Are you still using a card catalogue? Of course not! People browse for books online.
Not on Facebook? You should be! That’s where your library patrons are.
It doesn’t matter how much money you pour into graphic design, printing and advertising. If you aren’t communicating through the right media, you can practically ensure your target audience won’t get the message.
The Right Media
It’s not enough to give patrons the right information, you have to use the right media to communicate your message. Where do your patrons look for information? Are you using the same media?
Do you use the same old tools each time you communicate with patrons? Out of habit… Because that’s how it’s always been done…
Still print your library’s newsletter? It’s probably time to switch to an electronic format. Not only does this allow you to communicate with your patrons in a way that speaks to them. It also makes it easier to tailor your information to a specific audience, with an e-mail newsletter for parents, another for students, etc.
Consider the best media for your message carefully. We tend to think of digital media as the best way to communicate a message, and oftentimes it is. But oftentimes doesn’t mean it’s always best to share information online.
It doesn’t make sense to send out information about basic computer training programs (Learn How to Use a Mouse!) in an e-newsletter. If you want to share this information in your e-newsletter do so. Just make sure it isn’t the only media you’re using or you won’t reach your target audience.
In the case of seniors, a print format is often best. Even better, communicate with seniors through various interest groups and organizations that are already in touch with them.
For a good picture of how your library patrons are communicating with one another check out these posts at Stephen’s Lighthouse: Google is Bigger than the U.S. Print Ad Business and Social Media Statistics and Facts 2012.
Remember, if you aren’t sharing information in the same places your patrons are looking for it, then it doesn’t matter how many times you communicate your message, people still won’t know about it.
CAUTION! Don’t go changing all of your signs, printed documents and Web structure all at once. You’re likely to confuse your patrons and make decisions that aren’t in line with their needs. Talk to your patrons first. Ask them what information they need, as well as where and when they look for it.
Otherwise, you might find your patrons asking you what your library’s opening hours are and why they are no longer posted at the entrance…