Oliver Obst on “Marketing virtual services” at Eahil 2008

Today Friday 27th June 9.00 Oliver Obst was talking about “Marketing virtual services” at the EAHIL Conference 2008 in Helsinki, FInland. He talked about the libraries and the loss of information monopoly, loss of face-to-face interaction and need for a ROI-philosophy. “How much money is the library saving with their efforts?”, he thought was an important question in this case. He also said libraries are in competition with free resources like Google Books and other services. Some librarians see for example companies offering free resources as a truly cooperating partner like free is always good. I don’t agree with that and as I understood Oliver he has a critical eye of that also.

Oliver showed an investigation of the Münster Medical library products and customer satisfaction with them. The homepage, the teaching and the opening hours as the worst and document delivery, e-journals and handheld computers as the best.

Then he showed all the ways they used to market their library. Let me say it was impressing. They have a blog maintained since 2003. An e-newsletter maintained since 1997, sent out every friday. It has 800 subscribers and they have produced 520 Issues. They have a 3-monthly journal, each issue about 12-16 pages and 45 issues published this far. He also showed how they worked with the content of the articles. Often it’s interviews with user statements and in the text they promote extra-ordinary library services. They also have an URL near the article content to the blog.

They have what he called a knowledge wiki, where the users can get answers of the library services. Their own toolbar for webbrowsing and -searching at: zbmed.ourtoolbar.com. They also produce a podcast irregulary but he said nothing more about that experience during the talk so I asked him afterwards.

Tell me more about your podcast?

-The podcasts are 3 minutes but unfortunately it takes about 2 hours to make. It takes time to cut and read same parts over again. I usually audio record my speeches at conferences and publish it as a podcast. The audio recorder I have with me is excellent. I also have jingles in my podcast. For example I use the sound from a pinball computer game.

Can anyone edit in your knowledge wiki? For example me? :-)

-You have to register and I decide who’s allowed to edit the wiki.

Do you see the wiki as a replacement of the usual textbased web pages?

-Something like that in the future maybe.


Oliver’s talk at EAHIL recorded by Guus van den Brekel and uploaded at Blip.tv:

2 responses

  1. Lars, you kindly missed the very last question (from Lotta). She asked, if I had done some EBLIP to prove the success of our activities such as more downloads from e-Journals. Unfortunately I’d admit to be somewhat lazy. There is only anecdotal evidence (and hit statistics) that it works. But Lotta is true, we need to raise Evidence. But it should not be more time consuming than the service itself. What could be valuable outcome measures? I don’t intend to increase e-Journals downloads by marketing, but the increase of use of rare databases (such as EMbiology) or the different use of PubMed could be studied. That are nice suggestions for future work.

  2. Yeah, we discussed that issue me and my colleagues. Evaluation of marketing efforts is maybe easy to do briefly but it’s not easy to evaluate the results you get.

    I think you said that just by sending a journal that they may see the logo of is branding. How do you measure that? Even if you don’t get more downloads right on maybe they go to the library next time and don’t buy the book on amazon because they remember the exlusive library journal that felt impressive and impressive libraries may have the book I want.

    I think you should be very careful when doing evaluations of your marketing efforts. I heard one librarian that stopped doing marketing questionnaires because they always got the same answer: Library is terrific but I haven’t time… I mean you don’t always get the answers or the data you would want to have, that would demand some brain scanning of their daily basis thoughts and lucky us we haven’t come that far yet

    But maybe undercover bambusing their office could be something… ;-)

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