Turning the entire Library Marketing ecosystem on its head.


I had an amazing conversation with some people on twitter the other morning all about how libraries doing a really bad job of marketing themselves. I tweeted that “I believe that if librarians spent time money on marketing then we wouldn’t be constantly complaining about people perceptions of libraries” and that libraries need to drop a database in order tell people about the other 49. Well, I’m going to take it all back. I realized that I was wrong, the problem is not that librarians are refusing to market themselves, its that our biggest vendors refuse to market their products.

The problem is that it shouldn’t have to be librarians who are marketing and advertising the things that libraries are offering like databases and our various collections. The ones marketing their products to the public should be the ones selling those products to us. If some database company wants my library to buy their product, there should be a demand for their product. If nobody uses their latest proprietary database on the mating habits of the Great Spotted Alaskan Chinchilla, then my library just simply shouldn’t be buying it.

Why are librarians the one stuck paying for a product, and then having to pay to market that product to the people to make sure that demand is high enough to justify buying that product? Why do we have to do their work for them? This is not how it works with any other industry.

Here’s my analogy;

The mom and pop stores on the corner of my block carry all kinds of Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, whatever… But, not once have I ever seen an ad on FB, on TV, on the Radio, in the Newspaper from the corner store telling people how delicious Pepsi is. They might advertise that they have it, but they’d never advertise that anyone should drink it over anything else. You know why? Because Pepsi advertises that people should drink Pepsi, which makes people demand Pepsi, which is why stores offer Pepsi.

But in our case;

A database company sells their database to the library.

But that’s it! That’s all that happens! Then its up to the library to make sure anyone uses it or cares that the library is paying for it. The library has to convince the public that it’s a good product AND the library has to expend resources telling people that they library offers it. The library pays for the opportunity to offer a product nobody wants because the company that makes the product doesn’t spend any resources to tell people how great their product is. It’s as if libraries are paying twice for the product and being forced to do all the big vendor’s work for them as well.

But here’s something to think about.

If one of our database companies started using their money, not to advertise to librarians that they have the product, but to advertise to the people that there is a really great product offered at their local library, then the libraries would have to offer their product due to demand AND people would know that libraries are offering these products. Essentially, by advertising to the public about what their products are offering and how great they are and that they are available with a library card then more libraries would have to buy those databases due to increased demand and libraries would get more people to use their services. Because of this we will also get more engaged and educated library users and that translates into more library support which translates into more funding for libraries which in turn translates into more money for library vendors since more people will be demanding their databases.

What do you think? This was really just a quick and rough brainstorm that I had and it was too long for a tweet so I wrote a blog. Am I totally wrong on this idea? I’d love to know that I’m wrong.

The City Clerk of San Jose Killed Libraries (Get Him!)

If you want to read something that will really make you mad, read this article from the San Jose Mercury News about the City Clerk Dennis Hawkins’ major EFFup that will jeopardize the Library Ballot Measure. This means that many of the City Libraries will remain closed. If don’t want to read it, I’ll give you the major points.

The people of San Jose wanted to put a ballot measure on the November vote and went to the City Clerk named Dennis Hawkins. Dennis told them how many signatures they needed to have in order to put it on the ballot. The people then went out and collected the signatures but when they came back, they were told that OOPS! Dennis ROYALLY screwed up doing what amounts to a monkee’s job of telling them the correct number of signatures they needed.

See, they were told they needed 19,161 and they collected 40,000 but it turns out that the real number of signatures they needed was 57,483 registered city voters. That’s nearly three times the amount of votes they were originally told! How is that a possible “oops” mistake? I would understand if they were told some number even remotely close to 57,483, but no. This is an egregious mistake and smacks of some kind of corrupt back door deal.

This especially smacks of some kind of corruption since Mayor Chuck Reed and City Manager Debra Figone (Hawkin’s Boss) are both vehemently against the proposed ballot measure.

Now, let’s just say, for the sake of argument that this was an honest mistake. Even if this is the case, I would like to point out that even some of the simplest folks on the planet could take a second out of their otherwise useless life and look at what the actual numbers are for signatures. His complete ineptitude is just plain laziness and Dennis should be fired, suspended, or at the very least tickled until he pukes. Since they won’t do any of those things until we tell them too, here is his number. Feel free to call.

City Clerk
Dennis Hawkins – City Clerk, Office of the City Clerk (408) 535-1260, cityclerk@sanjoseca.gov,

Or his BOSSES who all hide behind the email – webmaster.manager@sanjoseca.gov so you should call them at these phone numbers

City Manager Debra Figone (408) 535-8100
Assistant City Manager Ed Shikada (408) 535-8190,
Deputy City Manager Norberto Dueñas (408) 535-8180

A More Positive Solution
Ok, so since I’ve calmed down a bit more, the amazing Derek Wolfgram dropped this link in the comments below. Its the great social solution that I was hoping for! Basically, all you have to do is sign this petition to convince the folks in charge in San Jose to put it on the ballot! Help them reach as many people as you can – http://bit.ly/40000voters

*my opinions are my own, my employers probably don’t think anyone should be tickled until they puke*

I’m Starting a Seed Library at My Library

This is the Press Release or this project. I will post more details for folks interested in starting one. But really, the best instructions for starting a seed library come from Richmond Grows. They have instructions, videos, and everything you need to put yours together.

Just as one seed can produce many seeds, one idea can change many lives. Free public libraries were revolutionary in their time because they provided access to books and knowledge that had not previously been available to a large segment of the population. A free seed lending library can also provide people with a chance to transform their lives and communities by providing access to fresh, healthy food that may not otherwise be available.

What is a Seed Library?
A seed library is a lot like a traditional library in a number of ways. Patrons of the seed library need to sign up, learn how to “check-out” seeds, and, of course, the library is free! The big difference is that instead of checking out books or DVDs like a traditional library, patrons can check out seeds to grow in their gardens at home. While, we don’t expect anyone to return the seeds to the library, we do hope that the residents of East Palo Alto learn to grow and share their fresh fruits and vegetables.

How Did it Start?
The East Palo Alto Seed Library began as an idea spurred by the Richmond Grows Seed Library at the Richmond Public Library. You can check this library out at www.richmondgrows.org. The EPA Library partnered with a great local non-profit called Collective Roots to bring a similar idea to the residents of EPA.

Who is Our Great Partner?
Collective Roots is a local non-profit that “seeks to educate and engage youth and communities in food system change through sustainable programs that impact health, education, and the environment.” This group is also responsible for the East Palo Alto Farmer’s Market that is held every Saturday from 2-5pm in front of the EPA YMCA. They also work with youth and adults to design and sustain organic gardens on school and community sites that are linked with kindergarten through 12th grade curriculum provided by Collective Roots.

The East Palo Alto Seed Library will be open to everyone starting April 22nd. It will provide, in addition to seeds, education about growing healthy and sustainable foods and gardens. The Seed Library is open to all residents of East Palo Alto, with no charge. It is maintained by EPA Library staff, Collective Roots, volunteers, and supported by donations.

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