Eight libraries were selected for the John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award, which recognizes and honors outstanding achievement in library public relations. The John Cotton Dana (JCD) honor has been awarded continuously since 1946 and is sponsored by EBSCO, the H.W. Wilson Foundation and the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). It is considered to be the most prestigious of all library awards in the field of public relations.
For 2012, the JCD Award was revamped to judge applications based on budget categories. The application process was also improved by using online submissions and the amount of the award was increased. $10,000 is provided to each winning library by the HW Wilson Foundation. The number of submissions grew from an average of 36 submissions to 108 submissions this year.
“This was a very interesting year,” said JCD committee chair, Kim Terry. “The quality was outstanding, and because of the huge increase of entries, we had a really hard time narrowing down to only eight winners, despite the fact that the number of awards available nearly doubled from previous years. We had a variety of libraries —academic libraries to special libraries to school libraries —apply with fantastic campaigns.”
Eight libraries were honored:
The Arlington (Texas) Public Library created “Become a Part of Our Story: Volunteer!” – built around clear, clever, creative job descriptions, turning each position into a character, such as “Book Doctor,” “Heritage Sleuth” and “Library Secret Shopper,” with a charming graphic design to reinforce the fresh approach. This campaign brought 365 volunteers to orientation sessions and increased volunteer hours 112 percent.
Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Public Library rebranding campaign led up to the rebuilding of the main downtown library, which was devastated in the flood of 2008. The CRPL turned this tragedy into an opportunity, inviting the community to broaden its expectations of a great library and recognize the tremendous library experience available today. The campaign saw a 36 percent increase in library cards issued, a 54 percent increase in program participation and a 44 percent increase in unique website visitors.
Contra Costa (Calif.) Public Library’s “Snap & Go,” campaign used QR codes to deliver library materials and services to customers with mobile phones. Usage of the Library’s mobile site bumped up 11 percent during the first month of the campaign and awareness led to a sustained increase in usage of 16 percent.
The Cleve J. Fredricksen Library in Camp Hill, Pa., for “Bee Local @ Fredricksen Library: A Honey and Local Foods Festival,” a unique and hugely successful program designed to create collaborative relationships with local organizations and to target marketing of the library and festival to non-users. The festival showcased the library as an inviting community center, increasing awareness of resources and collections.
King County (Wash.) Library System created “Take Time to READ,” a reading initiative and community relations campaign to focus attention on the value of reading for pleasure. The campaign was an outstanding success. Regional transit reached 95.6 percent saturation, Facebook advertising yielded more than 4 million impressions and KCLS social media buzz topped more than 550 public and patron Twitter posts about books and reading.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDot) created the “Moving Knowledge” campaign to convey updated space and resources and improve outreach efforts. The space redesign transformed the library from a “bland government” look to a warm and inviting environment. The eye-catching marketing campaign succeeded in bringing in new MnDOT users from throughout the state. The Grand Reopening Event drew 70 percent more attendees than the last Open House, and daily visits to the library increased 1000-fold.
The First Regional Library System’s Emily Jones Pointer Library in Como, Miss. became the place for regional blues music by enlisting community teens to record the true-life stories of local residents. Funded through a $15,000 LSTA grant, this small town built up their music resources for visiting tourists on the Mississippi Blues Trail while building community pride and partnerships.
Students and faculty at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah have gotten a clue about the library craft of information orienteering with “Get in the Game,” an interactive, multimedia experience that mixes classic games with modern trends, role-play with research, to make a visit to the library memorable meaningful, and fun. As an orientation to the library, the project reported a 90 percent success rate in increasing students’ comfort and confidence in visiting the library.
The John Cotton Dana Awards will be presented at a reception sponsored by EBSCO on Sun., June 24, 4:30 – 6 p.m. at the Sheraton Park Hotel in Anaheim, Calif. during the the ALA Annual Conference.