The Portal Business: Conception, Production & Marketing
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Five years ago the title for this talk might have been "Creating the Virtual Library and Developing a Program of Bibliographic Instruction," but today such terminology seems oddly antiquated. As libraries have evolved, librarians have adopted business models to compete and survive. As we create unique information products, design efficient information delivery systems, negotiate licensing fees and promote our information resources to patrons, we have adopted practices developed in the world of business. All truly great companies are adaptive to the marketplace, and the same holds true for successful libraries. It is no longer possible to define today's library activities on the basis of past practices. Challenged with providing information to a diverse and extremely dispersed staff, the Zoological Society of San Diego Library established a Zoo and Conservation Web Portal to anchor our services. Today's consumer wants convenient, one-stop shopping. And a niche web portal that anticipates needed resources by providing quality pre-evaluated links to both international and local sources was a fundamental first step. And because it is considered good business practice to have multiple revenue streams, inventing new ones and creatively developing existing ones, our Library regularly adds unique information products tailored to our patron's specific needs. Products include a historical time line of Society events; a zoo and conservation news service; a customized journal page; standardized and annotated animal fact sheets; web tutorials; indexes to Zoonooz and staff articles, and a Society archives finding aid. Our marketing campaign consists of yearly keeper training classes for new employees, and a yearly information update for all employees, focusing on information literacy, new web and technology developments and new library acquisitions. Four, 1-hour information modules are also available on demand to various departments. In this era of technological change and near-instant communication, adaptiveness like this is necessary for libraries to compete and survive. As Darwin noted, it's not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one that is most adaptable to change.