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A kingdom for a strategy

Foto: plantoo47 at

Strategy is a big word. Everyone would like to have a successful strategy, but do you know a medical library which already has one? The following article attempts to explain or define this subject to an understandable level in order to make it easier to apply in everyday practice.

“The time of the medical library may have expired”, sighs Else Immel, the Chairwoman of the German Medical Libraries Association. Just two minutes before, the Head of the Medical Library, Duisburg had been bemoaning the current trends with her on the phone. This was the third depressing conversation that week! The doctors no longer come to the library; the students want to lay off librarians in order to buy more textbooks; the Dean refuses all requests for a higher budget and everybody has began to regard the library as a social meeting place only. To summarize: decreasing gate counts; no support; the closure is near. Else mutters to herself: “I cannot stand this anymore!” The whole situation has begun to affecther badly. What should she say to that caller and what can she advise? There appears to be no easy remedy either! Some libraries – such as the one at Duisburg – are becoming deeply affected by the negative tendencies, while others seem to be immune and remain incredibly powerful. Pondering with her empty cup in front of the coffee machine she decides that what is required is a checklist of all the increasing negative tendencies. Maybe this would result in an indication of the causes and if the causes are understood, maybe the solutions would be not far away.

Else’s list of negative tendencies:

  • the demands of the users are always increasing;
  • the digital experts think they are no longer dependent on the library;
  • electronic teaching tools, e-learning, digital learn flow, Massive Open Online Courses: this all makes students independent of the learning center which is called “the library”;
  • frustration over lack of support, “Why is the library not helping me with my thesis (grant application, publication, statistics problem, patient education)?”
  • no one visits the library anymore, no one knows the library anymore from the inside. Invisibility equals unimportance;
  • continuous price increases and fixed budgets;
  • never before has there been so much available online;
  • everything seems to be open access or available through national consortia;
  • return of investment: when room and resources are scarce, the library will be assessed thoroughly: “What does the library really do for the organization?” Many libraries are totally unprepared to answer such questions.
  • users and decision makers have a lack of understanding of the tasks of the library: “I do not know what they’re doing anyway”.

The list is even longer than Else thought originally and she now realizes why more and more universities think they do not need a library anymore! And the medical libraries will be hit first, since they were the first to make everything digital. Resolutely she picks up the phone. There must be a reason for the success, something that connects these successful libraries! In no time she has phoned all medical libraries – but to no avail: apparently they have no similarities but every library does different things and they are all characterized by the fact that they act purposefully. Yes, the telephone calls had confirmed that these libraries were led by a sound management, which acted with foresight and purpose and … who had a plan … not only a plan but … a strategy!

Did her library have a strategy? Ok, her library had a variety of marketing tools which strengthen customer loyalty and reputation. But could that be called a strategy? And yet, she consoled herself, everything had been a clear statement of the desired position of the library in the faculty and thus very much thought strategically. For example:

  •  the 24h delivery service for journal articles was the result of a strategic (economic) decision: the library continues to offer everything (as a substitute for cancellations), but not everything at once;
  • the selection of which journals to cancel was the result of a strategic (political) decision too: after Else had involved the clinic directors in the decision, they felt they were taken seriously and she herself was out of the firing line;
  • the employment of a Facebook expert was the result of a strategic (marketing) decision: Else’s library thus was able to deliver news and relate to customers via this important communication channel.

Lingering for a moment on the faculty certificate that hangs over her desk, For the outstanding support of research and education through the library Else believes in retrospect, that many of her decisions had proved to be correct. These decisions had formed the strategic direction of the library, even if often she had not realized it . Without doubt, in the midst of a rapidly changing environment, she had always kept a clear strategic vision of the impact of her library.
The common point of the successful libraries now has been discovered: strategy. Obviously each one had found another niche, another top-notch service to become indispensable on campus! The conclusion is that: successful libraries are successful because they have a unique selling point! Formerly libraries were very successful with their business model of lending textbooks, but this unique selling point was lost somewhere in the digital area. Apparently, the leading libraries have now developed new unique selling points that make them independent of budget and physical media. Else once read something about it on Wikipedia [1]. Finally she lists all the potential unique selling points of the libraries.

Else’s list of unique selling points

  • support for computer security questions;
  • (social) meeting and learning center;
  • librarians with smartphone and tablet skills are becoming closely networked with engaged IT, faculties and doctors;
  • competence center for information. Librarians have unique skills of providing information literacy;
  • whatever questions one may have, the librarian is on call and willing to help. The library is the Number One reliable and trustworthy service provider for information on campus.
  • expert librarians with universal knowledge of the automatic monitoring of the health and fitness levels with the aid of biosensors, gadgets and apps (Mobile Consumer Health);
  • genomics: librarians with expertise in the field of genetics, bioinformatics, and statistics can answer questions about genetic defects and disease forecasting;
  • help with information on publications, impact factors, open access, copyright;
  • center for evidence-based medicine. Supplier and informant for all sources of EBM;
  • virtual education: libraries entangle tablet PCs, digital teaching materials, and lectures to a fully-digital learning environment.

Else reflects now that just as individuals [2], libraries could make out their own personal strengths and views how others perceive them. Libraries are just like individuals. They are all quite different, have their own strengths and weaknesses, their own environment and therefore their own opportunities. The successful libraries have known and used this secret for achieving their goals. Tomorrow Else’s findings will be accessible to all medical libraries in a strategy paper. It would be ridiculous if library closures cannot be halted!

This article was published in the September issue 2013 of JEAHIL.

[2] H.Rampersad: A new blueprint for powerful and authentic personal branding. Perform Improvement. 2008;47(6):34–7.

Gehirn schlägt Google


Sage und schreibe eine Stunde schlage ich mich jetzt schon mit diesem verrückten Detektiv herum, den ich in meiner Kindheit so gerne gelesen habe. Es ist ein schwedischer Detektiv und ich bin gerade in Stockholm, also muß ich jetzt sofort, stantepede herausfinden, wie mein Kinderheld heißt – kruxifixtürken! Sollte doch ein Leichtes sein mit Google. Aber nichts da. Keine noch so geniale Kombination von Suchbegriffen bringt mich weiter. Nicht „Schweden Krimiautoren“ noch „Nyköping Krimi 70er“, auch nicht auf der fünften Googleseite, die ich sonst gar nicht beachte. Verdörrienochmal! Ich krame aus meinem Gedächtnis noch heraus, dass es sich um den Reporter einer Zeitung handelte mit Schnurrbart, aber weder Google noch die nette Rezeptionistin kann damit etwas anfangen. Überhaupt scheint beider Gedächtnis nur wenige Jahre zurückzureichen – das reicht nicht, denn nachweislich habe ich diese Romane als cira 10/11-Jähriger verschlungen, d.h. Ende der 60er.

Hmmmm. Ich zermartere mein Hirn. Da muss doch noch ein Informatiönchen herauszuholen sein, nur ein zusätzlicher Suchgriff. Anaton, Aganon, Agaton! Ha!! So hieß der Detektiv! 45 Jahre lag der Name irgendwo in einer grauen Zelle versteckt, nie wieder dran gedacht, und nun spuckt ihn das Gehirn brav (und quasi sofort) aus. Ok, ich musste schon ein bisschen verzweifelt sein, bevor es sich überzeugen ließ…

Und „Agaton“ sagt dann auch Google etwas (und nachher auch Amazon, wo ich wenige Minuten später ein paar vergilbte Kinderzimmermemorabilia erstehe): Agaton Sax, der Meisterdetektiv! Agaton Sax und die Liga für Lautlosen Sprengstoff! Hurra, Agaton, auf ewig bin ich dein!!

Foto (c): Oliver Obst

MLA + ICML 2013: „All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware“

Keynote address at #MLA2013

In April I thought over and over again if I should go to the combined MLA and ICML conference at Boston, Massachusetts, a huge event with 2.500 librarians from all over the world. Fortunately, my travel expenses would be covered, but to be honest: I hate conferences. Specially the ones, which are difficult to travel to and where I do not know anyone. So for weeks and weeks I chewed the pro and cons in my mind till I finally missed the early bird reduced admission fee and the conference hotel was fully booked. Hesitance is a most serious illness…

If I had not to attend an advisory board meeting, I probably would not have been going. But I am German, I am on duty. I am a librarian, I feel committed. If I would not attend, the world would probably collapse. So in the end, I booked a short trip of three days for both, meeting and conference. That should be more than enough, I thought.

Going to EAHIL conferences is so comfortable. They have always the same good old schedule, which let you not miss anything. In contrary, the Boston conference overwhelmed me even before it started. Long before I was buried by emails, sometimes 20 per day or more. After a short while I suffered from information overload and gave up to understand what it was all about. Almost desperately, I booked two courses on tablet PCs in advance, the Welcome Reception and the “25th annual YBP Health Walk”, so as not to waste my time. I had no clue about the walk, but at 6:30 in the morning it seemed to be a nice activity before breakfast.

Once being on the road, my fears vanished like snow in the sun. The flight was fortunately long enough to watch “The Hobbit” and “Django Unchained”, two movies which I longed to see but had missed before. The plane was not fully booked so I had a whole row to my own. The receptionist at the Hilton gave my a nice room and the board meeting started in a restaurant nearby. 

Mostly, companies make use of library advisory boards to get sound feedback, to enhance their image and to influence the profession. At the boards of Nature, UpToDate, NEJM, Thomson Reuters or Wiley (to name just a few) usually you find a bunch of well known and reputed librarians from around the world, with a focus on the USA. It is always a pleasure and inspiring to discuss matters with these people. And it is highly rewarding, if the company really listens to you and change their product accordingly (but certainly not their price).

The conference was also a success. On Saturday morning I attended a course on emerging technologies by Melissa Desantis and Gabe Rios, where I learned quite a lot about Phablets, Apps and Google’s Glass. I was especially impressed that they collected our feedback in advance and adjusted the topics covered accordingly:

Since technology is constantly changing, we update the class right up until we teach it! We’d like to ask you all a few questions to help us finalize our agenda for the class. Feel free to bring any device you might have to the class (smartphone, tablet, e-book reader, etc.) especially if you have questions about them. See you soon in Boston!

In the afternoon I enjoyed the welcome reception and the huge exhibition of hundreds of vendors. For the first time I met Peter Stadler from Unbound Medicine, who helped me to start our handheld project ten years ago. There was a booth from the Cochrane Library too, where you could learn about their new App, and one of the National Library of Medicine, where you could complain about the PubMed interface. All in all, it was the most comprehensive exhibition of library vendors I may have seen in my lifetime.

That evening, Elsevier invited for the ClinicalKey Party. Usually I would not miss any opportunity for dancing, but two things held me back this time: I recently ruptured my achilles tendon by foolishly playing basketball, and secondly, I held on to the German time to avoid jetlag, which forced me to sleep between 9pm and 3am.

The conference started on Sunday, May 5th, with a keynote speech by Dr. Richard Besser, medical TV expert and former CDC director. He told us stories about his fight against SARS, why he quit CDC and moved to ABC News and why he prefers storytelling to Powerpoint.

Molly Knapp, Oliver Obst, Amanda Chiplock, Patricia Wynne at the Roundtables Luncheon

The speech was followed by a Chapter Council Roundtables Luncheon on “iPads in the curriculum, clinics, and library”. The topic seriously caught my attention, but I was not sure what to expect. It turns out, that we all were seated at 20 to 30 roundtables, that lunch was served, but there was no lecturing going on. Instead on each table there was an iPad expert facilitating the discussion. Luckily I found myself on a table with three very knowledgeable librarians using iPads in diverse settings such as clinical rounds, library instruction, accessing information and circulating them of course. Almost instantly, a vivid discussion started on everything from Apps to Cats. Dr. Besser’s kind of presenting was a hot topic too. So we asked our facilitator (who, by coincidence, was organizing next year’s conference at Chicago) to provide a course on storytelling and critical thinking there. I can profess that I never had a similar encouraging discussion. These two hours alone would have been enough to justify my trip. 

In the afternoon, Jaime Blanck, Clinical Informationist from William H. Welch Medical Library at Johns Hopkins University, delivered an amazing overview on their closing their library’s doors (see the interview with Nancy Roderer): “The Library Without Walls: How We Moved Out of the Welch Library Building and Continued to Improve Our Services”. I was surprised to learn that Nancy quit their job as a director just after the closing, but Jaime reassured me, that this was accidentally.

When I left the conference on Sunday evening, my bag was full of ideas and impressions and the longing to have stayed some more days and at least to accomplish the YBP Health Walk.

Title quote by Martin Buber (Tales of the Baal Shem Tov), Fotos: Oliver Obst

This report was published in the June issue 2013 of JEAHIL.

Researchers under general suspicion


Submissions automatically rejected by plagiarism software

Steve Gardner*, a renowned researcher at the University of Glasgow is rather upset: his pioneering research on avian lung viruses has been rejected by the Journal of Airway Obstruction because it has been given a „similarity score“ of 38% meaning that it is under severe suspicion of plagiarism.

Renaissance for plagiarism
At the moment, plagiarism is experiencing a renaissance, as an investigation in Science [1] proved. By using plagiarism detection software such as eTBLAST and the database of highly similar citations Déjà vu, the authors found 212 papers with suspected plagiarism, which were previously undetected. Plagiarism seems ubiquitous and dangerous. Not only to science itself, but to journals too. Journals fear their reputation will be damaged and therefore closely examine all submitted manuscripts – not for fraud (this is very difficult because it needs a lot of expert hours) but for plagiarism (this can be done automatically and gives you at least a good feeling). A look behind the scenes reveals that with the latter often the baby is thrown out with the bathwater.

Fear paralyzes
In our all-digital world, it has become easier to produce copies – but it has also become easier to look it up. Some plagiarism detection services are available to the public such as the above mentioned tools, but recently a number of commercial products have popped up too. To support their business they make claims such as they act „to ensure the originality of written work … [and to] help editors, authors and researchers to prevent misconduct“. Like the free tools, these commercial software products are based on huge data collections of journal articles, books and websites. And here it becomes really interesting, because – as we will see later – obviously not every product knows how to manage such heterogeneous collections. Maybe they should have hired a librarian…

How to cope?
Numerous journals and entire publishing groups such as Nature, Wiley and Elsevier make use of these commercial services – driven by the fear of plagiarism and COPE. COPE is short for Committee on Publication Ethics. COPE has 7000 members worldwide and provides advice to editors and publishers on all aspects of publication ethics and how to handle cases of misconduct. For this goal, COPE publishes the Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors [2], which recommends best practices to editors, such as „to having systems in place to detect plagiarized text either for routine use or when suspicions are raised“. As a result, more and more journals set automatic routines in place, checking each and any manuscript when submitted.

Obvious defectiveness
How do we know that this system is working properly? To be frank: we do not know. We simply cannot know, because no journal will tell us anything about this delicate task. If the journal detects plagiarism, it is an embarrassement for both the author as well for the journal. So every journal will blurt out their rejection rates but no one will tell how many of its authors are suspected of plagiarism. Despite this ignorance, we have learned from Steve Gardner. His painful experience of being rejected for nothing made him look for support at … surprise, surprise … the library.

A closer look into the result sheets of the similiarity check iThenticate [3], the plagiarism detection tool used by the Journal of Airway Obstruction, revealed three serious flaws in the librarian’s eye:

First, iThenticate screened Gardner’s manuscript against a databases of conference proceedings and found a suspiciously similar abstract: plagiarism alarm! Unfortunately the database was not properly indexed, so they totally missed the point: the abstract was from the very Steve Gardner himself, presenting the preliminary findings to his colleagues.
Second, furthermore expletives and standard phrases were regarded as plagiarism such as P <0.01, high-dose, ml/kg, etc. Even references to studies such as „data from the Avian Virus Outbreak Study (AVOS) show“ or manufacturer’s name such as „Fresenius Germany GmbH, Bad Homburg, Germany“ elevated the plagiarism score.
The third failure must be conferred to the journal’s editorial board, who based their rejection solely on the comparison of a piece of dull, hypersensitive software and did not control its output manually.

The system is broken
All three faults are somewhat unforgivable. Everybody should have red the Science paper mentioned above and know that plagiarism detection software fails: in 98% of all cases the results are false positive. And in betwen, the author is bestowed the awful suspicion of plagiarism. Nobody from the journal will tell him how to overcome this accusation. It is a serious indictment of the scientific publishing system, when its main pillar, the author, is left standing out in the rain so much. Once, researcher and publisher shared common goals and values. This close relationship is eroded, it has been eaten away at; it has become an interdependent on careers, profits, and suspicions.

The authors are cash cows**
Scientific journals are paralyzed by the fear of the fall from the grace in the science world through fraud and plagiarism in their articles and thereby damaging their reputation. As a consequence, they put all authors under suspicion and treat them as a kind of presumably guilty petitioners. Fear is a bad counselor; the researchers will remember any bad treatment and will look for ways out of the vicious circle of commercial publishing. The once symbiotic alliance between researchers and publishers is a discontinued model. Personally I doubt very much if a kind of publishing system has a future, where researchers are only regarded as a means to make money, as a cash cow.

* The name of the author and the journal was changed because the author asked to be incognito, which in itself throws an interesting light on the (im)balance of power in the publishing system.
** In business, a cash cow is a product or a business unit that generates unusually high profit margins: so high that it is responsible for a large amount of a company’s operating profit. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


  1. Long TC, Errami E, George AC, Sun Z, Garner HR. Scientific Integrity: Responding to Possible Plagiarism. Science. 2009 March 6;323:1293-1294

This article was published in the December issue 2012 of the JEAHIL.

Picture: (c) by jameek at

„The library is my Google“

A lesson in team-building and critical thinking

Are you the head of a library? Have you been trained in leadership? I studied for almost nine years, but there was no information on this subject – neither at the Biological Sciences Faculty or at the library school. All of a sudden I was Head of a faculty library with a staff of 12 people. Nobody told me how to motivate them, how to inspire them, how to convince them that I knew everything and that they should follow me without question. I tried to convince them using my knowledge, but nobody completely bought that. To my big surprise they did not blindly follow the ideas of this newbie, but were rather critical towards them – you cannot imagine my frustration! And that happened to almost all my ideas – even the most promising ones. So my way of becoming a leader was a stony path of trial and error and learning by doing. Yes, this takes years of experience and I am still learning. A bit more insight and training in leadership and team-building at the beginning would have been highly beneficial for both me and my staff. One thing is clear, I learnt that satisfied, thoughtful employees are crucial for providing high quality services, especially in this fast changing information environment and this is where good leadership is essential. As part of this journey, I decided to get some professional support to overhaul our services using a team approach. We were pleased to secure the expertise of an experienced knowledge and project manager for leading European academic libraries from Proud2Know (1) to lead the workshop. The staff of the Branch Library of Medicine, Munster (2) spent an entire day working intensively on ways and means to improve current library services, particularly focussing on how to better understand and meet the information needs of the over 1,200 faculty researchers and physicians.

The team as a strong unit

The workshop began with a team-building exercise, consisting of a game which identified staff strengths. This served to help empower each participant to engage in the process of change during the workshop. Two other measures were set in place to support that goal: first, all library staff members took part in the workshop to ensure that everyone could provide input, and second, the head of the library was generally banned from talking, apart from acting as a recorder of the events.

Learning from experience

The team began by working out what a typical working day of selected medical faculty looks like and where, over that day, the library currently offers its services. As preparation, the library had interviewed several researchers such as a pathologist and an orthodontist about their typical working day and presented the results to the group.

Strengths and weaknesses

Library staff then explored the current complete service offer, highlighting the library’s strengths and weaknesses based both on evidence from systematic evaluations and anecdotal feedback. For this purpose, each staff member wrote down the services he/she was involved in. All services were then mapped to a Venn diagram’s overlapping circles of 1) what was important to the researcher, 2) what the Library was good at and 3) what services were unique. It turned out, after some discussion, that most services were regarded both as important and good. Services which were important but not good were marked for improvement, such as the structure and content of the homepage. The accuracy and speed of the services were mentioned too. Literature searches were regarded as good but not important, because almost all researchers are performing these by themselves. Two services were regarded as unique: a fast document delivery service called RAPIDOC, and iPad lending.

The researcher’s viewpoint

A role-playing exercise closed the session on the current status of library services, with staff putting themselves in the researcher’s shoes to observe how they communicated, perceived and interacted with the current library services. Results from this session showed that researchers are unaware of some services such as E-Books, article delivery, and IT support. These were joined with other findings of the day as a basis for future improvement plans for the library. Pragmatic solutions to the questions raised came from all levels of the organization, which will help by feeding into plans for improvement. For example, better marketing, alerting services, lunch and learn sessions, and a library appliance for smartphones.

The library is my Google

Before future planning began, the team had a brainstorm session to develop a slogan to reflect what the library would like to be known as by its researchers in the future. Some of the statements thrown up were: “The Library is my personal literature adviser”, “The Library is absolutely indispensable” and “The Library is my Google”. A very positive outcome was the enthusiasm of the staff. Almost all regarded their job as highly valuable and the library as a real treasure for the faculty.

Onto the next level

The rest of the day was dedicated to building on the lessons learnt on the status quo of current research support services. Questions were raised such as What are our limits for satisfying the never ending demands of the researcher? As we have been educated as librarians not as physicians, can we provide medical information? Before discussing brand new services, and based on the earlier Venn diagram results, staff then voted for an existing service that could be terminated or at least reconsidered to make room for new services. Not surprisingly, almost everyone hesitated to cut services, especially the ones they provide themselves. New services mentioned ranged from a mobile lending unit, a wellness space with no access to phone lines and the internet, and subject specific alerting services.


To summarize, it was very beneficial for the library team to have the space and opportunity to share their opinions on how to improve library services without the librarian dominating the discussion. By the end of the day we were impressed by the amount of knowledge we held collectively and how much we had learnt about the researcher’s viewpoint. I believe the staff is now very much more motivated and excited about what is ahead and keen to take the library a step forward in future. As one staff member put it: Today brought new energy into the library. Let’s continue with it. We have since installed some internal task forces to take plans forward. We also plan to have such workshops on a regular basis. Fortunately, the Faculty is proud of the library and supports us on our journey ahead.



This article was published in the September issue 2012 of the JEAHIL.

Auskunftsbattle: 35 Schritte um mal eben was auszudrucken…

Gerade an der Auskunft. Wieviele Schritte braucht es eigentlich bei uns, wenn ein Benutzer etwas ausdrucken möchte?

  1. Benutzer steht mit USB-Stick vor mir
  2. Wir gehen zur Druck- und Kopierstation
  3. Sie ist aus und muss hochgefahren werden
  4. … warten …
  5. USB-Stick rein, zu früh, wird nicht erkannt
  6. Jetzt geht es, aber das Dokument ist nicht in PDF sondern in Word
  7. Wir gehen zu einem Rechner, um mit Open Office das Dokument in PDF umzuwandeln
  8. Der Benutzer hat keine Zugangskennung
  9. Dann bekommt er halt eine Tageskennung
  10. Haben Sie einen Personalausweis? Nein, aber einen Aufenthaltstitelausweis
  11. Ok, Schlüssel für supergeheime Tageskennung aus dem Auskunftsboy nehmen
  12. Den Rollboy für die Tageskennung aufschliessen
  13. Den Benutzer mit allen Angaben eintragen: Datum, Name, Staatszugehörigkeit, Ausweisnummer, Gültigkeitsdauer, Anmelde-PC, Bearbeiter
  14. Ihn unterschreiben lassen
  15. Zum Linux-Suse-Rechner gehen und ihn einloggen – funktioniert nicht
  16. Vielleicht der zweite Linux-Suse-Rechner? Auch nicht!
  17. Also einen der beiden neu starten
  18. … warten …
  19. Nochmal einloggen – es funktioniert
  20. Der Nutzer findet seinen USB-Stick nicht unter Linux
  21. Sitz des USB-Sticks kontrollieren
  22. Open Office öffnen
  23. Zu den externen Festplatten gehen („Sicherungsgeräte“ heisst das hier benutzerfreundlich)
  24. Jetzt poppen gleich drei, vier Fenster auf: Linux hat den Stick erkannt
  25. Alle Fenster wieder zu machen bis auf Open Office
  26. Das Worddokument öffnen
  27. Als PDF exportieren
  28. USB-Stick dem Nutzer geben
  29. Die Tageskennung abmelden
  30. Zur Druck- und Kopierstation
  31. USB-Stick rein
  32. PDF-Dokument aufrufen
  33. Kopierer mit Geld oder Karte bestücken
  34. Ausdrucken
  35. USB-Stick wieder rausnehmen

Eine wirklich ridiculously amazing experience, mehr für mich als für den Nutzer…

Foto: birdy at Wikimedia Commons

Bibliotheksethik, Teil 2: Lifetime Value von Benutzern

Anne Christensen hat ja kürzlich in ihrem Blogpost Ein Versuch über bibliothekarische Beratungsethik die Frage aufgeworfen, ob wir nicht so mutig sein sollten (und dafür bricht sie eine Lanze), eine „invasivere“, urteilende und zielführende Beratung anzubieten als jetzt. Mit anderen Worten: Ob wir wie Google dem Nutzer hunderte Informationsbröckchen hinschmeissen und ihn damit alleine lassen sollten oder ihm ein Buch (Artikel, Datenbank) empfehlen sollten, dass ihn u.U. rascher zum Ziel bringt.

Wir gehen ja mit unserer Sprechstunde für Doktoranden und den Hausbesuchen schon sehr in die Christensen’sche Richtung, auch wenn das generelle Problem natürlich bleibt (und da meine ich eher die 1. Hypothese: „Wir BibliothekarInnen finden in der Regel, dass wir auf ganz dünnem Eis arbeiten – zumindest dann, wenn wir nicht FachreferentInenn sind und in unserer Schokoladendisziplin beraten oder schulen“).

Nachtrag. Ach ja: Im Kontext von Medizinbibliotheken tauchen ganz andere Probleme auf, gegen welche die obigen wie laue Lüftchen wirken: Nicht selten kommen Patienten, die um Rat bezüglich ihrer Symptome/Krankheit fragen (oder die eines „Freundes“). Diagnosen stellen sollte man dann nicht, das ist schon klar, aber Antworten geben die schon, die US-amerikanischen Medizinibliothekare. Ihr Berufsethos verbietet es, sich hinter Ausflüchten wie „Ich bin doch kein approbierter Arzt“ zu verstecken, sondern sie helfen mit objektiven Informationen weiter bzw. wo diese zu bekommen sind. Wussten Sie, dass die American Library Association extra einen Guide herausgebracht hat für Public Libraries, wie man Consumer Health Information anbietet? Nicht ob, sondern wie!

In diesem Zusammenhang stellte sich mir eine weitere bibliotheksethische Frage: Sollen wir Professoren anders (bevorzugter) behandeln als Studenten? Ich höre schon den Aufschrei, aber wirtschaftlich gesehen würde es durchaus Sinn machen, eine neue Benutzergruppe „Schokoladennutzer“ einzuführen, denn:

ideally, a business should give all of their customers good service, but then provide a „ridiculously amazing experience“ when it really counts. [Justin Yoshimura von 500friends]

500friends analysieren Nutzer, um ihren „lifetime value“ vorherzusagen. Und in der freien Wirtschaft ist das durchaus überlebenswichtig zu wissen, mit welchen Nutzern man mehr Geld verdienen kann, und mit welchen weniger. Deshalb unterteilt 500friends die Kunden auch in so genannte Archetypen (BTW: ein interessanter Marketingansatz auch für Bibliotheken).

Meine Frage ist nun: Gibt es auch einen lifetime value von Bibliotheksnutzern? Gibt es Nutzer, die Bibliotheken mehr „Geld“ bringen als andere? (um in dieser Wirtschaftsanalogie zu bleiben). Statt Geld könnte man natürlich auch Profit sagen oder Budget.

Die Antwort scheint auf der Hand zu liegen: Klar, Professoren haben – in diesem Sinne – einen deutlich höheren lifetime value als Studenten. Den höchsten lifetime value hat der Dekan, weil der über das Bibliotheksbudget entscheidet. Ein „ridiculously amazing service“ für ihn und der Mann wird vielleicht Fan der Bibliothek – ein unschätzbarer Wert in Zeiten umkämpfter Etats.

Dem steht natürlich unser Gerechtigkeitsempfinden entgegen, dass jeden Nutzer gleich behandeln möchte (nein, nicht jeden gleich: Der, der vor mir steht ist gleicher!), und das ist auch gut so, selbst wenn Mark Buzinkay (von dem ich diesen schönen Hinweis auf 500 friends habe) es „als Mähr von gestern entlarvt sieht, dass alle Kunden gleich behandelt werden“.

Naja, man kann ja das eine tun ohne das andere zu lassen, oder?

Foto: Simon E.Schuster Wikimedia Commons

Die Zukunft des Bibliotheksmarketings

Heute habe ich was Schönes in der Post gehabt: Das Praxishandbuch Bibliotheks- und Informationsmarketing, Hrsg. v. Georgy, Ursula / Schade, Frauke. Es enthält ein Kapitel von mir, in dem ich nicht mehr und nicht weniger als Die Zukunft des Bibliotheksmarketings darlege – soweit sie mir jedenfalls geoffenbart wurde. Obwohl, allerdings, der Abgabetermin August 2011 war und die damals avisierte Zukunft damit jetzt schon hoffnunglos veraltet ist …

Der geliebte de Gruyter-Verlag bewirbt es mit den bescheidenen Worten:

– Erstes umfassendes und systematisches Handbuch
– Methoden, Strategien und Konzepte des Marketingmanagements werden auf Bibliotheken und Informationseinrichtungen angewandt
– Profile und Marken können ganzheitlich aus einer Marketingperspektive entwickelt werden
– Bietet praxisrelevante und theoretisch fundierte Handreichungen

Die Zukunftsfähigkeit von Bibliotheken und Informationseinrichtungen hängt entscheidend davon ab, wie es ihnen gelingt, die gesellschaftlichen, politischen, ökonomischen und technologischen Entwicklungen zu antizipieren und sich dazu im Kontext der Kultur- und Bildungslandschaft mit einem innovativen Dienstleistungskonzept zu positionieren. Das Handbuch überträgt aktuelle Marketingstrategien und -methoden aus einer systematischen Perspektive auf Bibliotheken und Informationseinrichtungen, so dass sie praxisrelevant und theoretisch fundiert sind.