Blog - Improve your Current Awareness Strategy

Performing in-house outreach: Marketing the library within your organisation

You already know that your library can offer other departments within your organisation invaluable help. But do they know that?

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No matter how efficient and effective your library is, you can’t maximise your potential for positive impact within your organisation unless everyone is fully utilising your services. As part of a special library, you may be in a particularly difficult position compared to others in your firm - the value of a lawyer to a firm is obvious to everyone, for example, because he or she works in terms of billable hours.

But there’s no line item on the client’s bill for library services, so how do you ascribe a value to your work that your colleagues can understand? In previous posts, we’ve covered ways to calculate and demonstrate your ROI to management, so that you can withstand the annual budget reviews. But in between yearly reviews, there’s something you can do proactively to make sure your value is clear to everyone in the company: market your library to your colleagues.

Why do I need to market my library or information services within my own organisation?

It’s a persistent problem in the KM industry that few laypeople - and even many people who interact with KM professionals on a daily basis - truly understand or correctly value what librarians do.

There are also many places to go for information these days - maybe too many. Potential users of the library have to be aware of its services1 and how to access them - as well as why they should choose to do so rather than turn to Google.

How do I market my library services?

The first and most simple thing to do is make sure everyone is aware of what services your department provides. There are a few simple ways to do this:

1.  Raise the profile of your library 

In many law firms, library inductions are included in trainee inductions. If your organisation doesn’t do that, you can suggest to your organisation that they do a full orientation. You can also request to have a presence at other company events.

If your library isn’t responsible for the intranet, ask your organisation2 to feature the library there. You can update the library’s pages with information that your organisation will find useful, including information about new titles and publishers, and links to external sites with instructions for how to use them. If there are company newsletters or other publications or forums, you can ask them to profile or interview you, another KM professional, or the library itself.

You can also hold an open house, exhibition, or ask librarians to post on social media or reach out on the company communication system about specific times or ways they’ve helped other individuals in the organisation. Networking, joining committees, and attending social events within the firm will also help raise the profile of the library - you may be able to create space for yourself on social committees, business development committees, and even art committees, and get yourself invited to team lunches. Taken together, these strategies are sometimes called ‘embedded librarianship’.

2.  Keep your new visitors coming back 

Helping members of your organisation learn how to use your services3 most efficiently is a brilliant way of ensuring they will come back to you the next time they need information. You can also set up programmes, training, and workshops - such as information literacy programmes and technology or expertise training - to ensure that your colleagues have a regular reason to visit you, and that they gain something of value each time. Inviting experts in your organisation’s field for panels, roundtables, or even lunches can also be a strong draw.

As you raise your profile and increase engagement with your services, appreciation and understanding of the value libraries offer organisations will naturally increase. And there will be other benefits, too - the more people use your library, the more you as a librarian will understand what services they need and how to better provide them. Investing time into marketing your services within your organisation will have good returns for everyone involved.

How do you market your library within your organisation? Let us know in the comments below, or Tweet us @TryVable!

 

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Endnotes

  1. Yi, Z. (2016) Effective techniques for the promotion of library services and resources, Information Research http://www.informationr.net/ir/21-1/paper702.html#.WnMeRpOFhTY
  2. Cowan, A. (2013) 12 fast and inexpensive ways to market your library, Library Connect https://libraryconnect.elsevier.com/articles/12-fast-and-inexpensive-ways-market-your-library
  3. Patil, S. K. and Pradhan, P. (2014) Library promotion practices and marketing of Library services: A role of Library professionals, Procedia: Social and Behavioural Sciences https://ac.els-cdn.com/S1877042814031012/1-s2.0-S1877042814031012-main.pdf?_tid=e73388f4-0758-11e8-93b3-00000aacb35f&acdnat=1517494085_722e3d76c385db81b3060cef7d9e6e8f
Topics: Collaboration Business development Communications Training