Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Librarians as Recruiters

I've written about this before, but it's obviously time to write about it again. Prospective students may not chose a school based on the library, but it does influence parents and guardians. Admissions will appreciate the help. It will make you look good to your bosses that you are reaching across the typical barriers. With fewer traditionally aged students to go around, we're all in the recruitment business. Besides, you really don't want to hear some of the things student and other tour guides make up when they aren't getting the information from you.

Here are the kinds of things parents and guardians care bout:
  • breadth and depth of the collection;
  • study spaces available;
  • assistance and support provided;
  • technology;
  • safety of the space;
  • whether or not it looks like their mental concept of a library.
And here are the kinds of things that are important to students:
  • online resources and support;
  • building hours;
  • comfort of the furniture;
  • assistance and support provided;
  • anything "fun" in the library;
  • whether or not it looks like their mental concept of a library.
So how do you translate that into a format that is digestible and usable by tour guides? You have to get to know the people and the department responsible for tours. In one case, I walked around the library and gave a tour to the person who oversaw the tour guides. In another situation, I was on the agenda of every beginning of semester meeting that was held to train new and remind returning tour guides of their duties. More recently, I offered to write the script that was being used for an online tour.

It's important to mix numbers and anecdotes, no matter the audience. It can be as simple as, "We have this many computers and that many books, and we host this contest every spring." Also important is to always encourage conversation and feedback. One of my favorite ways to get a tour guide, particularly student tour guides, thinking about it is to ask what kind of information they wished they'd gotten when they were considering that school.

The most important thing about the library having some say in the information presented on tours is that we are all part of the same team when it comes to recruiting new students. Not even the most well off institutions are going to survive without sufficiently big student bodies, so why not help out?

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