When Salem Press awarded its 2011 Local Library Blog prize to the Cecil County Public Library (CCPL), staffers there knew who should claim the lion’s share of the credit: web manager and graphic designer Erica Jesonis, who launched, plans, and coordinates the blog, one of the many features of CCPL’s comprehensive website. In the last two years, Jesonis “has taken the website to new heights and made striking photography and graphic design an integral part of our marketing and publications,” says CCPL director Denise Davis.
Jesonis was also responsible for the My Library, My Lifeline logo used as part of a successful postcard marketing campaign aimed at telling local officials how vital the seven-branch system is to its community. And it worked: after more than 1000 postcards from avid CCPL supporters poured in, the library maintained its FY11 funding even as most local agencies saw budget cuts. The tree-inspired logo won a “Best in Show” honorable mention at the American Library Association conference in 2011.
Knowing libraries everywhere face a tough budget climate, Jesonis decided to share the logo. “I posted it to our website, shared it with colleagues, publicized it via social media, and sent it to several library sites and blogs,” she says. From there it went viral. “I started seeing tweets and blog posts about it from around the world…. [It’s] been used…across the nation.”
CCPL has served as a literal lifeline for Jesonis herself. She began working in the reference department in 2006 after the sudden death of her four-month-old daughter, Cora. “A lot of our patrons are burdened with their own heartbreaks, and my grief gave me a strong base for relating to them and wanting to help. My loss also made me bolder about pushing the boundaries,” says Jesonis. “My job now is a diverse mix of managing our website, creating graphics, working with our supersmart IT staff, marketing, plus a lot of library advocacy. Looking back, I realize that my story is a strange and sad one, but sometimes good can come from the worst of circumstances, and I believe my career is an example of that.”