Big Ideas

Taking the Temperature of a Capital Campaign

Fundraising thermometers are almost always presented literally as thermometers, often painted on sturdy plywood and posted at a busy intersection or campus gateway.  When a fundraising milestone is met, the thermometer is filled up to that point, a process that is repeated until the campaign is complete and the thermometer is full.  These thermometers are de rigeur aspects of a campaign – necessary but rarely engaging tools.

When the Lawrence Public Library Foundation embarked on its “New Stories” capital campaign to raise a million dollars last year, they knew they needed a thermometer to show the community how the campaign was progressing.  They also knew that they wanted the thermometer to do more than measure – they wanted it to engage and excite the community and somehow reflect the nature of the campaign.  What they ended up with was the “Stack of Stories.” Continue reading “Taking the Temperature of a Capital Campaign”

Marketing 101, Tips & Tools

Marketing Advice from the Boy Scouts

Be prepared. 

Just as there are “teaching moments,” there are “marketing moments” – moments when you are able to capture a visual image or a personal story or a quick fact that can be used to convey the library’s value.  Be ready for these!

Marketing Masters, Tips & Tools

One Hour, Three Libraries, Nine Words

  • Intuit.  Inquire.  Identify.
  • Claim Your Seat.
  • Always Be Connecting.

In the excellent Building a Library Aware Community webinar, three libraries talked about how they successfully articulate their value to their communities.  My notes are copious, but in reviewing them, I noticed that each panelist offered up a three-word phrase that expressed the essence of their project and their perspective. Continue reading “One Hour, Three Libraries, Nine Words”


Oscar, Grammy, John Cotton Dana

It’s awards season!  If you and your library are doing some stellar marketing, consider submitting your work for an award.  These awards show off the “Best Dressed” of the library PR world:

  • The annual LLAMA/PRMS Best of Show Awards recognize the very best public relations materials produced by libraries in the past year.  Deadline is March 16, 2012.
  • The John Cotton Dana Award is the most prestigious award of the American Library Association.  It honors outstanding library public relations efforts – from rebranding to community partnerships to awareness campaigns.  Deadline is March 15, 2012.
  • And there’s a new award on the scene – sponsored by Library Journal and NoveList/LibraryAware.  Only two things are known right now – it’s worth $10,000 and full details will be announced at the LibraryAware Launch Party on March 15 at PLA.  If you need a ticket to the festivities, email Nancy Dowd, Library Aware’s Project Lead, at

I’ll be in Philly and have my ticket to the LibraryAware launch – hope to connect with some 658.8 readers while there!

Tips & Tools

Minute to Market It #2 – Newsletter Mailing List

A series of short and sweet ideas that you can implement right now.

M2MI #2 – If you maintain a mailing list for your library newsletter, whether it’s in print or electronic format,  take a minute today and check it:

  • Are all of the current Trustees included? Current leadership of the Friends of the Library?  Library Foundation Board of Directors?  As new leaders and members come onto these boards, make sure to get their addresses.
  • Is the mayor on the list? County commissioners?  State representatives?  Remember to update the list after Election Day each year.
  • Is the city or county Public Information Officer or Communications Director on the list?
  • Are area news outlets included?  In addition to sending them press releases and entries for their community calendars, send them your regular newsletter as well.
  • Are the leaders of other community institutions on it?  Make sure that directors of local arts organizations and children’s museums and civic groups get your newsletter and make sure that you receive theirs.

Often our goal is to grow our list and it is easy to overlook these key audiences and assume that they are either already on your list or that they just somehow know about what’s going on at your library.   Continue reading “Minute to Market It #2 – Newsletter Mailing List”


Ten Ideas for Public Libraries in College Towns

From issuing library cards for freshmen to advertising in the college newspaper to partnering for programming, here are ten ways to leverage your library’s position in a college town:

For Marketing & Outreach:

1. Reach out to students and welcome them to your community. Social media is a great way to do this – engage student organizations on Twitter, “like” the college paper on Facebook. Reserve an information table at a student orientation fair and pass out community maps, library pens, or library card applications.  Invite the Student Body President, Pan-Hellenic Council, and other student leaders to come into the library for a tour.  Continue reading “Ten Ideas for Public Libraries in College Towns”

Reader's Advisory, Social Media, Tips & Tools

Steal These Tweets

We’ve been hearing the social media message for some time now – it’s important, we should have a strategy, we should all be engaged in it, we need to be measuring our efforts. We are told just about everything except for one very important thing: What exactly should we be posting on Facebook and tweeting on Twitter?  I recently contributed an article to NoveList called “What We Tweet About When We Tweet About Books” that addressed just this.

In it you can catch a glimpse of exactly what one library tweets about and why.  There’s some talk of strategy and measurement, but mostly it is real, successful Twitter content that will hopefully offer some fresh ideas if you are struggling to come up with 140 interesting and engaging characters.  Go ahead, steal them – or borrow them as we librarians prefer to say.  Continue reading “Steal These Tweets”

Merchandising, Reader's Advisory, Tips & Tools

Ten Tips for Better Book Displays

1. Displays should reflect your customers’ reading interests, not yours.  You might be fascinated by ancient Japanese sword fighting or the history of dominos, but that doesn’t mean that books on those topics will make a good display.  While a fair amount of time might be spent filling a display fixture with books, the ultimate goal is for that fixture to be empty soon after.  Continue reading “Ten Tips for Better Book Displays”

Social Media

Want to Engage? Just Ask!

En/gage: a) to hold the attention of: <her work engages her completely> b) to induce to participate: <engaged the shy boy in conversation>            

If you are using social media to simply broadcast information about programs and events, you’re missing a huge opportunity to hold the attention of your community and to induce their participation. Social media is all about engagement. Via Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms you can speak directly to your community, start public conversations, and build relationships.  Continue reading “Want to Engage? Just Ask!”