Daily Archives: January 23, 2006

ACRL 2007 Is Looking Good

As a member of the planning committee for ACRL’s 13th National Conference, to be held in April 2007 in Baltimore, I spent time at this ALA Midwinter conference at various conference planning meetings. Although the Minneapolis conference in 2005 will be tough to top, this great group of conference planners, led by the always dynamic and enthusiastic Mary Reichel, will be working hard to deliver an even better conference experience for attendees. In particular, the planning group is looking at ways to improve two events that were the source of some discontent at the 2005 conference. Clearly, the poster sessions were way too crowded owing to many presenters and a lack of space, and that is definitely being addressed for Baltimore. In addition, the workshops are incredibly popular but often all of those who want to attend just can’t get into the sessions. The committee is considering ways to allow for more attendees to get to the workshops. There is still a long way to go until we get to Baltimore, but this conference appears to be in very capable hands.

Rebranding Your Library

I attended OCLC’s “Extreme Makeover” seminar on Friday, here at the ALA midwinter conference. It was definitely a worthwhile event even if it wasn’t exactly geared to the academic library segment. Still, I picked up a few good ideas I’ll be thinking about for my library. I won’t go into great detail about the session because the folks over at It’s All Good have lots of detailed notes on what each speaker had to say.

I found what Jennifer Rice and Patricia Martin had to say about rebranding and defending your brand in times of competition had the most value. Jennifer, in particular, told us about the six most important consumer trends and how that impacts us. This led to the development of a matrix for determining what your library brand should be (hint: a learning community). These two also touched on themes of simplicity/complexity in terms of user wants and needs and giving users an “experience.” We know that users want simplicity, but sometime our library brand requires them to encounter complexity. How do we balance the two without causing the user to go to a competitor? Although the speakers talked about giving the user an experience (their examples were based on companies that do this, for example, buying coffee at Starbucks isn’t just about drinking coffee, it’s about having an “experience”), I think they were talking more about sensations. A library experience, I should think, reaches the user at a deeper level. It connects with something he or she is passionate about. How do we deliver that sort of experience.

The final speaker Antony Brewerton is known for the marketing campaigns he does for his library. But as the only academic librarian (and only true librarian) on the bill, he did little to connect reaching users to collaborating with faculty. It’s great to have fancy brochures of the type shown from his library, but if we do a good job of connecting with faculty and encouraging them to drive students to the library’s resources through assignments and associated instruction opportunities, I think that will go much farther in helping academic libraries reach their user community – and avoid marginalization and irrelevance – something that was mentioned more than a few times in this symposium.

Let’s hope OCLC keeps offering these good programs at ALA events.