Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Library Marketing - Where Do You Begin?

I was at my desk looking out the window. The sky was cloudy and then the sun came out and then it rained buckets of water. A living metaphor for what is going on in my head.

On the one hand I am studying to be a library paraprofessional; An assistant, a grunt, a helper a doer not a big thinker. (Okay, I hear ya. We think. We over think. Say it loud, word junkies and proud. I know, but go with the bit.)

On the other hand there are ideas and concepts busting out of my skull and people are sending me all kinds of juicy stuff that is in development or coming down the road. Much of these new technologies and concepts can easily be adapted to a library setting.

Marketing, particularly library marketing to making patrons and the community aware of the services that the library provides is a growing discussion area.

Well isn't that a discussion for "real librarians?" Yes. No. Maybe?

What if you are the "real librarian?" In a school, or in a satellite library? It could happen. It does happen. But even if you are going to be a support person then knowing some of the buzz words and concepts can help you understand what people in the industry are talking about.

Because as a library consumer and as a support person you have a stake in this discussion. We all have a stake in keeping libraries viable. So in the spirit of just in case you might need to know, I'd like to introduced you to some of the discussions about how to attract people into the library.

So let's start with an on-line primer. The Ohio Library Council has a six part tutorial on what exactly is library marketing and why it is important. These tutorials are designed for folks that are new to the topic or need a refresher course.

I started at Module 1 and it answered my first question , Why market? The answer: Libraries are not the only informational source anymore. Patrons have other options. Libraries need patrons. Therefore, if you want libraries to exist you have to attract and develop customers into the library.

By working your way through the modules you can start to build a vocabulary and concepts about how do you get folks to come through the virtual or physical door of a library. It is a easy, non-technical introduction on developing relationships with library users on some, not all of their terms.

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