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Magazines > Marketing Library Services > March/April 2019

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MLS - Marketing Library Services
Vol. 33 No. 2 — Mar/Apr 2019
Welcome to the Informal, Occasional ‘ICYMI’
by Kathy Dempsey
A still from the movie the public, starring Emilio Estevez
Welcome to the first installment of an occasional column I’m calling ICYMI. (FYI, that’s social shorthand for In Case You Missed It.) When I have some space to fill, I’ll use it to share things I’ve found that you might have missed.

In my work as a marketing consultant and as MLS editor, I spend a lot of time reading about libraries every day, both inside and outside of the library press. Since it’s my job to be informed, I often follow the links, read the comments, and dig deeper. ICYMI will give me an opportunity to share some of my most interesting findings in a personal way.

Libraries Being Covered Outside the Echo Chamber

I always like to see the world of libraries covered outside of our own echo chamber. I post those articles on social media sites to show that other organizations are sharing our stories and advocating for us. One such article, “The Organic Role of Libraries as Centers of Inclusiveness and Support,” recently appeared in Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ;, and parts of it were based on reporting from Next City.

This piece links to past NPQ coverage of innovative activities (including lending musical instruments and administering Narcan), then delves into the emerging trend of hiring social-services workers to approach and aid people within large public libraries. Articles like this make us look good, so they make excellent social media fodder.

The Psychology of Drag Queen Storytime

Storytime has always been a library staple, but in recent years there’s been a new twist—numerous public libraries (and other organizations) have been hosting drag queen storytime events. Yes, this means that entertainers—men dressed up as women—are presenting the stories with dramatic fashion and flair. Librarians see this as a way to deliver early literacy and diversity lessons together. Of course, not everyone sees it as harmless fun, and there has been backlash (

An article in Psychology Today addresses this phenomenon and mentions libraries in particular ( I shared the link in a library Facebook group, and it started some good discussion. If you’d like a psychological opinion about whether children can be harmed or influenced by listening to a drag queen read stories, check out “Drag Queen Storytime for Children.”

Soon, the Public Will Be Able to See the public

Hopefully, you’ve all heard about the public, the film that Emilio Estevez made about homeless people camping out in a public library on a frigid winter night. It’s been screened at the past two ALA conferences. I saw it at Annual and reviewed it for MLS.

Big news! The movie finally has a release date! IMDb says it will come out April 5, 2019, but offers no other info ( Keep your eyes open for details from ALA or from your favorite film resource.

Google Is Giving Away Money

I’m always learning something from my state library’s blogs, press releases, and enewsletter. Via the New Jersey State Library, I recently became aware of a program called Grow With Google and clicked over to a page on the PLA site ( Turns out, Google is going to train librarians in all 50 states on holding community workshops that will concentrate on helping job seekers and supporting small businesses. Librarians can apply for $1,000 microgrants from Google through ALA, which recipients must use to hold a program that falls within the scope of the project.

At this writing, the initiative is just beginning. If I understand it correctly, Google will train you to do workforce- or business-

development events, give you materials to support them, and maybe even provide a $1,000 grant to do it. Here’s an explanatory blog post from Google:

But wait—there’s more. If you think getting $1,000 from Google this year would be good, how about getting $10,000 from Google—every month? There’s a program that’s been around for years, but many librarians don’t know about it. Google Ad Grants is just for nonprofits, and once you qualify (most public libraries will), Google gifts you $10,000 per month of in-kind advertising. You use this to buy Google Ads, which as librarians know, appear at the very top of search results. So your library can advertise any of its services, programs, or events on Google, for free, and patrons will see your info first when they search any of the keywords you’ve chosen. The company describes it in-depth at

I’ve been taking the easy way out and having all of that complex info translated for me by the people at a start-up vendor named Koios ( They offer a service called Koios Ads, in which they help apply for the grant (free). Then you can hire them to administer the grant and run your ad campaigns (if you don’t have the staffers to do it).

I’m thrilled that Google is acknowledging libraries’ importance in their communities and is offering training, funding, and free advertising. What’s not to love?

Kathy Dempsey is a marketing consultant at Libraries Are Essential ( and the author of The Accidental Library Marketer. She’s been the editor of MLS for 24 years. Her email address is
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