Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Students as library advocates

Mitchell, Lillie Gale

Deuink, A. & Seiler, M. (2006). Students as library advocates: The library student advisory board at Pennsylvania State Schuylkill. College & Research Libraries News 67 (1): 18-21.


"Students, as library advocates, are a powerful marketing tool (Deuink & Seiler, 2006)”, and this article covers how having student advocates builds and benefits the development of a library's collection. A case study was used based on a small college campus establishing a student group attracting both residential and commuter students. The initial group was composed of student that had worked together before through other organizations, but not necessarily library users. The diversity of the club was communicated by recruiting library student workers, members bringing their friends to meetings, and the reputation earned as a fun and exciting club.

This student group was empowered to help spread a positive message about the library to the student body which improved the library’s collections and services. The group acted like a public library’s “friends group”. Their activities included purchasing collection materials such as books, DVDs, and a color printer; highlighting new themes each month, developing a “menu book” of campus restaurants; and acting as library volunteers when needed.
Additionally a summary on how to create a successful student advisory group based on the two years of experience with the club was included. Here are the key points of a successful student advisory group (Deuink & Seiler, 2006):

  •   Recruit new members throughout the year.
  •  Be available and responsive to the students, in person and in the virtual world.
  • Conduct monthly meetings to keep the ideas and actions flowing and to gain continuous feedback.
  • Listen to students’ ideas and suggestions and treat them with respect.
  • Take actions on ideas proposed by club members.
  • Show enthusiasm for the club and the library by letting your students be creative and not afraid to express their ideas.
  • Serve food at the meetings

Even though this article applied to using advocates in an academic library setting as a marketing tool, certainly this process can also be applied to other library systems as well. Collaboration is key to having stakeholders buy into any organization, therefore this is a reminder that the library is a business. As mentioned in the article the student advocates group could be treated like a “friends group” therefore valued members of the library.

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