Paperback to Pixels to Programs: How to Drive Patrons Back into Your Library

December 12, 2017 — Organization Management

Today, many public libraries have or are in the process of going through major organizational structure shifts. Social media has slowly taken over how we interact with our patrons and books are now digital and downloadable on most devices. Library funding is limited and many programs are in danger of being eliminated. With limited funding in a digital world, how can public libraries reach new patrons and get people coming back through their doors?

Busy library

Here are a few examples of how libraries are handling the e-reader revolution:

  • Be THE Community gathering place – Promote the community’s events on your website calendar, not just your own. Be the source of reference for all things happening in your community. Offer your library space to other organizations in your community for free or at a discount to cross-promote and drive their patrons into your library.
  • Events and other programs – Events are the best way to get people into your library. These programs promote education and literacy and provide kids a fun and safe place to go after school or outside their home to learn and socialize with others, or just a safe space if needed. These programs help raise money and improve the likelihood of bringing in new patrons and volunteers to help run other programs and events.
  • Expand library rooms – Study rooms, conference rooms, meeting rooms, tech labs, co-work spaces…these spaces appeal to students, employers, parents…well, everyone really. Public libraries from their infancy have doubled as schools or public meeting spaces, these new areas are the natural progression of a true community space.
  • New services (genealogy, resume help, citizenship training, research tools, floating books) – Give the people what they need and want, and make it easy! New services add value to your library. I remember going to the Detroit Library in college to do research and learning that for the $10 I had already spent to do my research (I was not a resident of Detroit, so they collect a small fee for using their collection and services) I was able to use their Ancestry.com library subscription to find out about my family tree. How cool is that!? And that is just one example of how libraries are putting a fun spin on the great services they already provide. Other libraries are offering resume help, citizenship training, and even floating books. Floating books are not owned by any single library or branch and can be returned to any location, this allows libraries to have an ever changing, rotating collection of books that people can discover.
  • Encourage people to stay – Cafés, book sales, gift shop, play areas – Give people a reason to stick around a while. My local library has a great play area for kids, my daughter and I go there quite a bit, especially in the winter months, to play with other kids and get out of the house for a while. Other libraries have added cafes and gift shops, this provides additional revenue and people tend to extend their stay. Friends of the Library often promote and host book sales at the library to bring in additional revenue.
  • Updated website content – Let’s face it, developers aren’t cheap and a full website overhaul might be out of the question for some small libraries. But a few changes could make it easier for people to find you. Move your upcoming events to your homepage, highlight exciting changes or improvements that may be coming up, or write a short feature on a new book or books that you have added to your library’s collection. Your website must be a way to reconnect with and reach your digital patrons and encourage and promote all the great reasons they need to come into your library.

Libraries will always be a needed and essential part of any community, they have always evolved to give patrons what they need while surviving on some of the smallest funding the federal, state, and local government provides to any groups. If you can implement any of the changes above, it will go a long way in retaining and attracting new patrons. If your library is struggling or may need help, reach out to LocalHop, we will do our best to help you promote your library programs, provide you with affordable event management software, or help participate in fundraisers or other programs to help you continue to provide the great services you offer your community.

About us – LocalHop is an Event Management Platform that provides event marketing, web calendars, and registration systems to organizations and small businesses. LocalHop launched in October 2015 and has offices in Pontiac and Kalamazoo, Michigan.