For more information, please see my notes on my portion of the presentation:

This is a huge topic. But, what we want you to walk with is the idea that effective marketing is imperative to the future of libraries. And there are many reasons to learn to market your library—and librarians learning to be less resistant to the ideas.

One of the challenges faced in marketing is that research has shown that librarians are introverted and lack confidence. This sets expectations rather low. However, recent research has evolved to note that librarians are also social, investigative and enterprising. Yay!

Other early studies showed that librarians are resistant to undertaking marketing efforts but newer research shows that while there is resistance to change, administrators and other library employees were open to marketing if they had been exposed to the concepts via a class or seminar before.

So what does this mean to you, future librarians?

First of all you should try to take a class on marketing when it’s offered here and familiarize yourself with basic concepts. The most important concept in marketing today is branding. It’s the basis of most marketing plans and it’s another huge topic, worth of its own presentation.

Creating a public face for your organization requires cohesion and consistency. There are some resources in the handout to get you started.

What we’ll focus on are real world marketing efforts in Academic Libraries.

I came across a few unusual marketing efforts that I wanted to share to spark some creative thinking when it comes to marketing your library’s services.

The four examples I’ll be talking about are unusual ways to reach out to everyone within the academic community.

Montana State University’s COCKTAIL PARTY:

  • Traditional outreach to faculty includes flyers and brown bag luncheons. Montana State University upped the ante by throwing a cocktail reception directed at new faculty and department liaisons to the library.
  • The goal was to building relationships and create good will—and make the library a more welcoming space.
  • It was held in the library’s atrium and several solid decisions were made.
  • The librarians served the beverages themselves on a rotating, flexible schedule meant to encourage chitchat and make the event feel less formal.
  • They had music and centerpieces to make it festive but also provided three key areas for learning: they provided a table at the entrance to track the attendees and make them feel welcome, they had a demonstration area set up with short, pertinent demons  related to library services, and they had a table at the exit with flyers and more information on library services for guests to take.

MURDER IN THE LIBRARY at Christopher Newport University

  • The librarians held a murder mystery party for incoming freshman at Christopher Newport University’s library.
  • It’s purpose was to raise awareness of typical library needs of freshman, particularly: where the circulation and reserves and reference desks are, how to find a call # and locate a book, how to find a journal or periodical—and my personal favorite—where the copy machines were located!
  • Students had to solve the murder mystery with the help of the librarians and the services available at the library. The librarians had a lot of fun creating props and creating fun ways for students to find the five core pieces of information the librarians wanted to show them. While no surveys have been done to ensure that the students learned what they set out to learn, the murder mystery parties were popular.


Trinity University’s Coates Library was one of just 82 libraries to get the ALA’s traveling exhibit, “Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature”.

This was an unusual opportunity to work with other departments and create an event to raise the profile of the library on campus.

In this case, a direct tie-in to the curriculum existed and so the library, working with the school’s PR dept developed and promoted a program that included a costume party reception, several lectures, a film festival, a panel on cloning, a student art exhibit and a blood drive, among other efforts.

This was a great opportunity for the library to reach out to the university community and the local business community, form partnerships, raise awareness and get freebies! The efforts cemented bonds that continued after the Frankenfest was over.

Collaborate with Students at Ames Library

Since this was assigned, I don’t want to go into too much detail. Suffice to say, getting student input and creating an educational opportunity for students is a win/win all around. And, in short, the collaboration worked for both the library and the students. And that’s the whole point of working with students on marketing projects for the academic library.