Texas A&M University Libraries has been testing virtual reference services since February 2004, but during the fall semester 2005, the Libraries began implementing and actively promoting the services to various target groups. Distance education students were identified as a primary target group for virtual reference services, and as of the fall semester 2005, approximately 1,600 students were enrolled in 190 distance education classes. This paper presents the Libraries plan for promoting virtual reference services to distance education students and faculty and for evaluating the plan.
The Texas A&M University Libraries experience provides evidence that the implementation of an organized, cohesive marketing strategy can have a positive effect on the promotion of library services. But it also demonstrates the need for more systematic and quantitative analysis of the impact of marketing strategies. In particular, this study poses questions for further research: When should a marketing blitz take place? Should faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates be targeted at the same time or at staggered times throughout the academic year? Should a marketing campaign be repeated? How often? Long-term evaluation of user statistics is certain to offer more insight into the process of marketing library services.
Distance Education and Virtual Reference / Karen I. MacDonald, Wyoma Vanduinkerken
Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning / Vol. 2, Iss. 4, 2006
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