Called “the most prestigious award of the American Library Association,” the honor recognizes UTSA's 'Ask Us Anything' library marketing campaign

By Ryan Schoensee, Communications Specialist

Called “the most prestigious award of the American Library Association,” the honor recognizes UTSA's Ask Us Anything library marketing campaign  

The American Libraries Association announced last Friday the UTSA Libraries has won a 2014 John Cotton Dana Award for its awareness campaign to increase student engagement with library staff.  

The John Cotton Dana Award, sponsored by the H.W. Wilson Foundation, the American Library Association and EBSCO, nationally honors libraries that exhibit excellence in public or student relations. The prestigious award is given to eight libraries annually, each receiving a $10,000 cash award, and winning campaign materials are shared with libraries across the nation to serve as models of best practices.

UTSA Libraries winning campaign resulted in a significant increase in students receiving research assistance from library staff, supporting the university’s retention initiative. The campaign successfully raised awareness of library staff as friendly information experts, increasing the number of student-staff interactions by 48% in 2013.

The campaign’s integrated approach started with re-branding library staff as the “Blue Crew,” with an emphasis on customer service supported by the Ask Us Anything slogan. Three separate micro-marketing campaigns rolled out over the course of the year, involving a mix of eye-catching posters, digital monitor slides, print ads and website graphics, as well as a number of student engagement events meant to drive social media activity.

“The role of an academic library is to help students succeed and graduate,” said Dr. Krisellen Maloney, dean of libraries. “The Ask Us Anything campaign has made a lasting impact, ensuring that our students are really benefitting from the support and expertise of our staff. Winning this award is a testament to the campaign’s beautiful execution and strong results.”

“It is such an honor for the UTSA Libraries to receive the John Cotton Dana award,” said Anne Peters, director of library communications. “The campaign was a true team effort and involved the participation and talents of staff across library departments – from our front-line Blue Crew to our communications team.”

Given continuously for almost 70 years, the John Cotton Dana awards are presented at a reception held during the American Library Association Annual Conference. Other recipients of the 2014 award include Birmingham Public Library for “Letter from Birmingham Jail: a worldwide Celebration”, North Carolina State James B. Hunt Jr. Library for “The Library of the Future”, and Texas A & M for “Deeper Than Swords: 2-day celebration of George RR Martin”, among others.

The UTSA Libraries include the John Peace Library on the Main Campus, the Downtown Campus Library, and the Applied Engineering and Technology Library – recognized by the New York Times and USA Today as the nation’s first bookless library on a university campus.