5 Tips to Keep Your Library Top of Mind in Your Community

Apr 17, 2019 | Articles

Imagine how a single family who participates in your summer reading program interacts with and learns about new events and programs at your library. Every summer they enjoy taking part in your reading program, but once it ends they probably have little insight into other events and programs the library hosts. Given the family’s increasingly busy schedule, the library falls to the back of their minds as a resource for learning and entertainment.

How can libraries avoid this situation and keep their momentum going after successful events or programs like summer reading? It takes work and a solid plan to stay visible and relevant to your community. You know it’s important to advertise upcoming events at every opportunity — but how should you do so? In this post, we offer five tips to keep your library on the minds of your community members.

1. Actively Build Your Email Database

Building your library’s email database is an important practice that gives you the ability to continually remind individuals in your community about exciting opportunities and upcoming events your library offers. It’s important to build your library’s contact list because it gives you a captive audience with whom you can share library news. Emails also provide feedback for your staff, as they’ll be able to see exactly how many people are opening them and what they are clicking on (which will help you understand what information interests them).

Invite patrons to join your library’s mailing list when registering for events or when checking out books. If you have self-checkout kiosks, add the ability to opt in to the library mailing list when patrons use them. Make sure the invitation is exciting and interesting and highlights why they should want to join the list. Think about what would compel you to sign up. If the on-screen banner simply said “Join Our Mailing List,” would you know what you’re signing up for or what’s in it for you? Give patrons a little more info on the types of things they can expect to receive.

Pro tip: If you use an online reading program management tool like Wandoo Reader, you can easily add a question to your summer reading registration form that asks people if they want to join your mailing list.

2. Maximize Face Time with Community Members

Sending emails to people’s smartphones or computer screens is great, but nothing beats face-to-face interaction. Reach out to day cares, local parks, and community fairs to find out what local events are happening each month, and ask the organizations running the events if they will allow your library to set up a table. Come prepared with handouts or cards that have the web address for your library calendar and a description of what they’ll find there. Make sure to bring fun and engaging things for kids to interact with while librarians talk to community members about all the educational and entertaining things that are available at their local branch.

Pro tip: While you’re in the field, find out why people do or do not already come to the library. It may be something as easily solved as the time of day programs are offered; other responses, such as an inability to get to the library, might provide insight into new opportunities for outreach.

3. Use Each Event to Promote Other Relevant Events

When you host big, successful events (like a summer reading kickoff or end-of-summer party), you have a great opportunity to reach a large number of people face-to-face and tell them about other similar events and programs the library offers. Hand out flyers that highlight one or two future events or programs with the web address for your library’s calendar. Be sure the flyer highlights key elements of the event that attracted attendees to your library in the first place (free food, family-friendly, ability to win prizes, fun learning activities, etc.), and remember to include details on how to register.

Pro tip: If you use an event management tool like SignUp, remind people that they can opt in to receive customized email alerts for specific types of programs (such as youth, family, teens, or adult programs).

4. Remind Patrons About the Value Each Event Provides

Any time you have youth programs where caregivers attend as well, make sure you’re talking to the caregivers about the value in the particular program and how the library can help facilitate their continued exploration of the subjects covered at the event.

Pro tip: Have “tip cards” already printed to hand out to parents and kids about ways they can continue learning both inside and outside the library.

5. Learn More About What Draws People to Your Library Events

When patrons register for your events or attend drop-in classes, be sure to ask attendees how they heard of the event, and keep track of their answers. This will help you understand what marketing efforts are getting noticed, which ones are failing to grab your community’s attention, and ways to improve your marketing tactics. Ask questions like the following:

  • How did you hear about this event?
  • Where do you look for events like this? (Consider offering a multiple-choice list, including Google, local websites, social media, blogs, school flyers, newspapers, and other marketing channels your library could potentially leverage in future promotions.)
  • Do you want to be added to our mailing list? (Remember to add a note about what they’ll get out of it.)

Pro tip: Consider creating a printable survey template using these questions that you can provide to participants (or their caregivers) at events.

Ready to boost your library’s marketing and get in front of more community members than ever? Download our free Library Event Marketing Checklist and let us help you make sure your library events are getting people’s attention.

Kayla Fargo

As Demco Software's Marketing Director, Kayla champions our efforts to educate public libraries on the need for a robust community engagement strategy. She works alongside our other teams to ensure that Demco Software's solutions effectively complement and amplify libraries' community engagement efforts.