Here at the State Library we’ve been talking about databases and working on new Internet services that you’ll soon be hearing more about. I know that’s great, but….
My “but” comes from wondering how much libraries are promoting the plethora of information found in online research databases that are free — thanks to our cooperative investment.
Studies report the majority of individuals choose Google or some other search engine when looking for information, and many times are perfectly happy with the result. How many of those individuals have come to the reference desk still stymied because they can only get a brief look at the information they need, they can’t get the full speech, they can’t access the complete article?
Databases cost libraries thousands of dollars every year, and they are worth every penny. But our patrons do not utilize these precious electronic resources. Instead of describing these resources as free, we should remind patrons of the benefits of this service, i.e. what this service can do for them. Quality database access is a privilege they get for belonging to such a forward-thinking community. Databases are the assimilated hard work by well-educated specialists.
Where else but in our databases can one find a complete George Will column? How many dishwasher reviews from Consumer Reports? How many free investment analyst reports? Or a complete list of repairs for my 2002 Nissan Sentra?
Some ideas to connect in your community:
Promote databases in conjunction with local organizations: for example, does the Chamber of Commerce site link to the business and company resource center?
Market databases by topic: flyers that concentrate or list all the health databases might be very helpful for your patrons.
Mention safety and reliability of information.
Make databases easy to find: can patrons find the electronic resources from your home page or are these resources buried?
It’s a lot to think about, but it’s important to take another look at marketing our “electronic” resources.