by Aleisha Amohia
One of the many reasons Koha is the best library system in the world is because it is so customisable – libraries can easily style their OPAC with a custom theme that matches their organisation’s colours, or post news items to keep patrons updated on library events and messages, or maintain sliders that showcase popular titles in an interactive, animated way. But how can we encourage our patrons to visit and enjoy our OPAC? Here are a few tips for marketing Koha to your users and increasing traffic to your library site.
Translate your content
Koha provides multiple ways to show custom content in different areas of your OPAC, using the News Tool. You can now translate the content in your main user block, navigation bars, search box, footer, news items, and login box, and Koha will show whichever version of the content specified for the OPAC language being used.
For example, a New Zealand library might have two different news items for their main user block - one in New Zealand English, and one in Te Reo Māori. If a patron using the OPAC uses English, they will see the English news item. If they use the language selector to change their OPAC to Te Reo Māori, the page will reload and display the Te Reo Māori news item instead. This makes the OPAC more accessible, because value isn’t being lost due to a language barrier.
When the user selects English, Koha will show the custom content the library has provided for that language.
When the user selects Te Reo Māori, Koha will show the custom content the library has provided for that language.
Create ‘how to’ videos
Recording and uploading short tutorial videos which teach patrons how to use different features of your OPAC will not only increase the usability and familiarity of your site, but also enables library users to share the videos with their friends and could increase your patronage. These videos don’t need to be highly detailed or show anything complex – they could be just two to three minutes long, showing a patron how to update their password, or submit a purchase suggestion, or pay fines online, or browse items in a list, or even create their own list!
Videos create value by educating patrons about how to use your OPAC and empowering them to use the different features, while also being shareable beyond your patrons. You could even use open source screen recording software such as Open Broadcaster Software to create this video content. These videos are best uploaded anywhere your users might find them, such as your organisation website and streaming sites.
Be active on social media
Having a social media presence is one of the most cost-effective ways to generate clicks to your Koha. Use social media to link to different parts of your OPAC, such as the news items promoting events at your library, or lists of recent titles, or book recommendations. Social media also allows you to interact with your patrons – you can create polls, have conversations, and receive feedback directly from users.
Ensure that every tweet or post has a link to your OPAC to guarantee that it is the first place a user will go for more information. If you utilise hashtags or tag other accounts or locations, it will be even easier for people to find your posts, and they could be shared or reposted by others! You should also ensure your organisation supports your social media strategy and re-shares your posts from their separate account, if they have one.
Utilise patron attribute types
Extended patron attributes can be used for collecting statistical data about patrons. Attributes can store any information you might like to know about your patrons, and the data can be used to inform your marketing strategy. They are highly customisable – attributes can be repeatable within the patron record, a unique identifier amongst all your patrons, searchable via the staff patron search, only applicable for specific branches or a specific patron category, and configurable to be shown or editable by the patron in the OPAC.
You can define a patron attribute to store whether your patron would like to receive a newsletter, or if they are interested in specific services your library provides, or events your library organises. You can then run a report, group patrons by that patron attribute, and generate a mailing list for your newsletter or notices.
Use reports or lists to generate displays
Koha has a reports feature in the staff client that allows librarians to access their database directly. Libraries can use reports to create lists based on statistical or time-relevant data, such as the most recently added records, or the most popular items that month, or items that haven’t been checked out in the last year.
Some slider plugins take Koha lists as input rather than a report, such as the Book Carousel. You can add items directly from your search results to a public list, and configure your plugin to build a carousel (or slider) using that list.
Sliders and carousels are an interactive, animated way to draw attention to your OPAC, allowing you to customise the view by showcasing some of your catalogue, and maximising the potential of many different Koha modules. However, they are just one option for turning reporting into content for your users. We can use Koha reporting to pull out any set of data for targeting a particular audience. If you’ve got something in mind, we’d love to hear your ideas and help bring them to life.