I was thinking today about the need to communicate more effectively with our users, our community, about the issues we face. I’ve set myself a goal of having a faculty newsletter revamped and ready by the end of the month, which is rapidly approaching, so what to put in the faculty newsletter? And what to put into our student focused communications? How do we use those venues to turn our users into our supporters?

And then, as I stood in line waiting to order my sub for lunch, I remembered a conversation I overheard the last time I waited in line for a meal in the village proper. Two young men were discussing their confusion over how the local businesses made money off of the “Use your meal card here!” program that our local campuses have initiated. The students I was eavesdropping on were baffled at how the bagel place could be making a profit when so many students use their meal cards, since “that’s not even real money.”

I weep for the future, some days.

And I weep for myself, and all the efforts of librarians, academic support offices, and college staff who fight the same battles I fight. How on earth are we to effectively explain the value of our services, resources, and budgets to an audience that thinks their meal cards are made of magic?

Fortunately, I know that many (most?) of our students are more pragmatic and less naive than that, so there must be a way…

Maybe if I had one of those magic cards…

One comment

  1. Jenica,

    I think this example exemplifies the power of KISS. It isn’t that today’s students are any less intelligent or more naive, their lives have become vastly more complicated one piece of technology at a time. Our meal plan was simple, you bought x number of meals per week and the dining halls were open for 3 set meal periods a day, 2 on weekends, end of discussion. Now they have meals and flex credits and Bear Express, which isn’t really part of their meal plans, but they can spend it in the dining facilities or off campus. Same with graduation requirements. I had 3 from Group A, 3 from Group B, 4 from Group C, PE, and a major to complete. Pretty much end of story. But think of all the requirements they have now with speaking and writing, etc, etc, etc. If I couldn’t understand my plan and graduation requirements I didn’t belong in college. I don’t think I’d make the same argument today. Long story, BUT, the message is we will succeed best when we follow the KISS principal. How can we make their lives SIMPLER? Signage. Fewer links on our web pages. Tell them “Use this, not that” (But don’t overwhelm them with why, in most cases they don’t need to know any more than the crow needs to know why traffic stops when the light changes). More electrical outlets. Accept their perception that everyone who works in a library is a librarian and work from there.

    Now back to the meal plan off campus. The merchant actually does make less money on each sale because they pay PACES a commission for the opportunity to tap into that money that isn’t “even real money”.


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