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11 - Marketing, branding and buildings

from Part 3 - Issues in management and service development

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 June 2018

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Summary

Introduction

Several key challenges present themselves to the public librarian when marketing their services in the modern era. As the services on offer could be seen to compete with other social, educational, information, cultural and leisure opportunities members of the public have available to them, public libraries must increasingly use marketing techniques to spread the message of what they have on offer. This has led to debates related to what libraries are, what services they should provide, and even whether the word library itself is a positive or negative thing.

This chapter will discuss the key issues related to the marketing of public library services in the 21st century, and how modern approaches to branding are being used to reinvent the public library concept. It will also discuss the issue of library buildings, and how an ageing infrastructure is being perceived as a barrier to service progression by many library services.

Marketing public libraries

Public library professionals need to take marketing very seriously in the modern age. The challenge is twofold: marketing to the library user community and marketing upwards to senior officers and elected members.

As Usherwood has stated, it ‘is necessary for public librarians to exercise effective public relations if they are to obtain recognition and support at both national and local level’ (Usherwood, 1989, 29). Advocacy, then, is as important within the local authority structure as it is to the user community.

Nevertheless there are few services that have the entire population as their potential membership base, yet this is the reality for public library services. In theory a public library can have a potential membership level of 100% of the people who live in the community served. Since public libraries also serve people who work or study in a specific area, and many also offer services to tourists, we see a potential market that puts other publicly funded services in the shade. Of course the reality is that public libraries would be unable to cope with such a high demand, but this in itself offers challenges in terms of which audiences the marketing of library services should be addressed at.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Public Library
, pp. 181 - 196
Publisher: Facet
Print publication year: 2008

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