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An Introduction – Jill Stover

Since becoming the Undergraduate Services Librarian at Virginia Commonwealth University, I’ve been fascinated by anything and everything service-related – developing and implementing services, evaluating them, promoting them – you name it. As a new professional, I had (and still have) lots of questions about how to provide our undergraduates with the best services possible. To find answers, I turned to the field of Business, and Marketing in particular. Through coursework, a hefty amount of reading, talking with professionals, and trial and error, I’m discovering many useful models and approaches that librarians would do well to adopt. I write about these findings in my blog, Library Marketing, and, to a lesser extent, on KnowThis.com. When Steven Bell approached me about participating in Designing Better Libraries, I eagerly accepted his offer because it presented an intriguing opportunity to view library services through a unique lens – design. Design as we’re thinking of it, much like Marketing, involves carefully constructing user experiences that are meaningful and useful. I’m excited to see where this project goes and to hear your comments and insights.

For my part, I’m going to focus much of my exploration on DBL on creativity and innovation. Innovation gets a lot of attention in the Business literature these days, as well as in other places. I plan to begin my participation in DBL by writing about what this literature has to say on the topic. In doing so, I hope to establish a foundation we can build on and begin to get a firm footing on what innovation is, its importance, and how we can foster innovation-friendly library environments and practices.

My next post will begin to address some of these questions by investigating what it means to be creative/innovative and why we should be talking about these issues in the context of designing better user experiences. I’ll then begin a series of literature reviews to get the discussion moving. From there, who knows. (Not knowing where exactly this will lead is part of the fun!) Also, don’t be surprised if Marketing topics pop up along the way.

I hope you’ll enjoy following this blog and sharing your own thoughts.

Thanks for reading!

Comments

Comment from Brian Mathews
Posted: February 13, 2007 at 4:48 pm

Marketing? Libraries don’t need marketing. We know what our patrons need!

Comment from Donna
Posted: February 13, 2007 at 6:08 pm

What a great blog start! While we do great work in libraries, there’s always room for improving, changing and morphing into a greater entity.
Same can be said about our patrons–changing, morphing and improving!

Comment from StevenB
Posted: February 13, 2007 at 9:32 pm

Marketing is also creating needs, not just identifying them. We can use marketing to entice our users to believe, rightfully so, that using our information products will make them academically successful. So I would be interested in finding ways to create a bigger market for our products.

Comment from Ibironke Lawal
Posted: February 14, 2007 at 3:29 pm

Congratulations to the people whose vision it is to start this blog. I like the idea of having a blog devoted to designing better libraries. While we talk about what our users need and how best to serve them, we should also remember how crucial research is in our profession. We need to do more empirical basic research to develop theories, applied research to improve our profession and action research for direct application to the immediate workplace. Hence when we talk about how great our libraries are, we will have research to back it up. The Library profession is lagging behind in this area.

Comment from Jill Stover
Posted: February 16, 2007 at 6:06 pm

Thanks for the enthusiasm, Donna!

It’s interesting that Steven brings up the idea that “marketing is also creating needs.” This opinion is hotly debated in marketing circles, and I happen to believe (at least for now) that marketing doesn’t create needs. Even products that are seemingly superfluous serve some kind of underlying need (need to belong, need to achieve, and so on). Creative marketers and librarians can tap into those needs with their products and services. Marketing is a tool for uncovering and serving those basic and higher-level needs common to all.

Ronke: Thanks for your thoughts on research – they’re well-taken.

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