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Suggestions for building community support via strategic information and communication efforts.

  • Initiate ongoing communication with patrons through letters or brief weekly or bi-weekly emails. Messages might include program information, announcement of new books or materials; information about library closings or thank you for their support or involvement in the library. Software products exist to help you maintain regular contact with your library patrons.
  • Create formal or informal ways to collect input from patrons (suggestion boxes, patron interviews, focus groups, surveys etc.)
  • Plan PR activities: newsletters, web site usage, mailing lists, making use of Access and PowerPoint.
  • Submit an annual report to the community to show the community contribution the library has made throughout the year. Post it on the library's website and mail a copy to all residents, as well as, to local and State officials.
  • Send a newsletter to the entire community. Use it as an opportunity to educate and advertise the library's services. Include a tear-off section to solicit more Friends, Trustees, and volunteers for the library.
  • Place a sign outside the library listing activities. Something on it may attract the attention of new community members and it gives the overall impression that a lot is happening at the library.
  • Post a monthly/quarterly letter from director to library patrons on the library's website. Talk about some of the upcoming events happening in the library or new materials/services that are available. Use it as an opportunity to connect with patrons. Here is an example.
  • Post library programs on external town, community and media online calendars. If "reader boards" with movable letters exist within your community, inquire about posting library events on them also.
  • Collect interesting testimonials from library patrons. Consider asking patrons for feedback online and inside the library through personal conversation and library signage. You might ask, "How Has the Library Helped You? Please give us feedback." You can later use the strongest testimonials on your website and in marketing materials. You might include them under a heading, "Here's What People are Saying About the Library."
  • Use public access TV to promote the library and educate the community about the services available. Be creative, don't just read information about what the library offers in a lackluster fashion. Consider a skit or a humorous advertisement.
  • Hang posters up throughout your community about "What's Going on at the Library." Include photos.
  • Ask library users to "Tell a Friend" about the library. You can have signage and bookmarks available a few times a year to encourage this friend-to-friend promotion.
  • Welcome new residents to the community. Find out who is new by contacting your town. Send these people a "Welcome Letter" with information about the library. Invite them to come to the library for a tour and to obtain a library card. Supply them with a "Welcome Bag" containing community information, if possible.
  • Post library information at commuter train stations.
  • Be flexible in scheduling programs and events to allow a mix of people to attend.
    • Consider holding programs at locations outside the library such as community centers, church halls, parks, schools, or businesses.
  • Consider a newsletter or advertising insert focused on "what the local library can do for you." An insert in the local paper might work well.

    View Additional Strategies for Growing Community Support

 

This toolkit was created on behalf of the 2005-2007 Getting to Yes (GTY) project. GTY is funded by Federal Library Services and Technology Act funds, awarded to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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