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Magazines > Marketing Library Services > September/October 2004
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Information Today
Vol. 18 No. 5 — Sep/Oct 2004
The 3rd Annual IFLA/3M International Marketing Award: Best Practices
by Christie Koontz

The first award or incentive I ever received for outstanding performance was an extra paycheck. The advertising agency where I worked had developed the original Visa logo and was fighting for copyright. My job, as the young, new hire, was to find the original artwork in the basement files. I did so (an omen that I was headed for a great career in professional information seeking) and was rewarded.

Most organizations award individuals or departments for good work. Increased pay is always desirable from the employees' perspective, but incentives can range from a free weekend at a Marriott hotel to Swiss watches, your own Mickey Mouse phone, or plaques, certificates, and pins. National organizations often award member organizations with a range of items, such as certificates or cash, and present these at national conferences. Awards can be at the individual, organizational, or even global level. Do these items provide incentive? The answer from most is yes. In that tradition, I'll describe an international award given for "best practices" marketing.

Award for 'Best Practices' Marketing

The Management and Marketing (M&M) Section of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and 3M Library Systems announced the winners of the third IFLA/3M International Marketing Award. First, second, and third prizes were presented at IFLA's Annual Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on August 27.

The award was developed in 2001 and is based on the John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award (jointly sponsored by H.W. Wilson and the Library Administration & Management Association). This award, first presented in 1946, honors outstanding library public relations programs that support a specific project or activity or an ongoing program (e.g., the promotion of the summer reading program, a yearlong centennial celebration, or fundraising for a new college). The IFLA/3M award honors the outstanding application and understanding of all four basic steps in a marketing model: research, segmentation, marketing mix strategy, and evaluation.

For this third award, applications were available in the five official IFLA languages (English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German) as well as Mandarin/Chinese on the Web sites of both sponsors. The deadline was Nov. 30, 2003. All together there were 52 applicants from five continents, sent in from 17 countries including the Russian Federation, Australia, Spain, Nigeria, New Zealand, India, United States, Canada, Ivory Coast, Philippines, Cuba, United Kingdom, Sweden, Romania, Indonesia, Argentina, and Chile. Any library, agency, or association in the world that promotes library service was eligible to enter the contest.

This year's applicants were judged on some of the following criteria:

• Strategic approach to marketing indicated in the research and planning stages of a submitted project

• Creativity and innovation as demonstrated by the originality of solutions to marketing and communications challenges

• Potential for generating widespread public visibility and support for libraries, irrespective of the kind or amount of resources employed

• Commitment to ongoing marketing and public
relations activities

The committee revised the criteria this year to facilitate increased understanding of marketing and to encourage participation by a broader range of countries. A glossary was provided so that all applicants were using the same definitions. The committee reached a new goal: to recognize marketing efforts by developing countries with fewer resources.

When marketing was first introduced to the library field in the late 1970s, there was much confusion between marketing and publicity. (Publicity is only one part of marketing.) It's taken almost 25 years to straighten out the difference in meaning, but, as illustrated by the applicants for this award, we can see that libraries have now embraced true, four-step marketing. The winning libraries all marketed in a systematic way. By telling their own stories, the people who applied for this IFLA/3M International Marketing Award provided insight into the colorful, behind-the-scenes daily business of modern libraries.

Who Won This Year?

Photos courtesy of 3M.
Don Leslie (left), representing award sponsor 3M, presents first prize to Muhudien Mohammad, head librarian of Australian Islamic College in Kewdale, WA, Australia.

First place was awarded to the school library of Australian Islamic College (AIC), located in Kewdale, WA, Australia, for using library resources to promote reading and computer literacy to 300 refugee children from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia. The library's slogan is, "I Came, I Saw, I Read." The first-place winner received airfare, lodging, and registration for the 2004 IFLA General Conference and Council held this year in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a cash award of $1,000 (U.S.) to further the marketing efforts of the library.

Second place went to the Krasheninnikov Regional Research Library, Kamchatka, Russia, for developing and offering an information and referral service and outreach programs and services to the elderly, disabled, and others in this region who are psychologically and socially vulnerable. The library's campaign is called, "Remedy for the Soul."

Third place went to the West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA) Center in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, for its project to offer current information to the agricultural researchers in the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) in West Africa entitled "Current Contents at WARDA."

I will provide more detail in the following section, culled from the winner's own words, as well as brief summaries of the second- and third-place winners.

First Place: "I Came, I Saw, I Read" Australian Islamic College (AIC), Kewdale, WA, Australia

Submitted by Muhudien Mohammed, head librarian,

Photos courtesy of 3M.
The 2004 first-prize winner thanks the crowd while the award presenter looks on.

Overview of the Program: The program is designed to develop computer-based reading and computer literacy as well as cultural amelioration for 300 refugee childen who recently migrated to Australia from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia and joined the school at the end of 2001. While the Accelerated Reader Program is commercial, the motivational writing and research programs "Cyber Camp" and "Yes! I Can Write!" were developed in the library to enable new students to develop the skills of writing and research in literature-based programs and to explore their new culture.

Objectives: The top three objectives, which are measureable and can be evaluated, are:

1. Integrate children who came from war-torn countries with the mainstream students through this program.

2. Introduce refugee children to Australian culture through reading and discussion.

3. Promote the library and its work and encourage the use of library and information services by new immigrant students.

Mohammed also notes that most children have little or no computer skills; almost all are first-time readers of English books; many of the children have never been in a library in their whole lives; most never attended school with the opposite sex; most have never had
foreigners (people who do not speak their native language) as teachers and librarians; and many are traumitized and fear anything foreign. The challenge was for the library to overcome these barriers to service.

Key to Excellent Marketing: The first tenet of marketing is to identify customer wants and needs and then to meet those needs within the resources and mission of the organization. The winning program is based upon information gathered after the library provided services for Bosnian refugee children in 1999.

Step One: Research: Gathering customer research data to identify what is wanted and needed is step one. In 1999, AIC had received complaints from students and their families about poor library service. Based upon this, librarians decided to survey 20 parents and children of the Bosnian group who remained in Australia, as well as former migrant students, to get a better idea of what the children and their famlies desired. The survey results indicated that many students felt that the library was "one of the boring and idle places of the school," and they (and their parents) did not understand the library's role or what it had to offer. Many said the formal English as a second language (ESL) classes helped students read—but not form the reading habit. Based upon this information, and the knowledge of the children's limited experience with foreign cultures, the librarians decided they would develop new programs to overcome these obstacles for any future groups of refugees, help acculturate the children, and facilitate a love of reading. So in 2001, when the 300 refugee children came to the school, the library was ready.

Step Two: Segmentation: The librarians saw a need to identify and prioritze customer groups to provide unique services with the funds available. The primary target market was the 300 refugee children, and secondary markets were identified as primary students from the mainstream classes and parents of refugee children. This second step in the marketing process is market segmentation—gathering individuals with similar needs into groups.

Step Three: Marketing Mix Strategy 4Ps: The library staff members then designed programs and services to meet the objectives set. By utilizing the Accelerated Reader Program (ARP) from Rennaisance Learning, they offered motivational writing and reading programs. AIC developed a Cyber Camp where students could travel and explore a virtual forest and animals. A student could also learn about plants and animals that live in the forests of Asia, Africa, and Australia. The library also offered incentives such as "Best Writer of the Month," "Book Worms of the Week," and ARP awards. These incentives all had a sort of "price" from the user's point of view, i.e., the number of hours required in the library or at home. Products were promoted on a weekly TV program that the school broadcasts, posters and brochures, weekly reports aimed at parents, school assemblies, display boards, and the School Library Friends network.

Step Four: Evaluation: The library then developed ways to measure the success through evaluating reading test results, surveying teachers and parents about individual child development, offering online suggestion boxes for students, and monitoring whether budgetary requests were successful or not.

The results were positive. Awareness of the library by parents increased 70 percent, circulation to new students increased 85 percent, new students' desire to use the computer for research increased 70 percent, and new students' performance on literacy tests improved by 20 percent. Management recently increased the library's budget, a sure sign of excellent marketing.

I received these remarks from Mr. Mohammed:

"When I started the program I had this big dream of changing children's lives and making a difference in the lives of refugee children. I didn't realize that the program would also cause me to share my family time (increased workload!) and I did not realize that the books could become a flash point for cultural misunderstandings and mistrust. For the last two years I met with angry parents who accused me of allowing kids to read 'Harry Potter' or books that contain a few words of profanity. I listened to the lectures of religious teachers about the importance of censorship. Anyhow, the last two years were roller coasters, at times I touched the sky with joy and happiness, and other times I touched the bottom of the earth on desperation and anger. However, getting IFLA's recognition was unexpected and beyond my imagination. Thank you again for selecting me for this wonderful award."

As western countries and their professional librarians lament the digital divide, this project helps us to realize that most of the world is dealing with growing numbers of diverse and changing populations, with limited resources or restrictive cultural norms. Congratulations to Muhudien Mohammed and AIC for successfully overcoming barriers to service.

Second Place: "Remedy for the Soul" Krasheninnikov Regional Research Library, Kamchatka, Russia

Submitted by Ivanova Bella Solomonova, director,

Overview of the Program: The library has many years of experience dealing with socially disadvantaged populations in the region and partnering with local government and charitable organizations. In the past, in-home books were delivered to the disabled and the elderly, and library services and activities (such as computer training and special exhibits and programs to enhance leisure time) were offered as well. The library's goal for this new program was to develop an information and referral center for the socially disadvantaged. The program would facilitate access to important social services and leisure-enhancing information and would include a summary database of organizations and institutions called "Ask and You Will Get Help." This was an impressive program that included systematic marketing.

Third Place: "Current Contents at WARDA" West Africa Rice Development Association Center in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Africa

Submitted by Thomas Adigun, librarian,

Overview of the Program: The National Agricultural Research System (NARS) of West Africa identified the growing need to provide current information to agricultural researchers to "strengthen" their scientific research capabilities. NARS acted by providing tables of contents of recently acquired journals, worldwide access to agricultural literature particular to rice, and photocopies of articles in the Current Contents Bulletin without charge to users. These needs were identified at a WARDA meeting where NARS members spoke about their inability to individually subscribe to current journals. WARDA also identified a "price" as the cost of users' time to fill out request forms. Direct mail and conference presentations are being used to disseminate the new services. This program contained many components of a successful marketing plan, and it is a great effort from a developing country in West Africa amidst civil war.

If you would like more details about any of the campaigns, please contact Daisy McAdam, award chairman, at the University of Geneva, Switzerland at

The Commitment to Marketing

Both sponsors share a strong commitment to increasing awareness about the value of libraries. The M&M Section hopes to provide a continued forum through this international award so that libraries in all countries can share just how they are giving customers what they really want and need as well as information that people can use to enhance the quality of their lives.

Applications will soon be available for the 2005 award at and through the IFLA Web site (

IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, is the global voice of the information profession. Founded in 1927, it now has more than 1,700 members in 155 countries. We always welcome new members to the M&M Section and encourage others to participate in our work, whether or not they are able to attend the IFLA conferences. Much of the work is done by e-mail and postal mail. You can find more information at

IFLA conferences are held in August or early September in a different city each year. Delegates meet to exchange experiences, debate professional issues, see the latest products, conduct business, and experience the culture of the host country. In 2005 IFLA will meet in Oslo, Norway.

Best Practices at the Local Level

What awards and incentives is your library offering its staff for best practices in customer-centered behaviors? Even if you can't give an extra paycheck, I guarantee recognition will be appreciated and remembered for a lifetime. Even today, every time I use my Visa card I say, "thanks!"


Christie Koontz, Ph.D., is a research associate and director of the GeoLib Program at Florida State University in Tallahassee ( Koontz also teaches marketing at the School of Information Studies at Florida State University and conducts marketing workshops for colleagues around the globe. Her e-mail address is
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