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moving knowledge: MnDOT Library John Cotton Dana Award Application

Needs Assessment & Planning

Community Profile:  MnDOT Library is a technical library focused primarily on civil and transportation engineering with additional strengths in management, environment, computer software, leadership, and risk management.  The library serves the staff of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), Minnesota city and county engineers, consultants, students, University of Minnesota staff, and public citizens who need these unique resources.  MnDOT Library has a strong national reputation for providing comprehensive research services and resources to transportation industry partners, as well as department employees.  The mission of MnDOT Library is to advance knowledge with timely, direct, and cost-effective connections to the information systems users need to provide the highest-quality transportation systems.

Process:  Library staff reductions in recent years had forced marketing efforts to be put on hold.  Consequently, its marketing materials and the library itself had become unattractive.  The Library Director, with the support of upper management, enlisted consultants to hold focus groups and conduct interviews of library staff and external customers.  The participants made it very clear that MnDOT Library’s services and space were in need of some major changes to meet users’ 21st Century needs.  Their feedback identified the need for improvements in three areas: developing a targeted marketing and communication plan, implementing a strategic redesign and remodel of the library’s physical space, and updating critical technology services and devices (implementing innovative technologies), including the library’s website.  They further expressed an interest in the addition of “outreach services” (embedded librarianship), that would make the librarians more visible to other MnDOT offices.  

To respond to the needs of its customers, the library staff decided they needed to develop and execute a new marketing campaign. 

Objectives/Desired Results:  The primary objectives of the “moving knowledge” campaign were to describe the library’s services and collections more clearly through updated marketing and communication materials, and to position the library for future outreach efforts.  Other notable objectives were for the MnDOT Library to provide users and library staff with a sustainable, functional, and modern space, and to offer enhanced technologies and services.

The desired results of updating the library’s marketing materials and space were to increase library usage traffic, secure additional opportunities to attend and present at more outside events, and be more involved in office meetings.  The library staff researched new and affordable technologies such as social media and Wi-Fi that could be offered as library services to MnDOT staff. 

Budget:  Library staff chose to hire consultants to facilitate the process in order to conserve staff time and benefit from professional expertise.  The consultants would be responsible for all costs, including: acquiring supplies, creating deliverables, designing and printing materials, helping with the remodel, and organizing a post-campaign open house event.

Having secured funding for the marketing and communication plan, library staff then developed a compelling and winning argument to justify the dollars needed to redesign and remodel the library’s physical space.  Estimates were gathered by reviewing catalogs, meeting with vendors, and visiting and discussing other libraries’ successful projects to create a budget.  

The library adopted a “remodeling by repurposing” philosophy to encourage sustainability.  The budget included $59,995 for the marketing and communication campaign, $64,375 for remodeling the physical space, and $500 for the open house event, for a total of $124,370.