A survey of a cross-section of North American academic libraries conducted by ProQuest shows that more than three-quarters expect budget cuts of anywhere from 5 to more than 20 percent during their next budget year. In preparation, a large majority of the 63 respondents (82 percent) say they are protecting needed funding by becoming more aggressive in marketing and outreach. Results of the study are published in an upcoming issue of <i>Serials Librarian</i> in “Raising the Library Profile to Fight Budget Challenges.”
“Libraries aren’t hunkering down and waiting for better times,” said Lynda James-Gilboe, ProQuest senior vice-president of marketing and author of the article. “Our survey showed they’re responding by elevating the library’s presence among faculty and students. They’re intent on increasing the value and awareness of the library.”
Among the most-cited tactics respondents say they’re counting on is improved discovery of collections. With good reason, 86 percent of respondents said that faculty and students do not understand the breadth of their collections and 94 percent feel the collections are not explored to their fullest.
“Simple but powerful discovery is an absolutely critical issue for libraries in reaching and securing customers,” said Ms. James-Gilboe. “There’s effort underway among many of our vendor colleagues to address this issue. At ProQuest, enhancing discovery is a key focus area.”
Indeed, ProQuest has an aggressive enterprise-wide initiative underway that will improve and expand library-based discovery for all types of users with all types of research needs. This year the company will begin migrating its vast, diverse content to a unified platform, eliminating silos of information and opening the entirety of a library’s ProQuest collection – including its many brands – in a single search. Built with all new technology, its design is being driven by library customers and their patrons, after hundreds of interviews were distilled into a series of guiding personas that match typical end-users. Just one component of purpose-driven design, this strategy allows ProQuest R&D to anticipate user search habits and requirements and then, test discovery approaches to hone them before market launch.
Six months ago, the company’s Serials Solutions business unit introduced the industry’s first web-scale discovery service. The Summon™ service constructs a simple entry to library collections, creating a search experience as familiar as those on the Open Web. Throughout ProQuest, the goal is to help all types of libraries and their end-users – no matter their research need – to fully use library collections.
Respondents to the survey also cited the need for better awareness through marketing that’s increasingly skewed to community-building, akin to public library strategies. Respondents described “game nights” for students, summer reading programs for the children of faculty members, free printing, and quirky contests that utilize student imagination and build personal investment in the library and presence outside the library. One respondent described their library’s key to success as “Engagement with our audience that includes having a presence at their activities; rather than having them come to us, we come to them.”
In support, ProQuest plans to update its popular marketing kits in 2010, streamlining access to the information and making it easier for librarians to mix and match tactics and strategies, customizing for their communities.
The survey tapped a range of academic libraries – large and small, state and private – in autumn 2009. It’s part of ProQuest’s expansive R&D program that includes primary research among librarians and users, as well as support for industry-wide initiatives such as Project Information Literacy and other programs that enhance understanding of the changing information landscape.
To learn more about ProQuest’s ability to propel research and discovery, visit proquest.com.
ProQuest creates specialized information resources and technologies that provide the most successful ways for people to search, find, use, and share information.
A global leader in serving libraries of all types, ProQuest offers the expertise of such respected brands as UMI®, Chadwyck-Healey™, SIRS®, and eLibrary®. With Serials Solutions®, Ulrich's™, RefWorks®, COS™, Dialog® and now Bowker® part of the ProQuest brand family, the company supports the breadth of the information community with innovative discovery solutions that power the business of books and the best in research experience.
More than a content provider or aggregator, ProQuest is an information partner, creating indispensable research solutions that connect people and information. Through innovative, user-centered discovery technology, ProQuest offers billions of pages of global content that includes historical newspapers, dissertations, and uniquely relevant resources for researchers of any level and sophistication—including content not likely to be digitized by others.
The company is nearing launch of an all-new platform that will transform delivery of several highly-regarded individual platforms into a consolidated research experience that will encompass all ProQuest family products over time. Inspired by its customers and their end users, ProQuest is working toward a future that blends information accessibility with community to further enhance learning and encourage lifelong enrichment.
For more information, please visit www.proquest.com.