Soliciting volunteers

Patrick is ready to run card sorts with our community to begin our information architecture work, and the first question in any volunteer enterprise is “how do we get people to participate?”

Well, by asking.

Then by begging.

Then by arm-twisting.

Also, try offering incentives. Like coffee or pizza.

(I haven’t been forced to the Pizza Extreme. Yet.)

As the Voice Of The Library, I took two initial approaches to finding volunteers for the card sort. First, I sent an email to Dr. Tom Baker, the head of our Honors Program, and asked if he would solicit student volunteers for us. We, as The Libraries and as members of the campus community, have a strong existing relationship with Dr. Baker and with the Honors Program, so this was an easy way to reach out to several hundred students to ask for help. I offered a gift certificate for free coffee at the cafe to any student who volunteered, and before the day was over I had 3 volunteers.

Then I sent out an email to our faculty liaisons to the library. This group consists of one faculty member from each of our academic departments, with whom we work on Collection Development and libraries’ communication issues. And, when needed, I use them as a sounding board, informal advisory group… and pool of potential volunteers. (I also offered them coffee.)

If these two solicitations fail to get us enough volunteers to fill the three card sort sessions, we will move on to the next step: Begging. This means asking for volunteers personally, from amongst our friends, colleagues, coworkers, student workers, students in classes, library regulars… and offering coffee.

If that fails, arm-twisting is next. That means I, as Director of Libraries, start calling in favors. I try to save these for stuff that matters, but this project counts in that category.

(Or I offer to buy pizza. We’ll see.)