I can make you love me

I've been thinking about the end of my Library Journal post and reaching out to people in a variety of places. Everything about the library is shifting right now, of course, but outreach isn't a new idea. Marketing isn't a new idea either. I can't speak for every library (or librarian), but a lot of us tend to neglect the people who aren't right in front of us.

It's easy enough to do. We get caught up in the day-to-day activities that ARE in front of us, and we tend to forget about everything else. I know, as a person who orders materials for the library, that we have some pretty incredible things. I know, as a shopper, that people are often looking for some way to narrow down a world of too many choices. I see it in grocery stores, when people stand and contemplate an item they've never purchased before, and then they put it back and say "I have no idea what to do with that." It's the same thing with clothing stores. It's the same thing with the endless aisles at the big box hardware stores. Isn't that the beauty of Pinterest? You can collect all of these ideas you have for "someday" in one place. Someday, my wardrobe will look like this. Someday, my garden/yard will look like this. Someday, I'll make this piece of jewelry or this recipe, or this throw pillow.... Someday.

The interest in new and exciting things is out there. The library gets new and exciting books/DVDs/streaming videos about these things daily. How do we match up the interest we see around us with the items we have? We can do blog posts about our collection, and that's great, but people will only see if it they go to your blog. If they aren't already library users, chances are they're not going to visit your blog. Same with Facebook and/or Twitter. We advertise a lot INSIDE the library. That's fantastic, but we need to take that same enthusiasm outside of our doors (both physical and virtual).

Do you have a local hardware store? I'm sure they are looking for another way to add value that people can't get from the big box stores. Can you partner with them to provide seasonal lists of materials that might be of interest to their customers? Maybe they're learning how to do household wiring via YouTube, but we have DVDs for that. Or gardening. Or landscaping. Or how to frame stairs... The library isn't the natural first place people look for things like this, so it's up to us to remind them of the resource they've already paid to use.

The same can be said of many places in the community where people gather. Summer is the time for fests. You name it, there is a festival for it. Is the library set up at those places, with giveaways that would be of interest to people in attendance? And, if so, are we diverse in our offerings? A list of things for wine fest doesn't have to be just books in the 600s about wine. It can be fiction set in wine country. It can be books about vineyards. It can be making wine racks. It can be almost anything. And programming, after wine fest, can continue the theme and the enthusiasm. Library-ing is an experience that is more than just checking in and out. Collection and programming can (and should) go together. But, to do either, people have to know that there is something here for them. The library is great about advertising things for kids, which is great until they outgrow it and think they've outgrown us too.

What do you think about marketing the library outside of the library? Have you done it? Has it worked? Is it worth it? Am I crazy? (don't answer that last one...)


The new layout is great!
Robin Bradford said…
Thanks! I love it too.

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