Libraries, bookstores, and publishers are always looking for creative ways to market their services, books, and programs to their customers and patrons. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I discovered ways to creatively promote my library’s services, created new programming strategies, and built connections with community members, authors and publishers – both local and beyond. I’m excited to share some tips, below!
Outreach for Increase: Fostering friendships with creators, publishers, schools, and the community.
Whether you work in a library setting, bookstore or in publishing, you can network and partner with other professionals that have the same goals as you – sharing the love of books and getting them into the hands of people who need and want them.
To begin, start creating a network of professionals that are not in the same field as you, but have the same goals as you
For example, I wanted to engage with schools through a unique virtual event celebrating Will Eisner Week, which turned into a three-hour live streaming virtual event: Dream, Write, Draw: Connecting Children with Graphic Novels. How did I get award-winning authors such as Mr. Varian Johnson and other talented authors For example, I wanted to engage with schools through a unique virtual event celebrating Will Eisner Week, which turned into a three-hour live streaming virtual event: Dream, Write, Draw: Connecting Children with Graphic Novels. How did I get award-winning authors such as Mr. Varian Johnson and other talented authors and illustrators from around the country to join the event? I revisited my network that I always kept up with and started sending out emails to organizations I worked with in the past, such as The Brown Bookshelf, literary agents, publisher marketing teams and local bookstores. The program was a success and well attended because of the friendships I nurtured throughout the years, especially this past “virtual year,” during the pandemic.
Promotional Email Newsletters
We all know about sending out email newsletters to share information with our patrons or customers, but how do we keep each newsletter exciting enough that people will open them?
- Embed a short video that contains a greeting message from you which mentions the most important news, program and/or book in the newsletter.
- Feature frequent patrons or customers answering questions. For example: “What’s on your hold list?” or “what books have you bought recently?”. You could also feature an author that you want to promote and share their list of recommended books.
- Continue this concept by featuring a local family of readers with their recommended books to keep you connected with your readers and community.
- Include freebies, like this one that Cardinal Rule Press offers (and has been extremely popular).
Marketing Physical Spaces and Collections in a Different Way
You may not feel comfortable yet having in-person programming or being in an area with others for an You may not yet feel comfortable having in-person programming or being in an indoor area with others for an extended period. So how do we create friendly environments from a distance? Here are some recent ideas that have become popular at my library with the families that visit.
- Partner with other organizations to share information with people that visit your space. For example, the Crayon Collection provides a crayon recycling program. They sent our library free crayon boxes in recyclable gift bags with inspirational notes inside. The crayons were placed in a basket with information about the Crayon Collection and an upcoming virtual art program.
- Partner with one of your favorite publishers and create displays of books with the publisher’s educational printables, which produce excellent passive programming ideas, support the publishing industry (and their authors) and increase circulation for your library (and, if applicable, purchases at your bookstore)! You can see a sample display created, below, using environmental-themed graphic novels from Oni Press Publishing and their educational printables that go with each book. Each day the display had to be refilled with new books and printables.
As we continue through a period of transition and uncertainty, keep your spirits up by continuing to meet, collaborate, and engage with others that have the same mission that you do.
Don’t forget to snag your freebie from Cardinal Rule Press – the “Get To Know Your Librarian/Bookseller” printable. You can print these, fill them out and display them in your library or bookstore so your patrons can get to know you a little better!
Lauren Kratz Prushko is originally from Queens, New York City, and has been a children’s librarian for over 13 years in various urban public library systems, including The New York Public Library. She is currently the children’s librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library, Studio City Branch, and is incredibly enthusiastic for programming that empowers children with different technology. Lauren has taught both children and teens how to create and record their podcasts and currently records a podcast with her monthly children’s book club called Children Chatting with Authors. Lauren currently serves on the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Executive Board as the Technology Standing Committee Chair.