February 17, 2018

Denise Raleigh | Movers & Shakers 2010 – Marketers

Library Journal March 15, 2010: Denise Raleigh, Mover & Shaker

Outside the Box

“Since her arrival in 2004, Denise Raleigh has not stopped mobilizing both staff and community members, blazing trails for others to follow,” says Carole Medal, executive director of the Gail Borden Public Library (GBPL) in Elgin, IL. Raleigh brings in new ideas daily, moves the library and staff “out of their comfort zones,” and always comes up with something new to take the Elgin community and the Gail Borden library outside the box.

The innovative programs and their attendant publicity range from bringing giant dinosaurs into the library to conducting live chats with astronaut Clay Anderson while he was aboard the International Space Station to setting up the StoryTubes contest for two-minute or shorter “My Favorite Book” videos made by kids. Raleigh’s ideas have netted numerous accolades for the library, including three annual Elgin Image Awards, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Marshall Cavendish Award, and ALA’s 2008 John Cotton Dana Award.

Raleigh came up with the library’s “Dr. Torres Library Card Challenge” to welcome the energetic and enthusiastic new public school administrator, Jose Torres. The campaign achieved its goal of 100 percent public library card ownership for Elgin schoolchildren, and an additional 8000 children now have “the world in their pocket” through that card, as Raleigh puts it.

Her programs and innovations have brought heavy library use, too. Library circulation increased 12 percent in the year following the Torres campaign, and today a whopping 82 percent of the people in the community have library cards. Over 150 new partnerships have been built between the library district and other local agencies and institutions.

She is especially proud of the “great marketing team” that has been developed at GBPL and to which she attributes the rise in use of the library. “We work on positioning the library in the community. When you bring new people into your library to see dinosaurs or moon rocks, they meet staff and discover opportunities.”

Exhibits and events then lead to books flying off the shelf. “When the library becomes known for unique events, people are encouraged to come to it with their ideas and a fantastic dynamic occurs,” says Raleigh. This dynamic reflects the creative ways Raleigh looks at the library and the community outside of the norms.


Denise Raleigh, Gail Borden Public Library District, IL

CURRENT POSITION Director of Marketing, Development and Communications

DEGREE AB, Business Administration, Bowling Green State Univ., OH, 1979; J.D., University of Toledo College of Law, 1982

LESSONS LEARNED “Relationships rule, reach out continually…and wear comfortable shoes”