Ten Methods of Improving Quality Service to University of Maryland Graduate Students via “Assertive” Marketing

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In 2000 a faculty member of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department (ENCH) at the University of Maryland (UM), made an unusual request to the Engineering & Physical Science Library (EPSL) Librarians. She asked for an Instruction Session for her graduate students in ENCH 609. As surprised as we were, figuring erroneously that grad students already knew our UM Library Resources quite well; the truth has evolved that they obviously don’t! So, in the past eight years, we have made an assertive, maybe even an aggressive effort, to introduce these vital sessions, mostly at Orientations at the beginning of Fall Semester, to the fourteen departments we serve. What is covered during these sessions varies, of course, by department, subject areas, number of students there are, how long of a session they allow us, where it takes place, etc. But the general breakdown with which we will present sample searching, will be along the lines of engineering OR the physical sciences (with special considerations given to Math and Computer Science). The unique part of this presentation will follow not only the progress bringing a success rate of 13 of 14 departments in the past two years, but the marketing strategies and ploys utilized. For most librarians whom marketing is a distasteful endeavor (we refer to it as the “M” word), there is included as a bonus, a Top Ten List helping to alleviate this stress. This will range from major points like learning how to shrug off “rejection” to minor points like using the prof’s name in that room when searching Web of Science’s CITED REFERENCE SEARCH. So, there’s no doubt that for Information Services this is the era dominated by Web 2.0 and its enhancements. Still, a preferred method of instruction, seemingly, that we and subject faculty have found to be true for graduate students, is the in-person interaction, be it group or one-on-one. Finally, what has been so instrumental in this success story, coordinating this uniform approach in providing quality service to our new graduate student population, is the more than willing attitude displayed by the excellent EPSL Librarians and EPSL Graduate Assistant.


Poster presented on June 4, 2009 at the International Association of Technological University Libraries (IATUL) conference in Leuven, Belgium (June 1-4, 2009).