Before COVID-19, you probably created displays, bookmarks, and flyers to promote your library’s books. But how can your readers find the best titles in your collection when they can’t walk into your physical library building?

Don’t despair. You can use your library’s website, social media, and email marketing to tell readers about the collection items you have for checkout.

Digital promotion is vital to your library’s success, now and when things return to normal. If you’re ready to expand your promotional reach, here are three ideas to try.

Email: If you’ve heard email is dead, I am here to tell you it is NOT, at least for libraries. Many libraries see consistent and amazing circulation boosts using email. People love getting email from the library.

When I worked in marketing for a public library system, we had success sending an email each month promoting new books. You can start simply. Pick two or three titles that are getting a lot of buzz. Send the suggested titles to your cardholders with a direct link to the title so people can place a hold right from the email. Pro tip: Include a few “while you wait” options that are readalikes for the new titles. You’ll draw attention to authors and titles which might be new to readers. You’ll also keep your readers engaged until their place in the holds queue comes up. 

If you aren’t sending NextReads newsletters to your cardholders, now is a great time to start. People love these librarian-curated lists of book recommendations, covering more than two dozen genres and topics. You can switch out the print titles for E-books. Here’s a simple guide on how to do that.

Want to tailor your recommendations to your community? Try a custom newsletter. Visit this page to see examples of how other libraries are doing this.

It’s a good idea to track the effectiveness of any collection-based email you send. Just before the email goes out, record the number of holds and checkouts on each title you’re promoting. A week later, check those numbers again. If there’s an increase, congratulations!  Most, if not all, of that increase is likely due to your promotions. This will also help you prove the value of using email to promote your collections to your board or other stakeholders. Plus, you’ll learn what kinds of books and authors your patrons like. Pro tip: If your library has NoveList Select, you can watch the rank of books searched in your catalog change over time with NoveList Select’s Analytics Dashboard

Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are effective ways to market your collection digitally. And with social media, you’ll reach non-cardholders, too. 

Hold a conversation about a book with your followers in real time on Twitter or Facebook. When a highly anticipated book is released and your library adds the book to its catalog, announce it on social media. Ask followers to comment when they’ve added the book to their reading list or placed it on hold. Ask readers to share reviews of books at the top of the bestsellers list — even if it’s just a few lines about why they did or did not like the book. 

If you are a LibraryAware subscriber, you can create eye-catching graphics sized right for any platform using the new social media widget templates. Just type “social media” in the search box to see designs in several sizes, or search by the social media channel to narrow your choices. 

Your library website homepage: Data from the Pew Research Center shows that most library users have a library card because they want to check out items. So, make it easy to place holds by highlighting your collection front and center on your website.

You can promote a single book or book series in your promotional carousel, multiple items on a theme in a book carousel, or both! LibraryAware widgets make it easy. Pro tip: Choose at least one book each week to highlight in your rotating promotions carousel. It’ll be the first thing people see when they log onto your website.  

The key to reaching readers is to connect with them where they are, and for a growing number of your patrons, that’s online. We’d love to hear how you’re connecting with your readers. 

Want to know more about LibraryAware? Learn more here

Angela Hursh is Senior Engagement Consultant for NoveList. She is currently reading Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane.