Document Type


Original Presentation Date



Poster presented at the All-Science Poster Session, Annual Conference, Special Libraries Association, 2015

Date of Submission

May 2015


The research guide is one of the most common tools librarians use to communicate with and instruct their audiences. Despite their prevalence and the general consensus that they are useful, research guides remain underutilized. The literature offers many examples of efforts encouraging guide use but little work exists measuring the effectiveness of that promotion.

The VCU Libraries Academic Outreach department promote their guides through inexpensive and small keytags­­ similar to retail customer loyalty keychain tags. The objective of this research is to measure the effectiveness of this approach, using both quantitative and qualitative evidence.

Each tag has a URL printed on one side and a subject­related image on the other. Starting with 10 tags in fall 2013, we now have 41 tags with more in production. Given away individually or strung together as a keychain, the tags are used at events, during instruction, and in one­on­one consultations.

With more than 20,000 tags distributed, anecdotal response is overwhelming positive. These tags provide an astonishing number of opportunities for conversations and interactions. To determine the impact of the keytags on guide use, we are analyzing guide use before and after the advent of the tags, as well as comparing use for guides with tags to those without.

We have tags for a variety of guides in many disciplines, which allows us to customize our promotion and message for the needs of users from different disciplines with different focuses.

Is Part Of

VCU Libraries Faculty and Staff Presentations