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Magazines > Marketing Library Services > July/August 2004
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Information Today
Vol. 18 No. 4 — July/August 2004
Special Report

ALA Annual 2004: Lots of Learning @ Hot Orlando Conferences
by Kathy Dempsey

McDonald's may be cutting back on the supersizing idea, but the American Library Association certainly isn't. This year's annual conference took place in the gargantuan Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., from June 24 to 30. There were 33 long aisles in the exhibit hall, and the many sessions and meetings spilled over into the surrounding hotels. I was on patrol for all the latest marketing and promotion ideas, and I found plenty to share with MLS readers.

The first such session I attended was Ideas to Implement the @ your library Campaign, sponsored by the American Association of School Libraries. Each person in the large panel stood up for a few minutes and listed what their libraries had done with the @ your library theme. Here are just a few of the programs they mentioned on Saturday afternoon:

  • Parent Night @ your library to showcase the resources of the school library, proving that kids need not search for everything at home on the Internet
  • A coffee table area, labeled Light Reading @ your library, filled with short stories that kids can read and enjoy quickly
  • Getting extra promotional miles out of your chosen @ your library tagline by making it the screen saver on all in-library desktop computers
  • A summer reading program called Funtastic Reading @ your library in which everyone who read enough books got T-shirts as prizes

Shoestrings, Swapping, Speaking Out

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Incoming ALA president Carol Brey-Casiano stopped in to address the crowd at the PR Forum, "Marketing on a Shoestring."

Sunday was the biggest day on my schedule for MLS-related events. It began at 9 a.m. with the PR Forum, Marketing on a Shoestring, kicked off by Kathleen Imhoff, director of Lexington (KY) Public Library and head of ALA's PR Forum. She began by reminding the large crowd that all its promotional work should strive to achieve AIDA—Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. Then Imhoff encouraged attendees to close their eyes, picture their favorite spots, and ponder what it was that made the spot so comfortable, happy, peaceful, etc. What characteristics did your spot have? And can your library emulate any of those inviting qualities?

Imhoff was great at leading the group through an interactive question-and-answer session that elicited lots of ideas. Here is just a sampling of ways that you can market your library on a shoestring budget:





  • Join community groups to get opportunities to mention the library to local leaders.
  • Try bartering. For instance, offer your meeting room to the garden club for free in exchange for them keeping up your flower beds or improving your landscaping.
  • Strike up conversations while in line at the grocery store, theater, etc.
  • Wear library-themed clothing in public.
  • New paint can greatly improve your looks without costing much money.  
Click to enlarge
Here's the proud MLS editor (standing, in red) talking with folks at the Swap & Shop and giving away sample issues.

I couldn't stay for the whole shoestring session because I had to go early to the annual Swap & Shop to set up my MLS table. This year's Swap was held in a corner of the exhibit hall, which probably contributed to its increased attendance—more than 600 people came in, which is 20-percent more than last year.

As always, the Swap was sponsored by the PR section of ALA's Library Administration & Management Association (LAMA). This year's hardworking chairperson was Ashley Fowlkes, public relations coordinator of the Bowling Green (KY) Public Library. The theme, Sizzling PR: Making Your Publicity POP!, was portrayed by sunshine decorations and committee members brightly dressed for summer sizzle. Not only were there many excellent samples of libraries' brochures, annual reports, calendars, etc. for attendees to take home, but there were also educational displays. You could see, study, and learn from three separate displays of award winners.






The Swap & Shop's Best of Show winners received their honors at a ceremony held during the Swap. Entries created between January and December 2003 were judged on public relations excellence and divided into categories by total library budget. Here is a list of who got the top prizes and the honorable mentions:

Annual Reports

Under $1,999,999 ­ No Winner

Winner: Ypsilanti District Library, Ypsilanti, MI

Above $6,000,000
Winner: University of Illinois Library, Urbana, IL
Winner: Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, CA
HM: Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN
HM: The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, St. Paul, MN
HM: Nashville Public Library, Nashville, TN


Under $1,999,999
Winner: Pasadena City College Library, Pasadena, CA

Winner: Oshkosh Public Library, Oshkosh, WI

Above $6,000,000
Winner: Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma, OH
HM: Orange County Library System, Orlando, FL

Calendars of Events

Under $1,999,999
Winner: Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
HM: Clark County Public Library, Winchester, KY

Winner: Teton County Library, Jackson, WY
Winner: Sequoyah Regional Library System, Canton, GA
HM: West Bloomfield Township Public Library, West Bloomfield, MI

Above $6,000,000
Winner: Howard County Library, Columbia, MD
HM: Richland County Public Library, Columbia, SC


Under $1,999,999 ­ No Winner
$2,000,000­5,999,999 ­ No Winner

Above $6,000,000 Winner: Ann Arbor District Library, Ann Arbor, MI
Winner: San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco, CA

Fundraising Materials/Programs/Events

Under $1,999,999 |
Winner: Paso Robles Public Library, Paso Robles, CA

$2,000,000­5,999,999 Winner: Abilene Public Library, Abilene, TX
HM: Ypsilanti District Library, Ypsilanti, MI

Above $6,000,000
Winner: Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn, NY
HM: Howard County Library, Columbia, MD
HM: MIT Libraries, Cambridge, MA

Special Events/Programs

Under $1,999,999
HM: Lawrence High School Library, Lawrence, KS

$2,000,000­5,999,999 Winner: West Bloomfield Township Public Library, West Bloomfield, MI

Above $6,000,000
Winner: Southfield Public Library, Southfield, MI
HM: Grand Rapids Public Library, Grand Rapids, MI
HM: Greenwich Library, Greenwich, CT


Under $1,999,999
HM: Fond du Lac Public Library, Fond du Lac, WI
HM: Adult Literacy Program of San Benito County,
San Juan Bautista, CA

$2,000,000­5,999,999 Winner: Ypsilanti District Library, Ypsilanti, MI
HM: Burlingame Public Library, Burlingame, CA

Above $6,000,000
Winner: Metropolitan Library System, Oklahoma City, OK
Winner: Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC
HM: Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, Charlotte, NC
HM: San Diego State University, Library and Information Access, San Diego, CA
HM: MIT Libraries, Cambridge, MA

Original Children's Summer Reading Club Materials

Under $1,999,999 HM: Rancho Mirage Public Library, Rancho Mirage, CA
HM: Jackson County Public Library, Seymour, IN

$2,000,000­5,999,999 Winner: West Orange Public Library, West Orange, NJ
HM: West Bloomfield Township Public Library, West Bloomfield, MI
Above $6,000,000
Winner: Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD
HM: Newark Public Library, Newark, NJ
HM: Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, CA
HM: Halifax Public Libraries, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada

Original Young Adult Summer Reading Club Materials

Under $1,999,999 ­ No Winner
$2,000,000­5,999,999 Winner: Oshkosh Public Library, Oshkosh, WI

Above $6,000,000 Winner: Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD
HM: Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, CA

Original Adult Reading Club Materials

Under $1,999,999 HM: Hutchinson Public Library, Hutchinson, KS

$2,000,000­5,999,999 ­ No Winner

Above $6,000,000 Winner: District of Columbia Public Library, Washington, DC
Winner: Kalamazoo Public Library, Kalamazoo, MI

Services Available/Orientation Materials/Policy Materials

Under $1,999,999 ­ No Winner

HM: Tuscaloosa Public Library, Tuscaloosa, AL
HM: Weber County Library, Ogden, UT
HM: Union County Public Library, Monroe, NC

Above $6,000,000
Winner: Southfield Public Library, Southfield, MI
HM: San Jose Public Library, San Jose, CA
HM: Saint Paul Public Library, St. Paul, MN

Web Site Promotional Materials

Under $1,999,999 ­ No Winner

$2,000,000­5,999,999 ­ No Winner

Above $6,000,000
Winner: Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn, NY
Winner: Orange County Library System, Orlando, FL

The John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award Contest, sponsored by H.W. Wilson and ALA, moved its award display to the Swap area for the duration of this 2-hour event. MLS already published the names of the winners in its March/April issue. But I'll include more on that off-site award ceremony later in this article.
Click to enlarge
Linda Wallace, one of the featured "PR Docs" on hand to diagnose people's PR problems, chats with a swap & shopper.
The Library Public Relations Council set up its annual L. PeRCy Awards winners for viewing. These awards honor outstanding publicity produced by libraries, and are given in two divisions based on library budget and population served. (Division 1 covers total budgets at $3 million or less; Division 2 is for libraries with total budgets over $3 million.) Most divisions had winners and some included honorable mentions:

Annual Report

Division 1 ­ Winner: South Brunswick Public Library
HM: Laramie County Library System

Division 2 ­ Winner: Saint Paul Public Library
HM: Douglas Public Library District
HM: Cumberland County Public Library and Information Center

Library Service Brochure

Division 1 ­Winner: Jamail Center for Legal Research, Tarlton Law Library, University of Texas­Austin

Division 2 ­Winner: Clinton Malcolm Public Library HM: Greenwich Library

Materials/Book List

Division 1 ­ Winner: West Milford Township Library

Division 2 ­ Winner: Cuyahoga County Library


Division 1 ­ Winner: Fond du Lac Public Library

Division 2 ­ Winner: Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County

Program Announcement

Division 1 ­Winner: Nashua Public Library
HM: Teton County Library HM: Fargo Public Library

Division 2 ­Winner: Glendale: Foothills Branch Library

Special Events/Projects

Division 1 ­ Winner: West Orange Public Library

Division 2 ­ Winner: Ann Arbor District Library

Web Page

Division 1 ­ Winner: Guilderland Public Library

Division 2 ­ Winner: West Great Neck Library

@Your Library

Division 1 ­ Winner: Waukesha County Technical College Library

LPRC has finally gotten a Web site up and running; more information is posted there at


In addition to these official winners' lists, there is one other group being announced here for the first time. My 'Marketing Library Services table was the site of a business card drawing for useful prizes. Here are the four lucky winners, determined by a random drawing:

First prize—a free 1-year subscription to 'Marketing Library Services goes to Roberta Thomas of Grayslake Area Public Library District in Grayslake, Ill.

Second prize—a copy of The Visible Librarian: Asserting Your Value with Marketing and Advocacy, by Judith Siess goes to Jane Karp of St. Johns County Public Library System in St. Augustine, Fla.

Third prize—a copy of A Passion for Winning: Fifty Years of Promoting Legendary People and Products, by Aaron Cushman goes to Sharon Saulmon of Rose State College—LRC in Midwest City, Okla.

Fourth prize—a colorful set of library-related note cards goes to Kristi Bontrager of The University of Iowa in Iowa City.

Sincere thanks to everyone who entered the drawing, and congratulations to the winners.

Right after the Swap & Shop on Saturday afternoon, there was a special session on an initiative of new ALA president Carol A. Brey-Casiano. Called Stand Up and Speak Out for Libraries, this grass-roots advocacy campaign will be a focus of the coming year. Interested conference attendees spent 2 hours together, breaking up into smaller groups to brainstorm on various advocacy topics. Expect to hear more about this in the coming months.

Big Awards Bestowed on Monday

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The Ritz-Carlton was the setting for the John Cotton Dana Awards.

As I mentioned earlier, MLS already published the names of the prestigious John Cotton Dana Award winners. However, the actual certificates and checks were not given out until the ALA conference, and I had the good fortune of attending the ceremony. The elegant Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes was the setting for the equally elegant JCD event. Soothing sounds from classical musicians greeted everyone as they entered. The crowd of award entrants, winners, and their families and colleagues enjoyed cool fruit punch, fabulous hors d'oeuvres, and miniature desserts during the presentation. H.W. Wilson president Harold Regan presided, announcing each winner and explaining what their PR project was. Each recipient approached the podium to applause and flashbulbs, and most gave a brief speech. All were grateful to H.W. Wilson for its sponsorship and to its foundation for the cash awards, and to ALA for its cosponsorship. Now in its 58th year, this JCD award truly stands out as a high honor. As one winner said, everyone who believes in public relations hopes to get a JCD award.

Click to enlarge
The dual winners of the 2004 Library of the Year award flank the giant cover of Library Journal that announces their new-found fame. Patricia Breivik (on left), director of San Jose State University poses with Jane Light, director of the San Jose Public Library.

To see the list of winners, learn about their programs, and get info on entering next year, go to
. The contest details and entry form for 2005 are already posted there, and the submission deadline is Dec. 10, 2004. It takes time and care to assemble an entry packet, so don't delay. Get to know JCD now so you can put together your entry before the end of this year. Maybe you'll be called to the podium next year in Chicago!

I attended my last big event on Monday night. The Library of the Year Award, sponsored by Gale and Library Journal, was bestowed at a gala at Sea World. This was the 12th year of this award, and it was actually given to two organizations that worked together in what they often referred to as a "marriage." Proudly receiving their crystal statues that night were Jane Light, director of the San José public Library and Patricia Breivik, director of San José State University. Their two organizations, with a lot of support from their mayor and others, collaborated to build a magnificent new library that would serve both the city and the university.

Their entire story is related in the June 15, 2004, issue of Library Journal; you can share in it at

Don't Just Sit There ...

This report is but a glimpse of all the promotion- and advocacy-related sessions and awards that happened at ALA Annual. There were many other programs that I couldn't get to because of scheduling conflicts. This conference is always full of wonderful ideas and shining examples of what library marketing can be. Start saving now so you can attend next year in Chicago. Meanwhile, I hope I've provided enough inspiration to get you to revisit your own promotional plans with renewed vigor.


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