In order to increase the visibility of the library, thinking creatively is a must, but also allowing for the simple, and classic thought process will help to land results. To clarify ‘visibility’ within the context of this blog, the intention is for the library to be seen as a consistent resource for the public and community, as well as a place that could be inserted into people’s daily routine along with the basics; school, work, sports activities, etc..
Now, many public libraries across the world have already achieved this visibility and have a steady stream of visitors who consistently use the library and all the resources, services and space that it provides. However, I think this initiative could be attainable on a global scale. This would entail libraries connecting with each other, discussing best practices, and taking calculated risks with implementing strategies at their library.However, I think this initiative could be attainable on a global scale. This would entail libraries connecting with each other, discussing best practices, and taking calculated risks with implementing strategies at their library. Click To Tweet
In this post we will discuss some methods that can help with increasing library visibility.
A pop-up public library would be a great way to gain visibility, by clearly flexing the advantages of the public library and presenting it in a trendy and modern way. This could help to deliver a message in a different and interesting way which could activate non-users and appeal to users that were previously not aware of the specific offerings therein.
To start a pop-up library, first obtain a temporary space (which can be small and/or free) to promote, sell, and reach the targeted segment. A pop-up, as reflected by its name, should be a limited time spot this could mean a weekend or a month, but the short term and flexible approach is what makes it so advantageous. Ideally, coordinating this strategy with a bigger event would maximize results. For example, if there is a parade or event happening in the city, it might be a good time for the public library to secure a pop-up location to gain visibility directly within the crowd attending the event. Try to target areas of high volume of foot traffic to maximize results.
Baby Shark Dance Party! Pop-Up Library at the @DBookFestival Booth #701! We are set up with @gwinnettlibrary, @claytongalib, and @dekalblibrary. #GeorgiaLibraries #FulcoLibrary #PopUpLibrary #LibrariesAreForEveryone #LibrariesTransform #StickTogether @georgialibs pic.twitter.com/QeioEUNK3g
— Fulton County Library System (@fulcolibrary) September 1, 2019
A key reminder in regard to this strategy is making it happen, this does not have to turn into an expensive or over-complicated venture. In a great article from the publiclibrariesonline, They summed up all that’s required for pop-up libraries by saying, “If all you have are a folding table, a chair, and a librarian willing to spend time spreading the library’s message you have everything you need.”
Presence in the community
Similar to the pop-up library strategy, having a presence in the community is important and will always help with visibility and relevancy. However, unlike pop-up libraries, the presence in the community should be focused closer to the library location. The goal here is to increase visibility by directly involving the people who are the libraries most consistent users and therefore, the best advocates.
Holding library events or fundraisers are interactive ways to promote a library’s services or resources. This could be anything from a “library lift off” where you can involve the communities desire for physical health and have people come together to exercise outside the library and then gather back inside for refreshments and a tour of the place. This would bring the community together, promote the library as a safe place and increase visibility for the library.
Other ideas could be activities like ‘books and baking’, ‘digital literacy and linguini’ or whatever creative mashups that can be dreamt up and executed while driving home the amazing offers of the library.The goal here is to increase #visibility by directly involving the people who are the #libraries most consistent users and therefore, the best #advocates. Click To Tweet
In today’s environment it is crucial for the library to have some kind of presence online. This will absolutely improve visibility and keep the public up to date with happenings at the library.
Being active online can come in different forms and does not have to be an expensive strategy. The library can have a combination of channels from Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and their own Website (that is maintained and updated).
Another great way to gain visibility online is having a podcast. Highlighting the library through a podcast can be a great and modern way to deliver the library’s message. Many people prefer to take in their information via a podcast because they can do it why multi-tasking or commuting. The library can take advantage of this by providing information to their listeners as well as providing a personal touch to the library through the speakers of the podcast who I would recommend be library staff.
A great example of a public library who has a podcast to emphasize services is Cook Memorial Public Library in Illinois. As mentioned in an article by demcosoftware “Cook Memorial (IL) Public Library dedicates a whole segment of the Cook Memorial Public Library Podcast to highlighting the latest services offered by the library.”
We are doing social media training with our library staff today! Watch this space. pic.twitter.com/8hSBHovV0a
— Yarra Plenty Library (@YarraPlentyLib) August 27, 2019
Share your successes
Libraries should not be shy with sharing the strategies and methods that have worked and failed when it comes to increasing the library’s visibility. Sharing these thoughts will help develop the conversation and allow all libraries to grow from the learnings.
Not all strategies will work, as each library will have differences, however, the exchanging and transfer of knowledge between libraries locally, and on a wider access is important for increasing visibility.
Library success stories can also inspire other libraries to take action and provide a blueprint on how to navigate when attempting to take on new strategies.“If all you have are a folding table, a chair, and a #librarian willing to spend time spreading the #library’s message you have everything you need.” Click To Tweet
Speak up, say it loud and say it clear. Deliver your library’s messages in all the relevant channels to impart the knowledge of all the wonderful and beneficial offerings within your library!
To gain visibility, libraries will have to use different platforms and strategies and clearly deliver the message to the audience so research, brainstorm, plan and execute. Not all things will work but not doing anything is a guaranteed way to not grow the library’s visibility.
Now get out there and make libraries VISIBLE!
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Many of the “visibility” ideas mentioned here are actually marketing tactics. And while you can do some of these as quick, single actions, they’re much more effective when planned out as pieces of a cohesive marketing strategy.
I mention this because library workers often say, “We did a pop-up event [or something else] but didn’t see any real benefit from it.” That’s usually because there were not plans, goals, calls to actions, or specific results measured. So nothing was really accomplished.
As a library marketing expert, I encourage people to learn about True Marketing, and how to work purposefully and effectively. My newsletter, Marketing Library Services, offers case studies with details about exactly how librarians plan campaigns, events, programs, etc., plus how they worked and what the results were. I invite everyone to look at MLS online to learn what professional marketing tactics and strategies can accomplish.
Hi Kathy, thanks for sharing.
In most cases to gain visibility an action needed to be taken. Those actions tend to be a form of promotion or a marketing strategy. I would agree that in most cases a well thought out, planned and actionable marketing strategy is the best idea and more effective than a “single action”.
Having organized information with a precise process for developing and creating any marketing efforts is a valuable message that library professionals should be aware of. However, learning experience is also a valuable asset. If there was no real outcome from an action that a library has taken that is undesired but having library professionals learn from that experience and be able use this experience to plan and formulate a better plan for next time is extremely beneficial.
Thank you for sharing your opinion Kathy and reminding us all that preparation is an effective tool for accomplishing desired results! Have a great day.
Libraries need to increasingly market themselves, their resources and their services. The home page of some cutting edge library management systems enable library staff to easily promote themselves to their users. It can help greatly with making advocates of library users, no matter what type of library.