library marketing (long, but with an on-topic point)

William Melody w-melody at
Tue Feb 15 12:51:47 EST 2005

>Well, call me old fashioned, but I ask my patrons. (I don't have
>customers.) How often does Google ask you how they're doing? They don't.
>They're not focused on service, they're focused on revenue.

This is factually wrong.  Google has many advanced systems in place to 
learn what customers want.  Some comments on this from Marissa Mayer were 
plastered all over the web a month ago:

They are far, far beyond libraries in usability because they are far, far 
beyond libraries in developing tools to understand what their users need in 
an online service.

>Nothing wrong with popular, but "trendy" is something that bends to the
>whims of people's fancy. "Oh, look, keyword searches that return over
>40,000 hits. Let's all do that!" Is wrong because more is not always
>better. I don't want my patrons saying, "Damn, I've scrolled through 33
>pages of sites and still not found what I need." Trendy is not why
>libraries are here. We are not fashion, we are access to information.

Well, with Google I can type in New York Times and get it as the first 
result, but not with most library catalogs.

>We are not Google and Google is already doing the online thing
>better than we can because that's Google's mission and it's all Google
>does. If we try to be Google, then we water down our purpose as

I'll have to strongly disagree, and I think Ross Singer and the others 
involved with the WAG the Dog project are 100% on the right 
track.  Integrating library services with other online services is vitally 

At 11:02 AM 2/15/2005, Karen A. Coombs wrote:
>Not all library's have staff that
>possess these abilities which puts them at a certain disadvantages when
>trying to create more ubiquitous and integrated services.

That may be so, but I've also seen and heard about a lot of wasted talent 
in the staff when they aren't in organizations with a culture of participation.

That's actually probably the chief thing libraries need to focus on: 
developing a culture of participation, focused both on staff and patron 
participation, and technological innovation.  It's actually pretty 
mind-blowing that the community as a whole hasn't adopted it as a 
priority.  The future (heck, current) academic library is largely a web 
application from the POV of users.  Without internal innovation, libraries 
will fail in their primary duties.

Sunday's NYTimes article on info literacy prompted me to write a long post 
on this subject:

William Melody
Interlibrary Loan
Northwestern University Library
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL   60208-2323
T. 847.491.3382
w-melody at

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