‘Yes! We Can!’ was the theme for this year’s Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS) conference. The theme was chosen by the incoming CILIPS President as a rallying call, deciding that what was good for Obama was good for him.
CILIPS broke away from the tradition of holding the event in Peebles and held the event at the impressive Mitchell Library in Glasgow (pictured right). This new central location (I assume in an attempt to attract more delegates) perfectly combined the old and the new, impressive decorative architecture inside and out, with modern facilities to boot.
There were many thought-provoking, energising talks across the three days, but the one that stood out for me was by Elizabeth Farr and Liz Moffatt from Stirling Libraries. It was standing room only to hear about marketing strategy and reader development in Stirling. It was a joy to hear a library service talking about marketing and branding, and putting it into action at minimal cost and experience – all that was required was the passion and energy shown by the staff.
The objective of creating this marketing strategy was ‘to promote the service in a positive fashion to raise its profile with the community’ and it was integral to the library service plan. Stirling worked on the brand of the library service, standardising poster styles to fit with council branding, achieving a consistent look and feel across all libraries – things that take time but can be achieved through a commitment to promoting the library service.
Liz stressed that publicity is the best marketing tool you can have, and can be free if you use the right strategy. She advised delegates to get in touch with local media and the local newspapers to promote activities to the target audience. Stirling also used BBC Scotland and STV, and addressed the stories to relevant programmes, rather than a broad request. The story must be interesting and have a bold catchy opening gambit. Such sustained marketing activity builds up press contacts and develops relationships with local businesses who can be used to promote your library service… for free.
The full presentation of the strategy is available on Slideshare and is well worth reading. It was fascinating to hear about this great work that Stirling are doing in their libraries, and something that all libraries should do to weather-proof themselves against upcoming budget cuts. A sound marketing strategy, even when money is tight, will set a good base for long term success. There are many things here that all public library authorities can take on board and try within their own service. All that is required is commitment, enthusiasm and a pride in your library service. Give it a go and see what happens.