Numbers are in for July downloadable audiobook usage…holding steady in the mid 130s, which is what we bumped up to after our late Spring advertising campaign and classes.

Time to delve into this a little further. We have two downloadable subscriptions, one of which registers patrons like a regular library. We had 47 registrations for that service from April 1 – July 31. Of those 47, 19 (or 40%) were staffmembers, test accounts for the classes we offered, or are people who are actively using the service.

I’m going to contact the other 60% by email and ask them why they haven’t used the service much or at all since they signed up. I did this a couple of years ago and found that most people dropped off when they realized you couldn’t use the service with an iPod. Unfortunately that hasn’t changed much, although Overdrive is finally taking baby steps toward the iPod crowd. Unfortunately, with iPod marketshare estimated around 70% (that low? see here) what we really need are giant leaps.

Keep an eye on this space for results.

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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.