Go Somewhere Unexpected header image

Submitted by: UBC Library Communications & Marketing Team
Institution: University of British Columbia Library

Go Somewhere Unexpected Campaign

“In January and February of 2018, UBC Library launched a four-week campaign (January 8 to February 16) to increase in-person visits to Rare Books & Special Collections and to drive online visits to content. Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) is a unique branch/unit of the UBC Library, facilitating primary research for faculty, researchers and students. Its collections are also accessible to the general public and materials can be viewed on an individual basis through the reading room or through weekly tours, led by RBSC librarians.”

“Research revealed that while more than half of UBC students were aware of Rare Books and Special Collections, a significantly lower percentage had actually visited the branch, suggesting a gap in awareness of the tours available as well as an opportunity to increase student engagement.”


“The [Go Somewhere Unexpected] campaign aimed to increase in-person visits to RBSC, increase engagement with RBSC online content and to establish RBSC as an accessible, welcoming and friendly resource for UBC students. It resulted in a significant increase in engagement with RBSC’s online content, an increase in in-person traffic and strong attendance at a VIP tour.”

Marketing Strategies

“To provide low-barrier, accessible and engaging content to drive interest and awareness around RBSC, we created a blog post entitled “Five amazing items at UBC Library’s Rare Books & Special Collections that every UBC student should see before graduating” which profiled the highlights of the collection.”

“We created a Twitter poll to accompany our “Five amazing items at UBC Library’s Rare Books & Special Collections that every UBC student should see before graduating” story. The poll prompted users to identify which of the items most interested them. Results from this twitter poll informed the items included in the VIP tour – the Darwin letter was added to the tour after being identified as most intriguing to our audience.”

“The campaign was led by a major acquisition story – RBSC’s acquisition of the first edition of the Vancouver Weekly Herald, the first item ever printed in Vancouver. This acquisition served to highlight RBSC’s core mandate to collect and preserve materials that directly relate to the history of British Columbia, while also encouraging visits to see this specific item. We leveraged the coverage of this major acquisition to launch the campaign.”


“As a result of this campaign, tour attendance increased by 120%. While most weekly tours averaged between 2-5 attendees, our VIP tour attracted 11 attendees. 64% of attendees were visiting RBSC for the first time [and] 91% of attendees said they were very likely to recommend visiting RBSC. Campaign landing page and social media engagement surpassed project objectives [and] Tweets published for this campaign boosted engagement by 40% compared to this time period last year.”

Go Somewhere unexpected - RBSC 2018

Photo by UBC Library Communications on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons License.