23:3 (2008:09) 23rd Conference (2008): Tactics Session: Marketing Library Database Services to End Users

August 28, 2008 at 3:23 pm | Posted in Tactics Sessions | Leave a comment


Marketing Library Database Services to End Users
Brie Betz, Elsevier; Stephanie Willen Brown, University of Connecticut; Deb Barberi
Reported by Sarah Tusa

In light of the substantial funding that libraries are compelled to direct to research databases, basic accountability dictates that library administrators must be able to justify the ongoing commitment of these monies.  Usage statistics for library materials have traditionally been an essential component of collection assessment and certainly remain so in the digital environment.  The presenters of this session covered the overview and implementation of the student ambassador, SAm, program developed by Elsevier in conjunction with the SCOPUS research database.  Brie Betz provided the following url for more detailed information: http://www.info.scopus.com/setup/promo/.  Essentially, a SAm is a graduate student who is trained to demonstrate SCOPUS to subject librarians, faculty, students and other researchers, to show these constituents ways to expand and improve search results and to provide feedback for further product development.  Based on a review of the total number of searches conducted at six participating institutions, Elsevier observed that usage nearly doubled over a five-month period. Betz went on to demonstrate that the University of Connecticut’s experience with the SAm program did indeed increase searches at her campus by 275%.  Most notably, one of her Powerpoint slides indicated phenomenal increases for October and November 2007 over the same months in 2006.  In general, the total number of searches for 2007 was 45,651, compared to 16,548 searches in 2006.

Stephanie Brown discussed the implementation and administration of the SAm program at the University of Connecticut.  She explained that Elsevier paid for the SAm’s time, while her time was paid by the university.  The training took 4-5 weeks, after which the SAm taught one session per week for 6-7 weeks.  A variety of incentives, including food, of course, but also gift certificates, were employed to entice attendees to participate.  Evaluations were “overwhelmingly positive.”  Administering the program took approximately 2-3 hours per week, and was comparable to supervising a student worker. Brown verified that usage of SCOPUS did increase, as indicated in Betz’s slides.  Brown indicated that she would definitely repeat the program with a few adjustments, such as using e-mail more.

Deb Barberi described her experience as a SAm, from the training, to the meetings with librarians, to scheduling and planning, to the preparation of the PowerPoint presentation used in the outreach sessions.  The sessions included an online demonstration of the SCOPUS database, as well as a hands-on session.  Wrap-up was a vital part of the session and included evaluations, gift certificates, and a raffle. Citation searching is highlighted as a crucial discovery tool.  Barberi explained that most of the SAms were international students, and that expertise varied widely prior to training for the program.  She also shared that the unquestionable success was due to a number of factors: the support of library staff; the flexible agenda, the hands-on experience, the prizes, and gift certificates.  As an added bonus, the SAms, and probably most of their participants, had fun!


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