Won’t you be my patron?

This is for my librarian friends who wondered (some out loud, some with raised eyebrow or the digital equivalent of same) why I’d leave the turbulent but every-interesting world of public libraries, where I was seemingly thriving, for the calm, quiet halls of academe. Turns out, different library, same issues.

One of the interesting things I learned today as a number of our staff met to go over our database stats and discuss renewing or replacing various subscriptions is that academic libraries must market their services and resources just like public libraries. I think there is a misconception that we have a captive audience. Which is partially true. But unless our audience, no matter how loyal, knows what we have, they will be shelf sitters, or whatever the equivalent term is for digital subscriptions.

Strangely, I find this exciting, because this is something I’ve worked on a fair bit and feel like I can help with immediately. My LC classification may be more than rusty (I haven’t thought about cataloging since library school, if I’m honest), but I know about outreach and marketing. Some ideas we tossed around today included personal outreach to faculty, giveaways for students, and speaking with our sales reps about other academic libraries’ success stories.

If you’re an academic librarian, how do you market your materials to students and faculty? What has worked or not worked for you?

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Shining a light on civil rights

This week the New York Times reported that American students don’t learn much about the Civil Rights Movement. That was on my mind as a co-worker shared his memories of learning first hand about segregation while stationed at an Air Force base in Mississippi in the1950’s. Then I heard Rev. Dwight Haynes, a retired minister who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Montgomery, speak at the Love Your Neighbor rally in response to the recent hate crime in Concord. When he invoked King’s speech, the grayer members of the crowd responded in unison.

Listening to these lessons from the struggle to realize the American ideal of equality made me wonder what resources I could share with young people who may not know that the response to Dr. King’s “How long?” is “Not long.”  When my own teen said she hated hearing about people being hurt and mistreated, I empathized, but told her that examining history is a first step towards not repeating it.

From the reference desk I’ve observed that busy students don’t read much beyond assigned texts, so I’ll stick to online resources. Ed Tech Teacher’s Best of History Websites includes a rich selection of Civil Rights Movement sites. C-SPAN features videos on a variety of civil rights related topics, from Mt. Vernon’s slave quarters to gay rights.  CivilRightsTeaching.org recommends websites.  Visit the Infoplease Civil Rights Timeline for a historical overview and links to people and events from 1948 to 2009.

My favorite resource?  The Library of Congress (which is really everyone’s library), whose Virtual Services Digital Reference Section has compiled an excellent Civil Rights Resource Guide, filled with primary source materials such as oral histories, letters, and photos, as well as links to other sources and a bibliography.

If a young adult in your life has time to watchYou Tube videos and sports highlights, he or she can visit a couple these sites, too. Share a link and see what happens.