When we were reviewing entries to the 2012 Outreach Program Contest, grand-prize winner Mid-Continent Public Library impressed us with its comprehensive approach to promoting its eBook collection. MCPL electronic resources trainer Pam Vogt was part of a multi-department team that helped the Missouri library system raise awareness inside the library, market its digital services on its website and blogs, reach out in the community, and train staff members. Vogt shares Mid-Continent’s eBook success story:
To increase public awareness of the addition of eBooks to our collection, we started our promotion with blogs on the home page and a marketing theme strategy. This included adding an ad to our home page rotator and branch digital displays, plus posters and bookmarks for each branch. Every transaction with a customer included handing them a bookmark during the two-month (December 2011- January 2012) promotion.
As the circulation of eBooks increased, so did the technical support requests. In addition to the theme strategy promotion, we created a page on our website dedicated to Downloadable eBooks and OverDrive. We included links to handouts we created to help patrons navigate the new concepts of using digital materials. Additional links to OverDrive’s help and support documentation were added as well. Check out the live links at http://www.mymcpl.org/books-movies-music/downloadable-ebooks.
To better assist our library users, we found that staff training was an important factor in our eBook campaign. We hosted over 30 eBook Round Robin Demo training sessions where staff members could get hands-on practice with devices. We also created an OverDrive Digital Downloads Resource guide and posted it on our staff intranet. This makes it easier for all of our branch staff to be familiar with OverDrive and answer support questions in the library.
To minimize response time for support requests, we directed patrons to a form that emails the support request to a shared email account that we check daily. Since implementing the “New to OverDrive?” section on this webpage, we’ve seen a decrease in patron assistance calls, with many patrons commenting on the usefulness of the links and the handouts. When OverDrive rolled out the new OverDrive Help pages last April, we celebrated with a new digital slide for the digital displays at our branch locations.
When we learned that OverDrive’s Digital Bookmobile had an opening in their schedule for us, we seized the opportunity to offer additional training to the public. We arranged for additional Wi-Fi hotspots at the two locations selected, and we set up tables with laptops and devices to help customers learn how to download library materials. We took along a supply of handouts for those customers who did not bring their devices with them. Staff also conducted before and after surveys as people entered and left the Digital Bookmobile. Due in part to great media coverage of the event, the total number of people visiting the Bookmobile approached 20 percent of our door counts, with 420 people going through the Bookmobile in two days. Our four-member support team assisted 135 patrons with setting up and troubleshooting their devices as well as offering 13 reader’s advisory recommendations.
After months of planning, testing and implementing these programs, we’renow serving more customers than ever, and more efficiently. Our eBook circulation has increased every month between Dec. 2010 and Feb. 2012, when it leveled off slightly. Circulation in December 2011 and January 2012 almost doubled the circulation of November 2011, due in part to the theme strategy and of course the Christmas buying season. The audiobook circulation has seen a significant increase as well, maintaining well over 6,000 checkouts for the last 5 months – a 54-percent increase over Dec. 2010 circulation. The total circulation from our OverDrive service from January 2012 to the end of May 2012 has surpassed the total for all of 2011 by 12,000 checkouts. Currently, our OverDrive virtual branch typically ranks about 14th in circulation of our 34 locations, accounting for about 4 percent of the total monthly circulation.
Melissa Marin is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive.