Marketing Libraries

John County Library partners with the classics

John County Library partners with the classics. This work by John County Library Systems is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

By Reema Mohini

Libraries today offer classes, e-books, audiobooks, DVDs, and countless other services and products. The problem is that there are still people who don’t know about all of this. That’s a problem. What the library community needs to do is better market itself, and all wonderful things it offers, so that libraries become even more indispensable to communities.

For those who do not have a degree in marketing, figuring out how to market a library can seem tough. It isn’t. Just keep the following in mind: do your research, focus your marketing, and don’t give up.

1. Do your research
How you market your library depends on what community of users you serve and the resources you have. To learn more about your users, turn to OCLC and the Pew Research Center. Both of these sites give a great overview, but nothing beats firsthand knowledge of your community. If you can conduct surveys, focus groups, or use other methods to get to know your users, do so.

Don’t forget to research alternative ways of marketing! There are a number of great tools out there to get the word out, like Facebook, Twitter, Blogspot, Mail Chimp, and countless other sites that are either free or inexpensive that can be used to market your library. Check to see if any of the organizations your library is connected with offer discounts, free access, or training.

2. Focus your marketing
Use your library’s website, along with social media outlets, to get the word out about events and services, and to keep people thinking about the library. Don’t abandon older forms of marketing, such as community bulletins and posters, especially if they have been successful. Make a cohesive plan, incorporating what you know about your users to reach them using all available formats. To learn more about how to incorporate social media into your library’s marketing plan, check out the blog “The ‘M’ Word” which focuses on marketing libraries.

3. Don’t give up
Marketing can be hard, and you will probably make mistakes. Don’t give up. Learn more, connect with others who seem to know what they are doing, and try again. The ALA list serve prtalk@ala.org [you need to have an ALA username and password to subscribe] and organizations like the Tampa Bay Library Consortium are great ways to connect with people who have done this work before. Successful marketing will bring more people in to your library, and convince the community to invest in libraries, even during difficult financial times.

– Reema Mohini

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