Marketing was a huge focus for the 2007 American Library
Association Annual Meeting. Each day featured a variety of programs
focused on the art of marketing and making it accessible for staff at all
Two feature programs this year were “Word of Mouth
Marketing is Everybody’s Job” and “PR for the New Millennium:
10 Cool Technologies.” The speakers for the first session were
Peggy Barber, Consultant, Library Communications Strategies and Pam Jaskot,
Consultant, State Library of North Carolina and for the second session,
the speaker was Stephen Abrams, Vice President of Innovation, SirsiDynix.
The primary theme in both of the programs was the need
to focus on the impact that your library’s services have on users,
rather than focusing on the stuff. As an example, when creating a
brochure, rather than saying “We have 10 public access computers,” instead
focus on the impact that providing those machines has for your users. Another
way to say it with the end-user as the focus might be “Our public
access computers are used daily to help users find employment, search for
answers, and provide a vital link to friends and family in other cities
Both programs also focused on finding new ways to connect
with users on a more personal level. Peggy Barber encouraged participants
to think of creative ways to build client relationships, such as reference
Likewise, Stephen Abrams wanted librarians to find ways
of connecting with users, rather than alienating them. One suggestion
he offered was to provide a place to keep young adults’ skateboards.
Many libraries prohibit skate boarding, but that is the main mode of transport
for a lot of kids. However, once they get to the library, they have
nowhere to safely store their boards (in the past, when bikes were more
common, there were bike racks). If a bin is provided near the circulation
desk, kids can leave their boards in there and the young adults might feel
more welcome in the library.
In the end, many of these services and extra touches
are elements that we already bring to our daily service. These can
be some of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal, as long as
you harness their power.