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Service Awareness and the 1/22 Pew Report

January 22, 2013

I want to quote infoDOCKET’s Gary Price: “Lack of knowledge about services means lack of use.”

No doubt you’ve already read the recent Pew Internet and American Life Project’s report on libraries or a commentary blog post/article on it.  I don’t want to re-hash what others who have been in the biz longer than me have said about the findings, but I would like to share an idea.

This came to me (and several others, as ideas borne of round table discussions do) during the 2012 Strategic Plan meeting at the Rapid City Public Library.  I was seated with coworkers and community leaders at a little round table, and after watching snippets from R. David Lanke’s 2011 presentation for the Swedish Library Association, we discussed RCPL’s place in the community, the services we provided, and what our mission, values, and vision should be in the coming years.

I remember being very surprised that people seated with me weren’t aware that the downtown library location had a drive-up window where patrons could pick up holds and drop off returns.  It wasn’t exactly a “new” service – I could have better understood it if they hadn’t been aware of our efforts to digitize local information or our increasing collection of downloadable formats.

We came up with the bare-bones of a marketing plan – a simple “Did you know…at the library?” campaign carried out through various media (mostly posters, in our mind). Did you know that you can check out ebooks for your Kindle, Nook, or other device at the library?  Did you know you can check out ereaders at the library?  Did you know that you can create music/video/media at the library?  The possibilities are endless, and it could be as small or as big a campaign as needed, from posters at the local grocery store to tv ads.  It’d be great if the ALA took on the campaign as a national thing to promote public library use in general, but I doubt that will happen. That’s not really their style, so far as I can tell.

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