November 19, 2014

That Sound You Hear? It’s The Library World Changing

inspired3 That Sound You Hear? Its The Library World ChangingPhiladelphia, PLA: Waiting for my ride to the airport, I chatted with Susan Brown, marketing director at Lawrence (KS) Public Library.  She said: “People are going to look back at this PLA and say: ‘That’s the PLA that changed everything.’” I have a sneaking suspicion that she is right.

At my first ALA conference, I attended a “marketing” session that swooned over shoelaces as a great word of mouth marketing technique.

At this PLA the marketing tracks focused on measurement, datamining, focusing our story on a few key messages and redefining how we go to market. Hallelujah!

At one of my sessions (Making Business Intelligence Work for Libraries: How Patron Driven Consumer Research Will Improve the User Experience) — the room was packed. I wandered the audience before hand to talk to people and ask why they attended the session. Everyone understood that they had to get better and start doing things differently. Attendees of the session were marketing directors, library directors, trustees and collection managers.  Even a teen librarian. I sense such a powerful wave of eagerness to understand how to make best use of marketing data to drive decisions.

Kelly Gallagher (RR Bowker and the partner with Patron Profiles) was like an evangelist for truly market-driven focus using customer data. The audience was full of nodding heads and recognition at statements like: “We can’t do 28 things well. We need to do three things well.”

Siobhan Reardon (director, Free Library of Philadelphia) spoke about how her library put a stake in the ground around Job Help and Economic Development after gaining a deep understanding at the unique opportunity her library has in the Philadelphia marketplace.

The entire session was videotaped, so when it is published I’ll let you know so you, too, can be inspired.

Then, over lunch, our great partners at Gale hosted a lunch for Marketing Unplugged, which I had the incredible opportunity to moderate. Sheesh! There are some GREAT marketing people out there doing awesome things! The lunch was created to give marketing people a chance to come together, “unplug” and create a community around library marketing. I left so inspired.

Mid-Continent Public Library has recently rebranded themselves around the idea of Access — they call their library cards “Access Card” — brilliant!

Toronto Public Library has developed Marketing Plan templates to help staff get thinking about the process and the ultimate goal instead of the tactics (posters and fliers).

And a library in South Carolina put a moratorium on any print materials (fliers and bookmarks) to break staff of the habit of reliance on that piece of paper rather than conversation (staff found out that — in fact — the paper wasn’t as important as they thought.)

Sometime in the near future Gale is hoping to hold a webinar with the Mid-Continent Library story along with Boston Public Library, which also just rebranded. I’ll let you know when that is, too.

So, I left PLA completely inspired. Reinvigorated that change is happening for the better. For those of you who sometime feel the loneliness of the lone library marketer, call me, email me. We are changing the world, baby!

I had to dash this off while I was still on Cloud 9 and because in eight hours I am the Senior Spring Break Chaperone for my daughter and 61 high school seniors. Either envy or pity me!

Alison Circle About Alison Circle

Alison Circle is director of marketing communications for Columbus Metropolitan Library. Previously she was an Account Director at Jack Morton Worldwide, a global branding agency, and her primary client was Target Stores. Prior to that she was the National Marketing Director for Minnesota Public Radio and "A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor." She has advanced degrees in English and Fine Arts, and is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant.

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Comments

  1. So great to meet you, Alison! One of the best conference “sessions” I attended! Here’s to changing the world, baby…

  2. It’s good to know that public librarians are thinking in terms of marketing their libraries to patrons.
    A good percentage of the public already knows about the beneficial things the public library does for the community. My own library is always busy, a focal hub for the entire community. As a former librarian and now a library trustee as well as a fulltime writer, I value and appreciate these efforts.

    Jacqueline Seewald
    The Truth Sleuth, book 2 in the Kim Reynolds librarian sleuth series

  3. It’s good to know that public librarians are thinking in terms of marketing their libraries to patrons.
    A good percentage of the public already knows about the beneficial things the public library does for the community. My own library is always busy, a focal hub for the entire community. As a former librarian and now a library trustee as well as a fulltime writer, I value and appreciate these efforts.

    Jacqueline Seewald
    The Truth Sleuth, book 3 in the Kim Reynolds librarian sleuth series

  4. Alison,

    Thanks for the kind words about our branding efforts. I’m pretty excited about them, too. We promise to keep the library world informed.

    Steve

  5. Hi Alison,
    I too attended PLA and was very fortunate to exchange ideas with library marketers around the country. I was unaware of the Marketing Unplugged lunch you mentioned. How can I and others who want to absorb as much as possible at conferences and in the community learn about this type of event in the future? Thanks for the great info you continuously share. I enjoy it very much.
    Sue

    • Alison Circle Alison Circle says:

      You are most welcome. It was an invitation luncheon because it was a first-ever such gathering and was a “let’s see if it works” experience. Knowing your interest, I’ll pass it along to the organizers.