Turkish Delights (Rahat Lokum) Flavour Three: Marketing, student engagement, and visual design (Citrus bergamia

By Philip Keates

Merhaba, all! This time we’ll be looking at ideas for effectively promoting library services, and generally engaging with student users.

Vasia Mole of Koç University told us about their Library Survival Kit, which all new students receive, and which includes essentials like a grappling hook a bilingual foldout survival guide full of useful tips, a bookmark, and even a stapler. Lizzy and I got one of the guides as part of our haul of goodies, so just ask us if you want to have a look.Vasia also talked about how the Library tries to be Koç University’s go-to case study, for things like student projects on environmentalism. This helps students out, as the library is a discrete, manageable unit for study, with experience in providing as much information as possible, and also helps to paint the library in a positive light, as well as potentially providing them with ideas for improvements.

Lastly from Vasia, an idea that appealed greatly to me and Lizzy, nerds that we are; Koç University hosts an International Board Games week, in which students and staff can play a range of games within the library. Presumably this helps make students more comfortable with staff, and helps them feel at home in their study space – as well as, of course, letting them play a load of cool board games. Monopoly, anyone? (No.)

Mine Akkurt of Sabanci Universitesi Information Center had loads of great ideas for marketing library services and engaging with students. They have a blind date with a book promotion, where books are wrapped in brown paper on a display, and students can borrow one they like based purely on the first sentence, which is written on an attached label. Obviously we’d have riots if we started doing this with books on reading lists, but it’s still a nice idea…perhaps worth thinking about for promoting lesser-used fiction books to students seeking reading material?

Mine and her team also employ guerrilla marketing (apparently less violent than it sounds). They promote new services on advertising panels at bus stops heavily used by students. They also promote books through posters across campus – at first glance like those seeking volunteers for experiments, but with call numbers and titles of books in place of contact details on the tear-off tabs.

They solve the problem of promoting electronic resources in a physical space by using QR codes on their new acquisitions displays, for ebooks, articles, specific chapters, and so on.

Sabanci Universitesi also host a number of student society events within their library space, in order to engage with students. These have included concerts, chess tournaments, and even a silent dance performance. Literature events with both internal and external authors are held at the library, as well as network events, where interesting contacts (such as airline pilots!) are brought in to talk about their work.

Finally, Sara Jawad, Graphic Designer at the American University of Beirut Libraries, gave a (predictably impressive) presentation on the importance of good visual design in getting across a message. She emphasised that the quality of design work in a library’s promotional material is one of the main factors in the creation of the library’s image, and gave us some tips on how to improve our own graphic design work. There was far too much useful detail to paraphrase it here (and I’d feel guilty including it in such an unappealing block of text anyway…), but if you’d like to know more, get in touch with me and I’ll see about sharing what she said.

Halfway there! We can get through this. Next time it’ll be Frontline services, space usage, and support for families.


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