Three ways to promote my library’s fiction collection:
1. Social Media
A 2016 Pew Research Center study showed that more and more Americans are living their social lives online. 68% of American adults use Facebook. That is a staggering number. 3/4th of those people visit the site daily and more than half visit the site multiple times per day. Additionally, approximately 1/3rd of American adults use Instagram, 1/4th use Pinterest, and 1/5th use Twitter. Libraries have to have to use social media to promote their collections simply because that’s where our patrons are. However, social media usage has to be engaging. It has to be well-timed, not overdone or misused, creative, and strategic.
2. Go Outside
I went to PLA last year and saw several programs about taking library services outside of the library. I think this could absolutely apply to how we promote our fiction collection. We could do programs in coffeehouse or breweries. (My system has recently started doing both.) A library system close by has started a Book-Bike where a librarian bikes around town with a cart of popular fiction titles. (Depending on the day she will do either adult, teen, or juvenile materials.) Patrons can flag her down to check out materials. Real human interactions are so important when it comes to marketing. I’ve heard of systems going to farmers markets or parks and setting up “pop-up branches” to checkout books or just promote them. We should go to as many community functions as possible and we should be walking/talking book promoters at each and every one.
3. Be Better at Our Job
As I’ve mentioned before, a former director of mine liked to say that we are in “the book business.” I’m always surprised when I meet people who work in a library who don’t like to read. Library staff are the front line of fiction marketing and promotion. If we don’t read – if we aren’t passionate about our business – than how can we expect our patrons to? We need to be aware of our collection. We need to know what’s popular, what’s coming out, and what our patrons like. We need to read! I’ve seen a few libraries that offer internal training modules that help their staff be more/better aware of their collection. Here’s an example from Tulsa City-County Library System. On one hand I’m a bit sad that it’s necessary for systems to do this but on the other hand – great! The better we are at our jobs and the more knowledgable we are of what our library has to offer than the better we can market and promote our library's collection.