Not an expert in library marketing but…

winter springI am a children’s librarian and a library administrator, not a library marketing expert. Yet even I can tell you that:

  • On March 30, after a long and brutal winter, on a day in which my neighbor said that if it snows again, please come over and shoot her, it is probably a mistake for my neighborhood library branch to have a big snowman in their front window. We are so ready for spring. Why isn’t the library?
  • Remember how when you were in school (talking to you older people here) and you would be doing a report and someone showed you the green volumes of the Reader’s Guide to Periodicals, and you would look up your subject and then have to go find the article it cited? At least half of the time, they didn’t have the magazine so you had to try again, and then you finally got one and you had to go copy it and maybe the copier was broken?  Ebsco’s periodical database is where you can get full text articles from well over 1,500 magazines and journals, so it is fantastically useful, and yet they continue to call it by the terrible name of Masterfile Premiere as if anyone would have the faintest idea what they would find if they clicked it, so it sits almost unused on so many library websites. Nobody knows what Masterfile Premiere is, not even the librarians half of the time. Market your product better, Ebsco!
  • And another marketing thought…What would it be like if one year every public library in the country did the same summer reading theme? And everyone encouraged people not just to go to their own library but to go to The Library to sign up for Summer Reading? It would be awesome, that’s what. Everyone’s numbers would shoot up because we would all be promoting the same thing to everyone at once. It will never happen, because part of the success of public libraries is being able to tweak things for their own community, but I still think it would be a cool thing to do once. It would send the message that no matter what library you go to, you can sign up for summer reading there, and that it will be fun, and help you do better in school in the fall. We could even pool our money for national TV commercials. I sometimes think in my part of the world at least that we end up competing more than cross-promoting, and it’s a missed opportunity.
  • We should move National Library Week. Far too often, it begins with the Sunday where Easter falls, and virtually all public libraries close for a spring holiday. That seems like an extraordinarily bad way to start our biggest national marketing campaign, doesn’t it?

If I were not a children’s librarian, and not a library administrator, I think I would like to go into library marketing. In this day and age, it is one of the most interesting and challenging jobs in the field, because of Google, Wikipedia, e-readers and Netflix changing perceptions about information access and reading. Libraries are still such vital places but without the great library marketing teams out there, no one would ever know it. It is such a worthwhile job.



This entry was posted in Library marketing, Management, Public libraries, Reading Incentive Programs, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Not an expert in library marketing but…

  1. Janet Thompson says:

    Dear Susan, I have never promoted the Summer Reading Program without mentioning that it happens in most every public library nationwide. I definitely say that to parents, so no matter where they spend their summer, their kids can experience a summer reading program. It’s a great thing everywhere regardless of the theme. You are certainly correct about the value of national marketing. Perhaps somehow you’ll figure out a way to add this to your already impressive resume.

  2. lochwouters says:

    OMG, thank you for the thoughts about SLP. I have seen far too many libraries in my career do “their own thing” to be “unique” and NOT promote nearby libraries. It’s a little, well, pissy. I am amazed when libraries compete against each other. Really what is the point? We are far stronger together!

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