Magazine article American Libraries

The Best in Library Branding: Winners of the 2011 John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award Wow Judges and Their Communities

Magazine article American Libraries

The Best in Library Branding: Winners of the 2011 John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award Wow Judges and Their Communities

Article excerpt

The John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award (JCD) turned 65 years old this year and celebrated this milestone with the Midwinter announcement of the 2011 winners. Five vibrant libraries demonstrated innovative, outstanding marketing strategies in campaigns ending in 2010: Anythink Libraries of Adams County, Colorado; Edmonton (Alberta) Public Library; Loudoun County (Va.) Public Library; University of California/Santa Cruz Library; and Worthington (Ohio) Libraries.

With continuous support from the H. W. Wilson Company since 1946, the JCDs are the longest-running sponsored awards given by the American Library Association. The winners will be honored at a reception at the 2011 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, June 23-28, and each will receive a $5,000 grant from the H. W. Wilson Foundation. The contest is administered by the Public Relations and Marketing Section of ALA's Library Leadership and Management Association.

The dough of Deadheads

Many academics consider JCD a public library award. However, the University of California/Santa Cruz Library wowed the judges with a fabulously successful campaign to build a Grateful Dead archive.


The library received an $8 million donation of comprehensive Deadhead memorabilia from surviving band members. However, funds were needed to catalog the collection and make it available to the public. The university developed three goals: to reach out with targeted fundraising, to achieve "academic and cultural credibility" for the collection, and to build a Facebook fan base. A unique collector's item, a faux vinyl-album sleeve (whose overall presentation earned the nickname of "the Grateful Dead pizza box") was sent to selected potential donors. The label noted: "The Music, The Memorabilia. All We Need Now Is the BREAD." A singing pop-up centerfold housed a hard drive with a catalog of 200 Grateful Dead songs. Approximately 25 donors jumped at the opportunity to participate at the $5,000--$35,000 level. Campaign highlights included a major exhibit at the New York Historical Society, accompanied by tie-dye-designed lights atop the Empire State Building and phenomenal mainstream media press coverage.

The archive has reached over 150,000 people, garnered more than 50,000 Facebook friends, and raised an astounding $1,379,674 in donations.

Anythink, anytime

"Anythink" is the revolutionary Rangeview Library District in Adams County, Colorado. A winning tax levy positioned this traditional 20th-century library for 21st- century superstardom. Total rebranding, coupled with a vigorous customer service policy, increased the number of active cardholders by 18%. The library was energized by a manifesto noting that staff, trustees, and volunteers are: "Part Wizard, Part Genius, Part Explorer." This wasn't just bureaucratic mumbo jumbo. A whopping 42% increase in visits, coupled with a 67% increase in circulation, also garnered Rangeview a 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Spread the words

Many libraries subcontract marketing and often abdicate campaign responsibility to consultants. Alberta's Edmonton Public Library is a prototype for sensible integration of out-sourced and in-house marketing.

A dynamic rebranding featured a stylish new logo and a catchy slogan. "Spread the Words" took the library to the streets with an innovative guerilla marketing campaign complete with a "flasher" in a trench coat who walked around town and flashed a library T-shirt. …

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