8.2 Promoting the resource centre

The people that the resource centre aims to serve will not automatically come to it. The resource centre needs to be publicised and people need to be encouraged to use it. Users need to be made aware of all the services available, not just some. For example, some people may know that there is a lending service, but not know that there is also a photocopying service.

Services may need to be improved before they are promoted. There is no point in encouraging people to use the resource centre if it has very few materials, or if staff are unavailable to assist users. It is important to be sure that the services can be delivered before starting to promote them.

8.2.1 How to plan a promotion

To promote the resource centre:

1. List groups of users and identify those to whom you need to promote the resource centre. For example, your resource centre may aim to serve the local community, but very few women come, so you need to promote it to women.

2. Try to find out why certain groups of people are not using the resource centre. Then decide what type of promotional activity would be best for each group (see below), and what promotional materials you will need to support this activity.

3. Draw up a budget and detailed plan, including a plan of how you will evaluate the promotional activity. Produce any materials to support the promotional activity, such as leaflets, posters or signs. Organise the activity.

4. Evaluate the activity (review how effective it has been) and use the results of the evaluation to help you prepare future promotional activities

8.2.2 Promotional activities

There are many ways to promote a resource centre, such as providing a good service, signposting and advertising, organising activities, producing and distributing materials, and networking.

Providing a good service

  • Maintain an up-to-date and well-ordered collection.
  • Provide a good service to users and encourage users to let other people know about the resource centre.
  • Carry out regular needs assessment (see Section 1.1: Assessing information needs) and respond to the findings.

Signposting and advertising

  • Make sure that the resource centre is clearly signposted from all relevant parts of the organisation, such as the reception area, training and meeting rooms, or dining hall.
  • If there are any narrow corridors or steps, signpost alternative ways of reaching the resource centre that avoid these barriers.
  • Clearly label shelves and collection areas to make the resource centre easier to use. For larger resource centres, it can also help to display a floor plan.
  • Place noticeboards in other parts of the organisation, such as the reception area, or outside meeting or training rooms. Use them to display resource centre opening times and information about topical issues.
  • Display posters to advertise the resource centre in places where users will see them, or distribute posters to other organisations to display.
  • Include a short section on the resource centre in orientation guides for new students or employees.
  • Arrange for articles about the resource centre to be included in local newspapers or specialist publications, or for an interview to be broadcast on radio or television.

Arranging activities

  • Arrange for all new staff members to visit the resource centre as part of their induction programme, and include a leaflet on the resource centre as part of any induction pack that is provided to them.
  • Arrange with training institutions to include a visit to the resource centre as part of their training courses, and encourage institutions to promote the use of resource centres as a learning strategy.
  • Encourage meetings to be held in the resource centre, either by staff of the organisation that the resource centre is part of, or other organisations (at times when they will not disturb users).
  • Hold open days and exhibitions in the resource centre.
  • Give a brief talk about the resource centre at public gatherings or meetings of health management teams or village health committees.

Producing and distributing materials

  • Distribute acquisitions lists (lists of materials newly added to the resource centre collection - see Section 7.9: Current awareness services).
  • Distribute leaflets containing brief details of services offered, opening times, charges and who to contact for further information. Display them in the resource centre itself and other places where users are likely to see them, such as training institutions or at conferences, or include them in response to written enquiries. Ask community health and outreach workers to distribute them when visiting other organisations, or meeting with members of the resource centre’s target groups.
  • Distribute a newsletter to keep people across a wide area in touch with the resource centre’s activities, if you can afford to produce it.
  • Distribute an annual report of the resource centre or organisation that the resource centre is part of, describing the resource centre’s activities and highlighting key developments and plans.