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Librarians as Innovators

Marketing for Libraries: Part 16: Librarians as Innovators from Annette Lamb on Vimeo.

From intense market research to dressing mannequins in silly outfits, marketing requires creativity and an open mind.

New services and marketing strategies come from libraries who are innovators and agents of change.

In this section, we'll explore librarians as innovators and change agents.

Key Questions

What’s the role of creativity in marketing?

It's a time of transition for libraries. As funding continues to be cut and resources are increasingly available online, it's essential that librarians are creative in their thinking about marketing.

Don't feel like you need to go out and purchase large new collections and technologies. Think about how you can more effectively market the products and services you already have available.

Example. Becca Bloodworth thought about how she could market the collection of vocal music available in the library. She decided to focus on the idea of auditions. Regardless of whether students are auditioning for a role in community theatre or a spot at Juilliard, they need to experiment with a range of music. This idea lead to her "what's your song" campaign. Check out materials below (click to enlarge)

song bookmarksong bookmark

How can the librarian be an agent of change?

Collaboration may be the key to the next generation of marketing. Look for creative relationships and new ways of thinking about the library and its connection to the community.

Example: Maker spaces are becoming popular in many libraries. Think about community partnerships. In Making in the Library Toolkit from YALSA, they recommend:

"Engage with your community members and to find what activities interest them. Reach out to community organizations to find out what needs they have. Is the local Chamber of Commerce concerned about teens being prepared for the workforce? Is law enforcement worried about the online safety of young people? Common workshops include electronics, robotics, graphic design, music, bicycle repair, filmmaking, fashion design and more."


Almquist, Sharon (2011). Distributed Learning and Virtual Librarianship. ABC-CLIO.

Doucett, Elisabeth (2008). Creating Your Library Brand: Communicating Your Relevance and Value to Your Patrons. ALA Editions.

Lovelock, Christopher & Wirtz, Jochen (2010). Service Marketing. 7th edition. Prentice Hall.

Nunn, Brent & Ruane, Elizabeth. Marketing gets personal: promoting reference staff to reach users. Journal of Library Administration, 51(3), 291-300.

Mathews, Brian (2009). Marketing Today’s Academic Library. ALA Editions.

Showers, Ben (January 6, 2012). The Constant Innovator: The Academic Library as a Model of Change Management. Library Journal.

Waibel, Günter and Ricky Erway (2009). Think Global, Act Local – Library, Archive and Museum Collaboration. Museum Management and Curatorship, 24,4.

Waibel, Günter and Dennis Massie. (2009). Catalyzing Collaboration: Seven New York City Libraries. Report produced by OCLC Research.

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