Library Marketing & Communications Conference

St. Louis, Missouri – November 2018

Thanks to a Professional Development Grant from the CLRC, I attended the Library Marketing and Communications Conference (LMCC) in St. Louis, Missouri. The conference has been held annually since 2015 and has grown every year as libraries recognize the need to improve their social media, branding, web design, and communications in order to better position themselves to have their messages heard, collections and services well-used, and programs well-attended.

One of the highlights of the conference came on the first day with the President’s Program, which was presented as a conversation between LMCC President Jennifer Burke and Cordelia Anderson, recently the Marketing & Communications Leader at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. Some of the insights that came out of this program:

  • “Marketing” is the science of understanding human wants and needs and then designing things that meet those needs. For that reason, marketing teams should be involved in the beginning stages of planning new programs and services.
  • If you try to reach everyone, you will fail to engage anyone well.
  • There is often a complete imbalance in the promotion of events vs. services or collections. The money spent on books, buildings and people usually exceeds what is spent on programming. The marketing of events is disproportional to the spending.

Many of the programs that I attended focused on internal marketing and communications. Front line staff are key in promoting library events and services, so they need to be on the same page and buy into the value of marketing. This starts with regular communication with staff, through email, meetings, etc. Staff should preview emails that will be sent to patrons and get “sneak peeks” at print marketing that is used or sent out – that way when they get patron questions about them, they’ll feel empowered to answer.

Lunches and dine-arounds afforded me the opportunity to connect with professionals in libraries across the country (and beyond!) who are responsible for marketing, web, design, and social media, and discuss different marketing strategies, things they’ve done that were successful, and challenges they’ve faced. In addition, I was able to collect some excellent samples of different marketing during the conference’s swag swap.

There were numerous things I’ve taken away from this conference that I will be able to use in my current role as the primary marketing and communications person at our library as my department works on improving communications with staff, enhancing current marketing and promotional efforts, and developing a communications plan for our library. I also look forward to sharing what I’ve learned with the Library Communications Team in my county, as well as with NYLA’s Public Relations & Marketing Round Table.

Thanks again to the CLRC for making my attendance at this conference possible!

Michelle Metcalf

Community Information Librarian, Northern Onondaga Public Library



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