4 Techniques for Effectively Marketing Libraries

4 Techniques for Effectively Marketing Libraries

Traditional books and new technologies next to each other in a library

Marketing relies on delivering a powerful message to a specific audience, and the promotion of library services is no exception. Librarians are often the representatives of the library to the general public. To maintain a connection with the people in a community, librarians need to stay knowledgeable, up-to-date, and above all, flexible. Here’s how librarians and those responsible for marketing libraries can approach outreach:

Start With the Services

The first thing you’ll want to do is keep your services up to date. Teaching people how to find the information they need without being inundated by the vast amount of noise in the technology ecosystem is key. One strategy undertaken by the Massena Public Library in New York includes branching out to the more sentimental. They’re starting a program this spring so that people can convert their old photos, videotapes, or cassettes into digital form — for free. The better services you have, the more likely you’ll catch people’s attention.

Keep It Digital

Social media can really get the word out about your programs and can inspire a lot of goodwill with the people who follow you. The New York Public Library has readers unite on Facebook and Twitter to start active conversations about what they’re reading. These types of campaigns add value to the lives of those who follow the threads, as opposed to blatantly pushing agendas and programs to those who might not be interested.

Adopt the Patron’s Point of View

Think about what your patrons’ needs might be whether they are a parent or a job seeker. How can the library make their lives easier? If most of the parents in your community work, then offer an evening story-time. If computer literacy is low and unemployment high, offer training in completing online job applications. If individuals come into your library and grab their reserved items and run, consider putting promotional bookmarks about your programming in all the reserve-for-pickup items. If professors cannot make it into the library to pick-up their needed books, consider starting a campus-wide delivery service. The information you need to inform your services can be gleaned from surveys, focus groups, and just talking to your users.

Get Out There

Sometimes librarians need to get out into the community to really connect, and some of the best types of marketing come from thinking outside the building. Staging events or engaging in different activities in and around the area can give people a sense of the presence the librarians have. This is more of a long-term strategy, but a rewarding one as relationships are built and strengthened through repeated exposure.

Settle On a Brand

Libraries need to have systematic approaches to branding themselves. The brand should be heavily determined by the needs of the community, which means knowing how people feel about the library — whether their needs are more access to technology or more copies of best-selling books.

The main goal of any library today is to stay relevant in a digital world. Marketing the institution as a place where the community can come together to access both traditional and digital resources is key.

Getting an online library science degree from USC is one step you can take toward understanding better ways to actively engage with those who could benefit from your services. Find out more about the Master of Management in Library and Information Science program today.