The race to improve library engagement: An interview with Raena Morrison


Author and self-described adventure junkie Susan Lacke wrote in her 2019 memoir Running Outside the Comfort Zone: An Explorer’s Guide to the Edges of Running that, “Finding the perfect training partner is a challenge,” Lacke added, “It’s not enough to have someone who matches your speed; you also have to find someone whose company you enjoy over lots of miles.” For Raena Morrison, VP of Sales for North America, she echos those sentiments when it comes to the symbiotic relationship between libraries and vendors.

“We are all consumers. We all buy cars. I think about what I want with my long-term vendor relationships,” Morrison said. “Libraries that choose to work with us are getting into a long-term relationship with us. When I come to work, I bring transparency, accountability, and continuous improvement because those are the values I look for when I’m looking for my own long-term vendors.”

Morrison says bringing those three values every day to Innovative, part of Clarivate, helps her to keep perspective on what is important.

“We are all in this business because we care about libraries,” Morrison said. “I am always trying to talk to librarians, whether they’re my customer or not. I want to learn about their libraries and the problems that they face.”

Those conversations empower Morrison to serve as an internal advocate for libraries.

“I look at myself as the ultimate problem solver. If I can’t solve it, I need to find someone who can,” Morrison said. “I may tell a colleague, ‘I see this on the roadmap, but I’m hearing this from libraries.’ This cross collaboration helps us spot opportunities for improvement based on immediate customer feedback.”

Extending your impact

Often the fruits of those conversations result in direct impact on Innovative solutions; from minor tweaks that improve functionality to large scale product launches that bring truly innovative solutions to library challenges.

Well before Innovative began development on the Vega Library Experience (LX), Morrison was already hearing from customers that there was a void in the marketplace for libraries-specific engagement solutions. The pandemic only worked to underscore the importance of that need.

“Over the past two years, the transformation libraries have gone through is exponential,” Morrison said. “Libraries needed something different. They needed solutions to be everywhere all at once.”

“The challenge since the start of the pandemic has been how do you pull in members of the community who might never set foot in your four walls?” Morrison said. “Vega Program and Promote do just that.”

Vega LX is an ultramodern, cloud-based platform that enables libraries to build better patron relationships. Vega LX offers libraries a unified solution for managing their full range of materials, programs, and services. All while developing ongoing relationships with library patrons and community members.

In early 2021, Innovative launched the first module of the Vega LX suite of solutions—Vega Discover.

This March, Innovative unveiled the next two modules of Vega LX: Vega Promote for digital marketing and Vega Program for event and room management.

“Libraries don’t usually have a full marketing department, let alone one librarian who only oversees engagement efforts,” Morrison said. “These solutions are designed to be scalable. They allow librarians to learn and grow with the tool. At first, it’s entry level marketing automation, but as you become more comfortable you can do some incredibly powerful things.”

To set libraries up for success, basic templates were created for certain features within Vega Promote to allow libraries to slowly integrate the service into their marketing and engagement efforts.

“We have been very thoughtful about how we are providing training,” Morrison said. “We’ve created these platforms so there wouldn’t be a heavy lift. It’s a true plug-and-play SaaS (Software as a Solution). There’s a layer that connects directly to your ILS, and an engine that automatically converts all your MARC records into BIBFRAME. It takes the power of the ILS foundation that you already have and uses all the technology of today to capitalize on it.”

While Sierra or Polaris manages your books, Vega LX handles your patron relationships.

Morrison adds that keeping your data in one ecosystem helps libraries minimize security risks. Rather than needing to copy patron data from third party to third party solution, Vega Promote and Program aid libraries in marketing and engagement efforts.

“I think it’s an exciting time to be with Innovative because I think we have the most modern and comprehensive set of tools for public libraries out there. I would argue with anyone on that point,” Morrison said. “What’s more, it’s an exciting time for libraries in general as everyone continues to rethink their purpose in their own communities.”
But change won’t come overnight because the road to improvement is not a race, but a marathon.

One Morrison hopes libraries will choose to run with Innovative.