Promotional Strategies?

As the title may indicate, this is a post that will raise only questions and provide no answers. I hope readers are okay with that, because it’s one of my favorite things to do. These are important questions about the Library website.  First, let me draw your attention to the intriguing organization of the Hunter College Library web page. Not only is their web page beautifully organized, I think, but they have also taken advantage of mentioning the other libraries in the same area. Hunter College is located in Manhattan and is part of the CUNY (City University of New York) system. So one of the links at the bottom-center of their page has to be the CUNY Libraries. Hunter also uses Blackboard, like so many colleges, so it has a link for that. Same with Facebook and Google. But the other three links are to the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, Queens Library. Why, I asked myself, would Hunter College want to link to institutions that are essentially competitors? There are a few reasons I can think of: 1. Hunter College believes its Library web page is more appealing than the other web pages, so it wants to place a point of comparison in the mind of the visitor. They are hoping that the visitor will be put off by the Queens Library’s web page in comparison to theirs, therefore causing the web page visitor to be more inclined to visit the Hunter College Libraries. (And it knows that the vast majority of visitors are students and faculty, who are in close proximity to their Library; other nearby territory simply must be blocked off.) 2. The Hunter College Library doesn’t care about the amount of attention its website gets, because that alone won’t guarantee more donations or visits to the actual Library. What the staff of the library cares about is the world of reading and researching, period. Any institution that promotes those habits is a friend of theirs in the grand scheme. 3. There is some New York Library web that I’m unaware of; i.e. all these libraries aren’t really competitors at all, but have arrangements where they share books and resources and common donors; Hunter feels obliged to provide links. I am not an advertising expert. But I did major in Communications; so I stand by these educated guesses.  The question simply becomes; do we want to be competitors, or do we want to find common ground? Do we want to acknowledge our connections to the Boston Library system (I think there is one, correct me if I’m wrong?)? Or do we want to take a more isolated approach to Library promotion? That last question sounds silly, because we are not taking an isolated approach. But as of now, we provide no links to libraries in the greater Boston area on our homepage. Considering the vast number of Universities here, not to mention the many branches of the Boston Public Library, we are at no shortage of these “connections.” In fact, by linking to other sites in this blog post, I am publicizing them. Perhaps we should consider these three reasons for linking to other libraries, think of some more reasons and provide links. (For the record, we do provide links to YouTube and Flickr, sites that involve us but are inherently unrelated. Do we think these links are beneficial or are they distracting?)

1 thought on “Promotional Strategies?”

  1. Damon, you raise some interesting points here. As co-chair of the Web Steering committee I can state that we constantly struggle with how to keep our library home page easy to use and free of clutter. There are SO MANY things that it would be nice to have links to on the home page, but at some point, too many links make the page less user-friendly, and it gets impossible to find or notice the link you are seeking. We have a policy that all proposed changes to the home page must be reviewed by our committee; if we just went ahead and made every suggested change, you’d never be able to find anything on our site! That said, everyone should feel free to submit any home page suggestions to the committee; we’ll be happy to consider them. Suggestions can go to me ( or my co-chair, Karen Merguerian (

    We do have an Interlibrary Loan link on our home page, from which you can learn about our local Boston-area and New England partner libraries as well as the ways to request items (books, articles, etc.) from libraries nationwide.

    As for the reasons Hunter College might want to link to other libraries, I suspect it has more to do with your speculations #2 and #3 than #1 — I don’t think most libraries see each other as competitors but rather as teammates all engaged in the same activity: the promotion of reading and research and the provision of access to resources that allow people to pursue those activities.

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