Thursday, March 11, 2021

Connecting with Our Users During Covid-19: Ascension Wisconsin Library Services Part 2


This is the fifth in a series of blog posts showcasing how WHSLA members and their libraries responded to serving our users in creative ways during COVID-19. 

WHSLA Blogger, Michele Matucheski shares their outreach efforts for Ascension Wisconsin Library Services.

The Ascension Wisconsin Library Newsletter

Although it's been nice not having to take care of a physical library space, working from home has allowed me more time to write articles to promote Library Services for our own What's New Library Blog.    My goal in the past was to put out 2-3 articles a month and then target specific groups (Physicians, Nurses, Rehab, etc.) who would be interested in that content with direct emails.   

With the pandemic, I was finding more and more juicy things to share on the blog, not just the usual how-to-search library databases, etc.  During the pandemic, I expanded the topics shared on the AW Library blog to include not only Covid updates, but videos on how to cinch up a surgical mask, or tips for Zoom calls, interesting podcasts, important / timely articles, etc.

There were so many more posts that I was reluctant to send out separate emails for each article as I had been doing. I did not want to be mistaken for a spammer, or junking up anyone's email box.  So I took a cue from Brenda Fay and our own WHSLA Blog, and started grouping messages from the same month together into a monthly newsletter post.  Every post includes a link back to the AW Library home page, and contact info for our Librarians.  

Here's an example of a recent issue:

AW Library Newsletter - February 2021 - Covid Updates - Vaccines - CME - Drug Info Sources - Nurses Choice

The title of the post doubles as the subject line.  I try to include as many topics as might prompt them to want to read more.  It helps them scan the content quicker.

Where do you get the email lists?

I use a few ready-made distribution lists / email groups within the organization covering Physicians and Providers, Nursing Leaders and Clinical Nurse Educators or Rehab, asking them to forward on within their own wider networks if they see something relevant.    In a large organization, it can be a challenge to identify the email groups you should use.  It may help to ask someone who might know such as the admin assistant for Nursing, or The Medical Staff Office.    In one market, the Medical Staff Office forwards the Newsletter on to all Physicians, since those distribution lists are closed.  You could also develop your own lists, too.  We are not allowed to send messages to ALL Associates.  Only Marketing can do that.  

Speaking of Marketing -- If you can enlist the help of someone in your company's Marketing / Communications department.  They usually have someone in charge on internal communications, and would be able to give you some ideas on the best ways to do that -- wither with newsletter formats, tools, and distribution.  

For our New Issue Alerts (etoc) Service, I have curated multiple distribution groups for each journal.  People sign up for the titles they are interested in.  There's no reason you couldn't take a similar approach with your Library Newsletter where people opt in, and develop your own email groups.  

Does it work as outreach?

Every time I send out a new issue of the newsletter, multiple people write back with unrelated questions.  They may be looking for an article, or they need a search done, or want to sign up for New Issue Alerts, etc.  In my mind, the email newsletter as outreach was successful.  It reminds people we're still here, that we've got resources to help them -- including the Librarians who provide the service. 

What about the Stats?
When I sent individual articles as separate posts, I never knew how many people read the articles, much less opened the messages.  

By switching it to the Newsletter format, article titles link back to our Library Blog, where I can check stats on what articles seemed to go viral, and which ones flopped.
This can help direct topics for future articles, if we have a better idea of what seemed popular.

Where do we go from here? Ideas for the future?  
With all the advances in technology, I've been wondering how we could take it further?  Could we use text messages? Would that work if the articles showcase library links and resources they might not be able to access on smartphones?  
Could we set up our own Library App?

Challenges to Overcome ...
Remote authentication has been a challenge for us since we can't offer Open Athens (IT sees it as a security risk).

The biggest challenge is how to stay in front of our users without crowding them, or junking up their mailboxes. 

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