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Refreshing the Libraries’ Brand to Reflect Our Continuing Transformation

April 4, 2019

“Libraries are terrible at marketing their resources and services.”

Not really what you want to hear from a supportive faculty member. But as a communications manager for a university library, I must admit, I often share the sentiment. Libraries—both public and academic—generally aren’t very good at communicating their value.

Why? For one, libraries often were considered “the heart” of the university or the community until more recently. Librarians assumed everyone recognized their value, and library marketing just wasn’t necessary. But those days are gone. Libraries offer complex services, Google simplifies access information resources, and libraries are not often top institutional funding priorities. As a result, “communicating value” has been listed as a top trend for librarianship for several years now. 

Librarians are good at adapting, and they have been growing and honing their marketing and communication strategies in response. More and more libraries have dedicated marketing budgets and staff, including Drexel Libraries, which established its commitment to communicating its value when my position was created eight years ago.

A lot has changed at the Drexel Libraries since then I came on as the Libraries’ second Communications Manager back in December 2016.

We’re now two years into our refreshed strategic plan for 2017 to 2022, and every year we do more to continue our transformation into an organization that responds and adapts to the changing needs of our client: Drexel students, faculty, and staff.  

Last year alone we moved to a fully cloud-based library management system called Alma; we joined the Open Textbook Network; and we continued the transformation of the 24/7 space in W. W. Hagerty Library with as the Dragon’s Learning Den.   

As part of what has been an ongoing effort to better communicate the Libraries’ transformation and the services and resources we offer, I’ve been exploring new ways to identify the gaps in our marketing strategies, as well as increasing all Libraries staff engagement in marketing the Libraries across campus.

For example, last month, I collected feedback from students, faculty and staff to better understand what they think we do here.

I posted several questions in each Libraries location (W. W. Hagerty Library in University City, Hahnemann Library in Center City and Queen Lane Library in East Falls) to solicit student feedback. I also sent online surveys to Libraries student workers and to faculty and administrative staff to find out what they value most about the Libraries. I intend to use this feedback to help with a rebranding campaign we’re working on this year. 

One of my efforts to engage and inspire Libraries staff to effectively communicate our value on campus include the creation of a Drexel Libraries Marketing Toolkit. I imagine it to include everything staff need to know about marketing the libraries, ranging from shared talking points about Libraries programs to standardized color schemes, editorial style sheets and checklists for hosting an event.

Most recently, I led an All Staff Session during which I introduced the principles of branding.  We reviewed the Libraries’ existing brand and how it fits within the University brand. Together, the group also shared impressions of the Libraries’ existing brand and brainstormed new wording for our mission, vision and slogan. I’ll use this feedback to build more effective messaging about the Libraries’ value.

This is certainly a work-in-progress and is no easy task. We’ll be continuing our evaluation of our marketing and communication strategies, and we’ll be seeking more feedback from our clients over the coming weeks as we decide how to move forward.

I will be sure to report on our progress in future issues of In Circulation. In the meantime, we welcome any ideas of how to change the perception of ineffective library marketing. Email me at svs22@drexel.edu

Stacy V. Stanislaw
Communications Manager, Drexel University Libraries