Whose Library Public Relations Award is It Anyway?

News | February 19, 2018

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Submissions have begun for this year’s John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Awards. Find out more about the annual award named after the father of the modern library.

John Cotton Dana’s efforts to transition libraries from reading rooms to community centers earned him the name the father of the modern library.  Though he lived from 1856-1929, he realized that it was critical to get the word out about the services and resources libraries offered. Dana’s emphasis on building public awareness is as important as ever. Libraries are developing not only innovative programs and services, but also innovative strategic communications campaigns.

The award that bears his name began in the 1940s and has been called the most prestigious award of the American Library Association (ALA). Libraries of all types and sizes are invited to enter their rebranding efforts, promotion of unique archives, awareness campaigns for an array of programs, services, resources, and spaces, and community partnerships.

John Cotton Dana Award entries are organized around three key areas: Needs Assessment and Planning, Implementation and Evaluation. Libraries are able to submit samples of their processes, research, advertising (traditional print, radio, and television in addition to the gamut of social media — YouTube videos, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram), media coverage and other quantitative and qualitative results, along with thoughtful evaluation. A revamped electronic entry process and a new online application site make it easier than ever to provide documentation and supporting materials to show the scope and effectiveness of library strategic communication efforts.

John Cotton Dana Award entries are organized around three key areas: Needs Assessment and Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation.

Five judges make up the judging committee. Patrick Zinn, director of marketing at Texas A&M University chairs the judges’ committee. He says the judges spend hours reviewing the campaigns received each year. “It is always inspiring to see the dozens of inventive and impressive projects and campaigns. Choosing the winners involves lively discussion over days of deliberation.”

This year’s entry deadline is March 16th, 2018. Up to eight winners will be announced in late April; those winners will each receive a $10,000 development award from the H.W. Wilson Foundation at the annual Awards Ceremony sponsored by ALA, its LLAMA Division and EBSCO Information Services during the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans.

Find out more about the submission process, look at the entry documents, see winning entries from previous years and apply on our website.

Learn More About the John Cotton Dana Awards

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