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Finding Out How to Communicate Better within the MCR

[The communication audit along with a summary of our action plan is available at http://nnlm.gov/mcr/evaluation/memberinput.html]

In February and March, 2011 Salzman and Associates conducted a communication audit for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, MidContinental Region (NN/LM MCR). Over the past few years, feedback from Network members indicated that information that we were distributing was less useful than it had been in the past. We were concerned that many members were not receiving our communications, even though we were using multiple media. Some of our members wanted to stop receiving our communications because it was not applicable to them. Salzman and Associates interviewed and surveyed members in order to obtain a clear picture of the communication needs and preferences of NN/LM MCR members and the most effective way to deliver information to you.

Results

You and other members responded to the questions with helpful data that we are using to formulate our communication plan. (See MCR Communication Plan)

The report:

  • Defined key external audiences;
  • Identified what communication practices and vehicles are most effective;
  • Identified existing efforts that are ineffective;
  • Located communication gaps; and
  • Offered recommendations to enhance communication to key audiences.

Newsletter

When we switched our newsletter from paper to digital only, we simply saved it as a pdf and sent it out to our members. Although you appreciate the content, you found navigating a pdf document to be difficult when reading online. You asked that we produce Plains to Peaks Post in a format more easily read on the web. This is the first issue in its new format. We hope you find it easier to read. Let us know if this format works for you or not.

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Communication by Email

The primary communication media used by the RML is the mcr-mcmla listserv. The audit showed that approximately 50% of those who responded to the questionnaire subscribe to the listserv. This means that half of the people that we want to communicate with are not receiving our message. We have just completed our membership renewal where we required for each member institution, a contact person and an email address that we added to the listserv. At least one person at each member institution is receiving our news, our announcements of training and funding opportunities. We hope that all of you who receive our RML News and other messages will forward on pertinent information to others at your institution who are not subscribed.

Soon, you will be given the choice of receiving all the news we push, or subscribing to news that pertains only to your interest(s). Stay tuned, the details are being worked out.

Duplication of information

Those of you who follow several of our communication streams astutely noted that we distributed the same information through most of them. We expected members to follow only one stream and wanted to be sure that you missed no information. You told us that you prefer not to have the same information repeated through each of our communication streams. MCR staff has come up with a plan to reduce repetition.

Web 2.0 Technologies

No one strongly preferred the use of web 2.0 technology as a way to receive information. This surprised us. We thought newer librarians already using social media would prefer to receive information from us on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The RML believes we should promote the use of new technologies and will continue to use Facebook and Twitter to send out information and to communicate and engage with you. We hope you will join us in our effort to explore how to best use new communication technologies. (See the MCR Communication Plan article  for more details)

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Web Site

We received mixed messages on our web site (http://nnlm.gov/mcr). Respondents to one questionnaire thought our web site was usable and easy to navigate. However, some respondents who were interviewed for the communication audit, had difficulty finding what they were looking for on the web site. The top reasons for visiting the web site were:

  • Contact information
  • E books
  • Archived training and presentations
  • Document delivery information
  • Cost benefit analysis/Return on investment calculator

To add to this feedback we also ran Google Analytics reports on use of our web site, especially hits coming from our region. There were pages that had very few views. We are in the process of weeding our web site to make it easier for you to find the information you need.

We hope these changes improve our communication with you. We want to hear back from you whether we’re on the right track or not.

-Claire Hamasu, Associate Director

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