Continuing from my previous post, here are some more topics from 37signals' Getting Real ebook. All quotes are from the ebook and again I recommend giving it a read.

Many libraries believe they need to be Amazon or Google or they’ll lose out. This misses the advantage libraries have of being smaller. They can offer a more personal service to the community. A library can offer one on one reference help, community workshops and outreach that others can’t. Someone browsing the web at the local coffee shop may be able to search Google, but they likely won’t have the chance of asking a question to a real person, that is unless your library is there. Most libraries are part of a community, they should probably take an active role in it.

As in any profession, libraries have jargon. There’s things like “serials”, “circulation”, “ILL”, etc. Though it can often save space to use umbrella terms, if it prevents people from finding services or the resources they need, it is likely worthwhile to explain exactly what is being offered.

Knowing what terms people use and think of can also be useful. I often get calls from students who are told by professors to look for “peer-reviewed sources” or “primary material”. They are not aware that journals or indexes may be a place to look for them, as there is nothing on our site that says “peer-reviewed”. The use of primary in this case also tends to be different then what is considered primary on our site. This is usually where a reference librarian would come into play, but if the question is common it may also be a place for other outreach. Maybe it would be a good idea to prepare an “evaluating resources” handout for professors to give to students (including reference contacts), that breaks down the various sources they should use and how to find them at your library. Or maybe it’s a sign that things should be reworded or a link to a guide should be made more visable. If your main audience is students, then common tasks and research guides should likely be moved to the forefront. If the majority need to start in indexes, then it will likely be worthwhile to make it easier to find and more apparent that it’s a good starting point.

Keep up to date on what terms people are using when they ask questions and use them to your advantage.