As Youth Services Librarians we are very good at promoting books to kids. We booktalk, create displays, offer programs, and compile lists. When it comes to marketing our electronic resources we can struggle a bit without the tangible object to hand young people and their caregivers. Here are a few ways to market these expensive and often under used resources.
Less can be more. What do teens really do with fliers? Leave them on the table? Toss them? Wait till they become a clump in the bottom of their school bags? Why not try something they can slip in their wallets or in with their library cards? Create mini-cards the size of business cards featuring the bare essentials of a single database or online service like tutoring, Tumblebooks, Freegal, or Zinio. Focus on promoting just that one resource for a while and then make up a new batch.
The basics of the Book Speed Dating program can easily be adapted for databases. In this case it would likely be easiest to have participants rotate computer stations, each pointing to a different database, every 5-10 minutes depending on the age of your patrons and how much time you have for the session. You might consider doing this as a class visit and having a worksheet with one question to be answered by each database just to keep things on track. Leave time at the end for a bit of discussion.
- Had they ever used a database before?
- What could they use for a current assignment?
- Which database was easiest to use? Why?
- What kind of material were they surprised they could find in the database?
- What advantages do databases have over Google? (You may have to prompt)
When we promote our databases and other online resources we need to think both inside and outside the box. Sure, you’ve told the high school guidance counselor about online tutoring, but what about the coaches? They have access to kids who need to keep their academics at a certain level but are very busy and are often not the kids you see in the library after school.
What student clubs or community groups might be interested in Learn 4 Life classes? There must be teens in your community who would like to learn Java or digital photography for free!
Obviously the foreign language teachers should know about Mango Languages and the like, but how about the local youth pastor that plans international mission trips?
What groups in your city would benefit from test prep resources like Learning Express? Can your mini cards be passed out when the Urban League does college tours? These are just a few examples. I’m sure if you look around your community you can think of more.
Make information about electronic resources available at the point of need. In other words do your best to integrate pointers to your electronic resources in your physical collection. CultureGrams bookmarks on the shelf near the geography books, Freegal mini-cards near the CD collection, pointers to test prep materials displayed with the college guides all have a better chance of success than the same information sitting on the circulation or reference desk.
Think about your displays. Place subject specific resource guides or posters pointing to specific electronic resources in sign holders as part of your display. You could even make dummy book covers with the title of the database and access instructions.
In most schools certain grades do the same type of projects every year. Talk to teachers and make notes of when demand for certain materials increases, be sure to focus promotion on related databases during those times.
Bring your databases front and center by working with your web team to reduce the number of clicks to get to the start pages. At the very least link a few popular choices from the main youth pages.
Set a goal to find ways to use or demonstrate a certain number of resources during programs.
Post “Did You Know?” fun facts on your bulletin boards or social media accounts with links to the database the fact comes from.
Create a database trailer (like a book trailer) highlighting the types of information found in a specific database.