Friday, March 30, 2018

5minlib Recommends: Super Library Marketing

Let's talk about library marketing. It is an important part of libraries. It is how we get the word out about our collections, boost attendance to our programs, share with the public the good we do for our communities, and how we bring in new cardholders.

But there are so many different ways to advertise, so many different formats to use, and too little hours in the day to get it all done. We at 5minlib wish we have the perfect library marketing plan for you, however our expertise is limited. But there's good news! Angela Hursh is a content marketing enthusiast and she shares her wisdom on the fantastic Super Library Marketing blog. As she says in the tagline, it is all kinds of marketing ideas for all kinds of libraries. It is one of our favorite blogs and we're excited to highlight it today.

What we love about it:

Hursh has a wealth of marketing ideas from different kinds of social media to signage. She breaks them down into easy, doable steps. She also explains the pros and cons, the do's and don'ts, and provides examples so you're armed with everything you need to know to really up your library marketing.

For example, Hursh is a huge proponent for email marketing. She not only explains why, but gives you tips on how to write good subject lines, content, spam words to avoid, and how to analyze marketing data. Marketing takes up a lot of time, but with Hursh's blog, you can focus your time on the parts that'll really make a great impact.

Our Favorite Posts:

Subject Line Secrets: Get Emails Opened Now!
Five Excellent Ways To Improve Every Sign in Your Library
Boost Attendance at Library Programs–How to Start a Revolution
Four Instant Ways to Improve the Most Valuable Page on Your Library Website
Now Is the Time For Your Library to Get Back to Snapchat

Hot Tips:

To easily find specific topics (like emails, Youtube, Snapchat, signage, etc.), use the search feature on the right. When you click on an article and scroll to the end, you'll find tags which lists the keywords for her categories so you can find more on that topic.

Where to go:

You can go to the website at You can also follow Hursh on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest via @webmastergirl.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Delicious Library Programs

Like many people, the two great loves in my life are good books, and good food. What better way to integrate the two than to do a library cooking program? Of course, there are many ways in which to do this; I've compiled a list of ideas in which cooking can enhance your library.

Cookbook Clubs

There are a couple different ways that I've seen cookbook clubs work in libraries.
  1. By Theme: Everyone finds and prepares a recipe that follows a certain theme (for example, cheese, cookies, vegetarian, Food Network Stars etc.). Participants bring their completed dish, along with the book it came from (or a printed recipe), to a meeting, and they can eat and discuss the various cookbooks and what they liked or didn't. Pros: you may get everything from Grandma's cheesecake recipe to the new and exciting Food Network stars. Also, you don't have to find many copies of the exact same book.
  2. By Book: Everyone uses the same book (or a choice of two or three pre-chosen books by a certain author or theme), and chooses a recipe to bring. Pros: It's easier to discuss the book itself (Were the directions clear? Does the food actually look like the photos? Did you like how it was organized?) if everyone uses the same book, and you get to try a variety of different foods from the same author. Cons: It may be hard to locate several copies of the same book, and you may have to have a sign-up sheet with different recipes, so you don't end up with everyone bringing the same dish.
Whichever way you decide to go, it's probably a good idea to make sure that there is a copy of each recipe with each dish, so that people who like it may take one or copy one, and also to ensure that any allergies are accounted for.

Book Clubs with Food

Is your book club getting a little tired of chocolate chip cookies every meeting? Perhaps it's time to add some themed refreshments! This is especially fun with books that have a very definite setting, whether somewhere in the world or in time; Jane Austen-era books would be perfect with tea and cucumber sandwiches, while international books may have regional cuisines that might suit. It would be easier for the librarian to have book club members alternate on who brings the refreshments, which means that each person is only responsible for bringing treats about once a year.

I have done this with children's book clubs; while reading Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me, we made sandwiches (the main character has a part-time job in a deli); when we read Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, we had Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets, which feature in the story. This helped the readers to connect to the story in a unique and memorable way.

Cooking Classes


Cooking classes for kids are lots of fun. Some places are equipped for actual culinary masterpieces, but for me, they were more mixing and assembling than actually cooking anything (rather than baking cookies, we would decorate them). You can choose from the myriad of cookbooks for children that are out there, or use whichever of your own recipes you like. The hardest part was letting every child be sure to add some of whatever ingredient we were using (hint: if you need 2 Tsp of something, that's 8 kids who get to add 1/4 tsp!) Some ideas that worked well for me (tried and tested!) are:

  • Whipped cream: you need a hand mixer for this one, but that's easy enough. Amaze the kids (I got a lot of "you can MAKE whipped cream?!") and then have them make ice cream sundaes.
  • Make your own ice cream sundaes.
  • Marshmallow treats - great for seasonal programs! Melt the butter and marshmallows in the microwave, stir in cornflakes and green dye for wreaths, chow mein noodles for bird nests (top with jelly bean eggs and Peeps), or Rice Krispies and rainbow sprinkles for a birthday confetti theme.
  • Decorating cookies or cupcakes - always a blast.
  • Dirt & Worms - mix chocolate pudding, cool whip, and oreos; each child gets extra crushed oreos and gummy worms to put on top.
  • Melting chocolate and dipping food into it. (Kids will eat anything covered in chocolate - sour cream & onion potato chips, cheese crackers, you name it.)

I always started with the rules: The first step is always "wash your hands," don't put your mouth on anything until we are ready to eat, parents can have some if there's any left once all the kids are served.


Cooking with teens can be more fun and involved than children's programs are. If you have access to a toaster oven and a microwave, you're in business! A hot plate would be nice, too. Teen recipes can include all the children's recipes as well as:

  • Smoothies - I brought my blender in from home for this one.
  • Nachos
  • English Muffin Pizzas
  • Decorating cookies or cupcakes (including Cupcake Wars and other programs)
  • Melting chocolate and dipping food in it
  • Pancakes (if you have a hot plate)


Adult cooking classes can, of course, be even more complicated. It all depends on the space you have available, but demonstrations are usually easy enough to set up. Everyone can eat while questions are answered, variations are discussed, or future meals are planned. Some program ideas include:

  • One pot meals
  • Slow cooker meals
  • Pasta dishes

Nutrition Classes

It may surprise you how many people could use, and may enjoy, a class on nutrition. The rules have changed quite a bit over the years, from the 4 Food Groups to the Food Pyramid to the My Plate guidelines, and when you get used to eating a certain way, it's even more complicated. (A recommended serving of pasta is HOW small?) Try to include samples of well-prepared healthy foods, because things can be much more delicious, and therefore inviting, when prepared well. (Have you had roasted broccoli? It's life-changing!)

Food Tastings

Take your taste buds on a ride with some delicious food tastings! Learn about chocolate, and try different brands and intensities (white, milk, or dark). Test different teas and see which one you like best. I went to a library program where different teas were paired with different cheeses - it was delicious!

If you're not sure where to start, perhaps locate a local store that specializes in a certain type of food, and see if they're interested in collaborating. As a coffee fan, I would be very interested if a local cafe taught me the differences between blond roast, regular, and dark roast coffee, or what actually is the difference between a latte, cappuccino, and macchiato.

You could also do blind tastings of different brands; perhaps one cheese pizza from each of 3 different restaurants could be compared, or see if patrons could tell the difference between generic and name brand items.

Have you tried it?

We would love to hear from you! You can leave a comment here on this post, on our Twitter page, or on Facebook.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Ready to Go! Book Display: Day at the Circus

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go! Book Display." Once a month we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. How about spending the day at the circus?

Recommendations for Adults:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Sept 2011)

Waging a fierce competition for which they have trained since childhood, a circus magicians Celia and Marco unexpectedly fall in love with each other and share a fantastical romance that manifests in fateful ways.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (May 2006)

Ninety-something-year-old Jacob Jankowski remembers his time in the circus as a young man during the Great Depression, and his friendship with Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, and Rosie, the elephant, who gave them hope.

A collection of fourteen cute circus designs to crochet.

The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman (Jul 2017)

After being sold to a circus sideshow in 1931, Lilly Blackwood carves out a life for herself as best she can - until tragedy and cruelty collide - and, two decades later, it is up to Julia Blackwood to discover the truth about his older sister that she never knew she had.

Everything You Came to See by Elizabeth Schulte Martin (Jan 2018)

Talented circus performer Henry Bell's blind ambition and determination to create bigger, better performances, which destroys the relationships around him, could save or destroy the circus itself unless he can reckon with the family and past he's left behind.

Recommendations for Teens:

The Circus by Olivia Levez (Jun 2017)

Willow has everything: a rich daddy, a pony and a place at a prestigious boarding school. Everything except the one thing she really wants - a father who cares enough to find her when she runs away from home.

Freeks by Amanda Hocking (Jan 2017)

Mara longs for a normal life while her friends perform supernatural feats in Gideon Davorin's Traveling Sideshow, but a sinister threat reveals an ability she never knew she had.

Sleight by Jennifer Sommersby (Apr 2018)

On her first day of high school after the circus settles in a small town, Gemma meets Henry and everything changes as they begin to unravel secrets that will bind them forever.

By a Charm & A Curse by Jaime Questell (Feb 2018)

Emmaline King is ensnared by Le Grand's Carnival Fantastic, a traveling circus bound by a centuries-old curse that dooms its members to participate in an endless, ageless series of performances.

Recommendations for Children:

Circus by Lois Ehlert (May 1992)

Leaping lizards, marching snakes, a bear on the high wire, and others perform in a somewhat unusual circus. 

Sidewalk Circus by Paul Fleischman and Kevin Hawkes (May 2007)

A young girl watches as the activities across the street from her bus stop become a circus. 

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley (Jun 2015)

When he realizes that his grandfather's stories of an enchanted circus are true, Micah Tuttle sets out to find the mysterious Circus Mirandus - and to use its magic to save his grandfather's life. 

DIY Circus Lab for Kids by Jackie Leigh Davis (Feb 2018)

A how to guide on creating your own circus equipment and teaches circus skills like juggling, acrobatics, balance and clowning. 

If I Ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss (Oct 1956)

A young boy imagines the fantastic animals and incredible acts he will have for his greatest of all circuses. 

Magnolia returns to explain the many downsides to bringing a circus to a local library. 

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (Jan 2012)

When Ivan, a gorilla who has lived for years in a down-and-out circus-themed mall, meets Ruby, a baby elephant that has been added to the mall, he decides that he must find her a better life. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Easy Staff Picks Displays

Sometimes, when you have a lot on your plate, creating new and exciting displays falls by the wayside. The good news is, we're here to help!

Everybody loves a good Staff Picks display - I mean, who doesn't like like tried-and-true book recommendations? - but how do you make your display really stand out?  We've got you covered.


Print out one of these signs and stand it on top of your display. Done and done.


Tuck a bookmark inside each book explaining why you enjoyed it. Books can go up on display this way, or, if you're not in the mood for a big display, you can even have them on the shelf with a special bookmark tucked inside.


This one stands out, even though it's tucked away on the bottom shelf.

For your convenience, you can choose between "Staff Selections" or "Staff Picks," or use a combination of both.


A shelf-sitter is a tag that you slide under your book, with the front folded down so that it hangs over the shelf. These are great for books in your display, and also work well for highlighting specific titles that may otherwise be overlooked on your shelves. How you use them is up to you.

I designed these shelf-sitters so that you can cut around the shape, and fold the rest down. This makes the star or sunburst designs really stand out against your books! 

To use these designs, simply right-click on the image and save. They are all sized to easily be printed on 8.5 x 11" paper (though I recommend cardstock). Please enjoy and feel free to share! All designs were made in Canva by Kat Ealy.

As always, we'd love to know what you think! Please let us know in the comments here, on Twitter, or on our Facebook page.

Friday, March 2, 2018

8 Ways to Boost Library Staff

Last summer, there was a great question on Facebook asking for ideas on how to strengthen staff's teamwork, morale, and motivation. I thought the answers would be perfect to share for today, Staff Appreciation Day. It boils down to 8 fun ideas:

1. Fun Traveling Trophies

These trophies (which could be gnomes, Kermit the Frog stuffie, a stuffed bear, etc.) travel from person to person. Each meeting, staff can nominate the winner. The manager decides who gets it for the month. There's also another variation which the winner selects the next person who will get the trophy.

2. Heartfelt Note

Even something as simple as a note highlighting their achievements and $5 to their favorite establishment can go a long way.

3. Golden Date Stampers

One library went so far as to buy date stampers, spray paint them gold, and hand them out to people who have done something above and beyond. They also come with a certificate.

4. Highlight the Little Wins

Take the time in your meeting for staff members to recognize their colleagues who helped them with the small stuff, too, like teaching a time saving technology trick or switching shifts. These little acts of kindness are needed to keep a library running smoothly, too.

5. Bravo Drawing

Staff can give each other a "bravo" which go into a gift card drawing (writing the name of the person and why they earned it). Winner is selected at the staff meeting.

6. Shout Outs

Skip the internal meeting, and highlight your hard workers in the newsletter, website, and the main wall of the library. If you are giving out a coveted parking space, put their name on the sign in front of it.

7. Traditional Gift Card Awards

Gift cards given out quarterly, annually, etc. to those who went above and beyond. They vary in amounts.

8. Kudos Bulletin Board

Staff can write up things their colleagues have done and attach it to a bulletin board. Right before the staff meeting, these notes are collected and distributed to those praised. If you are feeling creative, the bulletin board can have different themes like "You're a Peach" or "Thanks a Latte".

What are the Popular Prizes?

The prizes tend to be a gift card, a parking spot, comp time, or a monetary prize. Providing a meal where staff have to come in on their day off may not be the best way to show your appreciation. Some places also hand out plaques and certificates, and of course, the Golden Date Stamper.