Around the world, libraries face the challenge of being underutilized, and special libraries in Sri Lanka in particular are no exception. Studies show that this can be overcome through marketing. Current study determines how marketing is applied in special libraries in the Colombo district, Sri Lanka and their future prospects in marketing. The study identifies the current marketing activities, marketing techniques and librarians’ perception towards marketing in selected special libraries (n=50) in the Colombo district.
Findings revealed that special libraries under study have a sufficient number of resources acquired and market opportunities available. However, it is assumed that unintentional marketing is been carried out in a majority of libraries as reflected by the absence of a marketing plan, absence of user surveys and lack of persuasive communication with parent organization for undertaking marketing. Most librarians give priority to promotional works such as conducting awareness programs, focusing on public relations, designing new information products and advertising library events and services. Techniques used for marketing were email lists, library website, seminar and workshops, traditional communication methods and social media.
A majority of librarians were of the view that marketing concept can be applied to special libraries. Periodical collections, library spaces and infrastructure were identified as highly marketable resources. Other libraries are not considered as a challenge when employing marketing practices in their own library but respondents hold a mixed perception regarding how users would react to marketing practices if they are implemented in their libraries. Overall findings concludes that these libraries can break the boundaries and take up formal marketing if confronted with a proper market plan.