Edmonton Public Library (EPL) won Gale/Library Journal’s Library of the Year award in 2014 for a number of reasons, one of which is their great job marketing resources through their “Great Stuff Crew.”
I had the opportunity to hear Tina Thomas, the Director of Marketing, Communications and Fund Development Division at EPL speak in two different sessions at the American Library Association Conference in Las Vegas last month.
In “Turning Books Into A Cool New Tool: RA Marketing in the Age of Maker Spaces,” she used the umbrella term “Discovery Services” to refer to EPL’s efforts to match people with the content and resources that they seek. EPL has marked their Staff Picks with the tag lines: “We read. We listen. We watch. We game. We share.”
The Great Stuff Crew consists of 9 staff members who are dedicated to sharing recommendations in certain genres and themes through social media, TV appearances on Breakfast Television every week, Bibliocommons lists, events, and in-library displays. They focus on the fun and the quirky, with one of the librarians creating pop-culture-relevant lists such as The Charlie Sheen Reading List, which garnered over 500 hits in one day during the Charlie Sheen debacle.
They are also using forms-based readers’ advisory by creating Personalized Book Lists for readers.
What EPL learned from creating the Great Stuff Crew:
- personality is important but content is key
- it’s valuable to have staff with specific genre specialties, but it’s equally important that all staff members embrace readers’ advisory
- generalists with specific interests work best
- it’s important to set expectations accurately and early when creating the team
- incubate, create, test, MEASURE, and repeat
Tina Thomas also lent her voice to “Smart Marketing: Using Big (or Little) Data”, contributing to the idea that we must collect and measure data to integrate change and improve our libraries effectively. At EPL, every single program is evaluated. They also use the software Simply Measured to analyze data from their social media channels (including unlikes).
Does your library have a team of RA “specialists?”