by Emma Pinault, Head Editor, INALJ Delaware
Spreading the Word About Library Events
Whatever educational or entertaining programs your library offers, it’s important to know how to get the word out. Whether you’re starting a book club, teaching a computer class, or inviting a local author to talk about a book, few things are as frustrating as planning an event – and in some cases paying for a speaker – only to have no one show up.
Many library events can be a way to draw in people in your community who might not use the library otherwise. A new patron might come to the library for the first time to meet a favorite author, and end up coming back after seeing that the library is a welcoming place with a great collection. If a family has a good time at your fun craft activity, they may be back next week for story time. On the way out they may check out a stack of books. Then they’ll tell their friends.
There are a number of different ways to advertise and promote library events, but the important thing is to be proactive. If your library has staff devoted to marketing, make sure you get to know them. If your library has an official marketing plan or guidelines, make sure you’re familiar with them before you dive in to start working on your promotional efforts. However, if your library does not provide extra staff or funds for marketing library programs and services, you can still find ways to reach patrons who might be interested but unaware. If you’re on your own promoting an event, here are some things to keep in mind:
First, know your target audience. If you’re promoting a class on web design, a note on your library’s web page might be a good way to reach those who might be interested. If you’re teaching a class on basic computer skills for complete beginners, potential students might not see it if you’re only announcing it on your email newsletter. Having information about your program in different places and formats can help – an email newsletter can reach those patrons who prefer to use email, while printed fliers at the service desks can alert those who don’t. Holding a book club for mystery readers? A sign in the stacks near the mystery section will alert those who are browsing for their next read.
Think outside the box. Are there places around the community that might allow you to put up a notice? Get to know your local newspaper, and see if they might be willing to cover library events.
Involve all your staff. Not everyone has the time to spend making posters and still complete their other duties, but it’s a good idea to make sure all your staff know what’s going on at the library this week, so that they can help spread the word. Staff who register patrons for new accounts should be sure to mention upcoming events, so that new patrons know there is more to do at the library than reading and using computers. Staff at the information desk can also help make sure patrons know about upcoming classes or events that might be relevant to their interests or information needs.
Most importantly, don’t wait until the last minute to think about how to draw people to your event. Raising awareness should be part of your planning process as you’re planning the event. And stay positive and hopeful – if you’re excited about your program, it’s a lot easier to get other people excited about it, too!