Like peanut butter and jelly, bathrooms and reading material just seem to be made for each other. After all it’s where we do our best thinking, right?! Short of relocating the stacks to the stalls, how can we engage this, ehem, captive audience?
That’s the idea behind (haha, get it, behind!) Lav Notes. This full color bi-monthly newsletter with a tag-line of “help for the stalled” is posted in every library stall and above all urinals. Being mindful of the academic calendar, each issue addresses the changing needs of our patrons over the course of the year. For example in the fall we create one around a “back to school” theme with library basics like how to check out books, where to access your online account and who to ask for help. Then over the summer we get all relaxy with book and DVD recommendations. Each issue includes changes in library hours and upcoming events like instructional workshops and author readings. We even encourage user-generated content in exchange for a gift card to the library’s café.
While I can’t take credit for this ingenious idea, I can heartily encourage you to give it a try. Only a handful of academic libraries including UVA and Dartmouth are currently taking advantage of this brilliant marketing opportunity. I’m here to testify–patrons will thank you! I’ve gotten emails and Facebook posts–even Valentines–from students expressing their appreciation. And when I talk to people about my various job responsibilities, only Lav Notes catches their attention.
If you want to get in on the magic, here’s the deal. You’ll want to make a basic design template that you can reuse for each edition. Ours has a simple text header with the name, date and volume of the publication. For aesthetic purposes we also include a rotating graphic, which can be your library’s logo or an open source doodle. To compile the newsletter I like to use the Adobe Creative Suite, specifically Illustrator and InDesign. Publisher will also do the trick and comes standard with Microsoft Office. Then you just stick in a few text boxes about library happenings and hit print. It’s all done in house, so it’s cheap and easy. Our custodial staff kindly posts them in reusable holders affixed to every library bathroom stall door and above the urinals, both in public and staff spaces.
Truly the only complaint I’ve ever received is that they’re not updated frequently enough. So there you have it: a way to reach the hearts and minds of your students… through their, lets say, excellent hydration habits. Believe me, everyone will think you’re a superhero.