Information Today, Inc. Corporate Site KMWorld CRM Media Streaming Media Faulkner Speech Technology DBTA/Unisphere
Other ITI Websites
American Library Directory Boardwalk Empire Database Trends and Applications DestinationCRM Faulkner Information Services Fulltext Sources Online InfoToday Europe KMWorld Literary Market Place Plexus Publishing Smart Customer Service Speech Technology Streaming Media Streaming Media Europe Streaming Media Producer Unisphere Research

Vendors: For commercial reprints in print or digital form, contact LaShawn Fugate (
Newsletters > Marketing Library Services
Back Forward

Special Web-Only Feature
First IFLA/3M International Marketing Award Presented in Glasgow, Scotland in August
by Christine M. Koontz

"Marketing is getting the right goods and services to the right people at the right place at the right time at the right price with the right communication and promotion—marketing is a human activity directed at satisfying needs and wants through exchange processes."
— Philip Kotler 

Those of us who understand and value marketing practices for libraries appreciate the difficulty of effectively implementing these practices on a day-to-day basis. To recognize those libraries that develop and implement effective marketing programs, the Management and Marketing Section of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and 3M Library Systems joined to create the first IFLA/3M International Marketing Award.  First, second, and third prizes were presented this past August at IFLA's Annual Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in conjunction with IFLA's 75th birthday. In this special report for MLS, I will give you a tiny bit of background on this new award, profile the top three winners, and then share quick summaries of some of the interesting and unusual applications.

The Management and Marketing Section is made of library professionals from all over the world who either work actively in marketing and management in their libraries or teach the same to future librarians. (I myself have been a member since its inception in 1997.) The M & M Section (Yes, we enjoy M&M chocolate candies during our meetings!) promotes better understanding of marketing practices through pre-conferences and workshops, programs, and publications. This past year the section decided to provide another avenue of support for libraries by creating and offering this annual international award that identifies best marketing practices. We felt that the award, through the voices of its many applicants, could best communicate the types of marketing activities that libraries successfully engage in, not only to colleagues around the world, but also to people who use libraries, those who may want to use libraries, or those in charge of providing funds for library services.

Some Background on Marketing and Libraries

When marketing was first introduced to the library field in the late '70s, there was much confusion between marketing and publicity. Over the past 20 years the field has focused on understanding and applying systematic marketing activities that embody four main steps: 1) identifying customer wants and needs, 2) grouping customers with similar wants and needs, 3) developing a product with the right price, distribution place, and promotional message for those customer groups, and 4) evaluating the marketing program. Publicity is of course only one activity (ultimately free press coverage or public awareness) that is part of the promotion category. It's taken almost 20 years to straighten out the difference in meaning, but, as illustrated by the applicants for this award, we can see that libraries have now embraced true marketing. The winning libraries all marketed in a systematic way.

Today, during a time of great change in the library field, this new award offers the opportunity for all types of libraries to showcase their more sophisticated marketing campaigns and programs, rather than the simple publicity efforts of the past. The library's environment is collapsing and being reborn. Library users are transforming into customers with expectations, diverse needs and wants, and choices. Library catalogs and materials are moving from print to online. Whole groups of new users are pouring in to access the Internet, and library professionals are being called upon to offer guidance and training on new electronic databases and formats. Based upon these and other changes, librarians are being forced to communicate the new mission and subsequent new image of their libraries to the publics they serve. As described in the program summaries of the applicants for this award, the types of problems libraries are solving with marketing practices are more scintillating than any best-selling novel! By telling their own stories, the people who applied for this IFLA/3M International Marketing Award provided insight into the colorful behind-the-scenes daily business of modern libraries. This article shares some of those stories.

Criteria and Applications

For this first award, applications were available in the five official IFLA languages (English, Spanish, French, Italian, German) starting at the beginning of 2002 on the Web sites of both sponsors, IFLA and 3M. The deadline was March 31. Altogether there were 37 applicants from four continents, sent in from 14 countries: Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Congo, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Poland, Romania, Spain, and the U.S.A. Any library, agency, or association in the world that promotes library service was eligible to receive the award.

This year's applicants were judged on the following criteria:

  • Strategic approach to marketing communications, indicated in the research and planning stages of a submitted project
  • Creativity and innovation as demonstrated by the originality of solutions to marketing and communications challenges
  • Potential for generating widespread public visibility and support for libraries, irrespective of the kind or amount of resources employed
  • Effectiveness illustrated by efforts to emphasize the organization's communication and marketing goals
  • Commitment to ongoing marketing and public relations activities
  • The project had to have taken place no earlier than 1998.

The committee will be revising the criteria for next year to facilitate participation by a broader range of countries and specifically to recognize marketing efforts by developing countries with fewer resources.

Who Won This Year?

First place was given to the Houston Public Library (Texas, U.S.A.), for its long-term plan to increase library card registration and library use by the city's children. The first-place winner received airfare, lodging, and registration for the 2002 IFLA General Conference and Council held this year in Glasgow, Scotland, and a cash award of $1,000 (U.S.) to further the marketing efforts of the library.

Second place went to the Calgary Public Library (Calgary, Canada) for its 2-week television advertising campaign to increase awareness of the library in the mind of the general public. Third place went to the Queens Borough Public Library (Jamaica, New York, U.S.A.) for its public relations and publicity campaign to promote the opening of the new Flushing library branch.

I'll give you more detail in the following summaries of each of the top three winners, culled from the entrants' own words.

Houston Public Library's Power Card
"Power Card" and the distinctive Power Card design are registered U.S. trademarks of Reliant Energy, Inc.
First Place: "The Power Card Challenge: A Long Term Marketing and Public Relations Plan to Increase Library Card Registration and Use by the Children of Houston"
submitted by Andrea Lapsley

Description of Program:
The goal of the Houston Public Library was to increase the number of children accessing library materials, both to improve their schoolwork and to develop lifetime readers, thereby ensuring educated and productive future generations. The 3-year campaign set specific goals for juvenile registration and circulation each year, with the final numerical goal of increasing juvenile registrations from a little over 100,000 to 303,000, and increasing juvenile circulation by 30 percent.

Objectives of Program:

First-year objectives:

  • Give temporary library card (an application/informational flier with the new library card design) to every school-age child in Houston (approximately 500,000).
  • Encourage all kids to "activate" their "card" which could raise the number of juvenile cardholders to 200,000 by June 30, 1999.
  • Increase juvenile circulation at least 20 percent from July 1998 to June 1999.

Second-year objectives:

  • Increase the number of juvenile cardholders to 240,000 by June 30, 2000.
  • Increase juvenile circulation by 10 percent from July 1999 to June 2000.
  • Increase use of juvenile electronic resources and youth Web pages by 10 percent.

Third (final) year objectives:

  • Increase current juvenile cardholders to 303,000 by June 30, 2001.
  • Increase juvenile circulation by 5 percent to 2,960,000 items.
  • Increase the number of juvenile borrowers with items checked out to 45,000, based on a monthly average. The benchmark in FY2000 was 41,000.

Program Plan:
According to research done for the library's Strategic Master Plan, the number of children under age 15 in Houston exceeds the national average by 20 percent. Additionally, the research shows that Houstonians are somewhat below national averages in library usage, library card ownership, and frequency of use. Hispanic Houstonians are the most underserved compared to their numbers.

Target Audiences Identified Were:

  • All school-age children in Houston, 500,000 (nearly 30 times the 17,000 targeted in a 1997 library card sign-up campaign)
  • Parents, grandparents, teachers, and caregivers of such children, so that the required signatures could be obtained and the applications returned to the library
  • Potential partners: community organizations, businesses, schools, city government, and the media to extend the reach of such an ambitious campaign
  • The underserved Hispanic community

With the Power Card Challenge, Houston Public Library created a 3-year program that redefines library card campaigns, gave the library a brand and identity in the community through a new library card design and graphics, ran a well-defined marketing/publicity campaign, and provided a model for other communities to replicate.

For more information contact Andrea Lapsley,

Second Place: "Rediscover Your Calgary (Public) Library," Western Canada
submitted by Grant Kaiser

Description of Program:
The Calgary Public Library's research identified clear demographic gaps in its customer base. A plan was developed to use television advertising to target groups that did not use the library, but might. It would be the first time that television advertising was used to promote a library anywhere in Western Canada. Three "hot buttons" were identified: 1) high costs of books, music CDs, and magazines, 2) the love of, and need for, convenience and easy access in everything, and 3) the confusion over the volume of information available in the world today, and the accuracy of that information. For each point, 15-second television commercials were produced. Evaluation benchmarks were established, and a 2-week TV campaign ran in September/October of 2001.

There were three objectives to the "Rediscover Your Calgary (Public) Library Campaign." The primary objective was:
1. Increase the top-of-mind awareness of the Calgary Public Library.
When someone has a question they need answered, or wants a book to read, the library is one of the places they consider going to. The Calgary Public Library believed that progress on this objective was essential for any of its communications or marketing activities to be effective.

Two secondary objectives were also established:
2. Increase circulation.
3. Increase the number of new library memberships issued.

The results were positive. The library saw a substantial increase in top-of-mind awareness (43 percent), and in new library memberships (21 percent), and also a strong increase in circulation (three times growth trends). The program ran from July 2001 through November 2001.

For more information contact Grant Kaiser,

Third Place: "The Opening and Promotion of the Flushing Library," Jamaica, NY (U.S.A.)
submitted by Gary Strong

Description of Program:
The Flushing Library is one of 62 branches of the Queens Borough Public Library, which is one of New York City's three independent systems. The new 76,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art public library opened in June 1998. The marketing campaign leading to Opening Day was designed to stimulate awareness; to relieve irritation of customers who had been getting library services from an undersized temporary storefront during construction; and to reinforce Queens Borough Public Library's name with patrons, legislators, and donors.

The concept of the Flushing Library Public Relations Plan was to stir broad-based citywide and national attention and support for this new facility, the largest branch library in New York State. It was hoped that the Flushing Library would be a springboard from which publicity for the Queens Library system as a whole could be generated.

Staff enthusiasm was also of paramount concern in designing the public relations plan. It would take months of grueling labor to get the branch ready to open. There were no funds for additional staff, so "bodies" would have to be borrowed from all over the system to get the building open and books on the shelves. That was going to leave difficult staff shortages all over the library system. It was imperative that the whole staff get behind the project all the way. Without full support, it simply could not happen.

The target audiences included legislators, community leaders, business leaders, the education community, Queens residents/non-library users, donors and potential donors, and print and broadcast media, including ethnic outlets.

Goals and Objectives:

  • To generate awareness of the Flushing Library as a unique resource in Queens and in New York City.
  • To generate awareness that the library is not only an archive but that its information can be used on a daily basis to do business, to further education, and to assist in daily living. We want people to be aware that it has a vital role in the economy in Queens.
  • To generate publicity for the name "Queens Borough Public Library" as being distinct from its two sister systems in New YorkCBrooklyn Public Library and New York Public Library.
  • To create awareness that much of the best that New York City has to offer is not necessarily in Manhattan.
  • To generate and sustain traffic in the new facility. The goal was to rival the traffic in Queens' Central Library, reported to be the busiest library building in New York State with 2,500 to 3,000 visitors a day.
  • To validate the generous amount of money allocated to this facility.
  • To make all the members of the community feel welcome.
  • To create an opening event worthy of the jaded New York City media's attention (always an uphill battle).
  • To bring in an impressive crowd of library customers for the opening. (The old library had 1,500 visitors on a busy Saturday in 22,000 square feet. Allowing for the 350-percent increase in size, we hoped to double attendance, setting our goal for 10,500 visitors on opening day.)
  • To use the opening as a theme for a fundraiser, to be held by the Queens Library Foundation.

The opening of the Flushing Library created a lot of media attention. The pre-launch campaign was considered ultimately successful. On opening day, June 20, 1998, about 16,500 people walked through the doors of the library, attending one of 17 programs and borrowing 8,500 items—150 percent of its goal. During the final 9 days of the fiscal year, the library had circulated more than 55,000 items, registered 900 borrowers, and welcomed 78,000 visitors. Positive relationships were established with community groups and support was garnered by local legislators.

The library continued to book the best of its program schedule there to keep the momentum going. It also continued to foster Flushing Library's reputation as a valuable resource for international information. Symposia on topics such as "Doing Business with China in the 21st Century" have been held there. Eventually the attention the Flushing Library received was turned toward other library programs and services.

For more information contact Gary Strong,

A Review of Some of the Other Applicants

As I said at the beginning of this special report, there were a total of 37 applicants. I want to highlight some of these fascinating projects. I gathered information for this report from those applications that were in English. I don't have permission to name all these applicants, but I can summarize their campaigns. If you'd like more details, please contact Daisy McAdam, award chairman, at the University of Geneva, Switzerland:

Public Library Awareness Campaigns

Public libraries were by far the largest group of applicants, probably because they have the most diverse groups of customers and the greatest need to continually identify changing markets and changing information needs. Consequently, I'll showcase more public libraries than other types here.

Bulgaria: A program was developed to popularize remote access to public library databases (thus far access had only been available on the premises) to new virtual library users with specific needs or requirements, including businesspeople, the physically disabled, and students. Free access was promoted and provided through word-of-mouth in the community and in the library facilities, as well as through media advertising. To add value, qualified professional librarians were enlisted to respond to online questions. The staff is gathering ongoing feedback from the new users in person and online.

U.S.A.: A statewide public awareness campaign, "It's Never Too Early," was designed to connect parents and caregivers of children (from birth to 5 years old) to public library services. It utilized special listservs to train local coordinators, and reached the target groups via a multimedia approach that included campaign giveaways, public service announcements, billboards, press releases, and story placements over a 4-year period.

Canada: New library cards attached to information brochures explaining library facilities and services were sent to a city population of 87,000. The goal of the campaign was to bring new customers into the library to discover the wide range of resources the library has to offer. The library measured an increase in circulation of 12 percent. Phase Two of the campaign—sending library cards to all elementary school-age children in the city—was launched 18 months after Phase One.

U.S.A.: An integrated 1-year public awareness campaign was run in a large suburban area by a multi-type system made of 665 public libraries. It aimed to inform the public about programs available at the 21st-century library and to tout the value of those library services. The campaign utilized cable television, public service announcements, Web sites, and an interactive TV program where viewers could "talk" to a live librarian. The campaign also developed a relationship with the major local newspaper to promote library issues. A series of training sessions to help member libraries enhance marketing skills was developed.

Canada: There was a provincewide campaign to promote "easy, anytime access to libraries." The campaign showcased the electronic services currently and newly available in public libraries that were identified through a survey as going un-used. Research also identified that nonuse was due to lack of knowledge by the public that they could access their library online. So a TV ad ran in prime-time slots for 6 weeks. The ad highlighted a Web site for viewers to click on for a complete tour of the new library online resources. Extra print materials were distributed beyond the 6 weeks of the television ad.

Poland: A public library serving 12,000 people in a community with 20-percent unemployment is developing services and materials to help individuals seeking jobs and those struggling to develop their own small business, as well as ancillary materials and services that explain the state of the local economy. The goal of the program is to increase the number of new users and to increase relevant materials and services during these difficult times, as well as to ultimately decrease unemployment. The project also aims to increase overall familiarity with and access to computers and databases. The project is ongoing.

Italy: A public library is developing a multimedia project to target the burgeoning group of retirees in the community who are less technically literate than younger people. The library hopes to encourage the over-50 group to use the library in the early-morning hours when there is less use by others. Specifically, the librarians desire to "facilitate access to the library's information technology resources through a user-friendly approach aimed at overcoming new technology illiteracy with in-library training." The staff is directly contacting this potential customer group by setting up kiosks with library information in key locations that the over-50 group frequents, including department stores, shopping centers and malls, and outdoor neighborhood markets throughout the city. The program is running for 4 months in the fall of 2002.

College Library Campaigns

Here is a summary of three disparate and diverse marketing campaigns conducted by college libraries.

Romania: A central university library facing a "period of great financial constraint" is trying to increase library usage during the period when there are fewer classes held on campus. A campaign was devised to increase use by 40 percent by rearranging the available space of the meeting rooms to accommodate new programs and events that will attract students, by looking for new partners for cultural events to increase meeting room use, and by redistributing the "old" computers for increased and free access to the Internet. The campaign will last for 1 year. In the librarians' own words, "we do not have enough money to buy books, we do not have enough money to continue our subscriptions, we realize our only solution is to plan a better use of our library. It is very hard to plan something like this, and even harder to succeed. We must show our public we are interested in their needs and try hard to improve and develop all of our potential services."

U.S.A.: A law library staff recognized that the first days and weeks of law school are overwhelming and intimidating for new students. The library created a diversified promotional program for first-year students that employs media presentations, posters, and enticing giveaways to welcome them, encourage them to visit the library, introduce them to library service staff, and familiarize them with collections and services in a non-threatening and entertaining way. The program components include a PowerPoint presentation, a library kiosk presentation and virtual tour for new students, a large welcome sign with balloons on an artist's easel at the front door, a library audiotape tour, a legal research survival packet (on disc), a coupon for free computer-assisted legal instruction (CD-ROM), and the gift of a free magnet for those students taking the audio tour. The campaign lasted 1 month, and was evaluated by comparing the number of coupons redeemed with the previous year's statistics on how many students listened to audiotapes, and also by anecdotal input.

U.S.A.: A college library conducted an ongoing awareness campaign to increase the perception of library value to the college community by increasing the awareness of the quality and variety of its resources and services. This was in response to the announcement of a $13 million gift to build a new library—to generate support and user satisfaction over the building period. The campaign also had a goal to increase faculty use of the library by 25 percent over 5 years. The primary target audience is faculty, then students. The library utilizes displays, press releases, fliers, posters, e-mail, and faculty meeting announcements to enumerate and publicize resources and services.

School Library Campaign

And finally, here's a look at one school project.

U.S.A.: A school system conducted a campaign called "Bus It For Books" during the summer months when school is not in session. It had buses travel on designated routes to pick up students and drive them to a branch of the county library system. The buses return to the library every 45 to 60 minutes and provide transportation back along the same designated route. This happens once a week during the 10-week summer vacation. Students need a valid library card to ride the bus, thereby promoting library card ownership. A banner will communicate to the community-at-large. (The program could be expanded to seniors.) The program ran in the summer of 2002, and was promoted through the school system, Web sites of school system and library, posters in community stores, local cable, and public service announcements. The program will evaluate how many students boarded the buses at what stops, how many students checked out books, and how many students participated in the summer reading program.

Kenya's Camel-Mobile

A Very Special Entry: Kenya's Camel-Mobile

While bookmobiles are being replaced in many modern countries by "infomobiles" (which provide Internet access), in rural Africa, camels are literally carrying information on their backs to meet the growing needs of populations cut off from all types of information access.

One of my absolute favorite projects was submitted by a longtime participant of the Management and Marketing Section, Daniel Ruheni, a librarian at Daystar University and a representative of Kenya National Library Services. His project is "The Promotion and Marketing of Camel Mobile Library Services to the Pastoral Community of Garissa in Kenya." Yes folks, you are reading it right—this is a successful program bringing books to schools and refugee camps via the back of a camel—six camels to be exact!

The Camel Mobile Library Service was launched in 1996 with only three camels in the caravan. It has now expanded to six. Since every part of the camel's body is considered valuable, the fact that villages have donated these animals for the project indicates the growing concern for and importance of the need for a better-informed and enlightened population.

The service operates from a library facility in Garissa, which is one library within the network of Kenya Library Services. The goal of the project was to reach people who migrate in order to continually find grass for farm animals. The illiteracy rate is 85 percent, as compared to an average of 31 percent in the country. The project covers a radius of 20 kilometers that have no roads. The camels create their own way through the sparsely populated, semi-arid region of northeastern Kenya. Tents are set up and groups of adults and children frequent the tents, utilizing books and services while the camels are in the area. At present, this service is their only source of information.

As western countries and their professional librarians lament the digital divide and consider how libraries can help bridge that gap, this project helps us to realize what most of the world is dealing with—a complete lack of any type of information for growing numbers of impoverished and rural populations. A report on this project is available from: IFLA Headquarters, P.O. Box 95312, 2509 CH, The Hague, The Netherlands; Or look online at

The Commitment to Marketing

Both sponsors—IFLA's Management and Marketing Section and 3M Library Systems—share a strong commitment to increasing awareness about the value of libraries marketing their services. This shared commitment serves as the foundation for the partnership between IFLA and 3M, and it led to the creation of the IFLA/3M International Library Marketing Award. The M&M Section hopes to provide a continued forum through this international award so that libraries in all countries can share just how they are bringing customers what they really want and need—information that people can use to enhance the quality of their lives.

It is significant that 3M (, a major international business, would partner with the library field to award best marketing practices. "Effective marketing is vital to a library's success. And there is no better time for this award," says Don Leslie, coordinator of the program for 3M Library Systems. "With the @ your library campaign well underway in the United States—and now being implemented throughout the world—there are a lot of great marketing programs out there. This award gives libraries and institutions the opportunity to share their successful work."

Applications will be available for the 2003 award at or through the IFLA Web site,

Information on IFLA

IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, is the global voice of the information profession. Founded in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1927, it just marked its 75th birthday. It now has over 1,700 members in 155 countries. To learn more, see New members are always welcome and encouraged to participate in the work of the section whether or not they are able to attend the IFLA conferences. Much of the work of the section is done by e-mail in addition to postal services. You can find more information at

IFLA conferences are held in August or early September in a different city each year. Delegates meet to exchange experiences, debate professional issues, see the latest products, conduct business, and experience something of the culture of the host country. In 2003 IFLA will meet in Berlin, Germany, in 2004 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and in 2005 Oslo, Norway. The Management and Marketing Section invites you to join them at its meetings, which are listed in the annual IFLA program.

Christie Koontz, Ph.D., is a research associate and director of the GeoLib Program at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Koontz also teaches marketing at the School of Information Studies at Florida State University, and conducts marketing workshops for colleagues around the globe. She is the author of Library Facility Siting and Location Handbook (Greenwood Press, 1997), and recently created a continuing education course on marketing research for library and information professionals, funded and sponsored by the Institute for Museum and Library Services. Her e-mail address is
       Back to top