Beyond the Books: Library Marketing Exposed!

Librarian Linda McMaken shares her advice in this new monthly column. She has sixteen years of library experience as Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator. Now she offers her wisdom and ideas for expanding your library's presence "beyond the books."

Library Marketing Exposed! (Part One) available here

Library Marketing Exposed! (Part Two)

Welcome to Part Two of Libraries Exposed, offering guidance and tips on how to generate publicity for your library and library author events.

Local Sources

4.  Government Offices and Schools

Whether you live in a small town, or a metropolitan area there are many local sources you can utilize to help gain publicity. One of the best is the local Chamber of Commerce office. The chamber works hard to market their town or city and they have many opportunities for local libraries. Drop by the office, and ask about contributing library event items to their calendar. Also, mention that you would be happy to contribute a completed short article on your upcoming events to their newsletter and/or blog. A Chamber newsletter is often hard to fill with content, particularly in winter months, and library events, particularly those featuring authors are usually very welcome.

Gather the necessary information from your attending authors. Create a short article that includes a bio on your visiting author(s), add their book cover art if you can obtain it from them, and make sure there is a link to their website/blog included. If the author or their publisher has sent you posters, leave one at the chamber office. I always request these from the author. Usually they can provide book covers, bookmarks, and other promotional items. I use these to market the program by either copying with the library event information on a newly created poster or brochure, or simply add a printed label with the information to the author's bookmarks.

Next, call your local school and see if they have a newsletter. Many schools e-mail or snail mail a newsletter to parents. This is a particularly great source if the school is utilizing the library for student visits or teacher collections. The school newsletter goes out to hundreds of parents. Even if you only get mentioned in the events calendar, you're still reaching a large number of potential attendees.

5.  Local Businesses

Solicit small local businesses to help promote your library/author event. Exchange advertising by displaying their business logo on your blog, website and on printed material in return for any donations, or event displays in their business. Small businesses today are struggling to find cheap advertising, and libraries don't have any marketing dollars, so it's a win-win situation.

If the business donates items or money to your program, give them an in-library thank you poster for all library patrons to see, provide a link from your website to theirs and a give them a cyber-thank-you encouraging your patrons to support their business.

6.  Radio Stations

Many local stations dedicate a significant number of programming hours to community events. Take advantage of this great opportunity. Send press releases, press kits and a calendar event notice to your local stations. Community events spots are usually hard to book, you'll notice that the same people appear frequently, such as a representative from the local animal shelter, food bank, or chamber office. Stations are always looking for new and interesting people, why not your author or you highlighting your library event?

Remember; always ask for a DVD of the interview. While most stations have the segment posted on their website, the news business changes quickly and those links have a limited life. With the DVD, you can use it on your website, blog, Facebook, and give your author a copy for their use.

7.  Public Television

Public television stations are inundated with non-profits clamoring for airtime, meaning any PBS station promotion will be difficult to get. Although, as a library you've already zoomed ahead of most competition, PBS loves libraries, books, and authors. The best advice is to keep your press releases in front of the PBS station manager. At least once or twice a month, send the station manager, marketing director and public affairs liaison a press release and library calendar of events. Even if you don't have a program, you have new books send a press release highlighting them. This is a very effectual way of keeping your library's name in front of the station manager. By doing this consistently, they will understand that you are serious about publicity and when you do have an author visit, you will be more likely to get "air-time". Public television is an awesome source of publicity for books, libraries, and authors.

Make sure you visit next month, for additional tips, advice, and ideas.

- Linda McMaken

Check back for the next installment of Linda McMaken's column in just a few weeks. Do you have questions about your library "beyond the books"? You can ask also ask her advice on any library conundrum here. Your question might even get featured in an upcoming article. And of course, you can read her daily blog online at