MDMLG Newsletter - Sample Article #2

Promotion of MDMLG Health Sciences Award

Let’s Get Visible: Marketing the Medical Library

At one point or another, almost all librarians are confronted with the fragile state of their
professional existence. In the age of Google, PubMed, and the seemingly one-stop
searching provided by popular databases like UpToDate, who needs a librarian, right?
This argument is brought up again and again in the professional literature as well as the
popular press, and I don’t intend to re-hash it here. As librarians we know the thoughtful
consideration and research it takes to build great, useful collections. We know that there
are better ways to perform thorough literature searches without looking through 12,000
PubMed citations. The problem is, if no one else in your institution knows this, they
won’t know the true value of the library or the librarian.

Marketing has evolved from a skill into a survival tactic. Many hospitals operate under
extreme budget constraints where under-utilized services are considered dispensable.
There has never been a better time for libraries to promote the invaluable benefits they
can bring to fulfilling the information needs of doctors, nurses, administration, and
patients. Below are a few tips on how medical libraries can increase visibility within
their institution and promote their services.

  • Create attractive bookmarks or other brief pick-up-and-go information
    sheets. Prominently display the library’s location, phone number, and web
    address (if applicable). If space permits, include a brief explanation of
    services. If your budget does not allow for a professional print job,
    wonders can be worked with a word processing program, a printer, and
    colored cardstock.
  • Create a library newsletter in electronic or print format, maybe even both.
    Use the newsletter to announce new acquisitions, give search tips, or
    profile a recently published doctor or nurse. Health care is at the forefront
    of technology and our patrons are very tech-savvy. Use a modern design
    to show your users that the library is also sleek, current, and innovative.
    Look at the colors, fonts, and layouts used in popular databases to get
  • Have a raffle. Ask vendors if they would be willing to donate a book or
    personal subscription to a popular database. Raffle off a chance to win
    and get people through the door to enter. Use the visit as a chance to tell
    them about the library’s new e-journals.
  • Utilize free “banner” capabilities available within subscribed resources.
    For example, create a custom PubMed LinkOut icon, or place your
    library’s name on Science Direct and Highwire journal pages. Remind
    users that even though the resources are available to them through the
    Internet, the library is maintaining and often paying for them.
  • Create customized WebPages for specific groups within your hospital
    such as nurses, neurosurgeons, or pharmacists. List links to resources that
    may be of particular interest to them. Not only will users appreciate the
    personal touch, the library will be seen as user-friendly.
  • Get out of the library. Well, at least for short periods of time. Meet with
    department heads or join a committee within your institution. Get to know
    your user’s needs first hand and offer to provide on-site training sessions.
    Show institution leaders that the library is flexible and active.

Even the smallest library can benefit from putting a few of these tips into action. It’s not
always about spending money, it’s about reaching out to more people and promoting the
wonderful services you can provide.

Check out these articles for additional information on library marketing:

Bridges, J. (2005). Marketing the hospital library. Medical Reference Services Quarterly,
24(3), 81-92.

Kendall, S. & Massarella, S. (2001). Prescription for successful marketing. Computers in
Libraries, 21(8), 28-32. Full-text available via InfoTrac.

Seiss, J. (2004). Marketing without much money. Information Outlook, 8(10), 28-31.
Full-text available via InfoTrac.

Wakeman, M. (2004). Marketing and health libraries. Health Information and Libraries
Journal, 21, 237-244.

Has a marketing strategy used in your library produced stellar results? Would you like to
share it with other members? If so, email your tips to
Submissions will appear in a future newsletter issue.

JoAnn Krzeminski, Senior Information Resource Specialist, Sladen Library, Henry Ford

About  |  Consumer Health  |  Executive Board
  |  Job Bank  |  Listserv  |  Meetings  |  Web Links 
Site Index