What are you working on, Simpson Library?

Librettos, social justice, dirt bike racing -- there are certain things about which you cannot go halfway. When people embrace what they love, they end up places like PennLive's What are you working on? series. The library's job is to join you in what you love, and Mechanicsburg's Joseph T. Simpson Public Library is at work now on a new campaign that will demonstrate that to its community: Geek the Library.


About the Simpson Library

According to Adult Services Librarian and Volunteer Coordinator Rebecca Swanger, the Simpson Library, as a public library, exists "to serve our community. Public libraries build diverse collections, but we also grow our collections based on our community."


And the Simpson Library is looking to grow. Library Director Sue Erdman says, "We want to remind people about the immense value public libraries have for individuals and for our community and that no matter what your passion is, the library can provide information and resources for you."


"Many people still believe that the library is a dusty place filled only with books," says Swanger, "Well it's true that we still maintain large book collections, but we also offer all sorts of other materials: free Internet access, DVDs, music CDs, video games, magazines, and newspapers. You name it, and one of our libraries probably has it. And if we don't, we'll try our hardest to borrow it from another library!"


The Simpson Library plans to tap into its community's passions by participating in a new nationwide campaign, Geek the Library. "In essence," says Swanger, Geek the Library "is a way to grab the community's attention and express to them that we support them and their interests. The library is for the community and we want them to take advantage of our services!"


About Geek the Library

So, what is "geeking" the library, and why is the Simpson Library doing it?


Geek the Library is a nation-wide public awareness marketing campaign, and the Simpson Library plans to launch their campaign at their municipal breakfast on Wednesday, Oct. 9. "The underlying message to this campaign is that everyone has something they geek -- something they are passionate about," says Swanger, "and the public library supports it all."


"To geek," by the way, is defined as: to love, to enjoy, to celebrate, to have an intense passion for; to express interest in; to possess a large amount of knowledge in; to promote.


"Many people love the library," says Swanger. "They know that it supports everyone. They know about all the things that the library offers to the community -- books, DVDs, video games, programs, a safe place, meeting rooms, and more -- but this is only a segment of our community. We want to get the message out to more people, especially those who do not frequent the library regularly. The Joseph T. Simpson Library supports them, and we have a lot more to offer than most people realize!"


With Geek the Library, the Simpson Library wants to promote itself as a place where anyone can find what they enjoy. "We are trying," says Swanger, "to create what's called an ambient awareness of the library in the community. This means that as we put up posters and advertise the library around the community -- in businesses and meeting places as well as on social media -- so people will be more aware of us and what we offer. Next time someone thinks, 'I need to learn about X,Y,Z,' or, 'I really want to watch this movie,' they'll be more likely to think of us!"



About the library in the community

Look out for posters in the Simpson Library! They will star librarians as well as prominent members of the Mechanicsburg community. "We're going to make 'GeekBoards' on which people coming in to the library can write what they geek." And they can geek anything -- chess, Middle Eastern cooking, the history of psychiatric medicine -- you name it. "They get to talk about what they love," says Swanger, "and we get to know more about what the community is passionate about."


Local businesses can get in on the action, too. "We will reach out to local businesses and ask them if they would like to be featured on a poster to hang in their business. Say we feature the owner of a pizza shop on a poster. They're probably going to say, 'I Geek Pizza.'" -- PennLive can get down with that -- "It is a mutually beneficial relationship -- people see the poster and want to learn more about it and the library, and the business gets good publicity."


Look forward to seeing the Simpson librarians out in the community. "We will go to events with our Geek stuff and ask people what they geek. We'll bring the GeekBoards for people to write on, give out some stickers and other freebies and talk up the library and our services!" Any kind of events are game, and they are excited to march in the Halloween parade on Tuesday, Oct. 8.


Geek the Library will run from October to early June, and during that time, Simpson Library programming to reflect the Geek campaign. "For example," says Swanger, "our knitting club -- Chicks with Sticks -- may be called 'I Geek Knitting.' By doing that, we may draw in people who didn't know we offered the program!"


"It's a bad idea for us to assume that our community knows our value and what we do to support them," says Swanger. "We want the community to know that we support them, whatever their passion is!"


The Simpson Library wants everyone to come in and share what they geek. "If they'd like to be featured on a poster we can take their picture!" says Swanger. "This campaign is about the community so we're featuring all sorts of people. I'm going to have an area by the entrance where I'll put a 'Geek of the Week' along with materials that are related to what they geek!"


For the launch, the Simpson Library will be giving away bookmarks, bumper stickers, postcards and more. Stop by the Geek the Library launch on Oct. 9 to enjoy refreshments and compete for "Most Unique Geek."

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