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Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Evolution of "Geek" In The Library

Back in the day, about thirty or so years ago, a college student spending a Saturday night at the library would have been labeled a geek. Translation of that label would mean that the student was too smart to know that they should have life like the other students who are at an afterglow party of a football game. Spending the Saturday night at the library did not fit the "normal" student's weekend plans. It's sort of ironic that the I "geek" the library theme would become popular years later. It seems that the library marketers thought it was time for everyone to "embrace' their inner geek. Is this the best marketing approach to take? At first, the answer from this blog was no. However, after viewing how some library communities took this theme and made it their own, there can be a positive outcome. When a library community embraces an ad campaign such as the "I Geek" it takes on a life of its own. How can this simple phrase include the community? By asking patrons what they "geek" and displaying their response for the community to view. The concept is simple: Who doesn't love to talk about themselves and their hobbies? Virtually everyone that comes into the library has a reason for coming but now with the "I Geek" theme they have a reason to share what they know, what they love and why the love it. Wouldn't it be wonderful if several patrons responded with "I geek mysteries" and from that they decide they would love to form a mystery book discussion group at the library. It's a librarian's dream come true to have a program started without that much sweat and pain! It's almost as simple as just add water and watch the program grow. Professional marketers will tell you the success or failure of a campaign depends on all around support from the employees, to the consumers (for the library, that's the patrons) to the executives of the organization. Libraries who found success with the campaign had the same things in common, support for the library administrators who encouraged employees to display their "geek" with geek t-shirts and jeans day, support from staff who were creative with programs that revolved around the theme and an enthusiastic patron base who not only shared what they geeked but spread the word to others in the community about the great programming at the library. Without this chain reaction, the campaign may not have caught on. If that were the case, library administrators would have to evaluate why it did not catch on in their community. Perhaps, this is just an idea in draft mode, the next campaign from ALA should be "My Library Rocks " and have patron fill in the blank as to why their library is so awesome. It is something worth looking into especially during this economic down turn when library usage is up. Libraries rock for so many reasons from providing computer usage to story times for the young ones and information for the upcoming election season. Yes, I geek was a good marketing tool but it's time to tweak it to evolve into another campaign. Frankly, "My Library Rocks" has a nice ring to it. Don't you agree?
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