March 19, 2018

If You Don’t Have Time for Partnerships, Chances are Your Community Won’t Have Time for You

I recently attended three award ceremonies for Library Journal’s LibraryAware Community Award at the Canton, OH, Skokie, IL, and Hartford, CT public libraries. For all three, the community has stood up to say they value all the services the library provides to the community. The competition was tough: more than 100 libraries applied for the award. With so many communities supporting the library, you would think we are in the golden age of libraries. And yet just this past January the Pew Institute report, Library Services in the Digital Age, stated that only 22 percent of those surveyed say that they know all or most of the services their libraries offer now. Ouch. Okay, so there’s still work to be done. But perhaps the work isn’t what you might expect.

Social Media: Libraries Are Posting, but Is Anyone Listening?

If there are over 1 billion people on Facebook and the Twitterverse can help topple governments, then it only makes sense that libraries would also be using these two social media channels to connect with their communities, right? Well yes and no. Libraries are using social media, that’s clear. According to Library Journal’s Survey on Public Library Marketing Methods and Best Practices, 86 percent of libraries said they were using social media. The top two social media platforms used by libraries were Facebook (99 percent) and Twitter (56 percent). Pinterest is making some gains, with 30 percent of libraries reporting that they are pinning. The problem is that 48 percent of libraries surveyed said they weren’t measuring their efforts at all. While the survey didn’t ask if libraries are getting fans to interact with them, most libraries I have spoken with lately have said they were still struggling with that.

Perceptions Have Improved, So Where’s the Money?

Will marketing result in increased funding? According to Library Journal’s November survey, most libraries think not—unless your library is serving a population of 500K+. Then 70 percent of the participants believe marketing helped. Interestingly, the majority of those surveyed from libraries of all sizes believed marketing increased their perceived value to elected officials and the community at large. If libraries could apply the influence of advocacy to their marketing strategies, they might see an increase their funding.

The LibraryAware Community Survey: Marketing our Libraries

When I started my blog in 2006, I named it The ‘M’ Word, because marketing was considered to be taboo for many in the library field. While the latest survey by Library Journal would indicate the needle has moved a bit, there is little doubt that many libraries still have a long road ahead of them. In that survey, fewer than 20 percent of all libraries have a marketing plan in place, and only 11 percent report that it is up-to-date. If that number doesn’t shock you, let’s talk about what it means not to have a marketing plan.

The Results Are In and They Aren’t Good | Library Marketing

This is the first in a series of articles in which Nancy Dowd will examine the results of an exclusive survey of library professionals from more than 400 public libraries across the U.S. on public library marketing. The survey was conducted jointly with the NoveList division of EBSCO Publishing.