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Coote, H. and Batchelor, B. How to market your library service effectively. 2nd ed. London, Aslib, 1997. 51pp. ISBN 0-85142-396-5 (Aslib Know-How Guides). [Price not given.]

It is now four years since the first edition of this slim Guide was issued. A second edition is justified, says the introduction, mainly because the 'technology of delivery systems' has changed. Despite retaining its original title, the new edition has dropped the term 'librarian' addressing its advice, rather, to the 'information manager'.

Like all the Aslib Know How Guides, the book is intended for practitioners who want a simple easily assimilated approach to the topic based on current good practice . Its purpose is essentially practical, helping information professionals (probably for the first time) to gain a grasp of marketing essentials.

The Guide moves from a basic definition of marketing to outline the steps involved in devising a marketing strategy. It focuses, helpfully, on knowing your 'customers', analysing the strengths and weaknesses of the service, and assessing the 'competition'.

Advice is given on segmenting your market and identifying the 'benefits' of the service to specific customer groups. New to this edition, 'delighting' rather than simply satisfying customers is proposed as the goal of contemporary.

A chapter on Marketing Planning discusses the '4Ps' - product, price, place and promotion in the context of services, and adds a fifth 'P' - People. A final chapter on Implementation gives guidance on market research and promotional activities. Very basic advice on the use of the media for promotion and creating library brochures, newsletters and posters is contained in an Appendix. Four short case studies demonstrating how marketing theory can be put into practice are included with contact e-mails for those who want further information.

A booklet like this is very easy to criticise for what it leaves out and no publication of just over 50 pages can begin to do justice to the subtleties of a topic as complex as marketing. Inevitably, the Guide has some weaknesses. There is some evidence of over-enthusiastic editing. PEST analysis, given a page reference in one of the case studies, is not mentioned in the main body of text. In places, the Guide over-simplifies. It makes no distinction between commercial and not-for profit services or between 'customer' and 'user'. 'Price', in the sense of cost to the user in time and effort, is not covered. In such a short guide, the chapter summaries could easily have been sacrificed to provide space for coverage of these issues. Surprisingly, for a basic introduction to the subject, not a single reference is included for further reading. This is particularly frustrating when concepts are introduced which may be new to readers, - e.g., 'delighting' the customer.

For anyone who has either forgotten what marketing is all about or who has never related it to the management and delivery of library and information services, this publication provides a useful reminder of basic concepts and principles. For the marketing sceptic, and for LIS students, it provides an attractive and painless introduction to the topic. Those who already have some familiarity with marketing concepts in the context of library and information services will, however, require something a little more substantial to develop their expertise and knowledge.

Richard Proctor
Lecturer, Department of Information Studies
University of Sheffield