University of Bedfordshire

University in the U.K. wins Heist award for creative promotion of EBSCO Discovery Service

At a Glance

University of Bedfordshire
Luton, England

Institution Type:   Academic Libraries
Related Products:   EBSCO Discovery Service

Overview

The University of Bedfordshire in England operates six campuses across two counties and enrolls approximately 24,000 students. With a research collection of 200,000 print items, more than 90 databases, 58,000 e-journals, and more than 6,000 e-books, the institution needed a way to make its library resources more accessible to students and faculty. Following its 2012 implementation of EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS), the library launched a successful communications campaign to promote the new tool, which was branded as “DISCOVER: your single search solution.” Not only did library use increase, but the institution also won Bronze in the internal communications campaign category of the 2013 Heist Awards for Education Marketing.

EDS is meeting the need for high-quality learning materials that are easy to search.

Sioned Kowalczuk
Library Resources Marketing & Communication
University of Bedfordshire

Challenges

Sioned Kowalczuk, Head of Library Resources Marketing and Communications and manager of the internal communications campaign, said that the Library’s EDS implementation plan required a considerable financial investment and more than a year’s worth of library staff effort.

“Everything we do in the Library stems from how we can improve the learning experience for our students,” Kowalczuk said, adding that students’ perceptions of the library are captured annually by The National Student Survey, a high-profile census of nearly half a million college students across the UK. “The implementation and usage of DISCOVER contributes to this goal.”

To ensure a successful rollout of DISCOVER, Kowalczuk set out to create a strong brand, embed links to the resource in the places students use for their studies, and exploit every communications channel available. Although she had limited resources and only a small budget, Kowalczuk was up to the challenge.

Solutions

The library officially launched DISCOVER in August of 2012. To ensure ease of access, the library embedded a DISCOVER search box on its Learning Resources website “LRWeb,” which experiences 75,000 hits per month. Students can also link to DISCOVER from BREO, the University’s online learning system, and a link was added to more than 500 library computer desktops across all six campuses.

Next, the Academic Liaison Librarians arranged to meet with students and promote DISCOVER during library training sessions and then reinforce its use during five-minute informal lectures throughout the year. “They are the people who see students on a regular basis [and] were the main conduit for getting the message out," Kowalczuk said.

In addition, the institution promoted DISCOVER with colorful banner graphics on the LRWeb home page and the library’s Facebook page. A screenshot of DISCOVER was featured on plasma TV screens around campus. The discovery service was touted on LRWeb’s “What’s New” page, and regular updates were posted to Facebook, Twitter, and the digital library blog.

Finally, Kowalczuk recorded and posted a “Just a Minute” video about DISCOVER. The video tells students that they can use DISCOVER to search “about 90 percent of the university’s library materials in one go.” These resources include all of the books and other records from the old library catalog, as well as journal and database collections, newspaper archives, and more. The video also reminds students that DISCOVER is available off campus.

“Making our resources available through DISCOVER on our websites and accessible 24/7 [via] mobile devices gives our students the resources they need when they want them, wherever they are – on campus, at home, or anywhere in the world,” Kowalczuk said.

Results

Judges for the Heist Awards described the University of Bedfordshire Library’s internal communications campaign as “eye-catching,” “well-organised,” and “well-executed.” They praised the team for using social media to promote DISCOVER among students and faculty.

Since then, library use has increased dramatically. As of January 2014, the library had logged more than half a million individual search sessions.

“The growth in use shows that the time and effort we spent on the communications campaign is bearing fruit,” Kowalczuk said, adding that the Heist award has been good for staff morale. “DISCOVER is meeting the need for high-quality learning materials that are easy to search.”

Revealing the breadth and depth of resources available to users through a single-search tool like DISCOVER has helped the library earn a reputation of being responsive to users’ needs, Kowalczuk added. She hopes to see this reflected in the next National Student Survey results.

“This project was particularly satisfying as it brought together all teams of the Library department to contribute to a focused and integrated communications initiative,” Kowalczuk said. “Aspiring to personal and professional achievement is what we inculcate in our students during their time with us. We want to set such an example so that they feel proud of their Library and assured that they have made the best possible choice in coming to study at the University of Bedfordshire.”

To learn more about EBSCO Discovery Service, or to request a free trial, click here.