Monday, September 13, 2010

Marketing and Public Relations -- 8 -- Goals

There was a time (I call Library 1.0) when the library was the main source of the storage, organization, and distribution of academic and scholarly materials The library was the “jewel” of the institution in the era of Library 1.0. When choosing a college or university students frequently used the quality of the library as one of the criteria for their decision. With the increasing amount of electronic distribution of materials, this is no longer the case. We are in the era of Library 2.0.

One commodity of education is student learning. Goals need to be created that foster learning. At the university level that means supporting and promoting research. In other schools it means using critical thinking to use the results of that research. Parents, students and the community expect education to provide a basis for the next step in education or form the basis for career placements. The students want to enhance their earning potential. Stakeholders count on institutions to demonstrate they have achieved their goals. Libraries can no longer rely on a belief in their importance; they must demonstrate and prove their role in the education process. The value of a library in the eyes of the users and stakeholders must be publicized and demonstrated through action.

A business centers its goals around a desire for revenue. Businesses exist to add value and create revenue growth for the owners. This does not mean they don’t serve their public or have lofty intentions, but rather they think of how all their actions can increase revenue, gain new customers and retain the current customers. A non-profit organization needs to question, “What is their revenue?” Monetary revenue is not a main goal, but the library still needs money to run. The library still needs to gain new customers and retain the currents ones. Exact metrics from web sites are hard to measure precisely because the metric’s description may be flawed. Does the number of visitors to the site matter or does the one written comment out weigh all the traffic numbers? The web content must match the goals of the library. If the ultimate goals include the spread of knowledge and literacy, the web site should reflect this.

Web content may be powerful or subtle. The site may include instructional materials, tool for searching, and notices of future events. One goal should be to increase the reach of the library and show the community the power of the information services. The library should demonstrate leadership in the information distribution field. Web content builds the reputation for the library. The library home page is the public face for the people who are regulars and those who will never even visit your building.

The actual goals need to be defined for each library. Here are some high level goals to build upon: 1) Be the community’s resource for information in print, non-print and electronic sources; 2) Increase literacy in the community; 3) Provide recreational reading materials; 4) Be a safe place for the free exchange of ideas and information.

Revised Sept 14, 2010. First two paragraphs were added.

No comments: