April 19, 2018

Gary Shaffer | Movers & Shakers 2006

Making the Sale


Gary Shaffer, who once supervised advertising accounts for Domino’s, Amtrak, and Burger King, wasn’t actually renouncing the world and taking an oath of poverty when he got his MLIS. Having grown up in libraries, he was returning to an old love, which he believes needs his marketing ability. ‘My job in advertising was to get customers into my clients’ locations, connect them with something on the shelf, and get them to bring that item to the checkout counter,’ he says. ‘Libraries are no different.’

As a librarian-trainee at the Brooklyn Public Library, Shaffer developed marketing alliances for the library and improved the merchandising of the collection, leading to increased circulation of Spanish fiction. He turned a chance meeting with author Dave Eggers into a collaboration, creating the ‘Superhero Writing and Tutoring Annex’ at the Williamsburg branch.

Shaffer thinks his years of experience in ‘looking at the world through the customers’ eyes’ are an asset because what he sees as a library customer needs changing: often ‘users have to adapt to their library’s system,’ he says, because libraries haven’t adapted to their customers.

And adapting, he thinks, includes focusing the message on what customers need most and can only get from libraries: a place where all are welcome and can ‘connect with one another, share ideas, and discover the world.’



Current position Reference Services Librarian, County of Los Angeles Public Library
Degrees MLIS, Pratt Institute, December 2005; Master of Professional Writing, University of Southern California, 2003
Fun fact Has written one play and is halfway through his first novel