Southern Indiana) enthusiastically described how they were syndicating library content to their campus-wide portal -- MyUSI .

Their implementation uses the same software used by Notre Dame, SCT Luminus. Like Notre Dame, they create lists of information resources (channels) and make them available in a library tab. Unlike Notre Dame, their channels are written by hand in RSS and they include descriptions of services, policies, and general information about the library.

Interestingly, just about anybody can create a MyUSI account including prospective students and alumni.

Web marketing and a special library

Jewish cemetery
Jewish cemetery

Donnett Ekwerike (Eli Lilly) described how she helps market library services throughout the company. Her presentation can be summarized in a number of bullet points:

Ten steps to an effective Web presence

Probably the most entertaining and provocative speaker of the day was Michael Stephens (St. Joseph County Public Library) who listed 10 steps to a more effective website:

  1. Design for the users; practice user-centered design.
  2. Use Instant Messenger because that is what the users have. (He too suggested Jype.)
  3. Blog. In other words, write.
  4. Pod cast. Share your content in audio formats.
  5. Use RSS. This XML format is becoming more popular.
  6. Use a Wiki allowing others to write to your space.
  7. Utilize image sites. Pictures speak thousands of words. He liked Flickr.
  8. Offer a toolbar. These devices provide direct input to your content where ever people browse.
  9. Provide local flavor. Everybody makes lists. Supply content nobody else has.
  10. Be discoverable.

Revamping an academic library website


I gave the last presentation of the day, and it was the same presentation I gave at the Indiana Library Federation Meeting earlier in the year. I also shared my knowledge of marketing which was the following:

  1. You need to articulate a clear, simple message -- like a mission statement -- articulating what we want to communicate and to whom.
  2. Even though our services are free, using our services have real costs. No, our users do not pay with dollars, but they pay with something even more valuable -- time. It costs real time to use our services, and time is a very limited resource. If our users to not perceive the use of our services as worth their time, then our clientele will not "purchase" our services. We need to make sure our services are not too expensive.
  3. People go through four phases when they make purchases. These phases include: 1) awareness, 2) decision-making, 3) purchase execution, and 4) purchase evaluation. In the first phase, awareness, your product/service is brought to their attention. "The Library website exists." In the second phase people learn what benefits (not features) your service provides. "It makes you smarter. It give you more authoritative information. It is one-stop shopping. It is exhaustive." Again, we need to emphasis benefits, not features. We do not say things like "We support Boolean logic. We support article linking." Instead we describe these things in terms of their benefits "We provide the means of targeting your searches. We save you time by getting you the article." By the third phase people are convinced about the worth of the service, but they need to be led to the point of purchase. This means the product/service has to be easy to find and use. Finally, in the last phase, people evaluate whether or not their purchase was the right one.
  4. There are different types of people, and each type requires a different type of communication/publicity method. In our case we could divide our population into undergraduates, graduates, faculty, and staff. Undergraduates are going to be attracted to one type of message and faculty will be attracted to another type. Similarly, one group may be accessible via email, and another one won't. It gets even more complicated when you cross correlate these different populations with the purchasing phases. Each cross between purchasing phases and population requires a different message or medium.
  5. Finally, it is unrealistic to think people will receive our messages the first time. We will need to send our messages repeatedly and in different formats. People are busy. (Remember, time is one of their most important assets.) They may get one of our messages when they are too busy to assimilate it. Thus we may need to send the message again and again and again.


The program was well attended, and the presentations reenforced much of what I have been learning about marketing and promotion. We had the honor of having the meeting in the brand new Hamilton East Public Library in Fishers, IN. I drove down and back the same day accompanied by Feng Shan of IUSB and Cheryl Smith. We had pleasant conversation and drove through Mexico, IN for an adventure. The event was a good opportunity to network with fellow librarians from across the state, something I sincerely believe we should be doing more.

Creator: Eric Lease Morgan <>
Source: This text was never formally published.
Date created: 2005-05-24
Date updated: 2005-11-12
Subject(s): travel log; marketing; Indiana On-Line User's Group (IOLUG);