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

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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