Magazine article Special Libraries

Consortium Promotion: Publicizing a Library Group

Magazine article Special Libraries

Consortium Promotion: Publicizing a Library Group

Article excerpt

Cities or regions that have a library council or consortium are in a position to publicize and improve the image of libraries and librarians in their area. These groups may be organized by library type such as health science library consortium, or they may be multi-library type, such as a metropolitan library council or a special libraries chapter. [1] These organizations often have publicity or promotion committees with a goal to increase library awareness within the community.

Many of the individual member librarians of these groups may have developed publicity plans or activities within their institution to promote the library to potential users. [2,3] Common activities are newsletters, book sales, open housess, and orientations, [4,5] These are successful marketing techniques for promoting single libraries to a limited number of users, but such promotion methods may not answer the needs of a larger library group. In order to get local media such as newspaper, radio and TV coverage, it helps if the group can do something that warrants public attention. [6,7]

The Association of Memphis Area Health Science Libraries (AMAHSL) was formed in 1974 and has over 30 members belonging to local hospital, academic, and medically-related business libraries. The objectives of the organization are to improve communication between health science librarians, to cooperate in the exchange of information and resources, and to promote and assist in the development and growth of health science libraries. Over the years most publicity activities were aimed at recruiting new members.

A similar publicity program had occurred with the Memphis Library Council. This organization was founded in 1964 and has over 50 members belonging to public, academic, business, medical, and legal libraries. The Council was established to foster and promote cooperation among libraries, to initiate programs and projects that are mutually beneficial, and to demonstrate to the community the library resources and services that are locally available.

Both organizations were prompted by the American Library Association's 1989 theme for National Library Week of promoting librarians by improving the image and status of librarians in the community [8] by expanding their publicity efforts beyond new-member recruitment. Libraries around the country responded in a variety of ways, [9] and the following promotions which were successful in Memphis may be adapted for use by other library organizations.

TV Pledge Drive

The Association of Memphis Area Health Science Libraries first participated in the pledge drive held for a local public TV station in December 1988. Pledge drives occur several times during the year, and the station is always looking for groups or organizations to answer phones when the pledges are being called in on-the-air. The AMAHSL Publicity Committee decided this might be a good way to publicize health science libraries, so the station was contacted and asked to mail information concerning the next pledge drive.

When the schedule was received several possible times were selected to work, and Committee members were asked to volunteer for their preferred choice. The TV station only requires a few people to work on-the-air and one person to work behind-the-scene during a shift, so when several members agreed to one shift the station was called to reserve that time. Some members who didn't want to work the entire shift split their time with another AMAHSL member, allowing more members to participate. A few members were also scheduled as "back-ups" in case one of the other members would be unable to work at the last moment. Those who appeared on-the-air wore T-shirts with their institution's name and logo on them. T-shirts could also be designed with a consortium name to further publicize the group. It was entertaining to appear "live" on the TV set, and the show's host mentioned the name of the organization several times on-the-air while the phone pledges were being called in. …

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