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Increasing patrons' awareness (and usage!) of library resources

Brazoria County Library System initially purchased LibraryAware in 2014 as a way to spruce up flyers and help with in-library promotions.

“We had a mish-mash of different skill levels and competencies,” Adult Coordinator Tom West explained. “We were all over the map. The quality of our materials varied drastically.”

An Initial Success

In December 2014, Brazoria County Library System began a new subscription to Total Boox, a service that provides patrons with access to e-books. In-house promotion of the service led to 745 downloads in the first month. In mid-January 2015, West emailed patrons an announce about the new service. When West looked at the number of e-book downloads for the month of January, he was thrilled to see that they had jumped to 7,520, about 10 times higher than the previous month.

“I thought that was really, really good,” West said, adding that a lot of people came into the library to ask about the new service. “It’s really exciting. We’ve noticed a difference right away.”

Rinse, Repeat

The success of the first email blast led West to try another campaign in March 2015. The library system had recently added Flipster, EBSCO’s digital magazine service, and he wanted to promote it to patrons. When West checked usage numbers afterward, he was pleased again: Flipster saw 2,021 downloads, up from 436 in February.

“It was a very sizeable increase over what we had been doing,” West said. “Flipster was a totally different product, and we needed to get the word out. So we got the word out, and they loved it.”

In May 2015, West sent out two additional email blasts: one promoting the library’s NewsBank database, and another promoting Freegal Music, a music service. At the end of May, the number of NewsBank searches had quadrupled, and 7,710 songs were streamed from Freegal Music, up from 1,675 the month before.

West said he is planning future email blasts to promote more of the library’s resources including Hoopla. In fact, West said, Hoopla is offering Brazoria County Library System a credit toward the purchase of future content for promoting the service and sharing the campaign’s statistics.

“Most of the time patrons say, ‘I didn’t know you had this.’ That’s why I decided to use the email blasts."

"I Didn't Know You Had This"

“We pay for the service, but we have to promote it,” West said, adding that he also arranges for local newspaper coverage. “Most of the time patrons say, ‘I didn’t know you had this.’ That’s why I decided to use the email blasts. You assume that, because you put it on your web page or hang up a flyer, people know what’s going on, but they don’t. You have to approach them on all fronts.”

West said that he is informing all of the library’s vendors that he is using LibraryAware to promote their services and is working with them to develop new email promotions. “We are definitely moving forward with these email blasts,” he said. “Our goal is one a month.”

Promoting the Whole Library

Meanwhile, patrons can subscribe to any of the library’s 45 LibraryAware newsletters, which include custom newsletters from each of the system’s 12 branches. Other newsletters include information on fiction and nonfiction bestsellers, genres such as mystery and horror, new DVD releases, and fun topics such as “PURR: Paranormal Undead Romance Readers” (titles patrons can sink their teeth into) and “I Despised This!” (books and movies that the library staff did not enjoy).

West said he and his colleagues are also creating flyers, bookmarks and shelf talkers using LibraryAware. Most recently, they loaded images created in LibraryAware onto flash drives and began displaying them on digital picture frames around the library. The image carousel promotes everything from crochet classes to children’s story hour to adult reading recommendations.

“LibraryAware is really a good tool [and] well worth the investment,” West said, adding that it is helping to modernize the library’s brand. “It makes things look so much more professional and saves so much time. LibraryAware is becoming more integral to our workflow.”

Tom West is Adult Coordinator at Brazoria County Library System.

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