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Extending your library's reach: How to write a successful library communications plan

Last Wednesday, the Shire of Karratha held a regional conference for its Library and Information staff. As part of the conference program, the Communications team of Curtin University Library designed a workshop on how to develop a successful communications plan.

One of the things I love most about working with libraries, is the inclination to share ideas and knowledge with one another other, although this is no surprise… it’s written into our code of conduct. Sara and Perri’s workshop is a great example of our core values, it was performed under the auspices of their wonderful manager Jane Pritchard, and we were broadcasting from the Curtin University Librarian, Catherine Clark’s own (empty) office. 

The broadcast is available for you to watch and take part in, to do so you will need to download and print the worksheet. When you have printed the worksheet (to A3 double-sided) you are ready to view the webcast!

One of our participants provided some wonderful reflections and a great summary of her learning, she has given us permission to reprint it below.  

If you have any questions about the webcast, or have any ideas about other topics that you might like to see ALIA WA facilitate, please get in touch!

The webinar provided a positive learning experience.  The content was well structured into theory and activity time periods which encouraged reflection and participation in planning by stages a library communication plan.
I noted an important omission on 3. Channels slide.  The listing did not identify liaison librarians/outreach librarians as being one of the library communication 'channels'.   I worked at a major Sydney University library two years ago where 'outreach' librarians were recognized by all staff as being the direct communication link/ channel to academic staff.  By the nature of their work role liaison/outreach librarians provide a highly personalised and direct physical communication channel for library communications. 

My choice of channels for older academics based on my perception of a lack of use/ knowledge of social media would be to communicate through more traditional channels. This could include a quarterly newsletter, posters on faculty staff noticeboards (and tea rooms) and wherever possible organizing either a direct one to one meeting or small group meeting by a liaison/ outreach librarian.

For my second client group, undergraduates, I decided they would be tech savvy and with limited time would prefer delivery of shorter library communications via social media channels : Facebook, twitter and on as they would be coming to the library website for e-resources, they would probably see messages on the library website.

For my third group, I decided to focus on university support staff who do not usually use the library.  I profiled Margaret, an admin officer in the Facilities unit.  She was interested in career development and undertaking an online TAFE course in management skills and could directly benefit from access to the physical and electronic business collections held in the university library and possibly interlibrary loans. Margaret had no knowledge of the university library either physically or electronically. She was not even aware she was eligible to join.

To this end the most relevant communication channels I considered which would encourage support staff non users to become library users was more traditional channels.  Delivery of the initial library welcome message could be via a personalised visit of a liaison/ outreach librarian to a facilities unit staff meeting.  This could be followed up with an email to all attendees and then keeping staff up to date with further electronic quarterly library newsletter of 'happenings'. 

In the final webinar section about evaluating the impact of the communication plan, using my specific example of Margaret (ie non user)  I would suggest as a measure:

1. Increase in Library membership by non-users (support staff) (identified on the circulation system using codes for support staff on library registration form)

In respect of my comment previously, where a library seeks to develop a ‘total’ library communication plan' which recognises the important communication channel role played of liaison/ outreach librarians, success could be measured as:

2. Increase in Visits/meetings to academics by Liaison/Outreach Librarians over a given time period.  (I.e. visits/ meetings being used to deliver library communications).

Thank you for providing such a well thought out, interesting and free professional webinar to ALIA members

Caroline Cotton

ALIA Associate (Retired)

What are your thoughts and reflections on the Webinar? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting to @ALIAinWA

About Jessica Pietsch | ALIA WA State Manager

Jessica Pietsch | ALIA WA State Manager
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