14 July 2009

BOOK REVIEW: The Accidental Library Marketer

Kathy Dempsey, the long-time editor of the newsletter MLS: Marketing Library Services, has written a great book on library marketing. It is designed for the librarian who, for any of many reasons, has become the go-to person for marketing in his or her library. Of course for solos, the library marketer is you.

Dempsey really gets marketing. She defines it as “the process where the ultimate goal is moving goods and/or services from the producer and provider to a consumer….True marketing always involved a number of steps that ensure that the consumer will end up with those goods and services.” (13) It starts with finding out about your customers/patrons/users/students and ends with evaluating feedback from them. That’s right—marketing is not the same as publicity or PR or promotion. It is much more than that.

Therefore, she starts with communication, goes on to evaluating your current situation (environment), and discusses using demographic or other data. There’s a chapter on marketing mistakes, getting management and staff buyin, making evidence-based decisions, and statistics. Then it’s on to the writing of a marketing plan, rules for good promotional materials, communication tips, and using your website for outreach. The last chapter is called “Finally, the Fun Stuff” and has success stories, wow factor ideas, “snappy comebacks for that awful question, ‘Now that we have the Internet, why do we still need libraries?’” and a final lesson. What’s that? “you should always be ready to respond to anyone, anytime, anywhere if you hear people question the existence of libraries. You understand their value—heck, you live their value. All you need to do to help in a big way is to have a sentence of two in mind so you’re always ready to spring into action. You don’t need a special occasion.” Well said.

The book is oriented mostly toward public and academic libraries, but there are a few mentions of school and—amazingly—special libraries. She even quotes me (page 91). But all of her book is useful for every kind of librarian. Read this and put it into action.

There is an index and three appendixes, all articles from MLS: Marketing Library Services: A: Improving our media relations via strategic communications planning, by Marsha Iverson [King County (Washington) Library System]; B: Designing promo materials that are legible, by Pat Wagner [Pattern Research, Denver, Colorado]; and C: Promotion is not the same as marketing, by Christie Koontz [Florida State University, Tallahassee]. I’d have liked to see a bibliography or list of readings, but there is a list of links, chapter by chapter, on the website for Dempsey consulting firm, http://www.librariesareessential.com/the-accidental-library-marketer/chapter-by-chapter/

Bibliographic Information:
Dempsey, Kathy, The Accidental Library Marketer, Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2009, ISBN 978-1-57387-368-0, US$29.50. Order at http://infotoday.stores.yahoo.net/aclima.html

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