Marketing Libraries: Insights


Here is another paper I wrote for my Library Marketing class, LIBR 283.  As always, my comments are meant to be constructive and from the perspective of a SLIS graduate student.

Marketing for nonprofit organizations has its own distinguishing aspects that help differentiate it from commercial entities.  Nonprofits are not only exchanging economic measurements, they are asking individuals to change their beliefs and perceptions for an ideal the nonprofit organization believes in and has a vested interest in maintaining and growing.  In this way nonprofits are marketing their ideas and values to individuals and other organizations.

Libraries are a shining example of how dynamic marketing for a nonprofit organization can be.  Like many organizations, libraries have many stakeholders that are affected by their marketing efforts.  These stakeholders include their immediate customers, the library staff, the communities they operate within, and their state and local governments.  Understanding their unique environment and their customers’ perceived costs and benefits is paramount to the successful marketing of library services.
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Org- or Customer-Centered?

I recently completed an assignment for my Marketing for Libraries class on the marketing mindset of nonprofit organizations.  The assignment made me think about where I work and how libraries are operating from a weak position compared to the competition they face from other information providers.  Marketing the libraries services and vision has got to be one of the single most difficult aspects of managing a library, however it is also one of the most important management functions.  The marketing function at a library has the potential to make it shine bright in a sky full of stars, but if this function is neglected and relegated to an unsubstantial position within a library’s overall planning, then the organization will suffer greatly in the long-term.  This could lead to less funding, less visibility, and overall less usage of library resources and services by the community it serves.

I focused in on my current employer to gain a better understanding of how a nonprofit organization is affected by its marketing mindset, Washington State University Libraries.  I do not wish to disparage my employer or talk poorly of them and this critique is meant to be strictly constructive.  Again, this was an assignment I completed for my SJSU SLIS graduate program and I am writing this post as a SLIS student and as a user of the Washington State University Libraries’ services.
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