The community library provides a special service to its members in a nurturing, albeit, quiet environment. In recent years the benefits of the library and its services have become overshadowed by the internet and computer technology that allows access to many of the same services the library provides without ever having to enter one. With the money collected from memberships and over due books needed to stay afloat, librarians are finding themselves looking for ways to breathe life back into their bookshelves.
Here are a few marketing tips that a library should consider to help get their community excited about being a member again:
1) Start Book Clubs
People who avidly love to read usually love to talk about what they just read. Veteran librarians will remember the wild success Oprah Winfrey had with the book club on her talk show during the '90s. Set aside a place and time for book clubs to get together and discuss the latest novel. As a librarian you can get the ball rolling by making the reading suggestions, but over time the participants themselves will start to feel comfortable about making their own suggestions for what the club should be reading.
To keep these meetings engaging, start by talking about the characters or plot of the story. Try to avoid making it too academic with questions about symbolism or other writing techniques. If the conversation naturally flows that way let it, but avoid sounding like a High School English teacher.
2) Story Reading
Having story time for young children is a traditional part of the community library and a great way to start getting kids interested in reading early. If you have story time for kids at your library then this is also a great opportunity to reconnect with their parents. Have on display just outside your story area an array of books that may interest them. Choose new parenting books, the latest fiction novels, and/or celebrity cookbooks. As the parents peruse these suggested books while waiting for their child's story to finish, they will hopefully rediscover the love of reading a printed book over an e-book.
3) Stay in Touch
Remind your community that the library is still there by keeping in touch with them. Forget about sending those dated postcards in the mail and instead use a nonprofit notification service. With a service provider like DialMyCalls, you would have all of your members opt-in if they would like to receive alerts from your library. When you want to let them know about a new book release that they may want to get on the waiting list for, an upcoming reading or book club event, your message can be sent out immediately to everyone via personalized voice recording or SMS text message.
4) Turn up the Volume
Traditionally a library is supposed to be a quiet sanctuary, and most of yours should be too. Do however have one area where talking is not just permitted, it is encouraged. This will turn your library into a social zone and allow members of your community to get to know one another. The live face to face chats that the internet discourages are something that most people miss in their daily lives and one important service that you can offer that the web cannot.
Just as it has for small mom and pop shops, the internet challenges the library's survival. To beat it at its own game a librarian needs to find better ways to connect with the community and show the amazing services you are still able to provide. Increasing membership is fundamental to staying open, as is making those members look forward to coming back.
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