Saturday, December 29, 2012

Signal from the noise

I was talking to a couple of students from my university in a online chatroom* and one mentioned that he was doing his literature review for his final year thesis**. Of course, I asked out of professional curiosity how he was doing it, and he mentioned he just used Google Scholar.

Having just registered my institution with the Google Scholar Library Links programme, of course I took the opportunity to tell him about it. He was blown away by this and then he said

"You should really publicize this. There is no point having something like this if you don't tell people."

The really interesting thing is as we discussed we realized that this was easier said then done.

Firstly, we do send mass emails on important library changes (though not this one yet), for example about the recent launch of our new discovery service - Summon, but he admitted he missed that one. Like many students he gets bombarded by so many emails that he just junks most of them without reading. Though I have heard students say they actually value the library ones, they just can't find it among all the rest....

Secondly, even though he is a fan of our Facebook page, he didn't see any announcement on the Google Scholar library links either, no doubt either because it didn't appear in his newsfeed, or he just missed it , in between large number of updates from friends. He's not on Twitter but that just runs into different problems.

And then he asked me , "This is a new thing right? The librarians who came earlier this semester to help us for the final year project didn't mention this".   

And then it hit me, you can market all you want with mass online channels , but nothing beats the personal attention of reference liaisons. In fact, come to think of it, wasn't this how he finally learned about this new feature?

A one-to-one chat with a librarian friend (albeit not his liaison) .

Okay, perhaps this seems obvious to most of you reading this, but still a good reminder of the value of a personal encounter.

As this is probably the last blog post from me for 2012, I would like to thank all of you for your support & interest in my blog. Here's to wishing you all a happy new year!


* Without going into too many details, I engage with students from various faculties who gather around a certain non-institution community site. Over the years, this has proven to be invaluable in getting a feel of what the student body really thinks and what concerns them.

** For privacy reasons , I have combined a couple of chats with different students into this one account without changing the essence of the story.


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