or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk



Archives for Marketing:


Example of Direct Advertising

   January 26th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Guerilla Marketing book coverA patron asked for help finding books on Taoism, so we walked over to the Religion section. As we were flipping through the index of books in the 294's and 299.514, I noticed something odd - many of the books we picked up all had bookmarks in them.

It's not uncommon for people to leave bookmarks in library books. But in this case, all of the bookmarks were identical - they were all business cards for a local yoga studio. Interesting. After I finished helping the patron, I went to the 613.7's, and sure enough - all our yoga how-to books also had these business cards tucked in them.

I dislike businesses targeting patrons, and in fact it's against our library policies, but I did think this approach was clever (although I shudder to think whose business card would end up in the 613.96's).

It also reminded me of a library tactic I fail to use effectively: put promotional bookmarks in books. It's a great way to drive traffic to your subscription databases, online subject guides, special programs, or general announcements, but it's also tough to maintain.

But too, this book-based advertising could be used as a fundraiser for libraries. Local business could donate money to purchase books on a certain topic, and in exchange they'd get a label on the book saying it was donated by them. Libraries would be able to expand collections, and perhaps also charge these businesses a fee on top of that.

This last idea is of course a terrible one. But the one before that is legitimate, really. And for another interesting library/business idea, check out Brett's idea for "Amazon Libraries."



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Your Library is a Part of This Nutritious Breakfast

   November 3rd, 2009 Brian Herzog

Library Calculator Cereal BoxI've mentioned the Library Use Value Calculator a few times, including that the ALA liked it so much they added it to their Tough Times Toolkit (under Making the Case).

Now they've gone one better - the ALA partnered with Safeway to take the Library Calculator out of the virtual world and bring it to the breakfast table.

The artwork [pdf] on the back of their cereal box looks great*, and it certainly gets the point across (I think the "get rich" angle is odd, but I guess that's marketing). It seems fairly intuitive, lists useful facts, and also includes a nice library-related quote from Barack Obama.

Check out the ALA's webpage, the box itself [pdf], and if there's a store near you that carries Safeway cereal, look for it. Sadly, there doesn't seem to be any in New England.

 


*Also good is that it satisfies my cereal box rule: whatever is on the back of the box should be interesting enough to keep you occupied for as long as the cereal inside the box lasts. I mean, those little mazes they put on the back of some boxes might keep me occupied for the first bowl, but what about all the subsequent mornings I eat that cereal? See, if I were president philosopher-king, the world would be a whole lot different.



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Reference Question of the Week – 10/11/09

   October 17th, 2009 Brian Herzog

Instead of a reference question this week, here's a good example of another question-of-the-week service:

The Seattle Public Library has a regular feature on the website of a local paper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It's titled Shelf Talk, and in addition to general library content, it also features interesting reference questions (and their answers).

I think it's a great idea for libraries to have regular columns in the paper, in addition to events listings. It's not only entertaining and informative, but also promotes the library's reference service, subtly reminding people they can get help with tough questions at the library. And not surprisingly, Seattle is doing an excellent job of it.

via LISNews



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We’re Off To The Library

   September 17th, 2009 Brian Herzog

My cousin saw the ad below in the Las Vegas airport:

offtothelibrary

I like seeing a library with a sense of humor, but it's also a smart place for them to advertise (and it's big, too: 5' x 7'). Good job, Las Vegas-Clark County Library District.



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Positive Marketing

   July 28th, 2009 Brian Herzog

I feel bad following up yesterday's fun Library Day in the Life project with a sort-of negative post, but I found the image below on another library's website and it bothered me:

Never on Sunday

The information is important, but the headline and image are very off-putting - and this message is prominently displayed on the library's homepage, above the fold.

Marketing is important to me, 1) because information and image are vital to an organization, and 2) it is something libraries have complete control over. There must be a way to convey Sunday hours to patrons with a positive spin, or at least a neutral one. "Never on Sunday" is a song, but probably not everyone gets that. And the red circle-slash on a book image should just never appear on a library website.

I know this sort of thing gets abused in the business and political worlds, but marketing isn't lying - it's telling people what you want them to know, and why it's important they know it. Libraries are all about serving the public, so almost everything we do is marketing - and since we depend on public perception for our survival, it is important to get it right.



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Demonstrating The Value of Libraries

   June 30th, 2009 Brian Herzog

Update 7/13/09: Final state budget lightens hit to Ohio libraries

Save Ohio LibrariesThis post is unfortunately timely - by now you've heard of the cuts facing Ohio libraries.

I haven't said anything about this because it's been covered elsewhere, but it really worries me. I have friends and family that both work in and regularly use Ohio libraries. And I know how badly a 5% cut affected my library this year - I can't even imagine a 50% cut.

The value of libraries is difficult to illustrate (one might say immeasurable), which makes proposals like Gov. Strickland's possible. Libraries need to make a special effort to demonstrate our role and importance in our communities.

Two years ago I posted about the Library Use Value Calculator - a tool to let patrons calculate how much their library use is worth to them. I've been working with the ALA on version 2.0 of the library calculator (as part of their Tough Times Toolkit), and even though it's still in beta, I wanted to get it out there.

The new version looks and works the same, it's just easier for libraries to implement. Instead of having to muck around with coding, libraries can now embed it in their website web 2.0-style, just by copy/pasting a bit of code (like a YouTube video).

Please check out the new calculator, and add it to your library website - let me know if you need help. And if you are in a position to do so, please Support Ohio Libraries.



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