“Engage with us” is a tagline used by the librarians here at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. NTU Libraries serves 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, and Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences.
Our librarians are constantly looking for creative ways to introduce the library’s e-resources and services to our user community. A combination of push and pull, online and offline promotional approaches are used to engage our users.
To welcome freshmen, we run an orientation program. Since it is their first encounter with librarians, we wanted this encounter to be fun and memorable. Freshmen take part in interactive activities such party in the library, social media photo booth and a discovery quiz. What better way to make these activities memorable for the user is to let them feel special by winning a prize? We’ve had a lot of support from publishers, database providers and library supply vendors who provide prizes for these orientation activities. These prizes can be small corporate premiums or a 500 GB hard disk or even a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2!
As their academic career progresses, we continue with campus-wide outreach programs such as new book talks and quizzes. Publishers and database vendors are supporters of such programs. The recent “Spring into Wiley Online Library” Online quiz 2013 saw 260 participants from NTU. An undergraduate student walked away with the prize of an iPod Nano. We started a series of talks on academic publishing. These talks are targeted towards early career academics, researchers and postgraduates. In 2012, Wiley’s editor spoke to more than 100 participants on “How to get published in international journals”.
In addition to physical activities, we are using social media to engage with our users.
We’re connected with our users through the NTU Library Facebook, with more than 4000 ‘likes’. In 2011 and 2012, our photo booth campaign garnered a huge number of likes as participants posted and tagged on Facebook photos taken at the orientation session photo booth. Look out for the new Orientation videos on our Twitter in August 2013. We have gone mobile with Library Xpress , our regular newsletter. Using the ISSUU platform, this newsletter publication can be read online and using a mobile device.
We also make available print copies as print newsletters are harder to ignore if it is just sitting on your desk.
The top 4 things to remember when promoting the library's information resources and services are:
- Let’s have fun – put in place a really robust and engaging orientation program for new students. Have fun yourself too.
- Use all the tools at your disposal –social media, print, web, events and activities. Don’t forget the librarians to the forefront!
- Get out of the Library – set up booth in a high traffic area, go into the classrooms, talk to the faculty, go where the users are.
- Knowing your users – Each community has their own needs, target your promotion according to their needs. Make your activities and messages relevant to them.
All in all, the job of a librarian is as much about providing excellent services as reaching out to your users.