February 17, 2018

Amy Mather & Manya Shorr | Movers & Shakers 2010 – Marketers

Library Journal March 15, 2010: Manya Shorr & Amy Mather, Mover & Shakers

Reaching the Hard To Reach

How do you draw a generation that came of age in the Age of the Internet? By creating events that appeal to their personal and professional needs, say Omaha Public Library’s (OPL) Amy Mather (pictured, on right) and Manya Shorr (on left). “This is a niche group public libraries are missing in targeting their services,” says Mather, OPL’s technology librarian.

To counteract this reality, two popular events the pair created include speed-dating for local literati called “Hardbound to Heartbound” and a game night for adults known as Board Silly. The first drew nearly 100 people; the second, 75.

Shorr, who is the manager of OPL’s Swanson Branch, says businesspeople can be also difficult to reach because they often view the library as a place for kids. “It’s not easy to break into corporate culture and connect with the business community, but we’ve been successful when we’ve emphasized cost savings,” she says. One such example is “Have Laptop Will Travel,” a training session they conduct that outlines the database resources available at OPL, which has been attended by members of the local business community, including the Omaha Chamber of Commerce. The organization stopped paying for one database after it learned it could get it for free at the library, recounts a pleased Shorr.

“Effectively promoting library subscription databases is something of a holy grail for public libraries,” says Rivkah Sass, the former director of OPL and current director in Sacramento. As Sass sees it, “Have Laptop Will Travel” demonstrates that “showing business decision-makers the premium content we provide helps them understand that the public library is more than just a collection of books they don’t need.”

Savvy promotion is key to a library’s longevity, says Mather. “Branding helps create the relationship between the person and the organization. I want every single person to have an emotional connection to the library in the now, not its past. To succeed at this, we need to understand the patron’s needs and fulfill them….We cannot wait for patrons to tell us what they need. We need to go out and tell them how the libraries can help them.”


Amy Mather and Manya Shorr, Omaha Public Library

Amy Mather

CURRENT POSITION Technology Librarian

DEGREE MLIS, Louisiana State University, 1999

Manya Shorr


DEGREE MS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2004

OUTREACH Have Laptop Will Travel