Eight libraries were selected for the 2013 John Cotton Dana Award, honoring outstanding library public relations and marketing with a $10,000 award and plaque. This award, named after John Cotton Dana, the former head of the Newark (N.J.) Public Library and former president of the American Library Association who died in 1929, has been given continuously since 1946 and is sponsored by EBSCO, the H.W. Wilson Foundation and the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). It is considered to be the most prestigious of all library awards in the field of public relations and marketing.
“This was a very difficult judging year,” said award committee Chair Kim Terry. “The quality was outstanding. We had entries from a variety of libraries. Many of the submissions came from small-to medium-sized libraries. In these challenging economic times, It’s amazing how wonderfully gifted libraries are at leveraging what they have to produce effective marketing campaigns.
The John Cotton Dana Awards will be presented at a reception sponsored by EBSCO from 4:30 - 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 30 during the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.
Eight libraries were honored:
The Craighead County Jonesboro (Ark.) Public Library “Meme Your Library” campaign engaged their community in a new way and positioned them as a 21st Century Library. The campaign, styled after popular ecards, resulted in increases in usage both physically and virtually, including an increase in mobile site visits by 118 percent and program participation by more than 100 percent.
In 2010 Hood River County Library (Ore.) district closed due to lack of funding. One year later, after a ballot measure to reopen the libraries passed by only 53 percent, the libraries reopened as an independent government agency needing to reboot their relationship with the community. The library’s outreach efforts included hiring bilingual staff, joining community organizations and bringing library services out into the neighborhoods. Despite being open only 25 hours per week for several months, circulation increased 5.2 percent and program attendance was up 20 percent.
The Lawrence (Kan.) Public Library engaged the community in the celebration of Banned Books Week by having local artists competitively design a week’s worth of trading cards. These unique cards succeeded in actively involving the arts community, putting a new marketing twist on typical banned books activities. The campaign attracted collectors and nationwide media attention.
Mid-Continent (Mo.) Public Library developed a cohesive and comprehensive rebranding campaign around the concept of “access” to help shift the perceptions of libraries in their community. The creative “Access Your World” campaign was embraced by library staff and community members alike, indicated by increased usage of online services and customers proudly touting their Access Passes (formerly known as library cards).
Richland Library (S.C.) used customer experience workshops with 400 staff members to “change from the inside out,” identifying the Library’s brand promises to the Richland community. The brand promises became the Library’s foundation for defining what the customer can expect from the library.
The Robert E. Kennedy Library at Cal Poly (Calif.) inspired its students and others around the world to declare, “I’m with the Banned,” through virtual outreach and library programming during 2012 Banned Books Week. An interactive website invited participation from more than 6,000 visitors, and dozens of libraries across the nation linked to the site. Cal Poly students gained awareness of the issue of banned books through multiple channels, including craftwork, t-shirts, exhibits and interviews and a capacity crowd of 500-plus community members attended author Stephen Chbosky’s week-ending talk.
The Santa Clara City (Calif.) Library launched the Project BEST campaign to educate the community about a new California law mandating that all food service employees complete the Food Handler Certification Program. As part of this campaign, the library positioned itself as a resource for job skills development. To this end, the library held 26 food handler classes resulting in 130 students obtaining food handler certification, assisted more than 550 people at job workshops and held a job fair attended by 13 companies and 375 potential job seekers.
Texas Tech Universities (Texas) used several print and electronic channels—even 3-D animation –to successfully reach its student population through six keywords: Action, Create, Help, Relax, Green and Connect. The creative graphical representations of these words could be seen all over campus, and the results were impressive, including a 110 percent increase in student use of the library’s e-resources and a 60 percent increase in Facebook fans.