Friday, October 30, 2015

Top Ways to Advertise Your Library Programs - Part 2

Welcome to Part Two of our three-part series about advertising your library programs. In Part One, we talked about posters: where to put them and how to use them. Today, we're going to talk about a different kind of advertising: the wide world of media and the even wider world of social media.


Ah, the media: newspapers have been the place people go for information for over a century, and though many papers are now read mostly, if not entirely, online, this doesn't mean that they're gone. Try...
  • Online newspapers - Have you seen They are a large online news resource that covers communities across the United States. In addition to posting their own content, users (that is, us!) can submit our own news, press releases, stories, photos, and events to be posted on their website. Take a look! 
  • Community Calendars - Many local papers (town-wide, county-wide, or larger) have a calendar of local events. Make sure you get the contact information for the calendar and you can email over the big attractions as they come up. 
  • News articles - Write up a press release where you justify how your event is The Big Thing in town, and you could get a full story in the paper. Many papers will often print photos, too! How? Well, that's an article in itself, but the best way I've found is to highlight local people: Write about how a local fireman is taking time from his busy schedule to read to children. Write about how the Teen Advisory Board planned this program, for teens and by teens. Write about how the little old lady teaching flower arranging next week has been doing this for fifty years and is sharing her life's work with YOU, the reader, HERE! For FREE! Including photos is also a good way to get attention. Papers will sometimes print a photo with a caption, even when they don't have room for an article. 
  • News interviews - If something really exciting is going on, some local news stations will send a reporter to talk to you about it. I got onto public access news when we got a turtle for the Children's Room. The local station at my last library always sent a film crew for their Live @ Lawrence Library music programs. Photographers will often come for performers or large events, too. Granted, these are published after the fact, but it brings attention to what your library has to offer, and that is never a bad thing.
  • Newsletters - Don't underestimate the power of the written word! My library currently writes a quarterly newsletter that highlights events for all age groups and includes calendars of events, articles written by staff, and book recommendations. These can be brought to local businesses and to town events (see Part One for ideas of where to leave fliers and newsletters!) and be offered at or near your circulation desk for patrons to take.
  • Event Calendars - In addition to our online event calendars, I've found it's also incredibly helpful to have monthly event calendars available for patrons to take with them. In the Children's Department (which is my domain), we design them so that one side is a monthly calendar with events listed on each day, and the reverse has a brief description of what each program is. Despite the fact that everyone seems to be online these days, I start getting requests weeks before the new month has started. I've even had families who have told me that they wait until they get the new calendar before planning family events. (I can't tell you how good that feels!)


Social Media

  • The Basics: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. - Sharing information on your own page is good (especially with pictures!), but it's an even better idea to make sure you follow local groups, schools, clubs, etc. online, and send them your information. If you ask nicely, they may share it! This works especially well if they have a presence on Twitter, where you can talk as much as you like (as opposed to Facebook, where you don't want to post too often, lest you overwhelm the reader). Be sure to check your favorite social media outlets for local parent groups, Boys and Girls Clubs, and the like.
  • Online Newsletters - There are several ways to send out online newsletters, including MailChimp and Constant Contact. I am not an expert in these fields, but that's okay, because companies that work with mass mailings are experts, and they make things as easy as possible for the librarian-on-the-go. One of the many perks to using a program to mass-mail is the ability to link online. If you write book reviews, you can link the book right to your catalog so that interested parties can immediately put the book on hold (no lost little slips of paper!). Instead of asking patrons to log on and "like" you on social media, you can link right there and they can do it right away! Another upside is the meta-data. How many times is the email opened? Which links are clicked on most often? They will tell you. From this information, you can extrapolate from your patron-base what it is they really like. Lots of book links clicked? You may want to write more reviews. Lots of clicks on the children's programs? Perhaps that department needs its own newsletter. It's all in the data.
  • Facebook Events - We have talked a lot about the use of Facebook before, and I'm sure we will again, but have we mentioned how much we like the new Facebook Events feature? Rather than posting one photo to say that a program is coming up, try creating an official Event for it. It still pops up on your wall as soon as you post it, but it will also be available under the "Events" tab on your page, and will be listed as an Upcoming Event for people who say they are interested. People can also subscribe to your events, so you're sure that everyone who wants to will see them, instead of relying on whatever the Facebook algorithm says is okay to show.
  • Facebook Ads - I'm all about free, but Facebook Ads give you a huge bang for your buck. For a couple dollars, you can have your information show up as an ad on local people's pages, which will drastically expand your reach. By all accounts I've heard, it is worth the money for your larger events.



In closing: don't underestimate the power of the media. Expand your presence in print and online, and watch your program attendance grow! Last time, we talked about posters and fliers. In Part 3, we will be discussing some of the more unusual ways to promote your programs. (Silliness - my favorite!)

Did we miss any media angles? Please let us know here or on our Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Don't Forget to Check Out:

Part One: Posters, Flyers, and Where to Hang Them
Part Three: Unique Advertising Ideas 

Friday, October 23, 2015

So You Want to Be a Teen Librarian

A friend of mine left our library this week to run her own youth service department. I am so happy for her and have no doubt that she'll do great. She asked me if I had any tips for being a teen librarian and I've been making a list all week. I thought I'd share with everyone what I've learned from my four+ years on the job.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately!), it takes longer than 5 minutes to read. This first post is focused on Collection Development. I highly recommend every teen librarian starts there.

1. Weed First

Once you start programming, it is really hard to stop. Before you jump down that rabbit hole, use your first month to take a hard look at the collection you inherited. Run reports to see what is popular with your current teens and weed the old books that aren't circulating. Your circulation numbers will dramatically improve when you drop the dead weight. It is a win right out of the gate!

2. Schedule Reoccuring OPAC Lists

If you can, make reoccuring lists of items that circulate well, ones that aren't, and those that are missing/lost/billed. Your OPAC (the program your library uses to keep track of circulations) should have an option to continuously run the list after X many days, so you'll be easily updated without any work on your end. (Just make sure you check out that list when it arrives in the inbox!) I have to weed my collection at least twice a year. Depending on how big your budget is and how much space you have, you'll need to do more or less. Whatever you do, DON'T weed right before your busiest times (for us, that is two months before Summer Reading... And all summer). I, uh, learned that the hard way.

3. Keep an Eye on Missing/Billed

Don't forget about your missing and billed items. The general rule in our library is to give missing items six months to return, but you might decide having a second copy sooner isn't a bad idea. If you think you'll get a lot of circulations, it could be worth the money.

4. Harness the Power of Popular Reads

Take the books that circulated well over the past two years and make sure you are very familiar with them. Read them if you can, speedread them if you can't (see next tip below).  Make a list of programming ideas tied to what your teens like. Make book list recommendations off of these popular books so you are prepared for the big requests and can easily talk to your teens about their favorite reads and can quickly make your own recommendations. We have a three part series on how to use NoveList, if you're lucky to have access to that resource!

5. Learn the Art of Speedreading

I wish I took the time to learn this because it is impossible to read every book you order and honestly, there are genres I can't convince myself to read. Speedreading isn't reading -- it is getting cozy with a book and paying attention to their reader advisory elements. In a nut shell, it is reading a few chapters, skimming, reading the middle, skimming, and reading the end. Georgine Olson shared great tips on how specifically to do this, highlighting things to pay attention to and different ways to improve your speedreading skills.

Since you're going through dozens of books a week, you'll want to create some kind of spreadsheet (or use an online program like Goodreads) and take notes. Your future self will thank you, especially when it comes to readers advisory.

6. Become BFFs with Your Book Vendor

We wrote a whole post (7 Time Saving Tips for Ordering Books) about the benefits of using book vendors like Ingram and Baker & Taylor. They have cool features like giving full text reviews and will put books into automatic lists for you -- so every two weeks, you'll have a pre-made cart of books that got 5 stars. You can have them waiting for you to go through them -- or you can have them automatically ordered. Huge time saver! No more wasting time typing in ISBNs and wondering if you had already ordered it or decided against it.

7. Use Great Websites for Collection Development

Outside of the great journals (and, yes, VOYA is a necessity! With the above tip, you can now just read that journal for the articles and skip all the reviews), you should bookmark these great websites:
  • YA Lit. For all YA Book Release Dates
  • Epic Reads. Great book lists about what's hot and coming out soon.
  • FictFact. Put your popular series into this database and they'll let you know when the new books come out.
  • No Flying No Tights. Keep up with graphic novels and manga
  • Fantastic Fiction. We also wrote a post about this, but it is THE best place to go for author and book information. It clearly states what books the author wrote, when they were published, if it was hardcover/paperback/ebook, when future releases are coming, and what number it is in the series. Unfortunately, they don't cover graphic novels.

8. Participate in the Discussion

Don't miss these three great ways to stay on top of new and great reads:


  • YALSA Book Discussions -- sign up:
  • Graphic Novel for Libraries --


  • The 2nd Sunday of the month (8-9pm CST), join other teen librarians to talk about YA Lit. Use the hashtag #readYAlit. You can find archived conversations on wikispaces:

9. Books for Browsing or School Required Reading

If your library is part of a consortium (or multiple library network), you're probably required to have the first copy of all your books as holdable. What this means is that anyone in your library system can request your library's book. It is a great service to those who know how to use your system. Unfortunately, it doesn't work so well if your teens like to browse and don't feel comfortable asking for help if they don't see it on the shelf.

What many librarians don't know is that you may NOT have to make second copies holdable in your consortium. If you want to make sure a book is available for browsing, buy a second copy and  make it unholdable. This is especially useful if your school required summer reading list is a popular book (<<cough>>Fault in Our Stars<<cough>>).

10. Keep Looking Forward

Don't get overwhelmed by how large your collection is. Since teens are constantly growing into and out of your age group, many of these books will be weeded off your shelves in no time. (I can't tell you how many times I think I just ordered that book to realize it was a few years ago.) Get to know your popular reads and similar books for making recommendations. Spend the rest of your time focusing on new books. In no time, you'll be an expert of what's on your shelves. (For a list of ways to get ARCs -- Advanced Reader Copies of books yet to be published -- check out our awesome post.)

Best of luck to all of you starting out!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Ready to Go Display: Social Media Fiction

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go!" Book Display. Once a month, we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group (Adults, Teens and Children) that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. 

In honor of our Instagram Challenge this month I've put together a list of fiction titles that relate to social media.

Recommendations for

In a time when everyone is obsessed with and defined by their online personas, this clever and sharp novel by Nikesh Shukla dares readers to question who they actually are when they're not on Facebook but rather face to face.
Suffering humiliating setbacks for her overuse of social media, a Manhattan lawyer resolves to live life without her smartphone and makes a haphazard transition to relationships not dominated by tweets, texts and posts.

What would you do if you could literally rewrite your fate - on Facebook?

Recommendations for Teens:

In this suspenseful thriller, teenagers in a small town are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need... regardless of the consequences.

When a humiliating accident at school is captured on video and posted on the Internet, clumsy Mackenzie is turned into an overnight internet sensation, and is sucked into the world of rock stars, paparazzi, and worldwide popularity.

When thirteen-year-old Truly is invited to sit at the Popular Table, she finds herself caught in a web of lies and misunderstandings, made inescapable by the hyperconnected world of social media.

When pictures of Lucy kissing her best friend's boyfriend emerge on the world of social media, she becomes a social pariah after the scandal rocks the school.

 Recommendations for Children:
When a girl claiming to be a former classmate reconnects with her via her favorite social networking site, Bridget decides to use some online tricks and a new app to investigate if she's telling the truth.

Media Meltdown: A Graphic Guide Adventure by Liam O'Donnell and Mike Deas (Oct 2009)
Pema, Jagroop, and Bounce discover media-making tools such as script writing on the internet and produce a movie to get the news out when the corrupt developers who try to force Jagroop's father to sell the family farm also influence what is broadcast on the local news.

Friday, October 9, 2015

21 Awesome Instagram Accounts for Reposting!

If you are participating in the Instagram Challenge, you'll see that on Day 20, we suggest that you follow bookish Instagram accounts and repost one on your account. We recommend this because there just isn't enough time in the day for busy librarians to keep up with Instagram accounts.

But there's good news -- we're not the only ones who love books and want to post about them. And there are many other people who have the time, the budget, the props, and the expertise to post fantastic Instagram images. Images that are perfect for libraries to repost (and, of course, tag back to the original account!).

So, to help you get started with Day 20's challenge, here's a list of 21 accounts that you may want to follow and repost*. :)


The first accounts I'd highly recommend following are publishers. They have great content from beautiful book covers (all of them are quality pictures because they want to sell the book!) to author spotlights to fun bookish quotes. Bonus -- learn about new books coming out that you can order for your collection!

Book Stores

Book stores are also great accounts to follow. The following ones below have quality pictures and many images that libraries can repost and tag back. Bonus points when they have an author visit and take a photo of them holding onto their book!

Book Websites / Accounts

And there are some really awesome book websites (or even just unique Instagram accounts) that are fun to follow and highlight at times on your own account.

Bonus: YA Lit

Since I'm a Teen Librarian, I thought I'd share a few other YA Lit accounts that I really enjoyed. Any library can use them, too, since YA Lit is the hottest genre at the moment... Though, my opinion might be slightly biased.

And these two accounts, just because WOW. If you can find a way to share an image on your account, it'll be a follower favorite!: and

* Note: Instagram does not have a feature that allows you to repost images. However, Iconosquare, Websta and other 3rd party apps will allow you to do this. Basically, these apps download the image with credit to the author and emails it to you to later upload. I do NOT recommend using any apps that doesn't place credit directly on the photo. (And don't forget to @username the original person so your followers can easily find them.)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Top Ways to Advertise Your Library Programs - Part 1

So you have an awesome new program coming up, and you're super excited. That's fantastic! Now, how are you going to get the attendance your program so richly deserves? That all depends on how you advertise.

Naturally, you want to tailor your advertisements to the program's target demographic, but don't forget that parents often make plans for their children, older patrons sometimes have visiting kids and/or grandkids, and word of mouth is incredibly valuable. It can't hurt to try some different things, right? In this three-part series, we will be discussing some average (and not so average) ways to advertise. First up...

Posters, Flyers, and Where to Hang Them

Sure, we've all made posters, and they go up on the door, or maybe on the bathroom door if we're feeling ambitious. Where else can we put them? Well, that depends on your audience. Have you tried...
  • Local schools - If you email the superintendent, you can often get permission to hang signs in the school library, if nowhere else, but making sure that the teachers know about your programs can help promote library services to students, school faculty, and parents. Don't forget that teachers are potential patrons, too. Maybe the English teacher is just dying for a book club to join; maybe she will see the sign in the Teachers' Lounge and be your new best member!
  • Senior centers - Again, the programs you advertise there don't have to be just for seniors! Yes, there is "competing" programming going on at many senior centers, but when you work for the town, collaboration is always a good thing. Unless you are doing a movie program at the exact same time as their movie program, you probably don't have to worry. I have often advertised Children's Room programs in the Senior Center, too, This is particularly helpful for Summer Reading ("the kids are visiting and I don't know what to do!") and the our library's circulating collection of toys and games ("the kids are visiting and I don't know what to do!").
  • Recreation centers, yoga studios, gyms - When playing sports and games, there is often almost as much time waiting (for your turn, for the game to start, for your ride home) as there is playing. Why not give these poor waiting people something to read and look forward to?
  • Local businesses - Coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, and other places where people linger will often have bulletin boards dedicated to local events. If you ask nicely, you can often hang up a poster, which lets their customers (and staff!) know about your upcoming awesomeness. This is particularly useful if the business has a connection to your event. For example, hanging a flyer at a comic store or game shop is perfect for promoting teen Wii Game tournaments or board game parties.
  • Other areas of the library - You'd be surprised how few libraries will advertise the adult Summer Reading Program in the Children's Room, even though there are usually just as many parents as children! This holds true the other way around, as well. Patrons have families and friends, and they will let them know if they see something they might enjoy. If you have something complicated enough that a quick glance at a flyer might not be enough, try hanging them inside the bathroom stalls - you have a captive audience!
  • Inside of books - When I did a Zombie Party, I put flyers inside copies of The Walking Dead graphic novels. Pete the Cat party flyers are inside all Pete the Cat books. Hide Classic Movie Mondays flyers inside biographies of classic Hollywood starlets, Fantasy Book Club flyers inside fantasy books, and "Did You Know We Have A Database About This?" flyers inside reference books. I have also seen some great e-book bookmarks inside books on the shelf where the e-book version was available through our catalog. "Check it out now, or download it from home!"

Things to Remember:

If you're not used to posting flyers outside your library, there are a some things you might not have needed to think about before. A few things to consider:
  • Make sure that all flyers are clearly labeled with the library's name, address, and contact information. It wouldn't do for a potential patron to be interested in a program, and not know where to go. 
  • Less (information) is sometimes more (attention). You want eye-grabbing art and words, because you are competing with not just the other flyers on the bulletin board, but the entire world around that bulletin board: smart phones, pumpkin spice lattes, best friends meeting up for lunch, someone's dog who is just so darned cute. Large blocks of text will be skimmed over if not ignored: it's better to get someone's attention and point them in the right direction for more information than to not grab them at all.
  • Also, please ask permission before you start hanging things up. Let's not be silly about this. 
If you have a favorite place to hang your flyers, we would love to hear about it! Please let us know in the comments here, on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter. You can also follow us there to make sure that you never miss a post.

Don't miss reading Part 2: Media and Social Media and Part 3: Unique Advertising Ideas!