A librarian from the Carleton Place Public Library posted a thoughtful comment on yesterday’s blog post, mentioning that marketing often seems like it’s “preaching to the choir,” and that the people who are already using the library are the ones paying the most attention to our marketing efforts.

Reaching people who aren’t “part of the choir,” i.e., part of our existing user base, is the heart of what we’re all interested in when it comes to marketing and libraries. We want to raise awareness of our brand and the services we have to offer; we want to get those services into the hands of our community members as passionately as Coca-Cola wants to sell soft drinks, and we want our funders and stakeholders to recognize that we’re providing a valuable and worthwhile service.

I think that’s the fundamental challenge facing libraries with regard to marketing today. We used to lived in a world where we didn’t have to do anything to be valued: there was mom, apple pie, and the library. Today our competition isn’t just big box bookstores and NetFlix, it’s every other thing that our patrons could be doing with their time instead of coming to the library – and they have lots of possibilities. We need research to find out where they are, advertising to reach them, and great service to keep them as part of the family.