The Importance of Marketing Digital Collections

ALISS Quarterly, 2009

9 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2011

See all articles by Christine McCarthy Madsen

Christine McCarthy Madsen

University of Oxford - Oxford e-Research Centre; University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute; Bodleian Libraries

Date Written: November 23, 2009


An essential but easily overlooked step in the creation of online digital collections is making sure that people — potential users — know they sites exist. Making a digital collection publically available means that your potential user base — your potential patron pool — is the whole world. So what is being done to let that (significantly) wider audience know that your collection exists? Academic libraries have ways of letting patrons know what paper based collections they have and when new titles of interest arrive; and they have outreach programmes to let incoming students and faculty know what services they provide. But there seems to be a disconnect when it comes to online digital collections and often a “build it and they will come” attitude prevails.

This paper is presented in three parts. The first will introduce a method — inlink analysis — that can be used to identify and understand the current and potential audiences for digital collections. Part two will present some evidence from a case at Harvard University’s Open Collections Program ( that marketing efforts have a significant impact on the number of users of digital collections. The third part will look more broadly at marketing in libraries; at what exactly academic libraries are and should be marketing.

Keywords: libraries, digital collections, marketing

Suggested Citation

Madsen, Christine McCarthy, The Importance of Marketing Digital Collections (November 23, 2009). ALISS Quarterly, 2009. Available at SSRN: or

Christine McCarthy Madsen (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Oxford e-Research Centre ( email )

7 Keble Road
Oxford, OX1 3QG
United Kingdom

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

Bodleian Libraries ( email )

Osney One
Osney Mead
Oxford, OX2 0EW
United Kingdom

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