A short time ago in the New York Times, Steve Jobs discussed the questionable success of products like the Kindle. From the Times:
Today he had a wide range of observations on the industry, including the Amazon Kindle book reader, which he said would go nowhere largely because Americans have stopped reading.
“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”
This isn’t some hidden fact that Jobs pulled out of a marketing campaign. In general, one need only look around and see how little people actually read. Of course when we say “read” we tend to mean reading a piece of literature in a codex form whose author is a recognized figure. More and more individuals have developed the ability to “cherry-pick” the small information snippets they need or to receive a summary from a third-party source. This combined with our culture’s obsession with information overload, media culture, and digital illiteracy trends; make for a questionable market for e-readers.
With the recent clamor over the “mud flap” girl from the Wyoming Libraries, I began to muse over just how far is too far in library marketing?
The mud flap girl, to me, was an interesting use of an American cultural icon designed to highlight an auto repair database. The library took a chance in customizing a sexist symbol of a woman into something that would grab your attention and probably even make you chuckle. This sort of marketing is smart but can often be a double edged sword, as the original connotations of the edited symbol may overshadow the intent of the message. Do I think they should be ashamed to call themselves librarians for this concept? No.
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If you are a tech-junkie like me, and you are equally enamored with Firefox extensions, your active browser window real estate may be ever increasingly growing smaller. With RSS Tickers and Link buttons for everything from Del.icio.us to Sage, having something at your fingertips, which you will actually use everyday, becomes ever more important. One tool which I have recently started considering for this purpose is made by a company called Conduit. The tool in question is a customizable tool bar. This tool bar can be crafted by a library and then distributed to their community. It features many interesting highlights such as RSS messages, a term highlighter, bookmarking, and email interfacing.
Though there may be some unwanted ads brought forth after a tool bar initiated search (via Google, Yahoo, or perhaps a library search system) the ability to provide the same functions on each users’ tool bar, should be of interest to some. I also liked the ability to brand the bar with your library’s name or even logo (provided you can make it that small and still readable.)
Other new technologies related to this topic are things such as:
- A Firefox extension that allows you to connect to your library catalog while browsing pages on the internet
- Library Lookup
- This bookmarklet acts in a similar manner to LibX but isn’t always as reliable as the prior
- Eurekster Swicki Beta
- This customized search interface and site map tool provides focused retrieval opportunities
Be sure to check out these posts for more info:
LITA Blog (Some Trends from the Lib)
What is the power of marketing? Well think about something bright red and bright yellow. Did your mind immediately think of McDonalds? What if I had said to think about a silhouetted figure dancing to music? Of course we would all think of IPods. For every ad you can remember there is either a succinct design behind it or an overabundance of repetition that has caused you to remember the ad at a moments notice. With this in mind, what is the value of marketing for libraries?
Marketing, or “branding” if you will, can often heated discussion in a library. Committing to a marketing campaign can often be as drawn out and detail oriented as negotiating vendor contracts for full-text access. Once committed though, a library can use tried and true techniques to push services, new and old, and maybe even catch the attention of a lax user. Creativity and originality are obviously keys to any campaigns success, but library-wide support must also play a large part in helping ideas stay strong.
After seeing some images and reading an article about the new I-Phone, I started wondering how hard it would be to create a catalog searching program that could be hosted on a portable phone.
Granted the interface wouldn’t be able to handle a large amount of hypermedia, but it could provide locational direction to someone in need of assistance. It could even be possible for someone to ask a reference question via mobil phone in the same manner.
Then again thinking about the amazing amount of options the product should be able to do, will our users be able to find time for study.
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