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Community Outreach with “Tool.0”

I just had the pleasure of listening to another session this afternoon that also related a lot to library promotion.

Dean Frey of Red Deer PL in Alberta, Canada, told listeners about how he used Web 2.0 tools to reach out targeted communities such as people with developmental disabilities, seniors, teens, aboriginals, low-income people, etc. Since RDPL’s mandate is to reach every person in the community, the staff found ways to engage and excite everyone. They started arts programs, an election forum w/ candidate info, blogs, and more. There’s a great article in here somewhere for Marketing Library Services (and I already talked to Dean about writing it!). Stay tuned for that.

You can learn a lot about these programs at, but for now I’ll center on one point I found especially important. He told listeners how vaulable it was to hire a community development (ie, outreach) librarian, and how it led to so much PR and exposure. In fact, near the end of his talk Dean said "I will no longer hire anyone but community development librarians," adding that even tech people and paraprofessionals will have to have those skills. That’s how much targeted outreach has meant to his library.

Again, you can have lots of cool tech and fun programs, but if people don’t know about them, they won’t matter. So get onboard with outreach! Do 2.0 if you can, do 1.0 if you need to. The bottom line, though, is promotion.

~Kathy Dempsey

CIL & MLS Editor




Reach Out and 2.0 Someone

Some of you know me as Editor in Chief of Computers in Libraries magazine, but I’m also the editor of the Marketing Library Services newsletter. Promoting libraries is my real passion, and unless people know about your services, then none of your great tech stuff matters.

So I was happy to start my day of regular sessions with one called Online Marketing for Libraries: Outreach & PR in a 2.0 World. Sarah Houghton-Jan and Aaron Schmidt recommended lots of strategies and tools that you can use to reach out to people so they realize the value of libraries. Many of their tips were simple and either free or low-cost. Some examples:

  • search engine optimization – make sure lots of search engines, big & small, can find your site.
  • list your blogs in blog search engines.
  • write wikipedia and wikimapia entries about your local area.
  • check social review web sites to see what people are saying about your library.
  • have a presence on social networking sites.
  • if you offer free wi-fi, list your org in wi-fi directories.
  • use tools such as twitter, IM, and SMS to show your tech-savvy.

All of these actions are essential for comprehensive library promotion. Check the speakers’ web sites and blogs soon to see the full list of tools along with the URLs to get you going on everything. Don’t ignore this valuable information!

~Kathy Dempsey

CIL & MLS Editor