Table of Contents
Anne R. Kenney
In August, the upstart Motto magazine released its first annual “Top 10 Motto List” and devoted it to colleges. Cornell’s “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study” came in first.
That got me to thinking about the power of a good phrase to encapsulate an organization’s mission, particularly in a time of change. Libraries in the 21st century could do with a makeover. Books, much as we love them, just don’t convey the full scope of our work, but according to the 2005 OCLC study Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources, that’s what users think of when they think of us: “Books” is the library brand. There is no runner-up. I don’t know about you, but I’m not comfortable having “books” be the way CUL distinguishes itself from other information suppliers. BTW, if you still harbor doubts about this, check out Library Limbo on YouTube, made in Uris Library by a summer student last year.
How do we reinvigorate and update our image? Starting with a good motto might help. I’m particularly impressed with the marketing gurus at the National Archives, who ditched the noble but dated “The Past is Prologue” in favor of “Ready Access to Essential Evidence.” This motto asserts that citizens, not just researchers, have need of the Archives’ holdings and the right to timely service.
So, in the quest for a good one-liner, I looked to successful marketing campaigns for inspiration. A Web search revealed the “Top 10 Slogans of the Century.” I’m not sure how these were chosen, but you can probably name many of them. Guess what tops the list: “Diamonds are forever.” Great slogan, but at least for me, it was hard to connect that with a company. My first thought was Tiffany’s, but that’s probably because I’m an Audrey Hepburn fan. Turns out the slogan belongs to DeBeers, an international cartel involved in diamond mining and trading.
So here are the Top 10 Slogans of the Century:
Trying to capitalize on their success, I put a library spin on them:
OK, needs work.
I then looked at the bylines for the various schools at Cornell to get some sense of perspective. My personal favorite is the Law School’s “Lawyers in the best sense.” Now, this line comes from A. D. White in 1886, who wanted to distinguish Cornell Law School from programs that graduate “swarms of hastily trained pettifoggers.” But the phrase could also be construed to imply that Cornell recognizes that ethical behavior might not necessarily be connected in the public’s mind with the concept of lawyering. I like it because it faces head-on the issue of perceptions. That’s why I think the marketing for Find It! was particularly effective: “When only scholarly resources will do”— implying that they might be a little harder to get, but they’re worth it.
How are other libraries pitching themselves, you might ask? Web searches for academic library slogans brought a plethora of three-word sentences, such as:
Binghamton University: Connect. Discover. Create.
Pride of place is reflected in libraries in the upper Midwest. From Montana State University comes “Mountains & Minds.” North Dakota State Library takes the cake, however, with its unintentional deadpan “A World of Information . . . Right Here in North Dakota.”
Still not satisfied, I tried sites that generate slogans on demand, such as <http://slogan4u.com/index.htm> and <http://thesurrealist.co.uk/slogan>. Going to the first of these, I typed in “library” for my “customized” slogan. It spat out, “Library will love you forever.” Oooookayyyyy. I modified the search to “research library” and got “simply the best research library.” For my last attempt, I tried “Cornell University Library” and got “Cornell University Library. One size fits all.” Not quite sure that does the trick, considering the clothing I’ve bought and discarded with that same assurance.
I moved on to the second advertising slogan generator and hit pay dirt . . . of sorts. When I searched on “library” it responded in bold letters:
I kind of like it but suspect it would resonate better with folks at Syracuse. Perhaps a play on red/read might work. I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts on this one.
Here’s a pretty good mission statement: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” As I’m sure you know, however, it’s already taken. By Google. So if that’s Google’s mission, what’s the library’s role in the digital age?
Our current mission statement is uplifting and assertive: “CUL enriches the intellectual life of the University by fostering information discovery and intellectual growth, nurturing creativity, and partnering in the development and dissemination of new knowledge.” It’s also kind of long and doesn’t roll off the tongue easily.
Here are a couple of other one-liners that have surfaced at CUL in the last few years:
“Premier content. Expedited delivery.” (Xin Li, Catalyst Project)
I can also imagine a series of posters with a tagline that spotlights Cornellians reflecting on what the library means to them. For instance, one could feature a physicist and the byline: “The Library? It’s all about arXiv.” A computer scientist with his laptop: “The Library? I take it with me wherever I go.” An undergraduate in Uris late at night: “The Library? It just saved my GPA.” A graduate student in her carrel: “The Library? I’m not sure why I pay rent, I practically live here.”
If we let the Cornell community know what we offer, it may think beyond books; if we let the university administration know what it is funding, it will continue to view us as critical to the academic mission.
What do you think?
The CRIO Podcast Team
Crio Pods are a group of brave pioneers in the Department of Collection, Reference, Instruction, and Outreach dedicated to forging new ground in the podcasting world! Team members—Kaila Bussert, Tony Cosgrave, Lance Heidig, Randi Kepecs, Susette Newbery, Liane O’Brien, and Wendy Wilcox—are eager to continue their work in Web 2.0.
The project stems from an innocuous suggestion to offer historical walking tours of Uris Library for Reunion Weekend. Library Alumni Affairs and Development accepted that suggestion and scheduled the tours for the 2007 Reunion Weekend. The project quickly evolved and expanded from the original concept to a virtual tour Web site that would deliver text, images, and audio files as well as a self-guided tour to be delivered via audio files on MP3 players or downloaded to personal MP3 players via the Web site or iTunes. And these podcasts would also be delivered as vodcasts (MP4-format videos). It was an incredibly ambitious project, considering that most staff barely understood the meaning of the term “podcast!” With deadlines looming, the big guns were brought in—Philip Halcomb and Camille Andrews from Mann Library. Already equipped with firsthand experience in podcasting, Camille and Philip were incredibly patient as they shared their expertise. Jenn Colt-Demaree and Chris Philipp, of Library Communications, also jumped on board to build the Web sites, help write text, and promote the series.
During the first stage of the project, we developed a series of podcasts on the history and architecture of Uris Library. The Uris historical podcast tour examined the evolution of Cornell’s first library building, now known as Uris Library. The podcast is delivered via the LibeCast Web site (a new Web site featuring library-sponsored podcast and vodcast series) and iTunes. In addition, the tour was loaded onto eight MP3 players that were distributed to alumni interested in taking a self-guided walking tour of the building. Finally, we invited alumni to record their memories of Cornell University Library in our oral history lab.
Since the first stage of the project, additional podcasts have been developed. In collaboration with Kroch Asia Collections and the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, orientation tours of Uris, Olin, and Kroch libraries were developed to introduce incoming students to the collections and services. Now, in the second stage of the project, the Uris historical podcasts are available on Libecast as vodcasts in the form of slide-show-style movies. These video versions of the orginal podcasts feature historical images of Uris Library as well as modern photographs of the space. The Uris Library vodcasts will also be uploaded to YouTube for greater exposure.
Given the popularity of the Uris historical podcasts series, additional chapters are being developed for Reunion 2008. Also in development is a series of short vodcasts called “Research Minutes” that aims to teach the fundamentals of basic research strategy. Stage three of the project will involve incorporating digital video. Stay tuned!
On the third Thursday of every month at 4 p.m., the Adelson Library hosts a children’s book reading event. Our last event, on October 18, was a great success! We read Animals in Flight, by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. The book describes how, when, and why birds and beasts fly. The pictures in the book were supplemented by demonstrations of real bird wings and animal specimens from the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates. The four major shapes found in bird wings were illustrated by those of a mallard duck, a turkey vulture, a black-capped petrel, and a ring-necked pheasant. Specimens a of a bat, a flying squirrel, and a dragonfly, along with the skeleton of a bat, offered examples of wing diversity in other animals. After the book reading and demonstrations, we created soaring paper birds and flew them around the library. The children (and their parents!) were engaged throughout the hour-long program, making it a fun event for all.
The children’s reading program at the Adelson Library was created for children in grades K through 5, but older children and parents often find they learn something new and enjoy the hands-on activities as much as our younger guests do.
Our next children’s reading is scheduled for Thursday, November 15, at 4 p.m. We will read Washing the Willow Tree Loon, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, which follows the rescue, cleaning, and release of one particular bird after an oil spill in Turtle Bay.
To see the complete schedule of the children’s book reading program, visit the program web site. A two-sided brochure that doubles as a poster can be printed directly from a PDF on the library Web site. This program is held in cooperation with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Education Department. Anne James Rosenberg (baj3) selects and reads the books.
Come visit the Adelson Library—you’ll be glad you did!
On September 21, Danielle Mericle and Fiona Patrick gave a workshop on scanning and imaging for thirty-six participants for the South Central Regional Library Council and Central NY Library Resources Council. It was the fifth workshop in the ten-part series “Ready, Set, Digitize,” whose goal is to improve the ability of library staff at all levels to make decisions related to digitizing.
Oya Rieger has published “Preservation in the Age of Large-Scale Digitization,” a white paper examining preservation issues relevant to mass-digitization projects such as those being done by Google, Microsoft, and the Open Content Alliance. CLIR will issue a final print and electronic report later this fall.
Deb Schmidle presented a program at the Charleston Conference entitled “Investing Wisely: Citation Rankings as a Measure of Quality in Library and Information Science Journals.” The presentation discussed findings on return-on-investment measures of library and information science serial expenditures. The frequency of citations to 116 library science journals (compiled from bibliographies of eleven premier library journals over the period 2002 to 2005) and computed price-per-citation figures were noted. Presentation findings drew on an article of the same name that Deb co-authored and was published in the July 2007 issue of portal: Libraries and the Academy. Deb also co-authored, with Suzanne Cohen of Catherwood Library, the article “Creating a Multipurpose Digital Repository,” which appeared in v. 23, issue 3, of OCLC Systems and Services and discusses the creation of the DigitalCommons@ILR.
Edge of a Continent, by Jay Hart. This view shows the Finger Lakes and the lower part of Lake Ontario.
Earth Pattern: An Exhibit by Jay Hart. November 8 to January 10, Mann Gallery. The Mann Gallery’s November/December exhibit features the map-oriented work of Jay Hart, of Trumansburg. His large inkjet prints show elevation surfaces and natural color imagery of places both exotic and familiar. Earth Pattern will show regional views of polar landscapes and deserts, low-relief terrain and major ranges, and the scatter of mankind’s markings.
About the artist and the show. Jay Hart’s renderings of real places allow viewers a chance to find themselves and their exploratory curiosity. To challenge people to teach themselves in the purest data-free sense, the pieces are as unlabeled and nearly as unsymboled as the earth’s surface. The artist is often motivated by the clarity of the earth’s processes and sometimes by the geometry of man’s changes, but most keenly felt are the cases where the cover is being torn off an unknown. The intent is to nudge viewers into a wider sense of their domain, offering them a psychological zoom effect connecting their personal experiences with the worldly. More information on Jay Hart and his terrain art is available online.
About the gallery. The Mann Library Gallery is a highly visible community display space that is used primarily for showcasing artwork and multimedia coursework by Cornell students. The gallery is multifunctional, serving as an exhibit venue and a community space for communicating science through art. For further information on the exhibit call 255-5406.
You are cordially invited to the Digital Library and Information Technologies (DLIT) open house scheduled for November 15, 10:30-11:30am at 703 Olin Library. After a brief introduction to the unit, we'll demonstrate some of our ongoing projects.
“A Rant on Metadata, Five Years Later,” by Peter McCraken, the director of Research Serials Solutions. Friday, November 16, 10:30-noon, Olin Library 106F. Refreshments will be served. Presented by the CUL Metadata Working Group.
In 2002 McCracken ranted about the quality of content providers’ metadata in front of hundreds of conference attendees at the Charleston Conference’s plenary session, Aggregator Gripes. His talk focused on challenges of accurate metadata from content vendors and the problems he saw from the perspective of a metadata management company. Having just returned from the same conference five years later, McCracken will look at what he said in 2002, see if his rant had any measurable impact, and compare his previous comments with the state of the industry as he sees it today. A copy of his 2002 Charleston Conference paper is online.
Tapping into the World of Electronic Legal Knowledge was the subject of the Starr Foundation Conference held at the Cornell Law Library from October 7 through October 11. Law librarians from Brazil, Botswana, China, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, and South Africa joined U.S. librarians from Cornell, Duke, NYU, and Campbell University in discussing modern practices and challenges in foreign and international legal research.
Strategizing for collaborative projects across country borders to maximize limited resources emerged as a major interest for participants. All librarians presented on the status of electronic legal research and legal resources available in their countries, resulting in a revealing comparative librarianship analysis. Muna Ndulo, a Cornell professor of law and the director of the Institute for African Development, delivered the keynote address, “The Integration of Electronic Research into Teaching.” The main challenges articulated by the librarians from developing countries are the lack of a basic infrastructure to support Web platforms and the high cost of upgrading to online databases. One promising outcome of the conference was a serious discussion about pooling Tanzanian and Zambian resources to help reduce costs. The conference was funded by the Starr Foundation and sponsored by the Cornell Law Library and New York University Law Library.
Joséphin Péladan. Curieuse! Paris: Librairie de la Presse, 1886. A woman with her arms around a statue of the devil, gazing into its eyes.
Cornell University Library Gateway | Cornell Library Catalog | Cornell University | Webmaster
© 2004 Cornell University Library