Libraries and LEGO have gone together for ages, but libraries made of LEGO bricks are much more rare. So when I received a box containing a little library constructed of LEGO bricks, it got my attention. That alone is a win for any marketing initiative—getting someone to tune in. Good marketing is hard to do, and harder for organizations such as libraries that do so much already with limited resources. When it’s done right, however, both the community and the library benefit.
Few libraries were untouched by the economic downturn of the 2000s. As systems began to rebound, however, a challenge was to replace the perception that they were down and out with the new reality of extended hours, replenished staff, and improved services. The strongest marketers among them also focused on the stories behind those comebacks, and information about what users could expect going forward. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (CML), in the city of Charlotte and County of Mecklenburg, NC, was determined not just to recover but to come back stronger than ever, to make sure its customers knew it—and to give them a chance to tell their side of the story.
On August 8 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, announced that it will provide its Analytics on Demand (AOD) service to EveryLibrary, a national nonprofit political action committee for libraries, free of charge, so that it may better analyze data about library supporters in advance of the November elections and on an ongoing basis for future campaigns.
A new report published March 29, “Core Customer Intelligence: Public Library Reach, Relevance, and Resilience,” brings together market segmentation from ten public library systems across the United States to explore how libraries can examine and act on granular data about their core customers—the 20 percent of cardholders who check out the most physical materials. Using 2014 customer and checkout data to group top library users by lifestyles, interests, preferences, and behaviors, the study drills down into community demographics to reveal that core customers aren’t found in any one segment of the population but occur across all lines, reflecting the diversity of their communities.
Public libraries in the United States have traditionally relied on local support for the vast majority of their revenue. While this is still largely true, the funding landscape is getting more diverse, and there is a greater need for libraries to be increasingly creative when it comes to balancing base funding with new sources. Money allocated at the local level rarely stretches far enough to cover staffing, operations, collection development, and programming, let alone experimentation to invent or test innovative new services. Local funding is also subject to political winds as administrations change.
On October 29 American Library Association (ALA) president Sari Feldman launched the Libraries Transform campaign, a three-year national public awareness initiative focusing on the ways public, academic, school, and special libraries and librarians across the nation transform their communities. Events kicked off in Washington, DC, as the Libraries Transform team visited a cross-section of transformative libraries, and will continue with contributions from libraries—and library lovers—everywhere.