Merging academic libraries: An opportunity for a face-lift?
Marketing libraries | : Library & information sciences [Social & behavioral sciences, psychology] | : Bibliothéconomie & sciences de l’information [Sciences sociales & comportementales, psychologie]
Although the decision to merge libraries generates stress, it is also a great opportunity to start a global reflection on the functioning of libraries. In 2003, the University of Liège decided to create a new physical and functional structure by combining the previously independent libraries of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Botany, Zoology, Psychology and Educational Sciences. The initial phase included a plan to remove the collections and standardise the academic teaching of IT literacy in the various disciplines.
We now want to question our missions and evaluate our present working procedures in order to optimise our services, eventually develop new ones, and make them visible through a new website or any other types of support. The different populations of users need to be clearly identified, evaluated and anticipated. Staff competences must be evaluated to guarantee that users' expectations are met, and possibly to envisage any new services that may need to be created. In addition, staff competences must be improved through adapted education and tailored professional training. At the same time, the library involvement in academic teaching deserves to be properly highlighted. We are aware that there is not anything new in such an approach, but the pieces of evidence are scattered, outdated or not adapted to our present situation.
As a consequence, we propose an overview of the literature concerning the marketing of academic libraries, conducted according to the principles of Evidence-Based Library and Information Practice. We shall select the most important publications providing strong theoretical support, and we shall collect existing tools, evaluation grids and procedure rules that might be useful during any step of the project. We shall organise them into a structured and pragmatic working strategy that could be used by any library interested in a marketing approach. It should integrate the different topics previously mentioned such as the library’s missions, the evaluation and optimisation of services, as well as the visibility of the teaching activities and the professional education programmes developed by academic libraries.