Let’s Talk. • Hello. My name is Aspen Walker. • Douglas County Libraries has been changing my life for the better since childhood. I’m a diehard fan. • I am going to talk briefly about some of my ideas & strategies to spur & sustain community conversation about the importance of libraries. Shift. • Shift happens. Our world is changing at lightning speed, & many of our tools & traditions aren’t effective anymore. Just ask a librarian or a marketer. • Today, 66% of Americans use online social media & 239 million of us are online. We live in a dizzying era of access to information & each other, that’s rife with opportunities for connection & conversation. • But our attention is fractured & fickle. In today’s world of info glut & attention grab… conversation, authenticity, humor & engagement can help us connect with each other. • Though we are often viewed as gatekeepers & relics, librarians know our true role is to be relevant guides who connect people with ideas &other people. • Marketers must be connection mavens too. It’s no longer enough to push your message & pray someone responds. • I like the word shift because it shows we are in a time of change, not a night & day dichotomy with the past. We don’t have to throw out everything we’ve perfected. We need to hold on to the tools that work, while responding to our new world with bravery, innovation & a heartfelt desire to connect with others. • A single cry in the wind is seldom heard. One‐way spin, the press release & promo piece aren’t enough anymore. It’s also time to expand our tribe of library lovers, advocates, friends & fans & offer them the tools & two‐way conversation they need to help libraries thrive. We’ve got to GO WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE. Go where the people are. • Marketing is not a task, job or department. It’s a conversation, a story, something that spurs us to VALUE libraries. & it happens every time we engage with our past, present & potential stakeholders. It also happens every time they tell a
story about us bed it positive or negative. Our staff, volunteers, patrons & communities are our potential partners, but we have to connect with them & ask for their help. • Novelist John le Carre said the desk is a dangerous place to view the world. If we want people to value DCL, we must go TO them. & they’re easy to find. They’re in our busy libraries to be certain, & they are also congregating online, & out in the community. Tools & Strategy. • My overarching approach? Start with story. Brain research shows that stories stick to the heart & change minds in a swift fashion that stats & slogans just can’t match. Storytelling is an opportunity to shift perceptions by reframing the meaning of something—like the importance of libraries in the Internet age. OCLC’s “From Awareness to Funding” shows that people who think libraries are a transformative, smart investment that is essential to their community & future are more likely to support libraries. We need to continue sharing stories that showcase these messages. • We can do this with video –& I’ve got lots of ideas for new video projects‐ We can also do it in our press releases & promo, reading program materials, & social media channels; while we interact with patrons on the floor or at programs; & in our outreach & community engagement efforts. • We must continue to listen for the library stories people are telling every day, collect them, share them, & ask people to help us spread, repost & generate new stories. • In terms of the community relations department, it will require even more time devoted to building support. To do this, we will need to let go of outdated practices & unessential tradition. We will need to take the time to find & connect with Douglas County onsite & online; respond to those who reach out; & reward them for participating. • We know DCL has had some trouble gaining buy‐in & understanding about our new marketing strategy. The community relations department & District need to engage with all of our stakeholders frequently, & listen to what’s happening in our libraries & communities. This is bound to turn up connections & stories that showcase the value of libraries. What’s more, face time & propinquity erase “us & them” mentalities & misperceptions, while boosting conversation, connection & innovation. • No single super hero is going to save the day. People who value libraries must band together, share tools & find more friends to help us spread the word.
This goes for our online interactions too. We must take the time to build a true tribe of Douglas County residents using free twitter & Facebook search tools. • We should forge ahead with a market survey, so we can seriously analyze patron data, & develop innovative strategies to connect with our constituents. Our everyday interactions are also an opportunity to ask our community what it needs, which messages resonate with them, & how they view the library. The tools are many, including face‐to‐face conversation & focus groups, online surveys delivered on our website & promoted in our enewsletter, & Facebook & twitter‐driven crowd source questioning. • It’s time to renew our efforts to build a contact list of library lovers –be they staff, volunteers or community members‐ & communicate with them regularly & long before our next election campaign. We can do this on Twitter & Facebook, but I also propose we create a regular enewsletter for these folks & offer meet‐ups where our library tribe can gather in person to share ideas. We can reward their participation with promotional materials that share our message as our fans travel around the county. • How about a postcard story drive? Our fabulous designers can create beautiful postcards where anyone can share their story, & volunteer to join our crew of library lovers. These postcards can be displayed in our libraries‐ Douglas County’s social hub‐ to stimulate thought & conversation, & encourage others to participate. The cards can ask pointed questions that will generate stories related to the OCLC messages, like “Tell us about a time the library changed your life.” Later on, these postcards will be a cherished part of the Douglas County History Research Center collection. • I’d also like to offer contests, where patrons generate their own library love stories, be it video, visual art, music or the written word. These creations can be added to DCL’s digital publishing efforts. Maybe we can even help patrons create this content. • Voters respond to passionate library workers who have got their back. Let’s initiate a recognition program, so co‐ workers, volunteers & patrons can nominate the passionate advocates at their library. These nominations should be displayed publicly onsite & online & routinely switched out with new accolades. • Down the road, all of these tools can be used to fuel an election campaign, when we can no longer advocate for libraries on the public dime. You can bet I will be the first person to volunteer my own time & resources to lead external campaign efforts. Like I said, I am a die‐hard fan. • Thank you for your time. Any questions?