OCLC to expand Geek the Library campaign to more libraries

Geek the Library, OCLC’s community awareness campaign designed to highlight the value of public libraries, has received $1,924,883 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to extend participation in the program to 1,000 additional libraries through June 2015. The funding allows increased emphasis on library staff planning and implementation of the program, and will help staff build on the knowledge and skills they need to be effective advocates for libraries in their communities.

“In addition to the awareness we’re building in the community, the lessons we’ve learned have helped staff understand the importance of consistent messaging in telling our story,” said Anna Cangialosi, Marketing Coordinator for Chelsea District Library in Chelsea, Michigan. “The Geek the Library campaign has been a great way for us to get the Chelsea community involved to tell their stories and how the library supports them, which will benefit the library even after we’ve completed our campaign.”

A recent survey of public libraries implementing the Geek the Library campaign in local communities indicated a positive connection between the campaign and improved public perceptions of the library. The study also showed improvements in library staff advocacy- and marketing-related competencies. This final phase of the program will build on these findings by introducing enhanced support for participating libraries, and a focus on building library staff confidence and skills with advocacy, marketing and communications.

“Additional funding provides OCLC the opportunity to enhance the program by translating important lessons we’ve learned in the campaign’s first years into even more support for libraries, and a greater focus in areas we know can help libraries raise awareness during the campaign and beyond,” said Chrystie Hill, Director of Community Relations for OCLC.

Public libraries that implement the Geek the Library campaign will continue to receive free field support, a variety of printed materials and access to extensive online resources, including templates for localizing campaign content easily. Posters that feature local community members have become a trademark of almost every campaign. The posters are an effective way to involve community members as they learn about the value of the library and the need for funding.

“Public libraries bring a lot to the table for their local communities. We need to talk about it and be proud of it—we can’t afford not to,” said Mary Lou Carolan, Director of Wallkill Public Library in Wallkill, New York, who is currently wrapping up her library’s local Geek the Library campaign.

Geek the Library has a national campaign presence with its website, geekthelibrary.org, and social media such as FacebookTwitter and Flickr. Geek the Library was developed based on results of OCLC’s research published in From Awareness to Funding: A study of library support in America. The research and pilot campaign were also funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The program will accept new participants through June 2014. Interested libraries can get more information about implementing the campaign locally at get.geekthelibrary.org.