More Ideas Too Good Not to Share

Here is a sampling of promotion strategies used by academic libraries around the country.

Introducing the Library

Multicultural Outreach


Introducing New Services

Promoting the Virtual Library

Reaching Out to Students


More Good Ideas


Introducing the Library

University of Richmond (Va.)

One of our most innovative outreach projects has been the “personal librarian” letter sent to all first-year students.   During the second week of fall semester, each Outreach & Instruction librarian sends a brief letter introducing his/herself and the library’s services to 70 first-year students.  Each letter is signed and a business card enclosed.   Although difficult to track how many students follow up on the letter, anecdotal evidence tells us that many students use the contact and some of them tell next year's freshmen students about it.  

Other outreach activities include:

Booth at the Gay and Lesbian Coming Out Festival--A bibliography of gay and lesbian materials is distributed and a selection displayed.

Booth at the Women's Safety and Wellness Fair--The Gale's Health and Wellness Center Database is demonstrated and health and wellness materials displayed. This event is sponsored by the Campus Police Department. 

"One City, One Book"--An English professor led a discussion on Ernest Gaines' A Lesson Before Dying for faculty, staff, and students as part of a citywide reading promotion.

Contact:   Lucretia McCulley
Head, Outreach & Instruction Services
Boatwright Library


Carleton College, Northfield, Minn.

The library can be a scary and mysterious place for new students in their first week at college.  What better opportunity to host a murder mystery?

With the help of the Friends of the Library (a volunteer student organization), the Gould Library did just that.   Planning and preparation took about two months, culminating in an exclusive New Student Week event—on the night of Friday the 13 th.  We listed the event in the New Student Week schedule and distributed invitations to roughly 40 New Student Week leaders, returning students whose job includes informing first-years of various campus activities. We also displayed copies of the invitation on the library doors on the day of the event.

Our goal was to educate as well as entertain, presenting students with a series of clues that required them to check out an article on reserve, look up an online subject guide, use our catalog and another database, and navigate the four floors of the library.  Fifty-five first year students joined in solving clues such as, “Prof. Dodgson was studying the French Revolution when he was murdered.  You must check out a book on this subject for your next clue.   Consult the reference librarian to find an appropriate subject heading.”

For a script and “how to” information, see

Contact: Michael Kirby
Reference & Instruction Librarian
Gould Library


Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

The LSU Libraries at Louisiana State University maintains an active outreach effort directed at students and faculty, particularly new and incoming students.   These include:

  • A new faculty and graduate student orientation session designed to introduce the participants to the LSU Libraries electronic resources.

  • An orientation session for University College counselors, many of them previously unaware of the great resources available at their fingertips.

  • Participation in annual freshmen orientation programs such as Summer Scholars, Freshmen Information Fairs, and Tiger Day, a program designed for potential high school recruits and for students who will be attending LSU.
Contact: Tom Diamond
Head, Reference Services
Middleton Library

Columbia College (S.C.)

New students and their parents get a warm welcome from librarians, who also give them something to cool down at the college’s annual freshman orientation in August.    Coke products are provided courtesy of the local Coca Cola distributor.   The library also provides complementary fans imprinted with artwork and catchy phrase that ends with “... at the J. Drake Edens Library” and “I’m a Library Fan.”   

Past themes include:

               2000 – STOP look and learn at (a stop sign)
            2001 – Koalaty service at (after the school’s mascot, a Koala)
            2002 – Cover your bases (tied to the orientation’s baseball theme)

Contact:   Mary Robinson Cross
System Librarian
J. Drake Edens Library



Multicultural Outreach

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Poetry is a language spoken around the world.    The Du Bois Library has hosted two poetry events with an Asian theme in cooperation with the New WORLD Theater on campus.   The programs featured Spoken Word performances and open mics for audience members. See  and .   A resource list was prepared to accompany the program. The library also sponsored a Multilingual Poetry Fest in collaboration with the university’s language and literature departments and the Translation Center.

See .

Contact: Isabel Espinal
Humanities & Anthropology Librarian
W.E.B. Du Bois Library




Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills, Ill.

A program under development is the “Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature” traveling exhibition that our library will host in Spring of 2004 with funding from the ALA Public Programs Office. We are working with nine local public libraries, campus faculty, and local cultural groups to make this exhibit an inter-curricular, citywide learning event.  While the library will host the exhibit, opening reception and other events, the public libraries will present a series of panel discussions and films.  Our campus fine arts center plans will offer performances related to the event as well.  Learning packets created by librarians will be distributed to faculty members so that they can incorporate the exhibit themes into their classes.  We hope to bring public library patrons to our campus, our students to the public libraries, and interested community members to both places.   

Contact: Troy A. Swanson
Teaching & Learning Librarian
Robert E. Turner LRC/Library

University of Buffalo (N.Y.) Health Sciences Library

“19th Century Botanical Prints,” an exhibit featuring digitized reproductions from rare books in the UB Health Sciences Library, succeeded in transforming a once dreary study area and focusing attention on the Library's collection ( The illustrations have been featured in UB Today and Buffalo Physician.    Prints used in the exhibit also became the basis for note cards and prints sold as a fundraising project for the library.

The project was initiated by the newly formed Health Sciences Art & Media Group (HSAMG), which included staff from the Health Sciences Library, graphic arts department, and the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. HSAMG has gone on to produce a second exhibit “Anatomical Art by Vesalius” (, and is about to debut a third exhibit that will feature close-up photographs of medical instruments from the Edward R. McGuire Instrument Collection: .

These efforts have added not only lasting value to our physical facility, but have promoted our resources and collections far and wide.    Sales of note cards continue to be strong, and we anticipate a new limited edition set of cards with instrument images.

Contact:    Pamela M. Rose
Web Services & Library Promotion Coordinator
Health Sciences Library



Introducing New Services

American Unversity Library

Frida Kahlo, Frederick Douglass, Thomas Jefferson and Angela Davis were among the costumed characters who made appearances to launch the American University Library’s new self-check system.   The theme for the day was   “Save Time, Anytime with the 3M SelfCheck Time Machine.”   Campus venders provided more than 25 prizes, including five $100 savings bonds.   These were awarded based on predetermined numbers assigned to the self-service user sign-in sheet. There was also a Second Chance drawing at the end of the promotion.   The library staff’s creativity and enthusiasm was rewarded with $5,000 as 1 st prize winner in a national contest sponsored by 3M Library Systems.   Also see, “Getting Started: Case Histories” at under “Academic and Research Library Campaign.”

Contact: Helen Goldstein
Access Services Librarian
American University Library



Promoting the Virtual Library

Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan/
Ohio State University Archives

The Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan and Ohio State University Archives made headlines along with their football teams with an online exhibit highlighting their institutions' historic on-field rivalry ( ).   In addition to mounting the exhibit, staff of the two libraries worked with their campus news services to get the word out to national, state, local, and campus media.  Loaded with colorful history about the teams and their rivalry, including players, coaches and bands, the site drew praise from members of the media, as well as alumni and students.   The libraries took the opportunity to boost their academic holdings with a second linked exhibit featuring Michigan materials in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library of Ohio State University and Ohio documents in the Special Collections Library of the University of Michigan ( / .    The exhibit’s introduction noted that despite their athletic rivalries, the “two academic giants . . . cooperate and complement each other in the academic arena.”   The athletic site logged some 21,000 visitors, with the academic site not far behind in the days leading up to the big game.

Tamar Chute
Associate University Archivist
The Ohio State University Archives
Wanda Monroe
Head, Public Relations and Communications
University Library of the University of Michigan



Reaching Out to Students

Clarion University Libraries

Stressed students can seek relief at the library during exam time thanks to the Clarion University Libraries, College of Nursing, and Health Science Education Center.   The Stress Free Zone consists of a “summer beach” with a tiki hut set up at the library, free fruit drinks, food, movies, aromatherapy, neck messages, and games. A nurse is on duty to help students who may be experiencing more serious emotional or physical difficulties.   The Zone was open four nights from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. during final exam week in the fall 2002 semester. An estimated 3,000 students visited.   The Nursing faculty and health science educators identified one severely depressed student who was referred to a psychologist. They also counseled several students who were showing signs of emotional and/or physical stress. The program brought many students to the library for the first time.   See “Getting Started: Case Histories” at under “Academic and Research Library Campaign.”

Contact: Howard McGinn
Dean, University Libraries
Clarion University Libraries


Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wis.

The Marquette Librarians' Assembly formed a Colloquium Committee about 10 years ago with the purpose of providing and promoting programs that would:

  • Enhance faculty/administrative interaction and communication with library staff;  
  • Broaden the campus vision of the Libraries’ role in specific program interests and interdisciplinary research;
  • Highlight the central importance of the library system.

The Colloquium Committee sponsors at least one event each semester, spotlighting faculty research, particularly as tangential to library collections or services.   The 2002 colloquium, featuring a faculty member addressing multiculturalism, was jointly sponsored with the university’s Multicultural Center.

Other activities sponsored by the Marquette Libraries include:

CISZEK Collection lectures. In cooperation with the Student Knights of Columbus, the Libraries co-sponsor a series of speakers on themes of Catholic spirituality. The fall 2002 lecture featuring the newly appointed Milwaukee Archbishop attracted wide press attention.

Research Paper Competition.  Organized and funded by university librarians, the competition recognizes the importance of effective library research. Papers are judged on thorough use of library resources, variety and appropriateness of sources used, and quality of the research process description. Two cash awards of $100 (undergraduate and graduate student divisions) are made at a celebration during National Library Week.  
Meet the Author. The University Libraries recently held its first author book signing in connection with publication of a book on the Milwaukee Archdiocese, In the Richness of the Earth, published by Marquette University Press.

For more information, see

Contact: Susan Hopwood
Outreach Librarian
Marquette University Libraries
Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill, Mass.

In 2001-2002, we presented a series of events as part of our “Community of Readers” with the theme “Culture Clash.”   These included panel discussions of the books “House of Sand and Fog” and “Snow Falling on Cedars.” The panels were made up of college faculty and staff, and members of the community with special insight into the issues raised by the novels. We also sponsored a screening of the film based on “Snow Falling on Cedars.” In the spring, funding from the ALA Public Programs Office allowed us to engage author Gish Jen. We also sponsored a third book discussion panel on “The Poisonwood Bible.”

This year we decided to try a different approach. The New England chapters of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime were to hold their first annual conference on our campus. We decided to try to create some synergy by tying our programming to this event. We chose the theme “Mysterious New England” and invited the president of the New England Chapter to speak on “The Writer’s Life”.   He will return in the spring for a talk with writers G.H. Ephron and Leslie Wheeler on New England as a setting for mysteries.

Contact: Gail Stuart
Head of Reference Services
Bentley Library, Northern Essex Community College


Oakton Community College Library, Des Plaines, Ill

The Oakton Community College Library offers a full calendar of programming directed at faculty and students. These included two workshops during the College's Annual Cultures Week: “Locating International Business Information on the Web” and “Finding Country and Cultures Information in Web sites, Books, and Articles.”  Each month the Library invites faculty to discuss their research/passion around a theme, such as the Harlem Renaissance during Black History Month or Women Photographers during March for Women's History Month.   Related books are displayed, and Webliographies and bibliographies are sited.   The library also offers occasional programs on topics of special interest such as a session on The Girl With the Pearl Earring with the director of the College's art gallery.   Faculty members are alerted to programs on topics in their subject area.  

Other projects include:

SWIM (Smart Women Interested in Money):  A series of workshops especially designed for talking about women and finances. Speakers included professors on campus as well as guests from off campus, such as a financial planner.  At each session appropriate Web
sites and bibliographies were covered.
Library Tech Quickies:  Librarians conduct workshops, some general, and some more specific, for all college personnel as part of the broader program of the Teaching Learning Center located next to the Library. For most of these programs the Library classroom is used.

Contact: Susan M. Maltese
Department Chair of Library Services
Oakton Community College

For more good ideas, see:

ALA Public Programs Live! @ your library Calendar of Cultural Programming in academic and other libraries.

“Throwing a Party to Meet All of Our Patrons' Needs” by Lisa Lavoie, (Tunxis Community College, Farmington, Conn.). Marketing Library Services, Vol. 16. No. 5, July-August, 2002.

“Exciting Sports-Related Marketing: A Game Plan” by Robert H. McDonald, JoAnn Sears, and Cindy Mitchell (Auburn University Libraries, Ala.), Marketing Library Services, Vol.15, No.1,   Jan.-Feb. 2001.

“Writers in the Library: Literary Programming on a Shoestring” by Steven R. Harris (University of Tennessee), C&RL News, June 2002.