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

Example of Direct Advertising

   January 26th, 2010

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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4 Responses to “Example of Direct Advertising”

  1. Chris Says:

    Heh, the 613,96’s could just cut out the back couple pages from the Cleveland Scene magazine…

    But I have regularly left the LibraryThing.com bookmarks in my books when I send them back to the library. Hope I’m not ticking off one of your counterparts in the CCPL.


  2. Winnie Says:

    We have a sponsorship programme for magazines at our library. Sometimes businesses sponsor related things – the architects who sponsor Old House Journal, for example. But sometimes it’s a surprise – the mechanics who sponsor Organic Gardening is one. We do have final say on what the library orders and just because you want to sponsor Tow Truck Monthly doesn’t mean we’ll order it. And as the designer of bookmarks, flyers, displays and bulletin boards I do try to put things in relevant books but to maintain it is daunting. The most successful one we’ve done is Freedom to Read where I went around the library putting “This is a banned book” book marks in books from my list. It started great discussions, especially Beatrix Potter’s “Peter Rabbit” which was banned by a London school district for only showing middle class rabbits.

  3. Tay Says:

    LOL, I would probably do that too. I used to leave photo copies of my book covers in hotels with the tip when I left. Sometimes I’d even stick them in the drawer where the bible and directories were. I never thought about going to the library just to stick them in there.

    Gosh, somebody must have had a lot of time on their hands to get to so many books.

  4. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Chris: we find tons of bookmarks, and usually take them out of books and leave them in a little bin at the desk for people to take and use.

    @Winnie: I’ve heard of sponsorship program(me)s like that – it seems logical, just tricky. We also have people who want to donate magazine subscriptions, but with various caveats, and sometimes we just can’t accept their terms. I like your banned bookmarks idea – great for discussions, and I wonder if the bookmarks could drive people to comment online about book banning?