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Magazines > Marketing Library Services > September/October 2007

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MLS - Marketing Library Services
Vol. 21 No. 5 — Sep/Oct 2007
Customer-Based Marketing

Market Segmentation Is Evident in 2007 IFLA Marketing Awards
By Christie Koontz

Tartu (Estonia)
University Library
(click for full-size image)
Biblioteca Comunal
de Santa Cruz (Peru)
(click for full-size images)

“Bieb in the Box”
(click for full-size image)
To recognize libraries in the global community that develop and implement effective marketing programs, the Management and Marketing Section of the International Federa tion of Library Associations and Institutions created the IFLA Inter national Marketing Award in 2001. This is the fifth year the award has been given, thanks to sponsorship from SirsiDynix.

I’m a member of IFLA’s Management and Marketing Sec tion, which is composed of library and information professionals from all over the world who either work actively in marketing and management or teach the same to future librarians. We felt that an award, through the voices of its many applicants and winners, could best communicate the types of marketing activities that libraries successfully engage in. Highlighting these activities speaks not only to colleagues around the world, but also to people who use libraries, may want to use libraries, or are in charge of providing funds for library services. And creating this award furthered the M&M Section’s mission to promote better understanding of marketing practices.

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. It has been exciting and enlightening to see the applications from marketing librarians representing 40 countries over the past five contests. In this issue’s column I discuss the application process, the current and previous winners, and some interesting entries.

As usual, applications were available in official IFLA languages (English, Spanish, French, and German) on the asso ciation’s Web site. The deadline was Nov. 30, 2006. Altogether, there were 24 applicants from 12 countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Peru, the Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, the U.K., and the U.S. Any library, agency, or association in the world that markets library services was eligible to receive the award. Check out this link for the full application and award criteria:

Presenting the 2007 Winners

First place was awarded to Olga Einasto from Tartu University Library in Tartu, Estonia , for “The Night Library and The Mom-Students’ Library Project.” The slogan for the winning campaign was “Students Don’t Sleep! Come to the Library!”

Tartu University Library states that it “prides itself on being always responsive to students’ needs. The ideas of The Night Library and The Mom-Students’ Library were born from real needs of users—the needs of students looking for a com fortable place to read and study, especially during the exam period. A library’s value extends beyond re search and book storage. The university also creates a comfortable study environment for students with loud roommates or neighbours.”

The librarians offered extended hours and babysitting services for those students who are also parents. Staff even created a children’s room for after-hours services. They promoted the new services through the local Tartu and university newspapers, and distributed fliers and posters within the library building, student housing, and hostels.

On the first day of the Night Library, staff counted 180 students entering through the main door after 9 p.m. There were about 4 dozen “student parents” using the babysitting service. The reading rooms were full, and the atmosphere was described as “very practical and enjoyable, both students and the staff were in an elevated mood. Many students thanked the librarians and this was a good motivator!”

Incidentally, the library also won Estonian Best Customer Service Project for these innovative programs.

Second place was awarded to Mladen Masar from the Zadar Public Library in Zadar, Croatia , for “Knjiga u diru,” a phrase that translates to “Wheel of Books,” “Circle of Books,” or “Books Taking a Turn.” This bookmobile campaign brought services to schoolchildren, the disabled, and the elderly living in war-affected rural areas of Zadar County.

Library staffers stated, “For many areas the mobile library would mean the only information access. The fact that the targeted area is under developed and presents a vast blank on the map of information access in Croatia made it even harder for promotion of the new service—a bookmobile—a thing not ever seen before. More so because some areas had no li brary access at all prior to the war, some others lost their libraries during the war while the area was temporar ily depopulated.”

The mobile li brary carried a comprehensive selection of CDs and DVDs and was equipped with a wireless Internet connection. While some groups of people were initially targeted, the service eventually made information available to all social strata.

Third place was awarded to Doris Ivon Samanez Alzamora from the public library Biblioteca Comunal de Santa Cruz in the Municipalidad (municipality) de Miraflores in Lima, Peru , for “El Libro en el Mer cado” (Books in the Market). Library staff pushed grocery carts filled with books and other materials into local markets. Vendors who bring their children to the market during the workday were one of the targeted customer groups. The program offered children and adults reading materials and a chance to sign up for library cards if they didn’t have them already.

This year’s winners of this International Market ing Award were honored at IFLA’s 73rd General Con ference and Coun cil in Dur ban, South Africa, at the end of August. The first-place winner received a cash award of $1,000 along with airfare, lodging, and registration monies to attend IFLA and the award presentation. Second- and third-place winners were also recognized there.

The Value of Segmentation

Each of the winning campaigns put market segmentation into practice. Remember, the primary goal of segmentation is to effectively and efficiently allocate the organization’s resources by grouping customers to prioritize which segments are served first. Tartu University grouped its student customers into parents and nonparents, which let them identify the very different needs of the two groups. The parent group had unmet needs, and the library positioned itself to meet those needs by developing the childcare time to enable studying.

The Zadar Public Library targeted those who were the most disenfranchised (those lacking independence or mobility, the elderly, the disabled, and children) in a war-torn area. To make up for the people’s lack of mobility, the library became mobile. This is the essence of Library 2.0—bringing information to the customer, not always making the customer come get the information.

And in Lima, Peru, using grocery carts to venture into the markets to sign up children via their working parents was an absolutely brilliant idea!

Now it’s your turn to ponder: What potential customer markets can you identify through the segmen tation process? What unmet needs can your library fulfill? Here are some other interesting entries to spark your thinking—look for segmentation in their stories as well.

Other Interesting Entries and Ideas

A unique library in a mobile box: Most people don’t expect to see a library in a cemetery. But in the Netherlands, that was one unusual location that had a public library in a box. This unique product, known as “Bieb in the Box,” was developed by an architect to “fit through any door.”It carries books, magazines, and leaflets, as well as a PC for Internet access, an extended work surface, a printer, and a comfortable stool. The mobile box can be taken to any location. While in the cemetery, it offered visitors access to custom-chosen data on death, bereavement, funerals, spirituality, and related topics. Other partner organizations interested in housing a mobile box were a mosque and a medical center.

Exhibiting e-resources: Want to put your best electronic foot forward? A Singapore university library did just that, highlighting all its e-resources through a 2-day publicity fair, which included vendors, prod ucts, and e-resource subject clusters. Staff set up an exhibition space on the university grounds where most students congregate, decorating it with informal furniture and colorful displays. They also emailed students to encourage them to visit. Applicants said, “It was bustling with activities such as quizzes, online demos, and even tea parties!” There were prizes such as iPods and USB drives donated by vendors.

Channeling the message through radio: A weekly library radio program in Finland broadcasts listener-selected questions to promote the library’s reference services. While only one question is answered on-air, all other listener questions are answered via email. Sources that librarians share include the Internet, library databases, reference works, and responses from specialists. “Between the lines, you communicate the possibilities of the library,” said one host.

Librarians’ motorcycle tour: Potential customers of rural public libraries in Australia are hard to reach due to a lack of media sources. So librarians traveling on motorcycles carried out a two-pronged campaign, spreading publicity about library services and creating interest in joining the profession. The tour captured the imagination of communities by milking the perceived contrast between noisy, leather-clad people and quiet, plainly dressed librarians.

Tune out stereotypes: A public library in Canada seized upon a new collection of local music CDs to capture the youth market ages 13–24. The indie music scene is hot among this hard-to-reach group. The librarians staged free concerts hoping that young people would discover other library materials and services while they visited. The youth librarians also felt this music collection could help challenge youths’ perceptions about what the library could be.

The Commitment to Marketing

Both sponsors (IFLA’s Management and Marketing Section and SirsiDynix) have a strong commitment to increasing awareness about the value of having librarians market their services. This 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 M&M Section hopes to keep providing this forum through this award so that librarians in all countries can share just how they are bringing customers what they really want and need. However, for the upcoming year, there is no sponsor for this award. If any reader has a sponsor in mind, please email me at If we are successful in finding new financial support, applications will be available for the 2008 award by early January at

If you want to commit more of yourself, the M&M Section is always happy to welcome new members. You can participate in the section’s work whether or not you are able to attend the IFLA conferences each August. (Much of the work section is done by email.) In 2008 IFLA will meet in Quebec City, which is easily accessible by MLS ’s many North American readers. What a perfect opportunity to get involved! To learn more, see


Previous First-Place Winners

2006: So many librarians lament the nonuser but few go after these folks to win them back. The public library of Spijkenisse, near Rotterdam, Netherlands, waged such a campaign. Cindy van Kranenburg, campaign coordinator, said the library offered personal attention to nonusers (defined as those who borrowed zero to two books a year) by sending a simple reminder postcard. The marketing slogan “We Miss You” (in Dutch: “Wij missen u”) was placed on the front, and a reminder of library services and products (and a question as to why they were not visiting) was on the back of the card.

2005: No contest held.

2004: “I came, I saw, I read” by the Australian Islamic College library in Kewdale, in the province of Western Australia, won for using library resources to promote reading and computer literacy to 300 refugee children from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia.

2003: “The Marketing Campaign: Literary Pathways” by Concorci de Biblioteques de Barcelona (CBB) Spain, for developing nonusers into users. It featured actors or guides leading tour participants into neighborhoods that famous authors wrote about or lived in while they read selected works to the tour groups.

2002: “Power Card Challenge: A Long-Term Marketing and Public Relations Plan to Increase Library Card Registration and Use by the Children of Houston.” With the Power Card Challenge, Houston Public Library (in Texas, U.S.) created a 3-year program that redefined library card campaigns, gave the library a branded 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.

Christie Koontz, Ph.D., is a faculty member of the College of Information and director of the GeoLib Program ( at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Koontz teaches marketing and conducts workshops for colleagues around the globe. She also serves on the committee for the IFLA Marketing Award. Her email address is
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