Friday, April 21, 2017

Week 15 Prompt

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.


  1. Rob,

    I thought the three different ways of promoting your library's fiction collection was very practical and are all things that could easily be manipulated and done. The Dallas Public Library (where I am) just added a book-cycle which is a small library attached to a bicycle. This collection gets to go to parks and the farmer's market and might be something to look into.

  2. Hi Rob! I like the book bike idea. A librarian in my system was trying to do the same thing and was turned down. We do have our public collection which gets high use, but their is no librarian out among the patrons for that. I think that you are right about librarians needing to connect more with our patrons.

  3. Rob, you're right on the money! You're overview is excellent and I think you've really hit on 3 of the most important ways of promoting our books. Lots of libraries are beginning to "go outside" more and finding ways to connect in their local communities. Where my daughter lives the library brings cookbooks and related items to the farmers' market, just like you mentioned, and people can checkout and return items there.
    I take a cart of books to the local high school each week.
    Thanks for sharing the link for the Oklahoma training module. I agree that it's a shame, but on the other hand, this could be used for staff that haven't had formal library classes. Nicely done!

  4. Hi, what does PLA mean? Also I like how you said that we need to be outside. I have seen mini libraries in grocery stores and even in parks. We need to be where the people are at, I totally agree with you. Also I just have to say that it should be a given about "Be Better at Our Job" statements. We all need to be the best we can be for our patrons (and I believe ourselves because I would never want to be in a career where I didn't give it my all.). Thank you for sharing.

    1. PLA stands for Public Library Association - the wing of the American Library Association that is for public librarians. PLA can also be shorthand for the PLA Conference that is held every other year.

  5. I totally agree with your last suggestion about encouraging staff to read and keep up with the collection. I've been trying to do this very thing with the other children's librarians in my system because I thought it would be a great way to not only read the collection, but also share good books. I have been met with nothing but resistance.

  6. Great prompt response! Full points!

  7. I have seen pictures of the bikes, very cool. I completely agree with library staff reading. The librarian at my school posts what she is currently reading and the books she has previously read. I have started doing this in my classroom as well, it's a great way to talk to my students about books!