Any new e-resource will need to be implemented, while this may be relatively straightforward for smaller resources, larger resources and new services may take a few months to get just right. No matter how big the resource, it will need to be tested and set up in order to embed it into the collection. Training and awareness sessions for staff and users will help, as will a definite launch date that can be used to market the new resources to the intended audience.
The first part of the implementation of a resource or service is to test. Just because a trial URL worked well does not mean to say that a full blown service will work without teething troubles. As a rule of thumb, follow these guidelines to fully test a new resource:
- URL – does the URL you have been given work? Did it work on the first day of the contract? If not, then this should be reported and noted for next year’s review.
- Has EZproxy/Athens/Shibboleth or other authentication been enabled?
- Does it work from on/off campus?
- Has the resource been added to the Federated search/web discovery service and A-Z lists?
- Have you added the resources to the appropriate modes of access and have they all been tested?
- University Portal
- Virtual learning Environment (VLE), e.g. Blackboard, Desire2Learn
- Library catalog
- Web pages
- Subject wikis/blogs
- Set up/point your link resolver, does the resource link from other resources?
- Set up the admin interface:
- Add the appropriate contact information
- Check that the MARC download works, if appropriate
- Check that the usage statistics work
- Add library branding, faculty needs to know that this resource was brought to them by the library!
It is essential to have a marketing plan regardless of the resource you are implementing. Smaller resources do not need their own plan, but it is important to have a strategy for marketing your e-resources as part of the whole library collection or service (1,2). For a major new acquisition or service it will prove useful to have a separate plan. This plan should cover the needs, wants and interests of all potential users, e.g. undergraduates, research, faculty, off campus users etc. who may need to know about the resource. In addition it should consider those groups in the University who need to be aware of the resource, such as library staff and colleagues in research administration(3,4).
The customer groups detailed above can then be used to define different work packages in the marketing plan as seen in table 1. As referred to above, smaller resources do not necessarily need this kind of planning. However, it is useful to make sure their implementation fits into an overall service marketing plan, which identifies the overall objectives of the services and a matrix for communication to users (5). The following sections consider some of the finer points of the marketing plan.
Training and documentation
Many vendors provide excellent training as part of the subscription. Use it! This training is often labeled as free; however, you are paying for it as part of the subscription. Most commonly, vendors will offer webinars(6), podcasts(7), conference calls or have a local trainer that can come out to you. Although webinars can be good for individuals and conference calls good to go over admin set up etc. nothing beats a customized training session with a dedicated trainer. It can also be an ideal opportunity to invite other staff along to help publicise the new resource. Often trainers will tailor a session depending on who can attend and will be able to run a general session for faculty followed by a session on the admin interface for staff.
When a new resource or service is purchased, many libraries get to work on their own user documentation, be it simple web pages, wikis, blogs, podcasts or printed user guides. This is an important part of the implementation; even if the resource is intuitive, users will often need guidance. In addition, make sure that if the resource acquired is replacing another resource to update all web guides, subject guides etc. and don’t forget to search out the guides you left in the faculty last year! Many libraries make their training documentation and teaching material free to download and adapt. In the UK this is often done through the JORUM service (8) or by assigning a Creative Commons license (9, 10). Other libraries use the LibGuides (11) service from Springshare to do this. This solution is relatively inexpensive and easy to customise.
Before writing any guides, don’t forget to check out what the vendor has to offer; many produce generic guides that may be of use. Encourage them to make them copyright free so that you can download them and customise them to your needs.
Although this may not be necessary for smaller resources, a major change may require a soft launch and a period of review. With any major new resource, no matter how bad the old resource may have seemed at the time, there are always users (and staff) with a ‘better the devil you know’ attitude to change. Although the temptation is to get a new resource out there as fast as possible, a short lead in time may create problems in the long run. A soft launch mid way through the year before a full system replacement in time for the new Academic year allows time to get things right. If you are considering a soft launch, don’t forget to build it into the marketing plan.
For some services, such as the launch of Patron Driven Books, the soft launch maybe the only launch you ever do; in this case a big launch may result in the budget being spent far too quickly and the service may then fail. For resources where you are replacing one vendor’s product with another, you may be able to negotiate a period of ‘bedding in’ where you can run the new service alongside the old one before the contract dates actually starts. This will allow you to migrate users without too much inconvenience.
Any soft launch should include an amount of user feedback. This may also be useful for smaller resources, between acquisition and launch. Feedback can be assessed in a number of ways; through questionnaires, focus groups etc. However, these should be focused and questionnaires brief, ideally no more than 10 questions. See sample survey.
If you do ask for feedback at this stage, it may be useful to compare it to your evaluation later in the year (see Ongoing Evaluation and Access). You can also use it to identify possible focus group participants at a later stage as it can be beneficial to use the same group in order to get consistency.
Again, the scale of the launch may depend on the size of the resource. Regardless of this, the timing is still very important. Major changes are often best launched to users at the beginning of an academic year with plenty of notice that the resource is going to be launched at the end of the previous academic year in order to give your users as much notice as possible. If you are replacing a resource your users may need to remove notes saved in the old resources or update websites and reading lists.
Targeting is also important, some resources require major launches, either faculty wide or university wide, e.g. a major new research database launched at a research festival etc. Others are best put ‘out there’ with minimal fuss. As long as the right staff and users know.
- Helinsky, Z (2007) Marketing to get better mileage from your e-resources, In: E-Resources Management Handbook. UKSG. ISBN 978-0-9552448-0-3
- Gupta, D.K., Koontz, C. Massisimo, A and Savard, R (Eds) (2006) Marketing library and information services: international perspectives. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-598-11753-4
- Thoburn, J, Coates, A and Stone, G (2010) Simplifying resource discovery and access in academic libraries: implementing and evaluating Summon at Huddersfield and Northumbria Universities. Project Report. Northumbria University/University of Huddersfield, Newcastle
- Stone, Graham (2010) Searching life, the universe and everything? The implementation of Summon at the University of Huddersfield. LIBER Quarterly 20 (1). pp. 25-42. ISSN 14355205
- University of Huddersfield Computing and Library Services (2010) Marketing review for Summon and Library electronic resources, In: Summon 4HN project blog.
- ProQuest training webinars
- Sciverse Scopus
- Creative Commons
- What are Creative Commons licenses
- LibGuides Community