Marketing Plans and More
The Chicago State University library is named after Gwendolyn Brooks, a form faculty member, poet laureate and the first Black person to win a Pulitzer Prize. The mission of GBL is to “provide exemplary information and instructional services to guide learning, teaching, research and discovery for the Chicago State University community.” The library recently completed revising its strategic plan and the next step is to complete a marketing plan. Like many libraries ours is underfunded, under budgeted and, frequently unappreciated. The library has always received high marks for customer service. We pride ourselves on providing excellent services. This pride has been supported by the results of multiple environmental scans where the library received positive feedback.
Past state budget restrictions, frequent turnover in leadership university leadership, declining enrollment and COVID mean that budgets are tight. The library budget has been decreased, positions have been frozen or cut. At best our budget next year may be decreased by 5-10%. This sounds depressing… but …
We are lucky. Our library faculty and staff participate in many important campus initiatives, campus committees, have strong ties with university departments and the surrounding communities. The library participates in orientation, partners with campus organizations in programs. The library takes part in many marketing activities. Marketing is organic but there is no formal plan or budget. This is an opportunity to reflect on library needs and develop a marketing plan which will lead to future funding and enhanced visibility on campus.
In January while as part of a retreat staff, including former students, from all areas of the library were asked to complete the phrase ‘My library is…” Comments or explanation were optional. Here are some of the responses:
My library is…
- “Is a place where I can get all the help. A place where I am most happy when I am able to help students accomplish their educational goals. Comment: I make sure the patrons have the resources they need when they visit the Library”.
- “A key to my success. It supports my learning experience and enlightens my journey. Comment: Students learn more about their subjects, the people around them and the world itself beyond the classroom experience. I am honored to be a part of their success”.
- “Still here.”
Over the years, more than a dozen library deans/directors and campus administrators have weighed in on promoting our library. Relationships with upper administration ebbs and flows. Each one had their own, sometimes unusual, understanding of what constituted library marketing and support activities accordingly. Marketing has been handled in any number of ways. Individual faculty have been assigned to marketing activities as part of their duties; support staff have been appointed or assigned; volunteer, appointed committees have been formed and full-time librarians have been hired.
A plan does not need to be extensive but should be clear and provide direction.
There are many resources for librarians responsible for marketing. The following two websites are what I am currently reviewing. There are templates, forms and directions print and electronic for every aspect of marketing provided here.
- ACRL Marketing the Academic Library resources
- ALA from the Public Library Association resources for marketing librarians
Polger, M. A., & Okamoto, K. (2013). Who’s spinning the library? Responsibilities of academic librarians who promote. Library Management, 34(3), 236–253. https://doi.org/10.1108/01435121311310914
TAGS: Academic libraries; Marketing plans development; Outreach