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Henrico County Library keynote presentation
 

Henrico County Library keynote presentation

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  • When first contacted, I was asked to talk on the topic of Merchandising in Libraries. I’ve done presentations on this subject since 2005, largely based on my 15 years experience in retail. I asked to be able to expand my focus to Marketing and Advocacy. These are all interrelated topics, but ultimately all are about making sure the library has a seat at the table when it comes to community service and funding.
  • I am so impressed with your library system. Your libraries are beautiful, full-service facilities and they appear admirably integrated within the communities they serve. I was able to visit two of your locations Monday, the Twin Hickory Area Library and the Glen Allen branch. Both are excellent facilities. Congratulations on your accomplishments. What I hope to do today is to throw ideas at you. Many of them you will no doubt already be familiar with. I’d like to start with an overview of the original topic of this keynote, merchandising, and then build on those ideas to talk a little about library MARKETING and ADVOCACY. Let’s start with some definitions. I’m going to give you my definitions of the three terms MERCHANDISING, MARKETING (WHICH INCORPORATES PROMOTION, ADVERTISING & PUBLIC RELATIONS) AND ADVOCACY. To help you remember them, I’ve paired them with a familiar movie image. This entire presentation will be available to you, so please don’t bother to take a lot of notes, unless you want to. Just sit back and take it in.
  • MERCHANDISING is the glitz and glitter than attracts people to all that you have in the library. Since it’s based on a commercial model of SELLING STUFF, it employs a lot of retail practices and techniques that have become quite popular in the past decade. Have you read Paco Underhill’s book WHY WE BUY? He is the guru of “shopping anthropology” and the President and CEO of Envirosell, a research and consulting firm that specialized in consumer behavior . Libraries have made enormous strides in MERCHANDISING. Your own HCPL branches show a keen grasp of some of the concepts I will review here.
  • MARKETING is a term which encompasses Promotion, Advertising and Public Relations, as I said. Libraries are getting pretty good at this, too. Newsletters, websites, email blasts, Facebook and other social media, and outreach activities are all MARKETING. I believe that libraries are often good at marketing to users, but not as good marketing to non-users and political decision-makers, two groups that often share membership. We’ll talk about MARKETING to segmented audiences a bit later in this presentation.
  • Advocacy has been a recent and welcome trend in libraries. The American Library Association and PLA, the Public Library Association, have embraced the idea of Advocacy, and the PLA Toolkit, called Libraries Prosper by Sandra Nelson, is an outgrowth of the Gates Foundation Advocacy training offered in 2008. My definition of Advocacy, and my particular take on it, is based on my experiences working with Library Directors and Boards of Trustees in my home state of Kansas. We may not be as fortunate as you in many of our library settings. We often face indifferent or hostile municipal leaders, and find ourselves having to “make our case” often and creatively. I have no doubt that Advocacy skills are relevant and incredibly important to EVERY library, however. Let’s dive into some Merchandising ideas right now, beginning with the key element in any persuasive endeavor – the end user, or CUSTOMER. BTW, JFW, who we will hear more about later, says that she thinks the best way to refer to library patrons is with the term MEMBER.
  • This set of expectations is pretty much the same, all over the country. You can see very clearly that it is colored by people’s experience with retail, particularly with the “big bookstore” model popularized by Barnes & Noble and Borders. It also underscores the technological bent the general public has adopted. Smart phone and handheld devices are revolutionizing our world, and changing the library forever. And, of course, Americans love to eat and drink. Why not in libraries, too?
  • My contention is that libraries can give users the best of both worlds – traditional library services AND more cutting-edge, “Wow” factor stuff to keep them coming back. Libraries aren’t driven by profit, but they are driven by something just as potent and difficult to obtain – customer goodwill. In that sense, we, meaning libraries, are very much in competition with retailers and the commercial world. I think that the best way to keep our customers happy, and to ensure our libraries thrive, is to be ADVOCATES for the library.
  • Here is a list of things libraries inherently OWN. Regardless of how loaded the term “free” is, patrons understand that what we offer them is, in a meaningful way, free. Librarians enjoy very few props in our contemporary world, but one that we do earn, consistently, is that we are authoritative. People come to librarians for the straight scoop. And we usually have it. Libraries have come around to accepting that customer service is the key to long-term survival, and I am pleased to see that libraries, in general, offer a customer service experience to users that is the envy of most retail stores. Yes, we may still have some work to do, but libraries and librarians are in the business of helping people. And our public recognizes that fact. Finally, we have the advantage of ubiquity. Public libraries are wanted by the public, and they are demanded by the public, and so they tend to be part of even the smallest communities. Larger communities like yours have the blessing of many fine libraries.
  • So let’s start with the basics of MERCHANDISING your library. This is sort of the baseline you need to attain before you can focus on anything else.
  • Each library should reflect the values of its particular user community. In Henrico County, you have a number of new or newly remodeled facilities that have 21 st century amenities. This is what your users expect, and this is what you have provided. Computers and technology services are at a high level. And the libraries in your community are part of a 400 year old history that pre-dates the founding of our country. This is a pretty awesome thing to have as an asset.
  • I was pleased to see that self-checkout is part of your standard operating procedure. In my state, self-checkout is still relatively uncommon. But with the advent of low-cost, small-footprint self-check hardware, libraries should be jumping all over this trend. One thing to think about is how your library space can facilitate the use of self-service. Are your self-check machines in the right places in your library? Do you have enough of them? Do people know how to use them? Can they get help if necessary?
  • Let’s talk a little about library displays. Every library does displays, but often they aren’t very attractive and they aren’t very good. Why? Because they don’t follow some common sense merchandising principles: People like to INVITED. A “perfect” or highly elaborate display can often be off-putting. People don’t want to touch it. People like to be INTRIGUED. Instead of MYSTERY BOOKS use a simple phrase like “Whodunnit?” or one of my favorites, “Colonel Mustard in the Kitchen with a Candlestick.” Be creative, be funny, be literary, and let your patrons in on the fun. Make sure your display can be easily and readily restocked. A good display is one that is constantly in need of replenishing. So have plenty of understock and move those titles up to keep the display looking full.
  • Johnson County Library is a large system in our region that has similar demographics to Henrico County libraries. Two things they have instituted recently: 1. Floating collections – materials are no longer sent “home” to their owning branch. Rebalancing is done from time to time, but the constant shipping of materials back and forth has been dramatically reduced. 2. Catalog enhancement. Discovery interface. Bibliocommons overlay on their Sirsi Symphony catalog. Users can make their own lists, track what they’ve read and what they’d like to read, “follow” the recommendations of other patrons and librarians, add comments, create tags, and recommend titles to others.
  • Civilians are stressed for time – time is valuable. In general, their impression is that the library is slow and it takes time to use it.  Folks don’t have time for a slower place during a busy day.
  • Civilians think that information is just floating around in the Cloud – it’s just there for the taking.  They believe information is an unlimited, free commodity.  Librarians think information is precious …it’s like love to us – we give it only to a few. We have to realize that or relationship to information is NOT the same one most people have. We need a more liberal and commodified view of information.
  • Civilians want to be self-reliant .  “I can do it myself.”  People have a desire to feel competent. Let them. Does allowing patrons to have more ownership of a library transaction run counter to our desire to feel professionally useful? 
  • Civilians want to use the device they are comfortable with – they’re packing ‘heat’ and don’t want to switch over to yours…their tools integrate with their life and makes them feel confident.  Smart phones are the bridge over the digital divide. More people own cell phones than own their own homes. We should be serving up what we do to as many smart phones as possible. The “killer app” for the library is the mobile app. Libraries should agonize over apps, not ILSs.
  • Deliver services instantly – whenever and wherever – real time! 24/7 is the new library service model. Ubiquity – You need to be where the people are. Go to them, don’t make them come to us. 24/7 Programs – Capture and re-purpose programming  – podcast, put information on YouTube, Facebook – put it where the people are. 
  • Civilians have reunited learning and pleasure – “I learn more when it’s fun”  We are enjoying ‘ free choice learning ‘ Librarians are rediscovering fun, too. Check out xtranormal, a useful and very fun tool that lots of libraries are using.

Henrico County Library keynote presentation Henrico County Library keynote presentation Presentation Transcript

  • Merchandising & Marketing Your Library Henrico County Public Library Third Annual Staff Development Day Mickey Coalwell, NEKLS, Lawrence, KS December 7-8, 2010
    • Vision Statement
    • We provide comprehensive resources, innovative technologies and excellent services to enrich individual and community life.
    • Mission Statement
    • We deliver excellent customer service through access to a variety of materials, innovative technologies and attractive facilities. We achieve high standards for courtesy, accuracy and timeliness. We anticipate and respond to the needs of a diverse community.
    • We are a library system that:
    • Believes public libraries are vital to the community;
    • Welcomes new ideas;
    • Fosters continuous learning;
    • Encourages teamwork;
    • Values leadership and professionalism; and
    • Plans for the future.
  • Merchandising Conscious efforts to make contents visible, and to encourage their use.
  • Marketing & Promotion Getting the word out that you can add value to people’s lives.
  • Advocacy A process by which those who are in a position to affect the delivery of library services are actively and personally engaged.
  • What do library users want?
    • Extended branch operating hours and check-out times
    • Updated book, audio, and video collections
    • More computers and service options such as online check-out and wireless Internet options
    • Cafes or coffee shops in libraries
    • Source: Wichita Eagle, January 18, 2006
  • The best of both worlds
    • Keep the library the library…but incorporate retail merchandising and marketing practices
    • Realize we are competing for customers, and that customer expectations are high
    • Become an advocate for the library
  • Our competitive advantages
    • Free
    • Authoritative
    • Service oriented
    • Ubiquitous
  • Start with the basics
    • Convenient
    • Welcoming
    • Clean, well-lit and comfortable
    • Attractive and inviting
  • Capitalize on your strengths
    • Library collections and services
    • Historical or architectural features
    • Location
    • Customer service
    • Technology
  • Help customers help themselves
    • Today’s customers want and expect self-service
    • Design spaces that encourage self-service
    • Merchandise to facilitate self-service
    • Focus on convenience and speed
  • Let there be light!
    • Adequate for browsing, reading, studying
    • Natural light if possible
    • Mix of fluorescent and incandescent
    • Lamps and adjustable lighting
  • Information overload
    • Too many! Libraries are over-signed
    • Can you see into your library from the front door?
    • “ Visual cacophony”
    • More is NOT better
  • Signs
    • Signs speak to your library patrons when you are not
    • Always brand even the smallest sign
    • Consider an expiration date for temporary signs
    • Empower ALL staff to remove expired and damaged signs
  • Big, clear and to the point! Allen County Public Library, Indiana
  • North Park
  • Glen Allen
  • Information architecture
    • Information architecture is the view of the library from its users’ vantage point.
    • Map the “information zones”
    • Customer receptivity to information
    • Consistency in style and presentation
  • The library should have several “zones”
    • Quiet study and reading spaces
    • Social spaces for interaction, conversation, and collaboration
    • Service areas for circulation, copying, computer login, etc.
    • Zone by activity, not age group.
  • Use zones to merchandise
    • New Books
    • Lifestyle Topics
      • Holiday
      • Parenting
      • College/Careers
      • Pregnancy
    • Popular formats like DVD, GNs
  • Wayfinding: a better approach
    • Wayfinding is the presentation of structured information which allows users to navigate an environment or seek a particular destination without assistance.
  • Wayfinding Tip #1
    • Provide convenient parking and accessible walkways adjacent to each public entry. Clearly identify building entry points.
  • Wayfinding Tip #2
    • Locate information counters so as to be natural arrival points from entries.
  • Wayfinding Tip #3
    • Distinguish public from non-public areas with fixture placement, varied paint colors, finishes, and lighting…but not signs
  • Wayfinding Tip #4
    • Provide orientation cues: Different colored walls, ceiling-drop signs, "You Are Here" maps that indicate the principal collection and service areas, exits, restrooms, water fountains, etc.
  • Wayfinding Tip #5
    • Establish "shorelines" and "trails" between major collection and service areas using different materials such as tile and carpet.
  • Misguided attempt at wayfinding?
  • Eat, drink, and make merry!
    • Café or snack center if possible
    • Consider vending machines
    • Encourage your patrons to bring in drinks with lids, and provide trash cans throughout the library for disposal of cups and wrappers
  • Vending machines can be sexy…
  • Merchandising made easy
    • Display popular topics and items
    • Showcase a logical grouping of items
    • Present clear, attractive displays
    • Design to be easy to maintain
    • Change displays regularly
  • A good library display…
    • Should demonstrate the diversity and breadth of a library's collection
    • Should represent many sides of an issue, theme or topic
    • Should make someone think
    • Should inspire someone to want to know more
    • Should take advantage of “the long tail”
  • Make your displays multimedia
    • Library displays are best when they incorporate a broad theme and draw on books, movies, magazines and music
    • Successful library displays draw on a range of media, whatever the theme or topic, and appeal to all the senses
  • The counter belongs to the patron
    • Give it back to your patrons
    • Keep it sparkling clean
  • Fixtures and furniture
    • Slatwall
    • Movable gondolas and browsers with wheels or casters
    • Kid-friendly shelves and counters (low or multi-level)
    • “ Fun” furniture, rugs and wall coverings that add color and life
  • Fun and inexpensive
  • Fun and flexible
  • Shelf Merchandising
    • Slatwall and display shelves
    • Face-outs
    • Endcaps
    • Shelf labels (not Dewey numbers!)
    • Subject neighborhoods
  • Merchandising with face-outs
  • Merchandising a pull-out collection
  • A quick themed display table – no sign needed!
  • Creating customer-friendly subject “neighborhoods” or “glades”
    • Body & Soul is where you’ll find books on religion, philosophy, self-help and health
    • 100s and 200s (Philosophy and Religion)
    • 360s and 600 - 619 (Health and Medicine)
    • 362s and 646s (Self Help)
    • 155s and 649s (Childcare and Parenting).
  • More customer-friendly groupings
    • Home has the books on hobbies, crafts, decorating, cooking and gardening.
    • 580, 630 - 635, 712 - 719 (Gardening and Landscape Design)
    • 395s, 640s, 793.1 - 793.2 (Cooking and Entertaining)
    • 688s, 745.1 - 746.9, 748, 749, 769 (Crafts and Collectibles)
    • 643s, 680, 684, 690s (Home Repair and How-to)
    • 747 (Interior Design)
  • Another customer-friendly neighborhood grouping
    • Work is all business. Books on finance, accounting, marketing, college admissions, test preparation and the economy are here.
    • 320s, 340s (Government and Law)
    • 331, 650.14 (Careers and Testing)
    • 370s (Schools and Education)
    • 330s, 650s, 651, 657 - 659 (Business and Management)
    • 332 (Investments)
  • Before…
  • … After
  • Before slatwall endcaps…
  • Just after slatwall installed…
  • … that’s much better!
  • Children’s slatwall display
  • DVD merchandising
  • More DVD merchandising
  • Ceiling hanger signage
  • Merchandising Board Books
  • Children’s magazine displays
  • Play to your strengths: What’s Free?
    • FREE internet access!
    • FREE DVD and movie rental!
    • FREE help with taxes!
    • FREE FREE FREE FREE!
  • Play to your strengths: What’s Fast?
    • FAST library card registration!
    • FAST checkout and return!
    • FAST trip information!
    • FAST answers to questions!
    • FAST FAST FAST FAST!
  • Play to your strengths: What’s New?
    • NEW books
    • NEW services (wireless, laptop checkout)
    • NEW formats (Playaways, eBooks, videogames)
    • NEW NEW NEW NEW!
  • Above and beyond the retail model…
    • Keep our customers happy – stay competitive and play to our strengths
    • Provide unparalleled service
    • Do what the bookstores and other retailers can’t – or won’t – do
  • Partnering with local businesses
    • Antique stores – display furniture
    • Book shelves, book cases, book and media storage cases on display and for sale
    • Paper, stationery, stamps, envelopes for sale
  • More good ideas
    • Soft seating, variety of chair heights
    • Electrical outlets and power strips
    • Community book drops for convenient returns
    • Extended hours
    • Floating collections
    • Enhanced library catalog
  • Seven Vital Principles of Marketing Your Library
    • MARKETING is about putting good ideas in front of the right people.
    • MARKETING is about answering everyday questions and concerns.
    • MARKETING is about making it personal.
    • MARKETING is about making lifelong connections.
    • MARKETING is about asking as well as telling.
    • MARKETING is a 24/7 activity.
    • MARKETING is everyone ’ s #1 job.
  • Marketing your library …
    • … is about putting good ideas in front of the right people.
    ADVOCACY
  • Discretionary to Indispensable
    • Fairfax (VA) County Executive Anthony H. Griffin has asked..the public library system to propose 15 percent reductions for fiscal 2011, on top of cuts of 15 percent or more this fiscal year…Griffin said, “Parks and libraries are essentially discretionary programs.”
    • “ Fiscal outlook grim for two Fairfax agencies,” by Derek Kravitz, Washington Post , November 15, 2009. Quoted in Transforming Our Image: No Explanation Needed, a webinar by Valerie J. Gross, presented by the Public Library Association, November 15, 2010.
  • How to move from “discretionary” to indispensable?
    • Change the equation:
    • LIBRARIES = EDUCATION
  • “ Generic to Evian”
    • Storytime  Children’s class (children’s classroom)
    • Program  Class, seminar, workshop, event, initiative, project
    • Information  Education, research
    • Reference  Research
    From Transforming Our Image: No Explanation Needed , a webinar by Valerie J. Gross, presented by the Public Library Association, November 15, 2010.
  • Valerie J. Gross’s ‘Three Pillars’
  • Politicians
    • Here’s how the library earns its keep.
    • Here are some specific areas where we help our community.
    • Here’s something only the library can do.
    • Here’s how much people like us.
    • Here’s how many people use our services.
    • Here’s why we need your continued support.
  • Donors and funders
    • Here’s how we use the money you give us.
    • Here’s what your money gets you.
    • Here’s how much we appreciate your giving us money.
  • Users and community members
    • Here is something we can do to make your life easier.
    • Here is a way to get something for free.
    • Here are things you can do with your time.
    • Here are people that care about your needs.
  • Children and parents
    • Here is a place where you can interact with others.
    • Here is a clean, secure and hospitable space.
    • Here’s how you can do better in school.
    • Here are ways to have fun and enjoy yourself.
  • Marketing is everybody’s #1 job
    • Marketing your library should include training and support for ALL STAFF at your library. Everyone who visits, phones, or connects online should receive friendly, helpful service. Every library employee, from the janitor to the Head of Reference, is equally responsible for providing an optimum library experience.
    • Marketing the VALUE of your library is a responsibility that shouldn’t be delegated to a specific job title or person. It's the responsibility of EVERYONE who works at the library to further its mission to serve the community.
  • Joan Frye Williams (a very smart person)
  • So, what are people telling us?* *according to Joan Frye Williams
  • “ My time is more valuable than ever.”
  • “ There’s information all around me.”
  • “ I can do it myself.”
  • “ I want to choose my own tools.”
  • “ I want it now – wherever I am.”
  • “ I learn more when it’s fun.”
  • Building a Library Community
    • Collecting and disseminating the right kind of data and statistics.
    • Connecting with the right decisions makers in the community.
    • Leveraging public opinion.
    • Segmenting and targeting services to specific user populations.
    • Providing ubiquitous access to library services.
    • Integrating with the community.
  • Grateful acknowledgment to…
    • The South Jersey Regional Library Cooperative, Mount Laurel Library, and Dave Genesy, Redwood City Library
    • Visit the TRADING SPACES resource page on the web at http://www.sjrlc.org/tradingspaces/
    • Waldo Community Branch, Kansas City Public Library; Darien Library, Connecticut
    • Joan Frye Williams, Information Technology Consultant
    • Valerie J. Gross, President & CEO, Howard County Library, MD
  • Selected bibliography
    • Hill, Christie. Inside, Outside and Online . Chicago: ALA, 2009.
    • Siess, Judith A. The Visible Librarian: Asserting Your Value with Marketing and Advocacy . Chicago: ALA, 2003.
    • Underhill, Paco. Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping . New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999.
    • Underhill, Paco. The Call of the Mall . New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.
    • Underhill, Paco. What Women Want : The Global Marketplace Turns Female Friendly. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010.
  • Merchandising & Marketing Your Library Mickey Coalwell Northeast Kansas Library System [email_address]