February 4, 2020
Kellie Sigler is the Visual Communications Specialist at Loudoun County Public Library. The communications team is a group of three people to cover the entire library system, which is made up of ten branches serving a total county population of 412,864 people. The eastern and western halves of the county are distinct: the western is rural and mostly farmland, whereas the eastern is closer to the DC metropolitan area.
Loudoun County Public Library provides library programs for all stages of life, from young children to teens, to adults of all ages. Storytime, arts, and crafts, musical/cultural family concerts, science and math programs, and other educational and entertaining programs are offered regularly. Attendance is mostly affected by the size of the branch. While the smallest may see between 6-10 people per event, the larger branches consistently reach over 100 attendees. The Summer Reading Program tops these numbers significantly. Last summer, the most well-attended children’s program was attended by over 600 people. An average would be 40-60 attendees at the smaller branches and 100-200 at the larger branches.
While it was the award-winning NextReads feature that initially brought Loudoun County Public Library to LibraryAware, they realized how much LibraryAware could help with promoting programs. As they began using LibraryAware for other marketing materials such as book lists and displays, event flyers, shelf-talkers, and signs, LCPL streamlined their work by having separate profiles for each branch under a master account. Each branch account was set up with pre-determined promotion folders based on categories in the online calendar system in order to help staff better organize their materials.
The feedback from the staff has been positive. “It would be impossible for one person to make the materials to promote all of the 900 to 1,000 programs we have every month, so it is definitely helpful to have the branches using it,” said Kellie.
In addition to creating separate accounts for each of the nine branches, Loudoun County Public Library worked with the LibraryAware team to move to a custom template system. “We wanted the branches to develop their own collections of specially-made templates specific to their programming and to also work together by looking at what other branches were creating for similar programs in order to adopt consistent designs across the system.” The branding bars on their new templates focus on program age groups and categories rather than branch information.
Loudoun County Public Library has also recently added templates for digital displays so that staff can create cohesive print and digital materials. Before using LibraryAware for digital displays, the staff had to create them in programs like Microsoft PowerPoint and Publisher, where they didn’t have access to the same images or fonts they were using for their flyers. Kellie said, “the result was a mixed message in our communications to patrons, but that is no longer an issue since we are now able to create all of our materials in one place. Our patrons see consistent promotions in multiple instances throughout branches, which means the information is more likely to stick with them.”
One of the biggest challenges faced by Kellie and her team is getting the word out about all of their programs: “Creating collateral with eye-grabbing design that can be repeated on flyers, displays, posters, and social media is helpful. In this way, we’re reaching the person who prefers finding out about programs by grabbing a flyer while they’re in the branch, as well as the person who rarely comes into the library but interacts with us via social media and the library website.” Kellie uses LibraryAware on the LCPL Facebook page, which allows them to connect with outside individuals, groups, and local businesses where some events are held. They can easily connect with members of the county who might not be on the library mailing list.
Another major benefit of LibraryAware is that it gives the ability to oversee what is being created in the branches. “That part is extremely helpful in making sure we stay consistent in our branding, since I cant always physically be there,” said Kellie.
In addition to LibraryAware, LCPL also subscribes to NoveList, which has helped in creating better readers’ advisory materials. “A few of our branches really take advantage of this feature by providing detailed recommended reading lists for patrons. They pick a genre or theme and create trifold brochures complete with book covers and descriptions. It’s a simple and effective tool for helping promote specifically what we have in our catalog,” said Kellie.
“The convenience of creating everything in one place has been really beneficial,” Kellie said. “Especially in establishing a consistent look in our promotional materials.” A consistent look and message keep both the community and the staff in the know.
Kellie Sigler is the Visual Communications Specialist at Loudoun County Public Library, a system of ten libraries in Virginia.