Category Archives: Marketing

Articles about publicizing and promoting library services

Libraries and Social Media

According to Merriam-Webster, social media is defined as “forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos).”

With social media, one can instantly connect with friends and family – or even complete strangers – no matter where they are located. Libraries can also take advantage of social media. It is a great tool for libraries to connect and engage with their community, as well as promote library services, events, resources, etc. Also, most social media platforms are free, which is valuable perk.

Examples of social media platforms that libraries use include more traditional ones, such as:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat
  • Twitter

Other platforms that libraries use may also include:

  • Flickr
  • GoodReads
  • HistoryPin
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit
  • Tumblr
  • YouTube

First and foremost, libraries should give serious consideration to implementing a social media policy. A policy can help outline guidelines on what and how to post, and help ensure libraries are getting the most out of their social media usage.

There are many resources available online regarding libraries and social media, and here are a couple terrific places to start:

Acquiring 501(c)(3) Status

Friends of the Library and Library Foundations are excellent groups to help raise money for your library. In order for these organizations to function optimally and to assist with the procurement of grants, it is encouraged for them to obtain a 501(c)(3) status. This means that they are viewed as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization that qualifies as a public charity under IRS Code, Section 501(c)(3). Please seek the aid of an attorney or CPA to assist in the process of obtaining 501(c)(3) status as laws and common practices are subject to change.

The process to achieve 501(c)(3) status can take over 6 months to complete. The IRS has created a guide outlining the Life Cycle of a Public Charity that can help lead you through this process. In order to achieve 501(c)(3) status, the group must do the following:

  1. Create an organizing document that contains the following provisions. More information and sample documents can be found here.
    • Limit the organization’s purpose to one of the exempt purposes listed in Section 501(c)(3) of the Code.
    • State that the organization cannot engage in activities that don’t advance the exempt purpose.
    • State that the assets of the organization (money, property, etc.), will be dedicated permanently to the exempt purpose listed.
  2. Establish a Board of Directors and create bylaws for the group.
  3. Once the organization is legally established (see page 9 of IRS Publication 4220), obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS online, by mail, or by phone (1-800-829-4933). Applying for an EIN triggers filing requirements, so do not complete this step until you are prepared to move forward with your other forms.
  4. File Articles of Incorporation for the group with the State of North Dakota as per NDCC 10-33. The paperwork can be found here. There is a $40 filing fee that must accompany the completed form. The ND Secretary of State Office and other state agencies created a guide to beginning and maintaining a nonprofit corporation in ND that can be found here.
  5. Submit the IRS Form 1023-EZ or Form 1023 depending on your eligibility. Eligibility can be determined using the worksheet in the 1023-EZ directions. Directions for the forms can be found here (1023-EZ) or here (1023).

**You may be exempt from this requirement if your organization has gross receipts in each taxable year that are normally not more than $5,000. Please see http://bit.ly/2REnkD0 for more details.**

  1. Before the group can solicit contributions, it may need to be registered as a charitable organization through the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office as per NDCC 50-22. That process can be found here.
  2. The organization will need to follow the tax-code for a 501(c)(3) during the time that their application is in processing. See the IRS page “Tax Law Compliance before Exempt Status is Recognized” for more information. All bank accounts, books, and records for the group need to be separate from the library’s records.

 

Once the group has acquired 501(c)(3) status, they will need to follow all state and federal filing guidelines to maintain that status. This includes the annual filing of Form 990 and other, unrelated income tax filings, state filings, charitable solicitations reporting, donation substantiation reporting, etc. Additionally, records should be kept for things such as executive compensation, transactions with board members, sources of revenue, accomplishments, expense allocations, details of investments, and organization structure. These things help assure that the group will maintain annual compliance. Most records of the 501(c)(3) group will be subject to public disclosure requirements.

 

Helpful Links:

Free and Legal Stock Images

Finding the perfect picture to put on your website, brochure, or Facebook event can be tricky, and it gets even more difficult if you’re making sure your photos are legal to use. That’s right, legally, you can’t use any picture you find on Google Images. Using these photos opens your library up to possible lawsuits for copyright infringement. Instead, look for photos that fall into Public Domain or have a Creative Commons license.

Public Domain: The person who created this work has waived their rights to the photo. This means that you can copy, change, distribute, and perform the work for commercial purposes without asking permission.

Creative Commons Licenses: These licenses allow creators to waive and reserve certain rights in regards to their work. This may include if the image can be used for commercial purposes, if it needs creator attribution, and so on.

A guide for helpful information regarding stock photos can be found here.

The following websites are full of free and ready-to-use photos (as long as you follow the licensing restrictions) to make your library marketing a little more beautiful:

WebsiteFreeNo User AccountNo Attribution
Library of CongressXXX
UnsplashXXX
PexelsXXX
PixabayXXX
GratisographyXXX
Free Photos XXX
BurstXNo Resolution:
No Account

High Resolution:
Account Needed
X
Creative CommonsXXX
Negative SpaceXXX
Free ImagesXAccount NeededVarious Usage Rights
Freepik
(Graphics)
Most are freeXAttribution to Freepik
FreerangeXAccount NeededX
Vecteezy
(Graphics)
Most are freeXAttribution to Vecteezy
North Dakota Media LibraryXAccount NeededAttribution Required

This post was written with sources from Angela Hursh’s blog “Super Library Marketing.

2016 ARSL Conference

arslOn October 26-29, I had the pleasure of attending the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) 2016 Conference in Fargo, North Dakota. This was my first national library conference, and what a conference it was! Each day was full of interesting speakers and great sessions.

Perhaps my favorite moment from the conference occurred during Will Weaver’s speech. Weaver is the author of Red Earth, White Earth, A Gravestone Made of Wheat and Other Stories, Saturday Night Dirt, and Striking Out. In his speech, Weaver talked about the importance of libraries and how they have influenced him over the years. He held up a book at one point, and confirmed with the crowd of librarians that it was indeed a library book. He admitted he has the tendency of accidentally stealing library books when he visits them for various engagements. As it turns out, a librarian from the library to which the book belonged was in attendance! As the audience roared with laughter, Weaver had the librarian come up to the front and he returned the book to her.

I thoroughly enjoyed each keynote speaker, and I don’t think there was one session I regretted attending. If anything, I regretted not being able to attend more sessions!

I attended two sessions on programming. One was on teen programs and the other was on how to utilize your community for library programs. The session on teen programs, presented by the librarians at the North Loan City Library in Utah, offered some great ideas: Nerf gun events, teens volunteering at the library to earn points, forming a teen advisory board, and creating an email list just for teens so they can stay up-to-date on what teen-related things are happening at the library.

The mining your community session, presented by the librarian of the Stanley Community Library in Idaho, was just as beneficial. Every community has its gems so utilize them! For example, if someone in your community knits as a hobby, ask this person if he/she would come to the library and host a program on kitting; or if someone is a toy collector, set up a display or have the person come in for a lecture on their history. Some of the great program topics from this session included knitting, adult coloring, lectures, writing classes, music, car maintenance, photography, and cooking.

Librarians are often seen as the people who know everything. As a result, we are likely to receive technology questions that we may not know the answer to, or perhaps the patron is not being receptive. One session on patron technology training tips addressed this. Some of the tips from this session included identify yourself as a technology trainer and do the best you can, create a plan, take deep breaths, narrate your process to the patron, focus on quality, create teachable moments, and implement a resource guide.

Another session, presented by California librarian/ trainer Crystal Schimpf, covered the basics of digital storytelling for libraries and how it can be used for advocacy. Technology is ubiquitous in today’s world so it makes sense for libraries to use it to promote themselves and reach patrons. Libraries can make videos that highlight a database, give a virtual tour, or provide a crash course on services. The sky is the limit! The session stressed that videos should be short but fun. When creating videos you will want to create goals, pick your video platform, write scripts, log your shots, and get the necessary equipment and software (which can be done at a relatively low cost). Once the videos are done, share them on social media and get them out there as much as you can.

One of the more entertaining sessions was presented by Harmony Higbie, director of the Underwood Public Library in Underwood, ND. The session was on Kahoot, a modern twist on trivia. Kahoot can be played for free on your computer, tablet, or mobile device. Kahoot can be used in the library for trivia, book clubs, and more! For more information on Kahoot, visit their website: https://getkahoot.com/

In addition to the before mentioned sessions, I attended two sessions relating to digital preservation. If you would like more information on this area, review the services offered by the Internet Archive. You can also contact the State Library’s Digital Initiatives coordinator.

There were around 500 librarians from across the country at the ARSL conference, and I was lucky to meet some of them and hear their stories. One of the librarians I met was from beautiful St. George, Utah, which is where the ARSL conference will be in 2017. The librarian will be the co-chair for the 2017 conference, and he had some great things to say about the St. George area (he even showed me a picture of the view from his backyard to prove his point).

If you are interested in attending the ARSL conference, I would highly encourage you to do so. You can learn more about ARSL and the annual conference at their website: http://arsl.info/

If you have any questions or would like more information on the ideas and conference sessions I shared, feel free to contact me.

Hooray! Your Library’s a Pokéstop!

Pokestop

The North Dakota State Library is a Pokéstop and your library likely is, too!

Guest post by Shari Mosser, ND State Library

I wanna be the very best. Like no one ever was!

Lately, you might have seen random people outside your library – singly or in groups. The people range in age, background and lifestyles. The only thing in common is that they are usually holding a phone in front of their face. Sometimes they congregate for a half hour or so and then walk (or drive/bike) away. Others will just keep walking by or abruptly switch directions with excited looks on their faces.

These people are probably playing the new, popular, free-to-play game called Pokémon GO! It is so popular it is on the verge of overtaking the daily number of users that are on Twitter. Pokémon GO uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect where you are in the game (so real world locations!) and make little “monsters” appear around you. As you move around, different Pokémon appear depending on where you are and what time it is.

The idea of the game is to encourage exploration and travel (i.e. walking) in the real world making it an augmented reality (AR) game. Players actually have to go to the physical location to play. This game is what players have dreamed about since Pokémon came out in the late 90’s. The idea that Pokémon are real and inhabit our world is very enticing.

An Augmented Reality Pidgey lurking in our stacks

An Augmented Reality Pidgey lurking in our stacks.

The game also transforms local landmarks and businesses into Pokéstops and Gyms. Most likely your library is a Pokéstop in the world. This is where players come to refill their necessary supplies (like Pokéballs and other items). Reach out to those players by advertising that you are a stop! Let the players know they can refill and collect valuable Eggs.

Or, you can play along! Then you can set up your stop to lure Pokémon. This means you put out an item (in game) that will increase the amount of Pokémon at your Pokéstop. These Pokémon then can be seen and caught by any player nearby. Use it during a typically slow period of your day to get more foot traffic, and then use your creativity to turn them into a library patron! Drop a lure before your summer reading program as a lead in to your event. Make sure to advertise your lure beforehand to increase participation.

The popularity of this game is exploding. Make that impact a positive one by embracing the game and its players. Pokémon GO could be a memorable experience for you and your patrons!

Now, I’m off to find Mew!

Pokémon, (gotta catch them all) it’s you and me
I know it’s my destiny
Pokémon, oh, you’re my best friend
In a world we must defend

Graphic Design Resources for Library Posters

oil-painting-1128693_1280In March I attended a Minitex webinar called “Graphic Design for Maximum Engagement.” It was aimed at librarians and taught by Meggan Press, who is not a graphic designer. She covered tips on layout, color, images, and fonts. The archive (60 min.) is available if you’d like to watch it. It’s well worth it, but in case you don’t have time, I wanted to highlight a few of the resources Meggan shared that could help you improve the posters you create to publicize the programs at your library. Good news – you don’t need to purchase or learn to use any fancy or expensive software! Continue reading

Visual Marketing

ND LIB 002

An example of a North Dakota library

This is a guest post by Kristin Byram, the Public Awareness Coordinator at the North Dakota State Library.

I want to highlight the importance of limiting the amount of marketing materials around your library. It is common for people to plaster posters and signs all over the place in hopes of “maximizing your audience” but the truth is the library already has a lot going on visually. Your posters and advertisements have to compete with your books. Here is a test: enter your library and walk around and see where your eye goes. If you can get someone (preferably who doesn’t work at the library) to help with this, that would be great! Take note of what your patrons are seeing when they walk and use that to your advantage.

Along these same lines, it is very important to keep your library clean and open. It gives your eye the ability to naturally flow around the room. If your library is cluttered, or too full, your patrons will be visually overloaded and will be less likely to take in the important information you want them to. One of the best ways to control this is to create a spot in the library that you can put all your marketing materials up on. Keep the area clean and up to date. Make sure to change out the information frequently so patrons don’t continue to see the same thing and ignore it.


Are you interested in learning more about marketing? Kristin will be teaching a session called “Let’s Make a Marketing Plan” at the Spring Workshops next week that will help you do just that! Kristin’s session will be Tuesday morning, April 7. Register to attend if you haven’t already.

Short Notes…

In addition to gLifeLearningetting credit from traditional college programs, many institutions are now giving credit for what you have experienced and learned in life: Competency-Based Education.


Ebooks

Contrary to popular belief, publishers are not hurt by ebook sales. Check out this compilation of ebook profit margins  by author, Hugh C. Howey.

Historypin

historypin

Many of you out there may be familiar with Pinterest as a way of sharing ideas, crafts, photos, etc. Have you heard of Historypin? It is the same concept but people pin items of historical interest. Anyone can start an account–individuals to institutions. If the location of a photo is known, you enter that info and additional metadata. It then gets pinned to a map where you can explore an area’s history through user submitted items. You can narrow your search results by year and subject. ND mapHistorypin also includes ideas for projects that can involve schools, your local community, and libraries and archives. This can be a fast and easy way (and FREE) for small historical societies or public libraries to showcase some of their collections.

If you or someone you know is interested in such a project but don’t know how or where to get started, please contact me at ndsl-digital@nd.gov. My middle name is digitization (just kidding–it’s much less exciting than that).

Facing Your Facebook

This is a guest post by Kristin Byram, Public Awareness Coordinator at the North Dakota State Library. It was originally published in the July issue of the Flickertale newsletter.

facebook-crackedI want to start off by saying I am very impressed with the Facebook presence of the libraries in our state. Forty-one public libraries or friends of libraries have Facebook accounts.  Facebook is an easy, FREE and current form of communication that can be used to reach your community. But I’m afraid it isn’t as simple as just opening a new account. It is important to make sure you are posting the right information to best pique the interest of your audience. Don’t fret, this is easier to do than it may seem.

First, take a look at your page analytics (if you have them). They are located in the top left hand corner of your page and are called “Insights.” It will very clearly lay out information such as the peak times to post information, the demographics of your Facebook followers, and which posts have been best-received by your audience. If the peak time that your library’s demographic is on Facebook is when you are not, a great tool to use is the scheduler. You can schedule out posts for any time so you don’t have to be on Facebook 24 hours a day!

Secondly, take time to really think about what you are posting. I recently read an article by David Lee King that talked about whether something is interesting simply because it happened or because it happened to you. It is easy to share or post items that we find funny, cute, or interesting but you need to remember who your target audience is – will they find the same post as interesting as you do?

If you are in need of some help figuring out what to post, here are a few quick tips:

  • Post photographs of your library, or better yet, patrons in your library (get permission first). Facebook has reported that photos, photo albums, and videos get 120 percent, 180 percent, and 100 percent more engagement than links and text-only posts.
  • Keep posts short. According to Facebook, posts between 100 and 250 characters receive 60 percent more likes, comments, and shares than longer posts.
  • Watch your content. As mentioned above, take a minute to see if information you are posting is relevant to your audience and if they have liked that in the past.
  • Post up-to-date information. For example, if story time is cancelled or plans change at the library post it on your Facebook page.

If you are posting content that has not been well-received in the past, consider re-wording it or engaging your reader. If you post something that people are not interested in, scrap it as a loss and learn from what you are posting! Great job and keep up the good work.