Best Practices from Public Libraries Applicable to Academic Libraries

Mar 31, 2016 10:29:13 AM / by Lindsay Mullen

public, academic, library

If the academic library was an iteration of James Bond, it would be the Daniel Craig version: serious, modern and efficient at delivering information (whether it’s the perfect article to supplement a sophomore’s research paper or a devastating quip to a villain in a secret underground volcano lair). The public library is more of the Sean Connery Bond: charming, liked by all and with a great set of accoutrements (although the library’s makerspace is not, to the best of our knowledge, curated by Q.)

Just like how Craig and Connery are both Bonds, so too are the academic and public both libraries, but with very different atmospheres and goals. And yet, both kinds of library can learn a lot from the other. Today we’re taking a look at what you, the academic librarian, can learn from your counterparts in the public library space. Take a look at some of these awesome public library ideas you could integrate into your academic library—and don’t worry, we won’t tell if you steal any.

Implement a recycling program

You probably already have some eco-friendly initiatives around your campus (college students are some of the greenest folks around!) but take inspiration from public libraries to bring your recycling program to the next level. Check out how Bedford Public Library used the leftover paper from a Mango Languages care package to create a groovy centerpiece for their library lobby, helping to reduce their carbon footprint and make their front desk a little more welcoming!

Take this case as inspiration to think outside the box with your recycling program. While you personally may not love the idea of turning the discarded drafts of someone’s senior thesis into an entryway art project, the sculpture majors on campus may rush at the chance. If you’re looking for something less artsy, consider starting a contest to encourage students to use less paper. If each student has a set limit of pages they can print, hold an end-of-the-year raffle for those who printed 50 percent or less than their allocated amount. They could win anything from a free pizza to a year’s worth of amnesty on overdue fines—get creative!

Get smart online

Your digital collections are already wondrous to behold, so make sure they live on an equally delightful website. For inspiration from your public library compatriots, check out Multnomah County Library’s website. It’s got plenty of features relevant to the academic library website: an easily searchable catalog, multi-lingual support and clear navigation for anyone looking to learn more, renew resources or get involved with events. Take a look at this list of 20 great public library websites for some further ideas, and check out our blog on how to promote your library online for more.

Don’t stop once your website is at its prettiest: make your social media channels just as awesome! Public libraries around the world are using social media to its greatest potential. Just look at the New York Public Library’s Twitter: thanks to its use of hashtags, great images, polls and clever linkbacks (and its name recognition, let’s be real) it’s one of the most followed library social media accounts in the world. For a lesser-known library doing great things on the platform, we’ve got to once again give a shout-out to the Orkney Library Twitter. For years, they’ve been putting out wryly hilarious tweets about the goings-on in their library. It’s unexpected and funny—and it’s made the library a go-to place. Take a cue from these accounts and make your social media accounts great. Share some of the weird, wild and wonderful things going on at your institution, develop a voice of your own and watch engagement with your library skyrocket.

Party.

There ain’t no party like an academic library party, because academic library parties don’t stop (at least during finals week). However, your public library equivalents have been really tearing it up lately in terms of throwing awesome events. From Mango parties to Pirate parties, we’ve been to most of them. Academic librarians, it’s time to show them what you got!

Parties don’t just get people in the door, they show partygoers all the great things you have. A party is a great opportunity to unveil a new resource, celebrate a beloved professor or staff member or simply celebrate the end of midterms. Take a look at the Mango Day celebrations we’ve helped host at public libraries if you’re in need of a reason to have an event soon. We’ve helped public libraries put together events to tell patrons all about Mango, and we can help you out too! Not only can we provide swag, but we’ve got plenty of great ideas on what you can do to make a Mango Day campus-appropriate. Contact us to get started!

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Topics: Higher Ed

Lindsay Mullen

Written by Lindsay Mullen

Lindsay Mullen is CEO of Prosper Strategies, working behind the scenes to support the Mango team's world of lovable language learning. A language aficionado herself, Lindsay oversees a team of marketers fluent in public relations, content development and strategy (and they speak some German, French, Spanish and Chinese as well.)

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