Letter from the Editor: A Look Back As We Start to Move Ahead
As the dog days of summer kick into full swing, so do the new fiscal year and the Libraries’ refreshed strategic plan. This month also marks my six-month anniversary as the Drexel University Libraries’ communications manager.
Over these last six months, I’ve been confronted with many exciting challenges and new opportunities to highlight the work we’re doing here in the Libraries. One of my first - and favorite - tasks as the communications manager has been reevaluating and developing new strategies for communicating the Libraries’ messages and demonstrating its value. Continuing the momentum of my predecessor while introducing my own voice and style has been a key part of my strategy, and I first set my sights on boosting the Libraries’ social media presence.
Since January, I’ve focused on posting daily messages to the Libraries’ Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, experimenting with different types of messages than what were typical in the past, from sharing images of the Libraries to links to relevant news articles or participating in social media events with other libraries across the world. Some strategies have been more successful than others, but regardless, we’re getting even more traction on all social media platforms than before, and the numbers of “likes” and interactions keep growing.
Along with expanding the Libraries’ presence on social media, I’m also looking at ways to refresh this newsletter to make sure we’re hitting the right tone and that we’re sharing information that’s interesting and valuable to our readers.
And so, as I started work on my FY18 strategic plan for In Circulation, I decided to take a closer look at this publication: who is reading this newsletter and what is their relationship to the Libraries; what do we want to achieve in FY18 and beyond; is there a need for another communications channel altogether?
Launched in August 2012, In Circulation was originally created to raise awareness of Libraries events, staff news and accomplishments, and new additions and changes to the Libraries’ systems and collections. The intended audience was persons with interest or involvement with the Libraries, including donors, event attendees, and members of the Drexel and Philadelphia communities who expressed interest in what we’re doing here.
Over the last five and a half years, the newsletter has grown nearly ten fold from an average of 1,825 monthly readers by the end of FY 2012 to 10,417 average monthly readers in FY 2017. Today, our readership is 50% Drexel undergraduate, graduate and PhD students. Three other broad categories – Drexel faculty, staff and administrators (23%), Drexel alumni (15%) and other friends of the Libraries (12%) – make up the other half.
We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of people opening the newsletter and eventually clicking through to the articles – growing from an average monthly open rate of 29% and a 17% click through rate after the first full year of publication (FY13) to a 32% average monthly open rate and a 20% average monthly click through rate in FY17. Interestingly enough, nearly 60% of those opening the newsletter in both FY 2016 and FY 2017 were Drexel students. Although this originally wasn’t our main target audience, it’s encouraging to see students are interested in reading what we have to say, and it also has me wondering if we should create a separate publication or other communications vehicle specifically for the Drexel campus community.
So, as I sit down and map out the next 12 issues of In Circulation, I want to hear from you, dear reader. What keeps you coming back for more?? What do you want to see published in these virtual “pages”? Do you want more interviews? More event coverage? A completely different format? Or maybe there’s something we haven’t been covering. Whatever your idea, I want to hear it, and I hope you’ll send your ideas and suggestions (or criticisms!) to me at email@example.com.
There’s so much more to come, and we hope you’ll participate or at least follow along as we continue to build the Libraries’ story.