Four Ways to (1)

In the library world, there are two seasons–summer reading and the rest of the year.

Thousands of libraries across the United States and around the world create a specific program each year to engage readers during the summer months. Arguably, this is the most important program of the year, and libraries allocated budget and staff as a testament to their serious commitment. Libraries believe they can hook a reader during the summer months, when the distractions of work, school, and extra-curricular activities are reduced or eliminated. I totally agree with that premise.

But what catches many libraries off-guard is the difficulty they have convincing a cardholder to come back once summer is over. Do you agree?

As marketers, there are things we can do during our summer reading program to make sure we lay the groundwork for meaningful library interaction that lasts a lifetime. What if our goal for summer reading was not just increasing participation and circulation during the summer–but forever?

Here are four ways library marketers can make that a reality.

Summer readers are open to discovery and interaction–take advantage of it!  Since many new cardholders don’t use the library during the rest of the year, they are eager and ready to explore new facets of your library’s collection and service. They are more open to engage with your content marketing messages and with your librarians inside the buildings. Use that eagerness and enthusiasm as an opportunity to educate cardholders.

If your summer reading program includes a registration component, prepare a few questions for new cardholders.

What do you like to read?

How much time do you normally have during the rest of the year to read?  

Do you like print materials or do you prefer eBooks, eAudiobooks, and other downloadable materials?

Do you like to do crafts, sew, or work on DIY projects? (For libraries with a MakerSpace or other craft/DIY program.)

Do your children struggle with homework, literacy skills, or testing? (For libraries with homework help programs, special literacy programs, or testing vendor access.)

Use this feedback to offer targeted content marketing messages that make it easy for your new cardholders to find their way to other services or items. Take full advantage of new cardholder eagerness by planting the seed to explore more services when the summer ends. Give your summer readers an incentive to come back when summer reading ends.

Your social media game and blog posts need to be on point during the summer. This is a good time to introduce new readers to your presence on these platforms and to keep them coming back by making every post interesting, educational, and fun. For more tips on social media for libraries, check out Adam Baker’s awesome Socialibrary blog.

Put good customer service on display. This is the time of year when you’ll see increased traffic in buildings and on your website, so make sure everything is in tip-top shape, attractive, and clean. Make sure displays and wayfaring signage are up to brand standards and easy-to-understand by your cardholders. Put your most teasable books and programs front and center on the website and make any major changes to the site or navigation before the summer begins. Stress the importance of good customer service to staff, including those who work on responding to comments and questions via email, chat, and social media. We should take customer service seriously all year long but we really need to be on our toes in the summer.

Keep in touch once summer is over. if your library has a system in place to track summer reading users by email, send them content marketing messages once summer is over, inviting them to check out new items in your collection, educating them on problems your librarians can solve or programs that have affected the lives of other cardholders, and inviting them to share their reading experiences with other library users. Keep a dialog open and keep showing those new cardholders the value of using their library card all year long.

If you have any questions or comments or if you would like to write a guest post for this blog, let me know in the comment section below.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare,  Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.