Monday, October 09, 2006

Leg, Showing some

Not quite like this though
The naughty librarian? Where in the world did this image come from? The library is probably the last thing people would put in their list of "sexy things." If people even have lists like that. Which I kind of hope they don't. Library's just don't sell themselves - no one is showing any leg.

One of the things I do now, probably much to the delight of Stephen Abram, is PR for my library. Libraries all across the country are completely undersold.

I am fortunate that I live in a community with about 658 small newspapers (note exageration for effect). There are several TV stations, and about twice as many local radio stations. All untapped resources.

How many public libraries (excluding the big, sexy top 10 HAPLR report libraries) indulge in PR? Do you think putting a sign up at your local beauty parlor catches your target market? Perhaps it actually does. Let's just say I'm glad I'm not a librarian in that town.

Don't cry because you haven't got a budget. As long as you have a computer with Microsoft Office Suite, and a telephone, you are your own PR firm.

Finding out who your local contacts are is actually pretty easy. What news stations do YOU watch? What local papers do you read? What radio station do you listen to on the way to work? (Tech librarians who listen to satellite radio need not answer.) The yellow pages is also a valuable resource. Then pick up the phone and call them.

Two of my TV stations actually have a "community page" on the internet that you can add events to. One hot links you to the community calendar persons e-mail address. Just point and click. The information goes right out there!

The newspaper is more tricky. Lots of people write for the paper. Do you have a local events reporter? Or local interest reporter? Add them to your address book. They will publish things for you, and so far, its all been free for me.

Posters, bookmarks, and other promotional items can be created and made to look quite professional in Microsoft Publisher. Just use a consistent look, and similar language. POOF! Instant flavor associated with your own local public library.

Word documents, PDF's and Publisher files can all be mailed to newspapers and monthly paper offices. I've only found two so far that prefer fax. Sending e-mail is quick and easy, and your organization saves money on postage. That adds up after a year!

Radio stations are the most fun. You can hear your local announcer read your news release on the way to work. Make sure to use the library's name a few times, incase they don't catch the web address, or phone number.

PR is a great way to get more people to show up for programs and events. More people means more door count, perhaps more circulation.

We all know those kind of numbers look amazing when trying to justify more spending in the coming years - especially in this age of cut backs.

Try some PR at your library. Start small, but think big.

Moral of this blog: Just talking about the library isn't going to get you anywhere.

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