Library Marketing Professionals Share Stories and Strategies During Annual Conference
December 7, 2018
By Stacy Stanislaw, Communications Manager, Drexel University Libraries
Last month, I traveled to St. Louis, MO, to attend the 2018 Library Marketing & Communications Conference (LMCC), a 2-day conference designed for library employees involved in marketing, communication, public relations, social media and outreach in academic, public and special libraries.
Yep, you heard right: there are enough professionals in North America who specialize in marketing and outreach for libraries to warrant an annual conference dedicated to the profession. In fact, this niche area of expertise has been growing steadily over the last decade. Since 2015, attendance at the LMCC has grown 200%, from 100 attendees in 2015 to 450 in 2018. Next year’s meeting promises to be even bigger, an indication that more and more libraries are investing in marketing and communications programs and staff education.
Diverse Attendees, Similar Issues
Attendees hailed from a range of libraries across the US and Canada. They represented tiny, small-town public libraries to R1 research universities, and everything in between. Attendees themselves came from diverse backgrounds as well. Many were marketing and communications professionals with no library background like myself, while others were librarians by trade who got thrown into marketing and outreach simply because no one else could or would do it.
One thing was clear by the end of breakfast on day 1: no matter the size of the institution, our budgets, or our professional backgrounds, we’re all facing the same overarching challenge: raising awareness of the value of the library.
All Things (Library) Marketing
The conference program reflected how important it is that libraries have strategies and guidelines in place to ensure that library messages are heard and services are well-used and appreciated.
This year, sessions focused on eight main tracks: Communication & PR, Graphic Design/Technology, Social Media, Marketing Strategies & Planning, Partnerships/Advocacy, Engagement & User Focus, Internal Marketing, and Promoting Library Programs & Services.
For me, sessions from the Internal Marketing Track were particularly interesting and inspiring. A session called Style Guides and Checklists and Logos, Oh My! Creating a Communications Toolkit to Empower Your Library Employees offered a case study from Montgomery College, Rockville, MD, on creating a library toolkit to help library staff promote their library.
As we expand the Drexel Libraries’ communications program, it’s important that we provide staff with the tools they need to grow and change and effectively communicate our messages. To help staff promote the library, this session suggested creating a toolkit that would guide staff on how to create a marketing message.
A Spirit of Learning and Collaboration
And of course, what professional conference would be complete without plenty of coffee breaks and networking opportunities?
Over the course of the 2-day conference, I met some amazing, talented marketing and library professionals from all over the US and Canada. We commiserated about everything from the challenges of running a “one-person marketing shop” to building marketing campaigns on a meager budget to creating hideous flyers (we all make at least one!).
No matter the discussion topic or the session or the time of day, I noticed a special energy throughout—a spirit of enthusiasm for learning and collaboration. Each and every attendee was eager to learn and share and make connections with their peers. I left the conference feeling inspired by my many conversations with other professionals – people who understand the unique challenges of marketing a library and who remind you that every challenge is really another opportunity.