#TBT – Going Rogue for Summer Reading

In honor of the season and the day, I am reposting an article I wrote for Novelist a few years ago for this early summer edition of Throwback Thursday.  At the time, this felt like edgy stuff – ditching the CSLP theme felt like a crazy move!  However, based on responses to the piece, I learned that many other libraries were also (and were already) rethinking summer reading.

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Fast forward to 2016 and libraries are still doing just that – rethinking, reframing, and redesigning summer reading programs to create more value, reach more people, and have a greater impact.  Inspired by what many other libraries are doing, Chapel Hill Public Library is embracing the summer challenge framework and expanding the scope beyond just reading to embrace experiential learning as well.

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Charlotte Mecklenburg’s Summer Break Program 
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Chicago Public Library’s Summer Learning Challenge

As I post this, and thanks to our fabulous Youth, RA, and Marketing staff, we are launching our 2016 Summer Challenge: Read More, Do More, Learn More – I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Raise your hand (and comment below) if you and your library are rethinking the season and your approach to it.  I’d love to hear about what you are doing!

Going Rogue for Summer Reading: A Totally Local Approach to our Busiest Season

Originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of Kids & Books

It all started in the fall of 2011. After another summer — our busiest season at Lawrence Public Library — staff from Children’s, Teen, and Adult departments gathered to discuss how the summer reading program went. Good participation numbers? Check! Engaging slate of programs? Check! Lots of happy readers? Check!

But there was an elephant in the room. As the newly appointed Marketing Director, I waited for someone else to say it. I knew they were thinking it. Finally, someone made the comment that started a deeper conversation. A conversation that eventually led to us “going rogue” for summer reading. A member of the adult services staff said, “I just wish the swag bags had our name on them. I see people carrying these cute cloth bags all over town, which is great. But you can’t tell that people got these bags from us, which isn’t so great.”

This comment led to a weeks-long discussion about the marketing and promotional piece of summer reading. For years, like many libraries, we bought into the CSLP — the Cooperative Summer Library Program. We liked how everything was pre-fabricated. The theme for the year was done, all of the graphics provided, and all of the incentives ready to hand out. But this was also exactly what we didn’t like about it. We were trying to figure out ways to make our marketing and branding what I termed “hyper-local.” The way we’d approached summer reading was easy, and the themes were good, but they did not speak to our community. We decided to re-think summer reading from top to bottom. The result: a totally local summer reading program that looks great, is easy to engage with, and is more successful than ever.  Read the full article here.

Read, Use, Join, Try, Do, Apply

Read thisThis article should be required reading for librarians, especially those who doubt the need for marketing. Ned Potter, author of Library Marketing Toolkit, interviewed Terry Kendrick, strategic marketing guru and author of Developing Strategic Marketing Plans that Really Work, for the latest issue of American Libraries.

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Use this – The American Library Association released an “Ebook Media and Communications Toolkit” that can help librarians communicate about the state of ebooks in libraries.  At Lawrence Public Library, we repurposed some of the content for a feature on our website.  Continue reading “Read, Use, Join, Try, Do, Apply”

Six Partnerships for Public Libraries

Fred and Ginger. Batman and Robin. Starsky and Hutch. Your public library and ____________________ (insert community organization, local business, or local nonprofit here). Your library has the potential to join the list of great partnerships – all it takes is a little time, attention, and maybe a cup of coffee.

At every local, regional, and national conference I’ve attended in the past year or so, one of the frequent buzzwords has been partnerships. In an era of decreased budgets, over-stretched staff, and limited resources, partnerships make more sense than ever. Here are a half dozen partnerships that public libraries can readily develop – for programs, PR, and more.

If you’re wondering how to get starting developing these relationships, I suggest a cup of coffee. Contact the marketing officer or program director or even the agency head, and offer to buy them a cup of coffee.  Let them know that you’d like to partner more and be ready to brainstorm possibilities.  A good strategy is to start small – consider what the lowest-hanging fruit is and use that as a first effort. And don’t forget that partnerships are a two-way street: be prepared to discuss both what they can do for you and what value you can offer them in return.  Continue reading “Six Partnerships for Public Libraries”

Content Marketing for the RA Crowd

Even though I’m wearing a marketing hat these days, I do still keep my toes wet in the Readers’ Advisory waters. I occasionally write for NoveList’s RA News newsletter, a free resource full of great ideas for library staff involved in RA. My most recent article is just out and talks about making RA content more marketable by reducing it, re-using it, and recycling it. Read the article here and sign up for RA News here.

I’m not the only one with both an RA hat and a marketing hat!  NoveList is branching out into the marketing world with a new product – LibraryAware.  If you haven’t heard about this cool new tool to help libraries with branding and promotion, check it out.  One of the best things about NoveList has always been all of their added content – RA training, book discussion guides, themed book lists, newsletters, etc. – and it looks like LibraryAware will carry on this tradition with white papers like this and more.

Reader’s Advisory Goes Graphic!

No, this is not a post about 50 Shades of Grey or graphic novels.  This is a post about the power of graphic images to replace words and convey information in a fresh, interesting, and relevant way.

This flowchart made the rounds this summer.  And by “made the rounds,” I mean that it was picked up by everyone from School Library Journal and Nancy Pearl to GalleyCat and the Hollywood Reporter.  My colleague in our Teen Zone – the fabulous Molly Wetta – created it and she is still a little amazed at all the attention it has gotten in the past few weeks.  She’s mentioned to me a couple of times that it’s really “pretty simple.”  Continue reading “Reader’s Advisory Goes Graphic!”

On the Subject of Subject Lines

I spend an hour or two every week crafting our weekly e-newsletter – editing content, uploading a few images, and creating links to drive traffic to our website.  I tend to obsess over this piece, endlessly proofreading for errors and triple-checking links.  Until recently, however, I had not paid nearly enough attention to one of the most important parts of this or any e-newsletter – the subject line.  Continue reading “On the Subject of Subject Lines”

Minute to Market It #3 – Feed Your News Feed

A series of short and sweet marketing tips you can implement right now.

M2MI #3: Feed Your News Feed

On Facebook, it’s really easy to be focused on your wall and forget about your news feed.  But remember, your wall is pretty much focused on you – your profile pictures, your timeline, your posts for the day, your admin panel that tells you lots of cool info about your page and how its doing. All important stuff, but not the only area to focus on.  Your news feed is focused on everyone else – it shows you what everyone you follow on FB is talking about.  Start listening to them.  Start talking to them.  Start *engaging* them.  Continue reading “Minute to Market It #3 – Feed Your News Feed”