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Published April 13, 2024

Carlson Book Bash helps students engage with ‘fun reading’

In partnership with the UMN Libraries, Imagine We Could hopes to empower students to read more books.
Image by Eleanor King
In a technology-filled world, students from MKTG 4076 learn how to promote a message through digital marketing techniques. Imagine We Could promotes their causes on social media through paid advertising and engagements.

Students taking the digital marketing course at the Carlson School of Management get hands-on experience in digital marketing by participating in an organization called Imagine We Could, which focuses on projects related to a theme of their choice. 

Students in the course develop the organization’s website and manage their social media pages while creating and posting paid advertisements related to that year’s chosen theme, which is about promoting reading this year.

The class, along with the University of Minnesota Libraries, hosted the Carlson Book Bash on Wednesday, their first event of the semester. 

The book bash’s goal was to emphasize reducing technology usage and spending more time reading books for pleasure through making bookmarks, book exchanges and recommendations. 

Allison Murn, the professor of the course, said that while the goal is to promote a message through various marketing tactics, she also hopes their message resonates with other students. 

“People are spending way too much time online when they should be spending more time being creative,” Murn said. “Reading a physical book is a great way to do that.” 

Murn said most people want to start reading more but have not found time to do so. She said the book bash is meant to help spark motivation and by partnering with the University Libraries, students will be informed about the variety of resources they offer. 

“Even though my students are juniors or seniors, they’ve never even touched the library resources or seen them before,” Murn said. “These tools that the U of M libraries offer are so important for research and for projects.” 

Kate Peterson, an undergraduate services librarian for the University Libraries, said the book bash was a great way to promote the non-educational books available through the libraries.

“We see this as an opportunity to reach students who might not visit Wilson or Walter Library, but instead connect with them over something like fun reading,” Peterson said. 

Students can walk into the libraries and find a selection of bestseller books, streaming documentaries and music, Peterson added. 

Students can also find the libraries’ selection of bestseller books online through the Libby app, which gives access to e-books for free through public libraries, using their University login credentials.

“We always look forward to having a conversation with somebody like, ‘Tell us what you’re interested in and we can tell you about something that you might not even know we have,’” Peterson said. 

According to Peterson, the class approached the libraries with the idea to collaborate on the book bash. 

“The class had done a lot of planning for this event and done all the imagining for it,” Peterson said. “They had a lot of great ideas of how the libraries could be involved.”

Zach South, a fourth-year marketing student taking the class, said he felt “amazing” about the event’s high turnout, which was held at the Carlson School Atrium and was open to all students, staff and faculty. 

“Not many people go to events at the Carlson Atrium, so you think, ‘Oh no, what if my event doesn’t reach a bunch of people?’” South said. “The fact that we had crowds forming right before we opened put me at ease. It was like, ‘Okay, all of this work we put in is going to pay off.’” 

South said the purpose behind Imagine We Could is to empower students and young people, and to provide them the tools needed to live a successful life.

“What I really enjoy with marketing is the actual interaction with not just consumers, but with the outside world and how they interact with the brand and the product,” South said. 

The class is separated into A and B terms, meaning students in the A term meet for seven weeks before the B term section of the class begins with a new batch of students, according to Murn. 

Murn said she is impressed with the impact her students can make through their online engagement efforts to promote Imagine We Could by getting interactions from influencers and running ads that reach thousands of consumers. 

“It’s been amazing to see what the students are capable of, particularly when they’re passionate about something,” Murn said. 

For South, taking the class is not just learning about how to market a brand to people. It’s about passing the “imagine we could” mentality onto students. 

“It’s letting them believe that they can do these projects and put things into action and show that they’re capable for and ready for the real world,” South said. 

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