April 20, 2018

Geek Yourself!

I gotta hand it to OCLC — they are doing all they can to get libraries equipped to reposition themselves in the new world order. Not just the latest release of the 2010 Perceptions of Libraires study. Now they’ve put their muscle behind an effort they are calling “Geek the Library.”

You’ll want to check it out. I love the assertive and strong photography that grabs your attention by the neckhairs. The work is beautifully done. But even the most gorgeous work doesn’t matter if there isn’t an “in order to what?” answer behind the effort.

To answer that question, I reached out to Jenny Johnson from OCLC who is leading the Geek the Library efforts — does that make her Lead Geek?  Here are her thoughts:

I geek library marketing [or fill in the blank]! What do you geek?

This question is being asked by the Geek the Library community awareness campaign created by OCLC and funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In an effort to see whether a public awareness campaign could positively impact long-term library funding trends, Geek the Library was developed and tested with nearly 100 libraries in Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin. A comprehensive report that includes consumer study results, marketing and promotional strategies, and insight from participating libraries, was published recently; and the results are positive.

This campaign is different. It looks different, acts different and, well, you get the drift. From the word go, Geek the Library grabs people’s attention. The simple, but personal message, coupled with a bold design, is hard not to notice. Geek the Library helps people make a personal connection to the library—quickly and effectively. This fresh approach encourages people to view the library a little bit differently. It presents the library as a community asset that has something—whatever you geek—for everyone.

Geek the Library is an opportunity for public libraries to make an important connection with residents, while bringing attention to the significance of the library for each individual and the overall community. The campaign provides a platform to reach out to the community, engage in a new way and activate support. Essentially, Geek the Library helps libraries develop long-term library advocates in the community by sparking important local conversations about the library’s value for the local area and the need for funding. By getting resident’s attention, giving them opportunities to engage and be part of the campaign, Geek the Library sets the stage for changing perceptions about the library and library funding—leading, ultimately, to improved library support.

The pilot campaign provided encouraging evidence that Geek the Library can not only get noticed, but it can also shift resident’s perceptions around the library’s importance and value in the community. In many cases, pilot community residents were more likely to take positive steps to spread awareness, such as tell a friend about the campaign or visit their local library, and more willing to fund the library or volunteer their time after being exposed to the campaign. Geek the Library can be the catalyst for developing active community advocates who are integral in improving long-term support potential. This campaign brings the community together in a new and appealing way. It’s a fun campaign, with an important and meaningful message that, given time, can help libraries gain the support they need to thrive.

The best news: the campaign is open to any U.S. public library. Visit www.get.geekthelibrary.org for more information.

Check it out!

Alison Circle About Alison Circle

Alison Circle is director of marketing communications for Columbus Metropolitan Library. Previously she was an Account Director at Jack Morton Worldwide, a global branding agency, and her primary client was Target Stores. Prior to that she was the National Marketing Director for Minnesota Public Radio and "A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor." She has advanced degrees in English and Fine Arts, and is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant.