Even with built-in patron turnover in libraries, Library Lore does get passed to successive generations of faculty and students. All it takes is one patron to be the tipping point, for changing usage patterns, for making the library the “in” place, etc., and you don’t know which patron it’ll be. Like a “teachable moment,” every interaction is a potential library promotion.
Advocacy can be, and usually is, performed by everyone in the library. Calling it by name is a good way to empower staff and even student workers: any publicity [idea] is good publicity.
Advocacy: What You’re Doing Even if You Don’t Call it Advocacy
What you’re already doing includes BI/Information Literacy classes, staffing service desks, and managing the library website.
What you are also already doing is fighting to get a percentage increase in your resource budget each year. Or at least to not get a cut. Enhancements to this task could include juicy quotations from important people on campus or in government, preferably about specific, expensive database titles essential to the accreditation of a department or the retention/hiring of a key staff person.
Next or enhanced steps could include electronic or paper “feeds” to patrons: newsletters, campus papers, bulletin boards, blogs. Think about targeting additional audiences (Friends, alumni, and for electronic (“free”) communications, even local organizations like the Chamber of Commerce).
Don’t forget to include departmental secretaries. They know what faculty, grad students, and key undergraduates are doing, and if they think of the library regularly, they can be your advocate on the spot.
Pens, pencils, magnets, other durable marketing treasures. I was surprised at how much good buzz we got from “Daniel Library” plastic book bags, among students as well as faculty. We also made a business-card sized magnet of FAQ for graduate students.
Advanced steps could include attending a department’s faculty meeting each month or asking for time on a campus-wide agenda such as a faculty luncheon or student government association meeting.
Make efforts to track your faculty’s and administration’s publications, especially monographs and journals that they edit or write for regularly. Ideally you can divide this task up among departmental liaisons or graduate assistants, and these days it’s pretty easy to get automatic notification when certain authors publish new resources. Think how nice it makes you feel if someone notices your work or comments on a report and conversely, how annoyed you might be if your local library didn’t own your book.
Work with your existing allies to publicize how they are using library resources. They are busy too, so ask them specific questions. One of our library’s favorite faculty has gotten 2 book contracts based on The Citadel’s purchase of a particular research database.
True confession: I Google everything. If there’s an article for ILL with a bum citation. If there’s an old book we just can’t bind anymore, and AbeBook’s price is $400. I keep hoping I’ll find full-text, and sometimes I do.
Gmail is good about sending relevant advertisements, but they are, naturally, mostly .com sites. I like StumbleUpon.com for finding relevant sites of all dots.
Journals: I like that Serials Solutions (and probably other such resource managers) collates open access journals so they’ll be searchable and display in the same list as the journals we subscribe to. I understand the open access inventory is a moving target, but the attempt is a value add for me.
Having the open access “set” in Serials Solutions also lets me analyze any potential overlap with paid subscriptions.
Syllabi: I’m hoping that Blackboard will become a site that gathers Citadel syllabi together. In some respects a citation product like Scopus also serves this purpose, but I prefer to see the instructor- and course-specifics to ensure that the library acquires what students will be looking for. Using an open-access site classroom-type site would be useful to school media specialists and public library staff as well, and teachers would know that librarians were paying attention. In the meantime we hound secretaries, professors, and students for their syllabi if they don’t use Blackboard.
Some professors might link to full-text on their syllabi or curriculum vitae, and once in awhile the text might be unique.
Bookmooch and similar networks provide books and audio-visuals at low cost (usually just postage).
You accrue points for items you’re willing to send.
Search for titles at Bookmooch or Amazon, and if there’s a copy available, ask the owner to send it to you. Points are deducted from your account and given to the sender. Extra points for international transactions, and Moochers also donate points to charities.
If your library is willing to foot the postage bill, this is definitely a good way to get books cheaply.
Bad news, library school students: part of why they pay you the “big bucks” is to sift through barn books. Luckily, the payoffs are there. Occasionally.
Libraryland vendors: wait until Tuesday morning at ALA conferences. Elsevier recently established a discussion group called Innovation Explorers . In addition to the joy inherent in sharing my opinion with others, I use the Amazon gift certificates Elsevier offers as incentives for participation to build my library’s collection.
State/Federal: LSTA prefers to have a program associated with any applications for materials.
Institution: your college or governing body might have discretionary funds available, via application or word of mouth.
Private foundations: I’m sure we’re all aware that seeking and applying for grants can be a full-time job. Think of it like a Lost Dog flyer: the best hope for finding the quarry is having as many people as possible look for it.
Sometimes I feel guilty buying used books for our collection. But a wise colleague reminded me that although libraries might be partly responsible for supporting publishers, librarians are also responsible for the prudent expenditure of the funds in their care. Particularly at public institutions.
How well you know your collection, or wishlist, determines how flexible you can be in where and when you shop.
Improving appearance and access (possibly improve circulation without buying more books): clean your books and shelves; create more “white space” if possible so patrons want to stay longer. We offer disposable earplugs, too.
Altering usage patterns (upstairs vs. downstairs, together vs. separately, wood vs. metal shelving)
Bigger bang for the money and space bucks: DVDs. DVDs can be “self-weeding” to a greater extent than some materials, so it’s extra-nice that the unit cost has gone down.
We’ve moved from cloth to trade paperback when possible. Saves inches, which add up to feet of shelving. Saves money and are prettier on the shelf too.
Paper to electronic, of course, and microform to electronic. Ask vendors if they can help you calculate what you’d be able to weed, should you purchase their product. If you can make a case that an electronic version actually BUYS you linear or square footage, the outlay for an archive seems less staggering.
Purchasing vs. subscriptions: at least one vendor is making noises about a “rent to own” model. A recent WIRED blog suggested that “access is better than ownership.” I buy that for individuals, but I’m not convinced that libraries paying over and over for virtually identical access is better than making one large “archive” purchase and paying small access/update fees in following years. If I find $40,000 we haven’t spent, I’ll make every effort to purchase something (Congressional Serial Set, another JSTOR package) rather than spend it on accessing something new.
Moving Things Around Your Consortium or Library System
Requests let you see what you’re not collecting that your patrons wish you would.
Keeps the dust from accumulating too much.
Improves circulation numbers.
Records give you another tool for weeding, eventually: if nobody from 60 libraries checked it out in the last 10 years, it’s outta here!