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By Jesslyn Denton
January 1 might be the start of the calendar year, but September is when many people consider the “year” to start, at least for those who are still in school. This is why we also celebrate September as Public Library Card Sign-up Month; it's a way to start the school year off with the best resources possible.
As libraries fight budget issues and a wide variety of competition for the general public’s attention, this month is essential in targeting new prospective readers and patrons. It is important for our libraries to market their free connections to endless amounts of information, show off their new technologies and materials, and make people aware that they also provide 24/7 access to resources.
If you need some creative ideas on how to market your library during Public Library Card Sign-up Month, no worries! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
• Promote library tours at local schools and community centers to bring in new faces. It not only gives the library a chance to show off their space and resources, but also teaches first-time visitors how to use the facility and find the information they are looking for.
• If you can’t get the people to come to you, then send someone to them. Sending out staff as guest speakers to schools, community centers, and other organizations allows you time for a quick demonstration of what the library has to offer. (Tip: Applications and library cards can be handed out at the end of the presentation.)
• Prizes, contests, and giveaways are always a good way to entice newcomers. Who doesn’t like to win free stuff? Prizes can range from a large quantity of inexpensive items (like pens or magnets) given out to anyone who stops by, or just one or two larger items that are raffled off once.
• Partner with local businesses to give discounts for purchases, upon presenting your library card. Saving people money at their favorite stores and restaurants also means they are seeing and holding that library card, even when they’re not using it at the library!
• Hold a cultural event, concert, craft fair, or another type of fundraising event that draws people to the building. Events bring media coverage, especially in small towns, which gives you the opportunity to raise money while promoting library card sign-up.
• There is always an option of finding outside sponsorship. For example, this year the honorary chairmanship for Public Library Card Sign-up Month has been awarded to the one and only Stan Lee. There is even free promotional material to download! (ALA.Org)
• Show your visitors the many ways they can utilize their library card. Make them aware of the databases, online journals, genealogy resources, and other online or digital tools, most of which can be accessible from home.
Take a look at some more ProQuest Public Library resources here.