ILA Best Practices

Archive for the ‘PUBLICITY’ Category

I want to know some of your best practices in community engagement. Following up on Hilary’s last post, share what has inspired you, but also share what you have done to inspire others outside the library field. When was the last time you changed a library stereotype? Do you participate in the community outside your role as librarian? My library is in a very small community, so I am involved in just about everything, from being secretary of the business association to playing in the pool league. Everywhere I go I am conscious of how I am portraying librarianship, because the town is small enough that a lot of people know who I am. For me, it is important to represent the library no matter what I’m doing. I try to market the library to the people that may have never met a librarian before. The owner of the gym now knows that he can learn computer skills for free at the library, the guy playing pool at the bar knows he can order geometry books through interlibrary loan to improve his bank shots, and the kids watching the homecoming parade know that librarians don’t just sit behind a desk. (Sometimes they dress up like princesses).


I’m curious about how librarians in larger communities get involved. Our field always talks about how to get the non-users into the library, but what are you doing to show them what the library can do for them personally? One of the sessions at ILA talked about conducting phone interviews or surveys of non-users to find out why they don’t come to the library. That is a great idea, of course, but to borrow a phrase from Dawn Mushill, we should be “library ambassadors” all the time. Get out there and tell people what they’re missing by not coming to the library. Write an article for the newspaper, tell your yoga class about the new book club, and make sure your waitress knows she can bring her kids to story time. Stop expecting new patrons to come to you. Go find them!

Rylie Carter
Hinckley Public Library District


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