Library services in the marketing arena

Abid Hussain

IN general words Marketing is everything you do to place your product or service in the hands of potential customers. The customers have different shapes in the arena of marketing such as potential, loyal, new, impulsive and discount customers. Marketing is the central focus of every successful organization, whether profit-making or non-profit making. Successful libraries are influenced by the application of marketing. Marketing is a source of awareness which reduce barriers to use and access, satisfy the needs of users, offer benefits, persuades and inform customers through different ways. Marketing in library services has become a top trend in contemporary society. The World Wide Web has greatly influenced different services of Marketing, similarly, libraries around the globe have hugged different services in a different way in order to provide the best possible services to their end users.
We know that in old traditional setup, libraries were considered a storehouse of knowledge, but now in the 21st century the concept has been changed. The modern libraries are a treasure of knowledge, a place where knowledge meets mind, a house of wisdom, a hub of ideas, a zone where knowledge of eminent scholars comes together to educate the masses, that part of the academia, where knowledge is organized in a manner which is easily available, to those, who quench their thirst for knowledge. Libraries around the globe are presenting reading material such as Books, Journals, Films, Manuscripts, Images, Audiovisual material etc. Preservation of this knowledge is the primary task of Libraries across the world and classifying them in an organized manner is the foremost duty of library practitioners around the world.
Here preservation is not only the task of library staff, but to keep them secure for the next generation is the prime task of library practitioners. Now, giving them access to that material holding by the library has become a tendency among libraries. As we know that library is performing a vital role to make these printed and non-printed material available to their users, with the advent of advanced technologies in 21st century various tools have been introduced for the marketing of library resources and services. Initially web 1.0 technology was introduced to show the users what they have to offer, subsequently, Web 2.0 technology was orchestrated to promote library marketing. Now the question arises whether these tools are object-oriented or not? The answer is yes, because in many developed countries like USA and UK etc., people are gaining more up-to-date information using Web 2.0 technology.
Here another question is stepping up in the users’ minds, that what does Web 2.0 technology meant for library services? O’Reilly, in 2005 has defined the term for the first time. He stated that “Web 2.0” describes the changing trends in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aim to enhance creativity, communication, secure information sharing, collaboration and functionality of the web”. How to use the library 2.0 technology for marketing the library services, the definition of marketing has clearly been mentioned by Philip Kotlar, a Marketing Guru. He defines that marketing is “a social and managerial process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating, offering and exchanging product of value and others”.
Keeping in mind the view of Philip Kotlar, we can easily comprehend that library services are a joint venture of library staff, who work together to achieve the common goals of the library. For marketing the library services, the staff would work together in order to attract more users to their respective libraries. In this regard, the foremost duty of library staff is to educate their users, whether they are students, staff or faculty members, to facilitate the users. The library staff must educate them, how to make use of the available resources and services in the library. As we know that there is a great difference between Library promotion and company promotion marketing concepts. The company products are to increase sales and ultimately to gain more profit from it, the library is not for profit and its basic duty is to attract users to its available material.
The libraries are the service-oriented centres and playing a significant role in a social and non-profit sector. In the arena of Marketing through advanced technology, many library and information centres have designed their own websites for showcasing their material with bibliographical details, this is a new mechanism for the marketing of library resources and services. But, the basic tool for marketing the library services is Web 2.0 Technology. A number of questions accretions in mind of researchers that what are the key role of Web 2.0 tools and how these tools can be used for the marketing of library services? These questions will be answered in the next article if Allah wills.
— The writer is working as Library Officer in Institute of Strategic Studies, a think-think based in Islamabad.

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