Thursday, April 17, 2014

National Library Week 2014: Lives Change @ Your Library

As we get closer to the end of National Library Week, there needs to be a moment to take stock in the tag line for this year. Lives Change @ Your Library is a powerful statement but is it true? For those who don't rely on libraries for information, early reading programs, recreational reading or computer usage the library may not offer anything for them. It's a Google world and libraries can become tangled in the World Wide Web's lies. The American Library Association came up with the idea to invite patrons to share how their lives have been changed by the library. It makes one wonder what the responses have been. Taking this powerfully charged tag line and combining it with the responses might be an opportunity to open the eyes of the library naysayers. It could make them see what they have been missing.
It has been a rule of thumb that when marketing a product you must first excite your loyal customers first in order to entice others to like what is being offered. After all, its easier to preach to the choir then it is to preach to the nonbelievers. The choir will at least sing your song and sing it louder then you. The nonbelievers would be just as happy to through tomatoes at you. Let's be honest, library advocates prefer sing-a-longs. Who doesn't right? The idea behind the tagline is a good one and should not be tossed away after the celebration of NLW is over. Could libraries expand upon it? Of course but how? With a little creativity and ingenuity. Of course, a few funding dollars would hurt either but that's a topic for another time. (That blog entry would probably be called "how to beg for money".)
Some people need to see things in order to believe it. For this reason alone, it isn't a bad idea to invite residents to a library open house at least twice a year. it is an inexpensive way to promote the library while giving non-library users an excuse to come in. Free food always brings people in the doors and before library directors start to worry about the residents complaining about tax dollars wasted on freebies, there are plenty of avenues to pursue to get local pizza joints to donate the food for free publicity. When the fallen away library users come to the library, listen to what they say about your library. Are they surprised at what they see? Sometimes reintroducing residents to the library is all it takes to gain one more patron and eventually one more advocate.
The library needs to be on the go. Each community has their own celebrations, festivals, and parades. Join the parade, so to speak. Invite library volunteers to help man a booth at a fair or walk alongside library staff in a parade. The advertisement of the library alone is worth it. Not to mention its another way to make a personal contact with those you meet at the event.
Ask the choir who know how your library has changed their lives to promote it everywhere they go. For example, if a loyal patron, who know that without a story time program, their three year old is better prepared to enter preschool because the program helps with concentration, language and social skills, spread the word about the library, that is priceless. Any business that deals with customers daily will agree that word of mouth is powerful. Now take it a little further, wouldn't it be great if these word of mouth testimonies could be caught on tape to post on YouTube, FB and other social media portals? It's not an expensive thing to do, except for staff time.
Libraries do change at the library. Not only for the patrons, but for the librarians too! If there could only be a place for librarians to share their stories about how the patrons who show up at the libraries have touched their lives in ways that can't even be imagined, that would be awesome. That would be most interesting to read, perhaps that can be explored at another time. Lives Change @ the library is powerful. Let's invite the library choir to sing it loudly and proudly for us. It'll be the sweetest tune that has ever be sung.
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