Data analytics and library marketing at #SLA2018

This spring I was asked to present for the Special Libraries Association’s Leadership & Management Division at the annual SLA conference. They asked me to talk about big picture efforts to develop data analytics projects for marketing library services, two areas I find fascinating to learn about.

Using data driven analyses for developing marketing strategies is a broad topic and can (and should) encompass a wide variety of techniques. Sometimes we focus too narrowly on digital analytics or user engagement with our web presence. As such, some of the traditional but still useful approaches get lost or we don’t always invest in better professional development for those approaches, such as talking about market segmentation or survey writing and development. In addition, many universities have developed data analytics shops to support research projects, but using those shops for library marketing are rarer. And then there is the issue of terminology. We all do assessment to “prove value” but shouldn’t we use that assessment to shape our marketing strategies too? How do we do so effectively? How many libraries even have a marketing plan (and not a promotional plan)? UNCG has started in this area with our (relatively) new Director of Communications and Marketing. She is doing a great job, but her approaches have been quite new for us.

So, just some questions I was pondering when developing this presentation. I’ve gathered some resources together in an open zotero library. This includes some writings about the topic, examples, and tools. I am still adding items there from my research, so come back for more.

I also created a Padlet (a virtual chalkboard) for people to add their ideas. This didn’t seem to resonate as much with the SLA crowd, although there are a few ideas. If you are reading and have ideas, feel free to add. Also my slides are below the Padlet.

Made with Padlet

Summertime NC LITe

On June 9 I attended the summer meeting of NC LITe (NC Library Instructional Technology). Since about 2009, a group of instruction librarians and others have been meeting twice a year to share ideas and projects. The focus has been primarily on tools that we use for instructional purposes, but the topics have expanded to include pedagogy, outreach, and much more. Basically it covers any instruction-related topic, but especially the intersection of instruction and technology. This year we had a our largest meeting yet. It was hosted by Duke University at The Edge.

NC LITe has varying levels of structure (mostly depends on the campus host for the particular meeting), but we rarely have formal presentations. One constant is that we always kick off with a Campus Update. This round robin format allows each campus to share out new events and services. It is a great way to hear from all campuses and get a sense of the variety of activities and interests. This year’s hosts, Brittany Wofford and Kim Duckett at Duke University, took notes for the campus updates and you can read them on the Google Doc.

After the campus updates, we attended break out sessions on various topics. I attended one on Curriculum Mapping and a second on Engagement outside the Library. Notes for some of the breakout sessions will be available in the Google Doc.

The Curriculum Mapping session was especially helpful for me in taking on a new liaison area (History) and being an Assistant Director of IGS. The session was facilitated by

Snapshot of Hannah’s Curriculum Map

Hannah Rozear, Instructional Services Librarian at Duke, who also created this handout on Curriculum Mapping. She talked about her experience using Mindomo to map her interaction with the Global Health program at Duke. Char Booth has written and presented extensively on this topic before and our own Amy Harris’s article was recently recognized by the ALA Library Instruction Round Table as a 2015 Top Twenty article. So, this is something that we’ve been talking about, but it was especially helpful to see how Hannah handled the process for one program and from her own perspective as the liaison librarian. For example, in addition to mapping library instruction against the courses offered, she mapped research and geographic interests of the faculty as well as the extracurricular and co-curricular opportunities for students. I found that to be helpful for someone new to an area. Our discussion also revolved around what to do with the information once we have collected it. Most of us would use the map as an environmental scan, but the visualization of our library instruction next to the curriculum could also help understand where holes are with library support for a discipline (for example, anthropology has a lot of library instruction but social work is getting no love). If you are new to curriculum mapping, you can see examples from Claremont Colleges Library.

The second session on Engagement outside the Library focused on efforts to engage students outside the library walls and on non-curriculum based activities within the library. For example, Duke’s The Edge has hosted student lightning talks on their personal research projects. Others talked about their efforts to have collaborative research/writing centers in dorms. One interesting point was that to get graduate students involved in these activities we need to be sure to give them opportunities that are “CV worthy.” For example, if you have an undergraduate symposium, recruit graduate students to serve as jury members for paper prizes.

My favorite part about these meetings is the chance to catch up with academic librarians from around the state. UNCG librarians have always had close relationships with the librarians at Wake Forest University and getting to see that crew is always a highlight of NC LITe.

lovely libraries
Academic Librarians Unite!

IASSIST is all around

marytylermooreOh yes, the Mary Tyler Moore jokes start now because IASSIST is headed to Minneapolis for the 41st annual conference. IASSIST is all about data and is an excellent conference if you want to meet data professionals from all over the world. Even though my job is only part-time data support, I keep going back because of the network.

This year is special because I was co-chair for the program. The biggest benefit of being a program planner for a conference is learning patience. I was never good with that, but hey, who says you can’t teach an old girl new tricks. But the program is (mostly) set and is looking good. Just like Mary’s hat. I’ve already promised someone I will post notes, so come back for more data if you are interested.

Admittedly in addition to the learning and networking, I attend conferences because I like to eat in all of the wonderful places. I’ve been reading and researching Minneapolis food and put it all on my handy IASSIST/Minneapolis google map. Let me know if you have any suggestions for eating, relaxing, drinking, etc. I haven’t gotten to St. Paul yet, but soon soon.

PS: Ever listen to the sexist second verse of the MTM theme song: “You have the looks and charm and girl, you know that’s all you need.” Sheesh.


Empirical Librarians Unite! #emplib15

Today I participated in the first Empirical Librarians Symposium at NC A&T. The goal of the symposium was to showcase librarians conducting research and librarians supporting (mostly high-level) researchers. The organizer, Nina Exner, said it best that these two tracks mutually reinforce each other. As we support high-level research, we learn more about the research process thereby helping us to create our own research agendas. These are the highlights in my notes from the session. I hope the Power Points will go online because there was great information in them.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Diane Kelly from SILS at UNC Chapel Hill. Her talk was entitled “Why Empirical Librarianship?” and gave an excellent overview of empiricism and empirical research. A few points that stood out to me as reminders:

  • Empirical research tends to be associated with quantitative methods, but empirical research does not have to be quantitative. The goal is to use observation in order to inform what we know about the world. This can be done with qualitative methods.
  • She also had a great breakdown of the different empirical approaches (surveys, interviews, and why you would do them). Nice reminder that surveys are not the only way!
  • She also gave some readings that sound great including Lincoln and Guba’s Naturalistic Methods.

The Lightning Talks covered a range of topics. Here are the highlights:

  • Jess Bellemer at Hood Theological Seminary talked about supporting the research needs of commuter students. They shaped a thoughtful approach to supporting the unique needs of this population. I especially like that they email a summary of interaction after each consultation. I’m not sure I could scale that for my consultations, but I might be able to create a template that I could cut and paste into. Something to consider.
  • Mary Scanlon from WFU talked about business datasets and the unique considerations for those sources. She did a fabulous job discussing the differences between free and for-pay data sources and when researchers might need each type.
  • Jahala Simuel at Shaw University presented on a faculty workshop called “Copyright Law in the Digital Age”.  They got a grant to create the workshop and hire an outside expert in copyright law. It sounded really cool and I wish we could do something like that.

I also talked about supporting the patron’s research life cycle. Mostly theoretical musings but fun to put together.  

I also presented on supporting research data management on a shoestring. Most of the resources I discussed are available on our library’s Research Data Management website.

Finally Chris Eaker of the University of Tennessee and Chelcie Juliet Rowell of Wake Forest University talked about their experiences supporting data curation through a research-driven approach. In other words, their decision-making about data curation is being driven by their research into the data curation practices of peer institutions or specific user groups. They developed their projects through the Institute for Research Design in Librarianship, which sounds like a great opportunity! Definitely fun to meet some more folks interested in data issues!

Overall great symposium. Looking forward to #2!

what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger #alamw15


I know blogging is dead (long live blogging), but in a few years it will probably be considered retro cool and those of us who kept up will be … oh whatever. So, I’m heading to Chicago in the winter for ALA midwinter 2015. Despite the cold it will be a good time. Rather than a schedule (because I never stick to it and really, who cares), here are my highlights. What are yours? Got time for a coffee with the lyndamk in that hectic weekend? If so, dm me.

  • Stumping for JP Porcaro for ALA President! JP is an old friend and a good guy with the charisma and care for leadership. Want to know more about his agenda for Pres? Stop by the booth. I’ll be there Friday after the exhibit opening (I think)
  • Writing for Against the Grain! Oh yeah, I’m press again this year. I love to write and I get to learn all about collections and stuff I would never learn on my own. Plus people see my press credentials and tell me their life stories. It’s a hoot.
  • My first ALA Awards Committee meeting! Very excited to award some awesome people. But I can’t say much more because it is all secret
  • Seeing old friends. Lots of old friends. And eating lots of good Chicago food
  • Superbowl! I’m not really excited about this, but it’ll be fun to hang with people who care. And I’m rooting for the Seahawks … Who are they playing?
  • Chicago in the winter! Januarys in the mid-west are why I fled Wisconsin. So good to be back for a short visit though.

Those are the highlights. What’s your plan for ALA?

yes I am going to be working in Vegas…promise. #alaac14 #alatt

Whichever wonderful soul decided to have ALA in Vegas gets mad props from me. I’ve never been, but that’s just it … I’ve never been!  Super excited. Want to travel now.

I haven’t been doing these posts lately, but I want to prove to my co-workers and family that I will be working … some 🙂  So here is my ALA schedule. I’ve reined my ambitious self in quite a bit this year. It will be gloriously low key compared to every other ALA. But if you know of something I should attend, let me know.

Thursday – Fly in and play … I mean network. Bar crawl while networking. Will get lots of business cards. 😉


  • 1 pm: GODORT Steering – I’m a co-chair of the GODORT Education Committee (Which recently put on this great webinar about sustainability and the government. You should check it out. Very informative.) Gotta go be a boss.
  • 3 pm: Emerging Leaders poster sessionCheck out these new awesome leaders!
  • 5ish pm: Conference kick off in the exhibit hall
  • 6 pm: GODORT social at Margaritaville (no joke. i’m going to order a margarita. just watch me.)



Monday – Going to the Hoover Dam!

Tuesday – fly out!

It is going to be awesome. What’s your ALA like?