A brief look at the development of the ALO service at Cranfield University. I have been involved with it only for the last couple of years. It was the first university library to set up online resource access for alumni.
Overview of the current service. NB: EZPublish was being used at the time of the presentation but this has since changed to an in-house registration system. Current take-up of the service – 2366 as of December 2013. To boost the subscription databases we have created a set of links to quality web resources that are freely available but many alumni may not be aware of them. These include both subject-based and general/reference resources.
Screenshot of the main alumni page – most common way alumni would access our service but it is also available directly from the Library homepage too.
ALO listed as online service benefit alongside Email for Life. If customers click on the ALO link they then need to login in order to access the subscriotion databases area.
Screenshot of useful websites section showing subject-based resources for the main subject areas taught at Cranfield.
General quality web resources. NB: in our last alumni library service e-books were the second most requested item after subscription databases. Unfortunately it is currently difficult to get suppliers to agree to grant alumni access to e-books but there are some free collections available.
There are several good free services available to help alumni keep up to date with their favourite journals / field of expertise.
To help our alumni customers get the most out of the service, and to highlight new events, we have created this page – this helps support the entries we put into the alumni e-bulletin which is currently sent out quarterly to all alumni by our alumni office. It is also a very useful place to answer the most frequent of FAQs – what to do if they’ve forgotten their password! As it goes to all alumni (this page is not behind our login area) we also have information on how to join the service.
Our seven suggestions for how you might develop your service but not necessarily incur much cost! 1. Make your alumni feel special Create a web page just for them, that doesn't direct them to an external visitors page even if it is the same access you are offering
2. Free quality web resources There are lots of great quality websites including full-text journals and reports that your alumni may just not be aware of - get your information specialists involved by picking out some key sources
3. Create awareness Don't wait till your students have left before you talk to them. Advertise your alumni service at their induction and tell them they are now supported by you for life! Carry on advertising it throughout their time with you. We have dedicated course pages at Shrivenham and they have a Next Steps section on the end which directs them to careers and to the Alumni Library Online service. It's mentioned in their Library Essentials handbook (given out at their induction and available online)
4. Get all library staff involved. Get them engaged and fully briefed as they are your best sales people to promote the service. Have a flyer available to help them explain the service. We made the Alumni Lib Online service our key marketing campaign for last year and set a target number of members to reach which helped focus people’s attention.
5. Use your alumni office Your biggest support to your library service for alumni - make good use of them! Make sure they prominently link to your alumni web pages and use them to communicate with alumni in an organised programme (want to avoid contact fatigue). We currently contribute to a quarterly newsletter. Also useful to support each other at events (Sara is here today with us!), library appearances at alumni symposium and we attend Convocation - the annual meeting of alumni.
Who else can help: Students union Graduation organisers - we have stand at both graduation ceremonies and information goes into the graduation programme. Academics - many keep in touch with their former students Alumni themselves - ask them. What they want in a service. We do a survey once every two years IT to help you sort out authentication or set up web pages
6. Be brave in negotiations Always check when negotiating a new subscription or renewing a current one what could be provided for alumni. Make sure whoever does your licence renewals for you has Alumni firmly on their checklist. This may sometimes be free. Ask for trials The more often you ask suppliers, and the larger of us doing it, will help suppliers realise there is a market for alumni services. 7. Make it official Part of library strategy - make your senior stakeholders aware of what you are doing and trying to achieve - having an annual plan keeps us focused, having a strategy means we know where we're heading, and having it the library annual report means we'll get recognition.
Our future plans! With having 50,000+ alumni on the books we have a long way to go to reach everyone! It would be great to enable automatic enrolment so that everyone becoming alumni were sent their details about the service. Careers have recently just joined our library department so we have been discussing with them how we might tie up our alumni provision. We do suffer the usual problem of a lack of response to surveys so it would be great to work on improving alumni participation and find out what all of them want from the library service.
Alumni Library Forum 2013 Cranfield University - Alumni Library Online: the Cranfield University alumni library service
Online – the Cranfield
University alumni library
Rachel Daniels - 11th December 2013
About Cranfield University
•Wholly Postgraduate University
•Based on two campuses – Cranfield in Bedfordshire and Shrivenham,
Oxfordshire (large number of PT students – 85%)
•60 years in operation and 50,000+ alumni
Back where it all began…
Cranfield sets up Alumni Library Online in 2007
Focussed on continuing professional development
Originally a tiered service
• Basic access was free
• Full service was charged at £50 per annum
No service at Shrivenham Campus
Small uptake and usage
Where we are now
Current service overview
- Free and open for all!
- Still an online service focussed on CPD
- Individual username and password using EZPublish
- Rise in membership of ALO service over last few years
- Annual work plan for the service
Access to three major databases
• ABI/Inform Alumni
• Ebsco Business Source Complete
RefWorks for Alumni
Trialling Udini until 20th December
Quality free web resources
Access via Alumni area or direct from the Library website
Service Development on a
7 suggestions to help
that don’t have to cost
Make your alumni feel special
Offer free quality web resources
Create awareness of your service
Get library staff on board
Find who else can help you
Be brave in your negotiations
Make it official – have a strategy
New era in Alumni support at Cranfield
What we want to achieve:
- More members!
-Better planned communications with alumni
-Wider online resources such as e-books, and wider subject
-More joined up with Careers
-Encourage more feedback from alumni and participation in