STRATEGIES FOR MARKETING LIBRARY SERVICES IN NIVERSITIES IN SOUTH-EAST NIGERIA

STRATEGIES FOR MARKETING LIBRARY SERVICES IN NIVERSITIES IN SOUTH-EAST NIGERIA

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Abstract

This study was designed to investigate the strategies for marketing library services in  universities in South-East Nigeria. The study employed a descriptive survey research design. The population consisted of one hundred and seventy four library staff, made up of one hundred and one academic librarians and seventy three library officers in the chosen zone. A population of these library staff was used for the study. Seven research questions guided the study. Sixty- four item questionnaire was used as instrument for data collecton. In addition structured interview was used for the Public Services Librarians and Reference Librarians of the university libraries. Mean scores were used to analyze the research questions. Responses obtained from the interview were used in discussing the findings. The result of data analyzed revealed that: Library services are marketed mainly to achieve high level of customer satisfaction and to maintain library relevance.The library services that are marketed most are online services and photocopying services.The most widely used promotion methods are exhibitions and displays.The most commonly used channels for distribution are newsletters and newspapers. Librarians mostly consider the cost of providing services and the extent of competition with other information service providers while fixing price in marketing.Furthermore, the study showed that having no budget and having no policy for marketing, are the greatest impediments to marketing library services. Based on the findings, it was recomended that library administration should have marketing policy and also budget for marketing of library services. Librarians on their part should re-learn and re-tool and use other promotion methods and other distribution channels available for the type of services they need so as to gain competitive advantage.   


CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

The concept of library is changing with time and the mission and purpose are also changing. Libraries according to Aguolu and Aguolu (2002) are social institutions, created to conserve knowledge; preserve the cultural heritage; provide information; under-gird and underpin education and research; and to serve as fountains of recreation. Libraries exist in institutions or establishments to assist in achieving the objectives of their parent organizations. According to Fatoki (2004), libraries are the primary resource for conducting academic research. University libraries, like other academic libraries, exist to provide information resources from any part of the world and information services to staff and students so as to further the university’s mission of learning, teaching and research. Library services include provision of materials for undergraduate instruction, term papers and projects as well as supplementary reading; provision of materials in support of post graduate research and materials in support of faculty, external and collaborative researches. In addition university libraries provide expensive standard works, especially in the professional disciplines, and materials for personal development (Ifidon, 1999).  

In the recent past, the concept of library has expanded from a collection of books and print materials to include digital library and virtual library resources.  These refer to the vast collection of information people gain access to over the internet, cable television, or some other type of remote electronic connection. Libraries today are service agents sharing much in common with other service providers (Heath and Cook, 2003), and this has given rise to competition between libraries and other information service providers.  To stay in business entails a continuous business transaction between a company and its various customers (Agunta, 1996). Customer’s patronage is one of the major ingredients for a company’s long term existence. Patronage from the customer is achieved only when a company provides products and services that are able to satisfy the needs of such customers.

With the sporadic growth of new information providers such as cyber cafes, on-line book dealers, the internet community, consultants and individual customers, libraries cannot continue to assume that they are the only source of information that people will consult. Librarians and other information professionals have to adopt marketing as a tool if they are to exist in the tomorrow environment (Kaane, 2006). The success of any library is dependent upon numerous factors, among which are getting users to use the library and making them aware of the library’s services. This exercise is library marketing. Marketing is a management process used for identifying, anticipating and supplying of customer requirements efficiently (Nicholas, 2003). Marketing can also be viewed as a comprehensive term that describes all the processes and interactions that result in satisfaction for users and revenue for the information firm (Jestin and Parameswari, 2002). Marketing of information products and services is a means for improving user satisfaction and promoting the use of services by current and potential users. From the above definition, marketing is planning and managing the organization’s exchange relations with its clientele. It consists of studying the target market’s needs, designing appropriate products and services, and using effective pricing, communication, and distribution to inform, motivate, and serve the market.

The reason for applying marketing in an organization is not just to improve profit, but to achieve a  high level of customer satisfaction and to enhance the perceived value of the services and products. The increased customer satisfaction will result in the increased willingness to use and pay for the services offered, hence the marketing of such services and products.

Previously, the quality of a library tended to be judged on the size of its collections of books, journals and other information materials. Such norms now do not normally form the basis for quality because quality is customer-defined (Gupta and Jambhekar, 2002). Libraries have begun to realize that staff competency is an integral part of promoting marketing of library services such as reference services, especially as a means of improving user satisfaction through effective use of reference resources by current and potential users.

It is the librarian who organizes and manages the library resources to achieve the objectives of the library. The primary task of a librarian is to select from the universe of records of human culture those that may be needed by the actual and potential users of the library; to store them for future use; to organize them by creating appropriate bibliographic access controls; to interpret their contents through personalized services, and to disseminate information stored in these records (Aguolu and Aguolu, 2002).

Weingand (2002) observed that marketing should be viewed as part of a shifting paradigm, a movement from:

Ø  A library as a building, a place, where customers must come physically in order to avail themselves of library services, to a library as the sum of its services, still accessed physically but also through mediated and electronic connection;

Ø  An organization steeped in the tradition of what has always been done, focusing on staff convenience, to an organization that focuses on customer`s needs and convenience;

Ø  An overall presumption of goodness, where the library should be supported because of its innate role, to an acknowledgement that support cannot be  expected, but must be earned through demonstration of benefits to the community served.

There are two types of marketing: business marketing and non-profit organisation marketing. Business marketing is the marketing of goods and services to individuals and organisations for purposes other than personal consumption. For this study, business marketing is the marketing of library services to the university community so that the university will achieve its` teaching, learning, and research purposes. A non-profit organisation is an organisation that exists to achieve some goal other than the usual business goals of profit, market share, or return on investment (Lamb, Hair, McDaniel, 2004). Library falls under the category of a non-profit organisation. Library has to engage in marketing to generate fund as a survival strategy. Non-profit organisation marketing is the effort by non-profit organisations to bring about mutually satisfying exchanges with target markets. For this work, non-profit organisation marketing is the attempt of the library to work, not necessarily for profit towards satisfying the library users  Although these organisations vary substantially in size and purpose and operate in different environments, most perform the following marketing activities.

Ø  Identify the customers they wish to serve or attract

Ø  Specify objectives

Ø  Develop and manage services

Ø  Decide on prices to charge (although they use other terms such as fees, fines, donations )

Ø  Determine where services will be offered

Ø  Communicate their availability through advertisement or signs or public service announcements.

Often the non-profit organisations that carry out these functions do not realize they are engaged in marketing. Non-profit organisations do not seek to make a profit for re-distribution to owners or stakeholders. Like their counterparts in business organisations, non-profit managers develop marketing strategies to bring about mutually satisfying exchanges with target markets. However, marketing in non-profit organisations is unique in many ways – including the setting of marketing objectives, the selection of target markets, and the development of appropriate marketing mixes.

The term marketing mix refers to a unique blend of product, distribution, promotion and pricing strategies designed to produce mutually satisfying exchanges with a target market. Distribution is sometimes referred to as place, thus giving the four Ps of the marketing mix: product, promotion, place and price. The marketing manager can control each component of the marketing mix, but the strategies for all four components must be blended to achieve optimal results. Any marketing mix is only as good as its weakest component. The best promotion and the lowest price cannot save a poor product. Similarly, excellent products with poor distribution, pricing, or promotion will likely fail.

Typically the marketing mix starts with the product ‘P’. The heart of the marketing mix, the starting point, is the product offering and product strategy. It is hard to design a distribution strategy, decide on a promotion campaign, or set a price without knowing the product to be marketed. Distribution (Place) strategies are concerned with making products available when and where customers want them. Promotion includes personal selling, advertising, sales promotion and public relation. Promotion’s role in the marketing mix is to bring about mutually satisfying exchanges with target markets by informing, educating, persuading and reminding them of the benefits of a product. Price is what a buyer must give up to obtain a product. It is often the most flexible of the four marketing mix elements, the quickest to change.

The importance of marketing as a tool for quality management in the library can hardly be over-emphasized. Thus, the essence of marketing involves finding out what the users want, then setting out to meet those needs. The crucial role of marketing in library management has been observed by Wee (2003), who stated that, whether the library is part of a profit-making organization or a wholly public-good institution, successful marketing can support its overall objectives. He stated that marketing can help the library to earn revenue to meet the needs of a targeted segment of customers who use library’s charged services; and if library service is completely free of charge, marketing helps to ensure that the librarians’ services are known and appreciated by their users. Furthermore, marketing is a way of projecting the image of the library and librarians especially at this time when people are talking about paperless society, and also the springing up of cyber cafes all around.  

It follows that support in the form of funding is a crucial issue in libraries and has been the concern of many. Gupta and Jambhekan (2002) stated that in recent years libraries of all types have found it necessary to compete for both money and clients as major changes have occurred; that corporate librarians have realized that they must show management why they are useful and contribute to the bottom line. In the increasingly competitive and rapidly changing environment in which librarians operate, they need to create and sustain competitive advantage in order to survive and thrive in delivering quality library services.

            Most institutional libraries around the world are facing rising costs and dwindling budget due to technological advances and today’s dynamic climate (Spalding and Wang, 2006). Managing an academic library is no longer a matter of receiving a budget at the beginning of the fiscal year and making sure it is not overspent. Now library administrators must do long-range planning to project costs and how they will be paid. In the United States in the last decade, the percentage of a public university’s budget from the state government has dropped dramatically, forcing them to behave more like private universities that do not receive government support. They conclude that as a result both public and private universities must devote time and resources to compete with each other for students, grants, and donations, that is, they must learn to market their products and services.

            A successful marketing programme can create awareness of and desire for library services, build understanding of the value of the services, increase the level of usage and expand the client base. Through organizational alignment and client focus, the information centre becomes an integral part of the organization. Library clients recognize how library products and services add value to their work, and they refer others to the library from both outside and within the organization. They have faith in the librarians’ ability to deliver and trust librarians to give them correct, authoritative and context-relevant information. Client-focused marketing will improve the satisfaction of the library products and services to current and prospective customers. Greater organizational awareness can also result in higher visibility to senior management and ultimately support higher budgets based on demand.

Kumbar (2004) observed that there is competition, among other things for customers; that libraries are no longer the only information outfit in town. There are consultants, the internet, online book dealers. Student reliance on the web and online resources continues to rise at a rapid pace. Recent studies confirm that student usage patterns are shifting and student’s preference for using online resources is becoming predominant in many universities worldwide, as found in Kelley and Orr’s (2003) study of the University of Maryland. However, students search the Web for other reasons than teaching, learning, and research.

While there is a paucity of documented studies in Nigeria, the researcher’s anecdotal record based on the 2006 Nnamdi Azikiwe Library Report, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, shows dwindling usage of their reference materials, as seen from the library annual reports. In the year 2003/2004, 12,292 undergraduates and 6,866 postgraduates and staff, used reference materials. In the year 2004/2005, 6,841 undergraduates and 5,738 postgraduates and staff used reference materials. In the year 2005/2006, 3,824 undergraduates and 1,970 postgraduates and staff, used reference materials. Some of the clients, who no longer use the library materials, claim that they obtain more recent materials from the cyber cafe.  The establishment of cyber cafés in university libraries would offer customer-oriented service, and this is marketing.  

This drift from the library to outside online resources both interests and alarms many librarians. For example, a number of authors have lamented the incidence of students’ reliance on online resources, citing the students` inability to properly evaluate what they find, their lack of understanding of how little is actually available via the web, their unawareness of the lack of currency and relevancy of many web resources, and the increased temptation to plagiarize or inadequately cite materials (Kelly and Orr, 2003). Free web access to information is here to stay and non-library and free access information providers will not hesitate to market to library customers. Broady-Preston and Barnes (2002) summarizing their case study of libraries in Wales posited that, in the context of the New Economy, libraries are businesses and need to harness their assets to compete and survive. They further asserted that if librarians do not market to compete and thrive, others will and will put libraries out of business.

Morgan (2003) put the problem in another way by saying that it behoves librarians to think more aggressively about marketing their information and knowledge products and services if they expect to be around in the future. Oyesiku and Oduwale (2004) in their study of Olabisi Onabanjo University library revealed that the library collections were inadequately used in meeting user demands. The study recommended marketing of facilities and services of the library through displays and exhibitions. It could be seen from the foregoing that several authors such as Van der Meer (1996), Nwegbu (1998), Weingand (2002), Wee (2003),  Broady-Perston and Barnes (2002), Oyesiku and Oduwale (2004) and Morgan (2003) have called upon librarians to evolve strategies to market their products in order  to remain viable and better serve their clients.

A strategy is any meaningful way of achieving an end result. It is the process of planning something or carrying out a plan in a skilful way. Strategies in this work imply methods of effective marketing of library services in the university library for effective goal attainment. Strategies of marketing library services are operationally defined in this study as the approaches used by librarians to promote the use of the library services. These consist of the use of posters, display of newly acquired information resources, exhibition of information resources, and positive library staff attitudes to library users, conducive library environment, relevant library collection, currency of library collection and affordable prices.

Statement of the Problem

            University libraries are the centre of teaching, learning and research activities in universities. To meet users` demands, university libraries invest a huge amount on collection development, processing and storage of information resources. These expensive resources often remain unutilized, resulting in wastage of money, time, energy and space (Nwegbu, 2005). One of the reasons for non utilization of library resources is that many users might not be aware of their existence in the library. If this is the case, the library might solve this problem of non-utilization of resources and services by applying marketing principles. The library is not a profit-making organisation and so its worth and survival is determined not by profit, but by demonstrated use of services it provides. A service that is not used does not need financial support. Libraries therefore have the responsibility of encouraging the use of services they provide. Effective marketing provides the means by which users are made aware of the services of the library and their value. Libraries now compete among other information service providers for customers and resources, yet libraries have much to offer that users may not be aware. This situation gave rise to the need for strategies for marketing library services. However, observation indicates that marketing is either not done or poorly done in university libraries especially in south-east Nigeria ( Nwegbu, 2005). If this unsatisfactory level of marketing of library services continues in the university library,the library might lose the clients and target users to other information service providers, thereby ceasing to be relevant in the university system. Such library will no longer meet the objectives for its existence and so lose its usefulness to the institution. The learning, teaching and research activities in the university will suffer.

University libraries need to be empowered to better position themselves for offering library services. One way of doing this is to market to clients the services they offer. This will enhance the important role of library services for the teaching, research and public service functions of universities. In view of this literature search, the library becomes even more important in its professional support role to universities. Furthermore, other information brokers are trying to take away the jobs of librarians and library patrons are drifting away from the library. The rate of patronage of the cyber cafés is getting higher than the rate of patronage of the library. The work attempted to find out the ways of making library patrons to come back to the library.  

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study was to identify strategies for marketing library services in universities in South Eastern Nigeria.

Specifically the study attempted to:

1.       Find out librarians’ perceptions of marketing library services in university libraries;

2.       Determine the library services and the extent to which they are marketed by librarians in university libraries;

3.       Find out the promotion methods and the extent to which they are used for marketing library services in university libraries;

4.       Determine the channels of distribution and the extent to which they are used for marketing library services in university libraries;

5.       Find out the price considerations and the extent to which they are applied in marketing library services in university libraries;

6.       Determine impediments to  the marketing of library services in university libraries;

7.       Find methods to improve marketing of library services in university libraries.


Research Questions

            The following research questions guided the study:

1.      What are the librarians’ perceptions of marketing library services in university libraries?

2.      What services and to what extent are they marketed by librarians in university libraries?

3.      What promotion methods and to what extent are they used for marketing library services in university libraries?

4.      What channels of communication and to what extent are they used for marketing library services in university libraries?

5.      What price considerations and to what extent are they applied by librarians in marketing library services in university libraries?

6.      What are the impediments to marketing library





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