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Library marketing is the creative process of designing, communicating and
promoting, delivering, and exchanging goods and services that have value for patrons
and other constituencies.
General Marketing
Webreck-Alman, Susan. Crash Course in Marketing for Libraries. Westport, CT:
Libraries Unlimited, 2007. Available through Access Pennsylvania Database. Overview
available on publisher‘s website. Alman, the University of Pittsburgh School of
Information Sciences‘ Director of Distance Education and Outreach, has written a text
especially geared to smaller libraries.
Dowd, Nancy, Mary Evangeliste and Jonathan Silberman. Bite-Sized Marketing:
Realistic Solutions for the Overworked Librarian. Chicago, American Library Association,
2010. Available through Access Pennsylvania Database. The authors present lots of
ideas on word-of-mouth marketing, story-based PR, branding, best practices and cost
effective ideas. Descriptive information is available at the ALA Store.
Dempsey, Kathy. The Accidental Library Marketer. Medford, NJ: Information
Today, 2009. Available through Access Pennsylvania Database. An overview and audio
segment are available on the publisher‘s website. This is an excellent resource for
information on library marketing, promotion and public relations.
Susan Akers, Executive Director of the Indiana Library Federation, writes a blog,
―Marketing Your Library.‖ Topics that she has addressed include photo release forms
and marketing under economic downturns.
Information Today publishes MLS: Marketing Library Services. The table of
contents of the current issue always has a free article or two available online without a
subscription requirement. This periodical provides ―how-to information on developing
integrated marketing strategies, creating powerful marketing materials, organizing
special traffic-generation programs,‖ and more. Should you have access to urls for
specific articles, you can then retrieve them. For example, Kathy Dempsey emphasizes
the benefits and necessity of marketing the library during tough economic times. ―Five
Ways You Can Save Money by Marketing,‖ MLS Marketing Library Services, May-June
2009, v. 23, no. 3.
The State Library of Iowa provides helpful information on advocating, marketing,
lobbying and building relationships. Be sure to check out many of the sites.
This outstanding source, ―Marketing & Advocacy Resources Bibliography,‖
prepared by the FLICC/FEDLINK Marketing and Advocacy Sub-Committee has citations
for best practices, benchmarks, guidelines, toolkits, performance measures, branding,
market research, advocacy, strategic planning, return on investment, e-marketing,
blogs, podcastings, RSS, and wikis.
For ease of use the Allegheny County Library Association, PA has categorized
marketing topics.
OCLC regularly provides reports and graphics that can be useful to public
libraries. For example, see their document, ―How Libraries Stack Up‖ which provides
statistics and quick facts with slick graphical design elements about the economic, social
and cultural impact of libraries. It also briefly discusses the value of library services in
the context of community needs.
The Washington State Library‘s Marketing Tool contains a lexicon, matrix, and
other tools that will help your public library deliver its messages.
The American Marketing Association website is primarily geared for its members
and marketing professionals. Their Resource Library, however, has a variety of topics
that might be of interest to library directors. Their dictionary (glossary) provides a
wealth of marketing terminology and definitions.
Public Library Marketing Plans
Port Townsend Public Library, WA
Polk County Public Library, NC
A Marketing Plan for the Anne Arundel County (MD) Public Library. Prepared by
Crosby Communications. Annapolis, MD: Crosby Communications, 1994. Available
through Access Pennsylvania Database.
The Washington State Library has compiled communications and outreach plans
of public libraries within the State.
Fisher, Patricia H., Marseille M. Pride, and Ellen G. Miller. Blueprint for Your
Library Marketing Plan: A Guide to Help You Survive and Thrive. Chicago, American
Library Association, 2006. Available through Access Pennsylvania Database. Some of
the topics include the use of the library‘s strategic plan, data mining, demographic data,
target markets, etc.
Kathy Dempsey, editor of Marketing Library Services Newsletter, presented ―The
Accidental Marketer: Selling Your Library at the Texas Library Association Conference,‖
April 16, 2010. Her handout stresses the role of the individual.
Other Marketing Plans
The Federal Depository Libraries‘ plan provides a good blueprint that can be
The Milner Library Illinois State University Marketing Plan is an example of an
academic library marketing plan that includes a lot of details that might be helpful for
your library‘s plan.
Marketing Campaigns
Using a Gates Foundation grant, OCLC has developed a public awareness
campaign to promote public libraries. It uses the word ―geek‖ as a verb and is being
trialed in a few states. Note the lively graphics and terminology. An update was
presented at the 2010 Public Library Association Conference; streaming video of the
presentation and discussion are available.
Library Journal tapped Alison Circle, Marketing Director of the Columbus
Metropolitan Library, to blog on its website. She uses flash video, sharp narrative and
offers creative ideas, some based on her experiences in Columbus. See ―Marketing
Trends to Watch,‖ and ―A New Style of Library‖ which describes the recently rebranded
library, ―Anythink‖ in Adams County, Colorado.
As part of ―@ your library, the Campaign for America's Libraries,‖ the Association
of College and Research Libraries and the American Library Association have partnered
to create a new, national marketing effort to heighten awareness and support of
academic and research libraries. Included here is information about the campaign; a
toolkit that includes creative strategies, practical ideas, case studies and profiles,
customizable press materials, resource lists, and more; additional marketing
resources; and downloadable graphics. Much of this campaign can be used by public
libraries. You can download the ―@ your library Toolkit for Academic and Research
These documents from the 3M Library Systems and Association of College and
Research Libraries provide ―a tool set and a process to help … create a marketing plan
and promotional campaign for {your} library. Completing the marketing process and
creating a promotional plan are key steps in responding to change and planning to
make change. It is up to the leaders of libraries to direct these efforts.‖ Much of this
material can be used by public libraries.
―Strategic Marketing for Academic and Research Libraries Participant Manual‖
―Strategic Marketing for Academic and Research Libraries Facilitator Guide‖
Several of the group exercises can be used for other purposes as well.
―Strategic Marketing Facilitation Slides‖
―Train-the-Trainer Facilitation Slides‖
Use of Technology in Marketing Including Social Networking
Weinberg, Tamar. The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web.
Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly, 2009. Available through Access Pennsylvania Database. This
primer should help libraries develop their ―social‖ strategy.
Stephen Abram‘s presentation at ALA Annual‘s PR Forum, June 27, 2010, Next
Practices in Communication @ Your Library, offers ideas on using technology to gather
information and promote your library‘s services and collections and the role of social
networking in library marketing and communications.
M+R Strategic Services‘ Nonprofits Social Media Benchmark Study focused on
Facebook and Twitter because they've emerged as the favorites among most nonprofits
for building relationships with supporters. The report compared use of email blasts to
social media and discovered that organizations in the ―study saw both faster growth
and higher churn of their social media audiences than is typical with email lists.‖
―Not a Site, but a Concept: Tapping the Power of Social Networking,‖ this
Wharton School Publishing posting describes how to use the social networking
phenomenon to your library‘s advantage.
After helping with the launch of Northern California's Q and A Café, Linda
Wallace and Peggy Barber developed ―10 Tips for Marketing Virtual Reference
Lori Reed‘s ―Marketing Library Services Using Web 2.0,‖ August 6, 2009 webinar
for Northeast Florida Library Information Network uses upbeat, lively examples to
provide the basis for moving away from traditional library marketing.
Hadro, Josh, ―Is Your Library Up on Yelp?‖ Library Journal, February 1, 2011. If
your library isn‘t listed, perhaps it should be.
Alison Circle, Marketing Director of the Columbus Metropolitan Library,
describes ―Marketing Trends to Watch‖ on her Library Journal blog.
Cells phones can be used to market library services. For example, the Orlando
Public Library of the Orange County Library System, FL ―Guide by [email protected]‖ is a selfpaced cell phone tour of the library.
Joe Murphy, Coordinator of Instruction and Technology at Yale University,
provides insightful information on the use of mobile devices. Many of his articles are
available electronically. He presented at the ALA PR11 Forum at the American Library
Association Conference, June 26, 2011: ―Going Mobile @ Your Library: How Libraries
Can Serve Mobile Phone Users.‖
Considering a video to promote your library or explain a service or issue? Here‘s
help. Slides from a presentation to the Florida Library Association Annual Conference,
May 2009 cover the topics of addressing the rationale, how to do it, where to mount it
and more. Brown, Mary C. and Mary Weatherholt. ―Hey! I Saw You on That Library
. Sterne, Rachel. "Creating Your Viral Loop on Twitter." Publishers Weekly 256,
no. 40 (October 5, 2009): 24-5. OmniFile Full Text Mega, WilsonWeb (accessed
February 7, 2010). This helpful article is a crash course on gaining influence.
Marshall Shore‘s webinar for Infopeople, ―Off The Shelf: Looking Beyond
Libraries for Innovation and Inspiration‖ provides creative, cost-effective ways to
improve library service. Note the accompanying slides and his resource list. Infopeople
webinars are supported by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the
provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the
State Librarian. Shore describes himself as an Information Curator™.
Customer Focus
The report, ―Best Practices for the Customer Focused Library: Results of the
Customer Focused Library Grant,‖ July 22, 2008, was based on a study of four Chicago
area libraries from the Metropolitan Library System, IL. Several pages stress patron
convenience. A separate document, ―Best Practices for a Customer Focused Library,‖
summarizes best practices.
Another helpful marketing blog is Nancy Dowd‘s ―The ‗M‘ Word—Marketing
Libraries,‖ which is ―designed to bring the wonderful world of marketing to librarians.‖
She is the Director of Marketing for the New Jersey State Library. She stresses the
need to get stories and ideas from the people using the library.
When a Nielsen survey press release leads off with this: ―PERSONAL
public libraries?
LibrariUS initiative, a partnership of the American Library Association‘s Office for
Library Advocacy, the Public Library Association and the American Public Media's (APM)
Public Insight Network, aims to gain a greater understanding of libraries and the
communities they support. ―Through an interactive website, the LibrariUS initiative
collects details from people using the library. Its intention is to inspire news content
and, more importantly, generate a fresh and meaningful conversation about libraries
and communities in the 21st century.‖
De Rosa, Cathy. ―Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources: A Report
to the OCLC Membership.‖ Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Online Computer Library Center, 2005.
Although the conclusions may or may not be surprising, the process involved in
gathering the information informs the study. Perceptions of Libraries, 2010: Context
and Community ―is a follow-up to the 2005 Perceptions of Libraries and Information
Resources. The new report provides updated information and new insights into
information consumers and their online information habits, preferences and
perceptions. Particular attention was paid to how the current economic downturn has
affected information-seeking behaviors and how those changes are reflected in the use
and perception of libraries.‖ It was published in 2011.
The creative director/president of Metropolitan Group, a leading social marketing,
PR/communication and resource development firm, Eric Friedenwald-Fishman spoke at
the July 2009 PR Forum at the American Library Association Conference. His
PowerPoint presentation, Increasing Relevance, Relationships and Results, was based
on the extensive article, ―Increasing Relevance, Relationships and Results: Principles &
Practices for Effective Multicultural Communication‖ (library ed.) upon which his
presentation at the June 2008 was based.
Bliss, Jeanne. I Love You More Than My Dog: Five Decisions That Drive Extreme
Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad. New York: Portfolio, 2009. Available
through Access Pennsylvania Database. Bliss describes how to instill passion in
customer service relationships.
Barber, Peggy and Linda Wallace. "The Power of Word-of-Mouth Marketing."
American Libraries 40, no. 11 (November 2009): 36-9. OmniFile Full Text Mega,
WilsonWeb (accessed April 25, 2010). The ‗buzz‖ is customer-generated and is based
on passion.
Seattle Public Library issued an extraordinary report to the community focusing
on library users: Libraries for All: A Report to the Community, September 12, 2008.
Hernon, Peter and Ellen Altman. "Embracing Change for Continuous
Improvement." American Libraries 41, no. 1/2 (January/February 2010): 52-5.
OmniFile Full Text Mega, WilsonWeb (accessed April 25, 2010). The authors discuss
how to create a cadre of loyal customers. Note the ―Critical Issues‖ chart on p. 53.
To learn more about the people who live in the neighborhoods that your library
services, try PRIZM Lifestyle Segmentation. Enter a zip code and click away. You‘ll
learn about the neighborhood's top five segments, along with some descriptive detail
about each segment's lifestyle traits. Once you confirm this information, consider how
you will use this data.
Alison Circle, Marketing Director of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, describes
―Library Branding 101‖ on her Library Journal blog. She refers to Doucett, Elizabeth.
Creating Your Library Brand: Communicating Your Relevance and Value to Your
Patrons. Chicago, IL: American Library Association, 2008. Available through Access
Pennsylvania Database. An overview, the table of contents and an excerpt are available
through the ALA Store. Descriptions of the Lucius Beebe Memorial Library, MA
branding project as well as those from Ipswich Public Library, MA and Harris County
Public Library, TX are web extras related to Doucett‘s book Creating Your Library
Brand: Communicating Your Relevance and Value to Your Patrons. The Harris County
Public Library developed a brand manual, similar to a corporate one.
Circle, Alison and Kerry Bierman. "The House Brand." Library Journal 134, no.
11 (June 2009): 32-5. OmniFile Full Text Mega, WilsonWeb (accessed April 2, 2010).
―The writers recount the development at Columbus Metropolitan Library in
Ohio of a robust plan to combat the diminution in libraries' market share.
The plan trumpeted the indisputable value of libraries and library staff.” See
the sidebar for resources on p. 35.
Keller, James. "Targeted Marketing: Utilizing and Engaging Library Staff." Public
Libraries 50, no. 1 (January/February 2011): 30-3. OmniFile Full Text Mega, WilsonWeb
(accessed April 13, 2011). Keller, Chief Marketing Officer at the Queens Public Library
is passionate about his work, and the results demonstrate it.
Jean Ayres‘ slide presentation, ―Branding Your Library‖ uses excellent content
from marketing texts and relates concepts to public libraries.
Dempsey, Beth. ―Target Your Brand: Build an Identity That Works in the Age of
a Superstore.‖ Library Journal 129, no.13 (August 2004): 32-35. This frequently
cited article is one of the seminal articles on library branding.
Hafner, Arthur W. and Susan G. Akers. "Building the Library's Brand Using
Taglines or Logos." Public Libraries 50, no. 1 (January/February 2011): 34-7. OmniFile
Full Text Mega, WilsonWeb (accessed April 13, 2011). The article marries philosophy
and practicality.
Although this is a student project by Ashley Layne, her bibliography on branding
should be helpful for learning more about the subject.
Keller, Kevin Lane. Best Practice Cases in Branding: Lessons from the World‘s
Strongest Brands. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice-Hall, 2008. Available
through Access Pennsylvania Database. We can learn a lot from Nike, Intel, Starbucks
and other identifiable companies.
Niche Marketing
This 2007 American Library Association Conference presentation, ―Are You in
the Game? Harnessing Millennial Learning Strategies to Market Your Library,‖ by
Tammy Allgood, Arizona State Library, and Marisa Duarte, Fresno Public Library,
demonstrates how to use gaming as a way to market library services to millennials.
Millennial staff and library users are featured on slide 21.
The American Library Association‘s Association
of Library Services to Children has developed ―[email protected] library® Campaign Tool Kit.‖
This excellent site provides a sample communication plan and other documents, ideas
for PR, programs and promotional materials, resources, quotes, and much more.
Here is an example of taking what you have and turning it easily into something
very special to market your library‘s services. ―State Library Offers Free Perks for State
Girvin Strategic Branding and Design prepared the marketing handbook for the
virtual reference project in Washington, ―King County Library System & University of
Washington Virtual Reference Services: Marketing Guides,‖ with funding from the
Institute of Museum and Library Services. Topics include taglines, logos, marketing
messages, and onsite promotion.
The Houston Area Library System provides online training for marketing public
libraries. ―Plan.Target.Market.123.‖
―Marketing the Library,‖ is a training program developed by the Ohio Library
Council with partial funding from the State Library of Ohio and support from LSTA.
Modules for public librarians cover the steps of the marketing process as well as
resource links, promotional ideas, and marketing plans. You may be challenged by the
exercises and quizzes.
―Print Design Production Guidelines‖ will be helpful in designing promotional
Library directors should have enough of a sense of design to be able to critique
collateral pieces and the library‘s online presence. Grantastic Designs Inc. provides
graphic and online design tips.
Gale Centage Learning ―Power to the User: Market Your Library‖ provides useful
See especially the section on direct mail.
Lexis Nexis® InfoPro ―Professional and Personal Development‖ covers daily
library promotion. For example, they offer templates for bookmarks.
Carnegie Mellon University offers free self-paced online courses, one of which is
―Visual Communication Design.‖
WebJunction Courses
WebJunction Pennsylvania provides a large selection of free and discounted
online workshops and training courses available to library employees, library board
members, and trustees in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This service is supported
by a grant from the Office of Commonwealth Libraries. Log on to your account for
access to courses such as:
Principles of Marketing- Fundamentals of Marketing
Creating a Marketing Campaign
Elements of Marketing Strategy
E-mail as a Marketing Tool
Developing Motivating Messages (LibraryU)
Writing a Marketing Plan: Phase 1
Competitive Factors in Strategic Marketing
Keep It Simple: Developing a Marketing Plan for Your Library (LibraryU)
E-Learning Essentials Pt. 2 – Marketing to Your Key Players
The Online Branding Environment
Adobe Photoshop CS2: Fundamentals
Adobe Photoshop CS2: Intermediate
Adobe Photoshop CS2: Advanced
Analyzing the Market