Saturday, July 5, 2008

Summing up the 'brary

As part of my business reference job, I'm the chair of a B2B leads group that meet 2x per month. The way the meetings work is we go around the table, give a 30 - 60 second spiel of who we are and what we do, and then we try to refer business to each other.

Most folks in the group can pretty easily sum up what they do in 30 - 60 seconds, but I have a hard time doing that with the library. We cover every conceivable subject area (and some inconceivable ones) and we offer a slew of services (interlibrary loan, story times, Internet access, books, movies, amazing databases, reference assistance, etc.). I've found it extremely tough to quickly convey the range of what we do.

Enter the power of metaphor.

Drawing once again on Made to Stick, one of their suggestions is to take something that people already know and then draw an analogy to that. It saves their brains the effort of constructing something new. So the tag line that I came up with, rather accidentally, is this: The Library: It's Google on Steroids.

Everyone in the B2B group knows Google and has at least a vague sense of its power and utility. But by adding the steroids part, a number of folks in the group had an "Aha! I see..." moment. The library, going from a vague combination of resources and services, takes on a bit of concreteness: we are better than Google.

Humorous aside: A man was referred to me by one of the B2B group members and when he tracked me down at the library he said that he was told "The library is Google... on crack."

Close enough.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Books and databases...

Cross-marketing. We all have business books on our shelves. People check them out and we know by the subject headings/titles/content of the books what they are interested in. Generally speaking. At the same time, we have databases with powerful business applications sitting idly by. I'm in the final stages of having our printer whip up some card stock bookmarks flogging the online resources. I will then slip them into books that deal with similar topics.

Ideally, I'd like to have the bookmarks included with the book at checkout but the logistics of doing such a thing are a bit daunting. So for now I'll just put them into the recently returned titles (and with any luck, those titles will be going back out again sometime soon). I'll report back and let you know if this gives us a bump in our database stats. Any other thoughts about increasing the use of subject specific databases?