It has never been unusual for library staff members to become accidental library marketers. In challenging economic times in particular, when budgets are tight and staff is under pressure, marketing often creeps into day-to-day responsibilities or jumps into a job description under the “other duties as assigned” category.
_____Author Kathy Dempsey knows that this is often the route that propels a library staff member to marketing duties. Accidental marketers start out developing handy program fliers or developing attractive computer graphics. Then, wham! Marketing, or what passes for marketing, begins to take up 30 percent, 50 percent, or possibly 100 percent of their day.
_____Even if this hasn’t happened to you (yet), there are myriad reasons to begin implementing the principles in this book. Good marketing saves your library money in the long run, gives you a clear picture of your potential audiences, and helps enhance your stature in the community. If you begin thinking and working like a marketing manager, you will develop the tools to craft and implement a well thought out marketing plan that complements your strategic and communications plans. And, as the author points out, “When an entire organization coordinates all of its plans at the highest levels, it helps ensure that everyone involved is working in concert toward the most important goals.”
_____So when Dempsey asks, “How did we get here?” you will know that—unlike Alice Through the Looking Glass or Dorothy in Oz—she will provide a clean and concise road map to help review where you were, determine where you are now, and plan for where you want to be. Although she notes that marketing is not a linear process, she gives you a practical and descriptive guide to find your way through the marketing maze. If you follow her tips, you will graduate from accidental marketer to professional and proactive marketer. Dempsey’s book puts you on the fast track and helps you avoid the pitfalls that ensnare marketing amateurs.
_____Looking back, I wish that I’d had this reference book when I became the director of a small public library. I missed the many vital services provided by the marketing department in my previous job. So, I began my marketing career by trial and error—designing fliers and writing press releases. How invaluable this book would have been in saving me time and effort!
_____Dempsey understands the accidental marketer phenomenon because of her many years working in libraries, journalism, and marketing. Building on her eclectic career, she began editing the newsletter Marketing Library Services in 1994—and, as she says, “… soaked up an incredible amount of information and best practices.” She is an author and consultant, and often shares sage advice on the American Library Association (ALA) discussion list PRTALK. She took all her professional experiences and combined these with current research, networking, and good sense to put together a highly readable and lively text.
_____Given her firm belief in the value of libraries, throughout the book she illustrates the many ways that marketing can demonstrate the financial and social worth of the institution. She gives ample examples and an expanded appendix, with everything put into an up-to-date global perspective. In fact, her snappy comebacks about why we still need libraries alone are well worth the price of the book. It may even nudge you down the road of becoming a fledgling accidental library marketer!
Judith Gibbons is a writer and consultant based in Versailles, Kentucky, and a living example of the accidental library marketer. She was recently elected to ALA Council. Judith currently serves as Chair of the ALA Advocacy Training Sub-Committee and as a member of the John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award Committee. She is a Past-President of Southeastern Library Association and a Past-Chair of the ALA Public Awareness Committee.