My mother believes the old-fashioned way is the best way to do most things.
She prefers mixing cookie dough with a spoon rather than using her KitchenAid mixer. She likes wrapping gifts with paper rather than using gift bags. She hangs her towels on the clothesline in the summer, rather than using the dryer.
I’m the complete opposite. If there is an easier way to do my household and cooking chores, I’m in. Give me all the gadgets. Hand me the tools. Machines are my friends.
For the past few months, I’ve been collecting a list of tools for those of us working in library promotion. They will help your library with video production, social media, writing, and content creation. Best of all, they are all free.
I’m listing the first 13 tools in alphabetical order. And I’ve included one bonus tool at the end of the list. It’s not related to marketing. However, it is the coolest thing since sliced bread.
Have a tool that you use to make your work easier? Let me know in the comments.
Animoto is an online video maker that makes it easy to create videos for your website or social media. The free account lets you edit on a desktop or a mobile device at 720p quality with 50 music tracks, three fonts, 30 color swatches, unlimited sharing on social platforms. There is a watermark on the videos.
For libraries that can afford it, the basic package, at $96 a year, removes the watermark, gives you unlimited downloads, and increased your video quality to 1080p.
This is my go-to URL shortener. I’ve had a free account for years. It helps me to track all the clicks on different platforms, including email and social media. That’s an important step to make sure you track the effectiveness of your marketing.
You can make 100 links a month with the free account, and you can customize the back half of your URL. For libraries that can afford it, the basic package is $348 a year and includes branded links and QR codes.
Whenever I need to schedule a meeting with someone who doesn’t work for my company, I use Calendly. It’s easy to integrate it with your calendar and a host of other apps, including Zoom. I cannot tell you the number of back and forth emails this tool has saved me!
Calendly also allows you to create rules for when someone can claim a block of your time. For instance, if you know you’ll be working the checkout desk every day from 12-1 p.m., you can block that off. You can also embed the link in your emails.
The free account only lets you share one length of meeting at a time (15, 30, or 60 minutes) but switching back and forth between the types is easy. You just flip a switch, share the link with the person you need to meet with, and you’re done!
Coolers is a color scheme generator that lets you explore and test thousands of color palettes for your print and digital graphic design projects. It’s saved me a ton of time. And it helps me, the girl with no artistic abilities, to make sure everything I create looks beautiful.
You can save palettes, create a collage, or find colors from photos. It also has settings for color blindness and a built-in contrast checker for accessibility.
This is my favorite place to find free emojis for any social media post and email. It’s easy to search. Once you find what you want, just copy, and paste and you’re done.
Emojis are a great way to catch the attention of your social media followers. They also work great in emails. 😉
If your library’s calendar is unreliable or if Facebook events aren’t generating registrations for you, Eventbrite is a great option.
You can use it for free when your event is free (as most library events are). Plus, there’s a mobile app to help you manage registrations. And you get listed on Eventbrite and its partner sites, which can increase the reach of your programs.
I cannot, for the life of me, match fonts when making graphics. This site is a lifesaver.
Once you find a base font that you love, use this site to identify matching fonts for sub-headers and smaller text. I used this site when I revamped Super Library Marketing to be more accessible.
Giphy lets you create animated video GIFs and GIF slideshows with captions. You can get your GIFs in a variety of formats or as stickers.
A new feature lets you create custom backgrounds for online video conferencing. How cool would it be to have a moving library background for your next program?
My life has been changed since I started using this tool. The free version is perfectly wonderful for checking your written work for common and complex grammatical mistakes, spanning everything from subject-verb agreement to article use to modifier placement.
If you use Chrome, download the extension. With that, Grammarly can check everything you type in real-time, from emails to blog posts to social media posts.
Icecream Screen Recorder
I don’t know why but finding an easy and free way to screen record is hard. I finally found this site when a vendor I work with used it to send me a screen recording explaining how to fix a technical issue.
You can record your whole screen or crop to just one area. You can even annotate with text, arrows, and shapes. There are mouse effects! And you can trim your recording.
SnapWidget allows you to display your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram photos in collage format on your website or blog. The free plan gives you unlimited widgets that refresh every 15 minutes.
Project management is a pain. When I worked at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, this was the tool we used to coordinate projects across teams.
It’s easy and intuitive to use. There are boards, lists, and cards that enable your organization to prioritize your most important projects. Everything is drag and drop and shareable.
The free account gives you 10 boards, unlimited storage, custom backgrounds and stickers, an activity log, and the ability to assign team members and set due dates. It was plenty for my team and we never had to upgrade to a paid plan.
This free resource lets you capture, organize, and share multi-media resources with anyone. Save lists, do research, bookmark websites, and curate content for your newsletters, social media posts, and more.
This tool will not make your life in marketing better (unless you are looking for a better job!) But it was made by a librarian at the Allen County Public Library, and it is remarkably helpful for your patrons.
Simply fill in all the appropriate information that you would put into a resume, press a button, and viola. It’s not fancy but it certainly makes a professional and polished resume. Seriously, how cool is this?
I made this fake resume in five minutes!.
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