ER&L 2010: Step Right Up! Planning, Pitfalls, and Performance of an E-Resources Fair

Speakers: Noelle Marie Egan & Nancy G. Eagan

This got started because they had some vendors come in to demonstrate their resources. Elsevier offered to do a demo for students with food. The library saw that several good resources were being under-used, so they decided to try to put together an eresources demo with Elsevier and others. It was also a good opportunity to get usability feedback about the new website.

They decided to have ten tables total, representing the whole fair. They polled the reference librarians to get suggestions for who to invite, and they ended up with resources that crossed most of the major disciplines at the school. The fair was held in a high-traffic location of the library (so that they could get walk-in participation) and publicized in the student paper, posted it in the blog, and the librarians shared it on Facebook with student and faculty friends.

They had a raffle to gather information about the participants, and in the end, they had 64 undergraduates, 19 graduates, 6 faculty, 5 staff, and 2 alumni attend the fair over the four hours. By having the users fill out the raffle information, they were able to interact with library staff in a different way that wasn’t just about them coming for information or help.

After the fair, they looked at the sessions and searches of the resources that were represented at the fair, and compared the monthly stats from the previous year. However, there is no way to determine whether the fair had a direct impact on increases (and the few decreases).

In and of itself, the event created publicity for the library. And, because it was free (minus staff time), they don’t really need to provide solid support for the success (or failure) of the event.

Some of the vendors didn’t take it seriously and showed up late. They thought that it was a waste of their time to talk about only the resources the library already purchases, rather than pushing new sales, and it’s doubtful those vendors will be invited back. It may be better to try to schedule it around the time of your state library conference, if that happens nearby, so the vendors may already be close and not making a special trip.