LibraryAware- Why I recommend it but won’t be using it… yet.

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Today, I attended a LibraryAware demo hosted by EBSCO/NoveList and fell in love with the  product but will not be recommending my organization, PALNI, subscribe just yet.

LibraryAware, What is it?

The Vendor Description:
From the EBSCO team who created NoveList comes an easy-to-use, web-based tool that solves libraries’ everyday online and print promotional needs. LibraryAware helps you create, deliver, and measure your promotional messages. With LibraryAware, your community will discover all the programs, products and services you have to offer.

LibraryAware includes these features and benefits:

  • Produces professional looking designs — no matter what the skill level
  • Creates promotional materials with consistent branding
  • Provides continually updated designs and best practice recommendations
  • Enables libraries to deliver their messages through all free communication channels
  • Plays nicely with popular event software, social media and blogs
  • Streamlines and improves what libraries are already doing with their promotional efforts
  • Organizes all promotional materials in one place

Why I recommend LibraryAware

  • HUGE time-saver – I can not emphasize this point enough. You can create multiple types of materials by inputting your information ONCE and push it out to multiple channels. It takes the maintenance work out of the process. They even have Media Release Letter templates you can use to push out to the local news!
  • Easy to use – Very straight-forward user interface. If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use LibraryAware.
  • Developments persuaded by users – This is a big positive! Subscribers of LibraryAware can vote on what/which developments they would like the most.
  • Branding – your library’s logo and contact information will automatically be placed on all materials you create.
  • Marketing Reports – See which promotions are being clicked on and viewed so you can better develop your marketing strategy.
  • Helpful Support for any questions you may have.
  • Choose from 100’s of templates and share among staff.
  • Have access to 1000’s of Getty images and also the ability to upload your own pictures.

Why we will not be using it… yet

It currently does not fit many of our Academic consortia’s needs:

  • While there are 100’s of templates to choose from, many are geared towards age ranges that aren’t suitable for the students and faculty served on the campuses.
  • The templates are not customizable enough – our institutions have very specific visual identities but the editing capabilities to adjust the templates are not developed enough yet to follow these requirements. The editing features are still lacking but they are working to improve and add more as I write this. This could change as fast as next month so keep your eyes peeled!
  • Little access to institution’s student email lists – an entire portion of the product capitalizes on email blasts (e-blasts) which is great if you have access to the emails of your students. Many institutions do not freely give out the “Big List” to the libraries for promotional activity. The work-around would be to use an opt-in widget on the Library homepage but the success of this is still unknown. If students opt-in at the same rate that they fill out surveys, we’d reach a rather small % of our users database. Even then, we’d still only get the students that USE the library and not the non-users which need the most marketing.
  • Social Media Flops – Some of the institutions are active in social media, while others will tell you the “tried it and failed” story. Majority of the institutions in our consortia do not use social media, like Facebook and Twitter, because it fails to meet the needs of their students and faculty- which makes another entire portion of the product unused for many.
  • Small number of promotions – this reason can be argued two different ways. 1) most of our libraries aren’t doing much marketing of their services on the number of platforms that LibraryAware reaches – widgets, social media, print, e-blasts, etc. So, they really wouldn’t be taking advantage of the product enough to invest in, especially when they’ve already figured out how to do it all themselves using programs like Microsoft Publisher and code. 2) However, if you look at it from the other perspective, perhaps they would take advantage of the other marketing channels if they had a product that would easily manage it all. This is a toss-up and one reason I’m keeping an eye on the product as it develops further.
  • Current resources are sufficient – Many of our Academic Libraries benefit from having access to their campus’ Marketing Dept which can design and print beautiful promotional materials for them. They also can use the Consortia’s graphic designer (DCM) at anytime, free of charge. If they want to design promotions themselves, most have access to Microsoft Publisher or open-source options like InkScape and Scribus.
  • So, the main draws to the LibraryAware product for our libraries would be: the duplication of the promotional design across multiple channels, the time saved, and the measurement aspect from each marketing campaign. Until there is an increase in demand for one of the above draws or changes to the product that make it more beneficial to academics, PALNI will not be using LibraryAware just yet.

Summary

LibraryAware is a time-saving, strategic product that has the potential to change the way Libraries engagingly communicate with their patrons. However, LibraryAware is not developed enough to meet the needs of our academic consortia, though, we will be keeping a close eye on the product over the coming year. I, personally, have every confidence that this product will develop into a serious game-changer when it comes to marketing the value of libraries.

Check out the free demos provided by NoveList to see the product in action! (You will need to scroll down the list of webinars in the Training Center to find the LibraryAware focused webinars)

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