The session began with introductions, including the areas of interest/expertise of the library personnel present, and the academic focus and professional background of the business school students.
Harry provided the MBA team with a background information packet, including the communications audit, RUL's "Explore, Discover, Learn" brochure, and copies of our latest newsletters. We discussed the work of the RUL marketing group thus far, including the literature we have reviewed, and our focus on "word of mouth marketing". We discussed the notion of encouraging "outstanding customer service" as a means to create the "accidental evangelist", or someone promoting our services on our behalf as a result of their good experience. The Libraries recognize the need to motivate our own employees to serve as ambassadors on behalf of the organization.
Next was a review of our application to the program, and the MBA team had several questions.
Edward Korchevsy promised to review our documentation, but asked what areas we saw as crucial for improvement. The C/M Team responded that our marketing team was indeed quite new, having been formed this year and only met a few times. We discussed the introduction of Searchpath as strong product with a good marketing effort. The Libraries have, up to now, promoted ourselves through a variety of outlets, including but not limited to Targum articles, press releases, department liaisons, and our web site.
Ann Watkins indicated that the effectiveness of the department liaisons, a critical group for Libraries marketing, varies by academic department depending on the level of cooperation and integration developed between library and academic work. Librarians in Newark are heavily involved in business school programs and classes. Also, librarians are heavily involved in the Science disciplines by developing posters, etc.
Frans Vriesendorp commented that often the MBA student is faced with multiple library orientation classes as part of their curriculum, and that these, while well structured, are often repetitive.
Riddhi Shah asked for more info on the relationship of the faculty liaison to academic departments. Francoise commented that these vary, but their common goals are to keep academic faculty informed of changes in library services, facilities, and collections. Francoise also indicated the need to work with teaching faculty in support of Middle States Accreditation when it comes to standard for student information literacy. Harry added that we want to make sure our librarian liaisons have the best tools to establish effective relationships with teaching faculty and students.
Francoise mentioned that RUL librarians meet with the deans of academic colleges every year, discussing needs for changing curriculums and how the libraries can support/contribute. Librarians also belong to the University Senate, and we hold as a priority the need to stay connected to other members of the university.
Alex Schlesinger asked for a clarification of our reporting structure. Francoise discussed the organization of RUL and NBL librarians and staff resulting from the 1998 restructuring. Out of this discussion we mentioned several points regarding trends in the delivery of service [remote reference, document delivery, etc.] We also discussed in detail the RDS/PALCI/ILS services.
In discussing services and facilities, we focused on how information is relayed to patrons. For example, one MBA team member indicated that in her experience the location of the Math library was unclear. We clarified that we rely on our web site to provide complete and up to date service and facility information.
The MBA team asked about the changes that have been made to library facilities. Francoise gave them a breakdown of recent renovations and additions, as well as several planned or desired facility enhancement in the works.
The group discussed the role RUL plays in orientation. Essentially, this varies by academic college, but for the first time this year Rutgers College students were given mandatory tours at Alexander Library and the Library of Science and Medicine. Library staff indicated the orientation process for library services works best when integrated into a class, such as the bibliographic instruction worked into the curriculum of Douglass College's "Shaping A Life" class.
The conversation returned to the experience of the marketing group so far. Francoise detailed the work of the NBL ISSG in getting signs with a simple RUL logo and service message on Rutgers buses, as well as in the course catalog and several other campus sites still under consideration.
This raised perhaps a key point that we do not have a "feedback loop" or "assessment tool" to ascertain what avenues of communication are best. How do we know who is getting our message, and how do they react to it? A "where did you hear about us" function for our marketing efforts is desired. We discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the metrics we now have to determine if, for instance, the measured decline in the use of physical facilities and collections is balanced by an increase in the use of online resources. We agreed on the need to continue to develop and enhance these assessment tools.
The forthcoming RUL Strategic Plan was discussed, and the MBA team agreed it would be a great asset in determining where we want them to help take us in terms of message.
The group then turned toward the fiscal considerations for marketing. We indicated that resources in this regard are not extensive, and that we need to focus on the most efficient means of disseminating our messages. The C/M Team discussed the overall challenges faced by the libraries in terms of funds for print material, and the challenges involved in balancing the needs for more online resources, better facilities, and maintaining print collection growth. State funds are decidedly insufficient, and we continually seek to develop external sources of funding through our development office. The involvement of Alumni, and their access to services, was cited as important. Harry indicated that the University Librarian has informed him that there should be approximately $25K for a multi- year marketing initiative, and that is considered a generous amount.
The MBA group inquired about means to develop or generate revenue through pay services. The C/M Team responded that was not an option overall, as it clashes with our charge to provide research material at little or no cost to our established user group. UMDNJ pays for services, but gets a "good deal"
Riddhi Shah suggested that the MBA group look at other comparable schools and how they market their library services. The C/M Team supported this idea and Harry will send samples to the MBA group.
Harry indicated we need help in integrating our varied marketing efforts, as well as assessing what we do and deciding what works best.
It was decided that further requests for support material/statistics would be filtered through Harry to the appropriate RUL personnel.
The next step will be a "letter of engagement" from the MBA team expected in the next 6-7 weeks. This would be presented formally. RUL would then sign off on their efforts to develop a marketing plan based on mutually established goals. The letter will detail what they see themselves doing, and what we will need to provide in order to help.
Recorded by Roger Smith.