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Monday, September 13, 2010

OCLC’s Public Awareness Campaign Aims to Increase Library Funding

Thanks to a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, OCLC is now able to help libraries across the nation raise awareness about public library funding and the need for local support.

Get Geeked
With the backing, OCLC was able to gage the perceptions and attitudes of public library funding at 100 select libraries. The aid also allowed OCLC to test their Geek the Library campaign, a large-scale marketing and advocacy campaign intended to increase local library support and highlight the crucial role of public libraries in today’s demanding economic environment. From this, they discovered that “targeting marketing messages to the right segments of the voting public is key to driving increased support for U.S. public libraries.”1

Now available to every library nationwide, Geek the Library provides professional guidance and the materials and resources needed to engage the public in discussions about the faltering state of local public libraries. The word “geek” acts as a verb to exemplify the fact that everyone is passionate about something – and that the public library endorses it all. Ultimately, OCLC said, “the campaign aims to reach influential members of the community, as well as key library supporters, who can help educate others regarding the future of library funding.”2

Why Now?
Diminishing funds have caused substantial budget cuts for libraries across the nation. According to The State of America’s Libraries, seven states and the District of Columbia do not provide state funding.3

Additionally, the report indicated that twenty‐four states cut funding for public libraries between fiscal years 2009 and 2010, where nearly half of the cuts were more than 11 percent.3 In some cases, these slashes came along with local level cuts.

Without libraries and proper funding, communities would be at a drastic loss. A January 2010 Harris Interactive Poll indicated that, “some 219 million Americans feel the public library improves the quality of life in their community, an increase from 209.8 million reported in 2006.”3 Traditionally, libraries were just a place for loaned materials. Now, they serve as a lifeline, providing access to government documents, technology training, and career workshops covering a wide range of topics.

Through pilot tests, Geek the Library has proven its ability to create proactive dialogue about the importance of public libraries and has successfully raised awareness regarding the lack of funding. “Combined results from field surveys, one-on-one library meetings, and qualitative and quantitative research indicate awareness and positive shifts in community perceptions," said Cathy De Rosa, global vice president of marketing for OCLC.1

For more information about implementing the Geek the Library campaign at your library, click here.


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