We work so hard on coming up with innovative, interesting, and just plain fun ways to make our libraries useful to our communities that sometimes we forget to keep our patrons in the know. But as public libraries, we have to constantly make sure our usefulness is known, whether it be during budget season when local support suddenly dries up behind pledges to lower taxes or watching our visit and circulation numbers drop throughout the year because people don’t realize what we’ve got. This is where library marketing comes in.
Not good at tooting your own horn? You don’t have to brag, just give your awesomeness a voice. A lot of librarians recoil at the thought of self-promotion, and that’s both understandable and admirable; however, nobody’s going to make use of the resources and programs you’ve carefully pruned to perfection until they hear about it. So if you’re not comfortable talking up your efforts, here are a few pointers to get you proactive while keeping you humble:
Work with your marketing, PR, or communications department.
These are the guys who get paid to do this! They are passionate and skilled at getting messages out to your patrons, plus they are the official voice of the library itself. Regularly updating your marketing department guarantees that your public will see what’s going on. If you don’t have a dedicated marketing department, get in touch with whoever runs your social media. Having an online presence is the best way to reach all sorts of potential patrons.
Use your own social media account(s).
If you’re a librarian, you have friends who love books, free activities, and useful services. Use that to your advantage by posting about your specific awesomeness on whatever social media accounts you happen to already have. This doesn’t require signing up for anything new, attempting the awkwardness that is making new online friends or trying to attract followers, or doing anything besides posting a link to what you’re most excited about in the upcoming days. Trust me, your followers will be very excited to find a post they can actually use in the midst of brunch photos and election headlines. If you don’t have a social media account, consider signing up for either Facebook or Twitter; they have proven their staying power, don’t cost anything, and let you post as much or as little as you want.
Connect to a bigger group.
What if your library marketing initiative doesn’t seem to be making a difference? Don’t sweat—if you’re connected to bigger groups such as ALA and PLA, you have another platform to showcase your ideas. Professional organizations are built to connect workers in the same field, which means that you can get advice from peers as well as use the network to pass along your awesomeness to an otherwise inaccessible audience. This is a two-way street—give back and share your successes to someone you recognize is struggling, too!
Marketing shouldn’t be hard, but we have to work with the reality to reach who needs us the most. Have you had any massive successes or failures in getting your library’s awesomeness out there? Share in the comments!