Library to show its value

Photo by Gretel Daugherty
Shawn Smith reads on the top floor of the main branch of the Mesa County Public Library on Sunday.

The Mesa County Public Library District soon will launch what could be the most comprehensive marketing campaign in its history, an effort aimed at reaching new customers and portraying local branches as essential community places.

Officials hope the campaign will bolster the public perception of the library and user numbers, which continue to rise after hitting record levels last year.

Library patrons borrowed more than 1 million items for the first time in 2009, and circulation in the first quarter of 2010 exceeded 310,000 items, a 16 percent jump over the same time last year. Total library visits were up 7 percent in the first three months of the year.

The library in years past marketed specific programs or events as they happened. Administrators this summer hope to diversify their message, driving home the idea that through borrowing and embracing new technology citizens are getting value, a good return on their investment and a place where they can gather and connect with others.

“We want people to think of the library as part of our community infrastructure,” Library Director Eve Tallman said. “They don’t necessarily have to use it or come in every day, but the library exists for lots of really good reasons that may not be personal but are important to the community.”

Officials will communicate that message through radio and television commercials, newspaper advertisements, billboards, in-house posters and fliers and library TV monitors.

“It’s more than just books, it’s more than just DVDs, it’s this whole entity designed to accommodate a whole community and give them entertainment, programs and events they can enjoy,” Development Services Director Lois Becker said.

Tallman said while the library is frequented by families and older retirees, she sees an opportunity to draw in more young adults who don’t have any children, plus new retirees or those on the cusp of retiring.

Library officials say they don’t know yet how much they’ll spend on the campaign. Tallman said the library spent $31,700 on advertising last year and has $43,000 to spend this year, but she doesn’t expect all of that money to go to the campaign.


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