MARKETING OF LIBRARY PRODUCTS AND SERVICES AND ITS CHALLENGES TO PROFESSIONALS
Background of the study
Academic libraries are currently experiencing changes in the new information age, due to rapidly changing media technologies, increasing users’ preferences and expectations, competition from other information providers such as the internet, and dwindling library budgets. These necessitate library and information science professionals leveraging competitive marketing approaches to strategically reorient themselves and libraries as information superhighways that individuals can not do without.
Marketing is considered one aspect of the competencies needed and is critical among library and information science professionals. Osinulu, Adekunmisi and Okewale (2017) stress that librarians should be competent in all aspects of librarianship, which includes basic foundational knowledge in librarianship, readers’ services, information and communication technologies (ICTs) handling and use, reference services, etcetera, before library professionals can adequately and effectively market library services and information. products, librarians must be knowledgeable, skilled and must possess good attributes or disposition in these core aspects of librarianship. Marketing is basic and is considered to be essential in the management process for promoting information products and services. Marketing knowledge can assist libraries to have a competitive advantage over competitors and it is through development of new services or changes in the existing ones that they can achieve this and satisfy users better. In other words, marketing competency can bring about improvement in organizational status and enhance the image of librarians, thereby improving library performance.
Unfortunately, many studies have documented librarians’ lack of professional understanding of the marketing concept and its applicability to librarianship. Most library executives believe that marketing is only applicable and relevant to for-profit organizations.Most librarians do not promote library resources, services and products effectively due to a lack of training and poor knowledge of marketing tools and techniques, as well as the fear of commercial publicity. Some librarians see marketing as manipulative, unprofessional, a waste of time and resources.
Similarly, Adekunmisi (2017) indicated a lack of business expertise among academic librarians and he pointed out a lack of interest in the idea and concept of marketing mix among librarians and library top management as a challenge in marketing marketing of products. These scenarios can be attributed to deficiencies in the marketing concepts and principles in the library school curricula. These factors also contribute to low patronage and under utilization of library information resources, products and services. Librarians, as information professionals, need adequate knowledge, skills and attributes of marketing principles and a clear understanding and appreciation of the relevance of marketing to librarianship. Librarians must be involved in marketing and must use marketing principles and strategies to convince and attract users to the library collections and services they offer. A key responsibility of academic libraries is to provide timely access to information resources, both print and non-print, that meet the curriculum and programme needs of students and teaching staff.
1.2 Statement of the problem
In spite of the benefits derived from the use of social media tools in promoting the marketing of library and information resources and services, there are a lot of challenges hindering the promotion and marketing of library resources and services. The concept of a library without “walls” is catching up and is becoming popular among patrons. In this information-centric user community, libraries are expected to provide online access to information in a 24/7 mode as they are used more in an online environment. Users visit libraries to use computers and internet facilities, to access e-contents in a comfortable ambiance, and to use library space for reading and group discussion. Furthermore, when compared to the previous century, the use of physical collections is reduced because information is available and accessible via the internet from anywhere.However, the major problems in marketing library and information products and services are a lack of time to use social media, a lack of privacy and identity theft, too many social media tools to learn, a lack of knowledge of how to use social media tools, the slow speed of the internet, insufficient funding for libraries, a lack of qualified staff, and insufficient training opportunities.Thus, a high level of ease of access to resources and services in the preferred format, highly skilled library personnel, ease of location, a high level of access to ICT applications, resources, and services, and fascinating library equipment and facilities are required for the library to maintain a competitive advantage. More so, librarians must identify public presentation, direct marketing, advocacy, bulletins, newsletters, readers’ awareness training, display strategy, library web pages, lectures, library tours and use of web tools as strategies for promoting library information products and services. As a result, this study seeks to investigate the marketing of library products and services, as well as the challenges that this presents for professionals.
1.3 Objective of the study
The main focus of this study seeks to examine the marketing of library products and services and its challenges for professionals. Specifically, the study will be
To determine if there is a need for marketing library services in academic libraries in Rivers state
To investigate the obstacles that prevent librarians from effectively marketing library services.
To offer strategies to enhance the effective marketing of library services.
1.4 Research Question
Is there a need for marketing library services in Rivers State academic libraries?
What are the challenges that hinder effective marketing of library services?
What are the strategies to enhance effective marketing of library services?
1.5 Research hypotheses
The following hypothesis are formulated to be tested in this study:
HO: There are no difficulties for professionals involved in the marketing of library products in Rivers State.
HA: There are difficulties for professionals involved in the marketing of library products in Rivers State.
1.6 Significance of the study
The study will be relevant to academic institutions, administrators, library committees, librarians, users and researchers. In specific terms, the findings will be significant to academic institutions’ administration in the area of policy formulation by providing a road map for curbing the challenges that hinder the effective marketing of library products. It is hoped that it will create awareness for the library committee as regards the strategies to enhance the effective marketing of library services to users. This work will also educate librarians on how to effectively and efficiently market library products and services. It will also assist them in identifying their lapses and hence improving their services by attracting, satisfying, and retaining users in the library. The findings will also be useful to users by creating awareness of the various services available in the library. Users will get an improvement in the services offered as a result of the recommendations of this study. The research will also contribute to the existing body of knowledge about marketing library services and build on the knowledge of the problems in academic libraries in Nigeria. More so, the result of the study will add to the body of knowledge and serve as a reference material for other researchers who wish to undergo research in a related field.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study borders on marketing of library products and services and its challenges to professionals. The study is however delimited to University Libraries in Rivers State.
1.8 Limitation of the Study
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview)
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 Definition of terms
Librarian: A librarian categorizes, prepares, and catalogs these materials. Librarians also recommend material and help individuals find the information that they need. They analyze and organize collections by subject. They educate individuals on how to use the library systems to find the information they need.
Product: In marketing, a product is an object or system made available for consumer use; it is anything that can be offered to a market to satisfy the desire or need of a customer
Marketing: In marketing, a product is an object or system made available for consumer use; it is anything that can be offered to a market to satisfy the desire or need of a customer
Marketing in Library: marketing in library and information services is the process of planning, pricing, promoting and distributing library products to create exchanges that satisfy the library and the customers or users.
Aderibigbe OA, Farouk BL (2017). Challenges on Marketing of Information Resources and Services in Federal University Libraries in North-West Zone of Nigeria. Inter. J. Acad. Lib. Info. Sci. 5(3): 92-96.
Adegoke, K. A. (2015). Marketing of library and information services in university libraries: a case study of Usmanu Danfodiyo University Library, Sokoto, Nigeria. Intellectual Property Rights, 3(2):143-148. doi: 10.4172/2375-4516.1000143.
Adekunmisi, S. R. (2013). Strategies for marketing library services and information products in Nigeria. Global Advanced Research Journal of Educational Research and Review, 2(12) December: 240-245. Adekunmisi, S. R. (2017). Marketing library services and information products in Nigeria. Lagos Journal of Library and Information Science, 6(1 & 2) April / October: 53-66.