DL Consulting June 2013 Newsletter

Marketing Digital Newspaper Archives

From time to time, I like to go on virtual expeditions of the online media-sphere to see what people in the digital preservation world are discussing.  Reading comments among library groups on places like and I am routinely struck by the large number of conversations dealing with the ins and outs of library marketing.  Although, there is no shortage of suggestions for marketing libraries and library services, there is very little help out there dealing with effective marketing of digital newspaper archives.  Searching for “Library Marketing” in Google yields a results list not far off half a billion.  There are marketing toolkits, books, blogs, videos, case studies…and the list goes on and on.  Try narrowing the search to find information on marketing digital library collections and the results are a mere 100 million.  Of course, that’s still an exceedingly large number of results, but what I find interesting is that many of the articles within the first few pages of results are either calls for help along the lines of “We digitized our collection and put it online but no one knows it’s there,” or a list of reasons why marketing a digital collection is so difficult.  Rachel Clarke, author of, wrote an article titled “Promoting Digital Library Collections to Digital Users”.  In the article she acknowledges that digital collections are cropping up all over the place but marketing the collections is a discipline that “seems to be neglected.”

Distressingly, there seem to be more articles lamenting marketing foibles than celebrating marketing success.  The topic is getting so much attention that we think it is important to contribute some research and thought to the conversation.  We have been busy preparing multiple papers on marketing digital newspaper archives for upcoming conferences including ALA in Chicago, IFLA in Singapore, and the online conference, Library 2.013.  Part of our research includes surveys of online patrons at the California Digital Newspaper Collection (CDNC) and Cambridge Public Library Historic Newspaper Collection.   We also talked with the digital newspaper collection owners at Vassar College in New York and the Hoʻolaupaʻi Hawaiian Nūpepa Collection in Honolulu to find out how they promote their collections. Here is a sneak peek at some of our findings:
  1. CDNC and Cambridge Public Library have an established and growing number of registered patrons who engage with the collection through User Text Correction (UTC) and visitors increased noticeably when UTC was enabled.
  2. The Hoʻolaupaʻi Hawaiian Nūpepa Collection involved a small group of stakeholders from the beginning of their project to digitize over 100 Hawaiian language newspapers from 1834 to 1948.  Working with this group of people ensured buy-in from key representatives of their patron community, sparked a very successful word-of-mouth marketing initiative, and helped the library craft a marketing message that they later used for official announcements to the media.
  3. The Vassar College Libraries Digital Newspaper Archives is a rich collection of 4,287 student newspaper issues dating back to April 1872.  Struggling with unexpectedly low usage rates after the launch in September 2011, Vassar College Libraries and DL Consulting worked together to optimize the site for Google Indexing by setting up a specialized sitemap to make it easier for search engine crawlers to find the site.  Three months after the site enhancement, total site visits jumped from 447 to 12,522 and traffic continues to increase with more new users arriving each month from organic searches.
Through this research we are collecting real-world examples of digital newspaper archive marketing success which we will continue to refine and share with our peers.  If you have ideas or marketing success stories, please share them with us.  Or, if you have a marketing question, please ask and we will assist you to the best of our ability.

Have you seen the new look at  Wander over to see what’s new.  While you’re there, check out this collection of newspaper articles in honor of the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay’s amazing summit of earth’s highest mountain. 

Would you like to see your digital newspaper collection in Elephind?  Just let us know…it’s free!

ALA 2013 in Chicago

We are getting pretty excited about our upcoming trip to Chicago at the end of June.  If you are planning to attend and would like to meet up for a coffee, send us an email.  Hope to see you there!

Psst!  Pass it on…

Do you know of a library or organization looking to digitize a historic newspaper archive?  As you probably know from experience, a successful digitization project begins with careful planning and research.  Our detailed series titled “Building a Digital Newspaper Archive” covers everything a librarian, archivist, or historian needs to make this process easier including the essential components of a digital archive, people planning, using the METS/ALTO format, digitizing images, marketing the collection and much more.  Read it here and pass it on!
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