In early November, hundreds of library staff gathered in Indianapolis, Indiana, to share ideas to promote their library's services, programs, and collections. The Library Marketing and Communications Conference draws people from all over the world for two days of sessions, workshops, inspiring keynotes, and comradery.  

A longtime supporter of the conference and rural libraries, LibraryAware sponsored two members of the Association for Rural and Small Libraries. “When I found out I was going to the Library Marketing and Communications Conference thanks to Library Aware, I was excited and nervous,” recalled Alice DeFriez, who works for Wasatch County Library in Heber City, Utah. “I was excited about learning new things and meeting new people. I was nervous because I thought I would go to the conference and discover I was out of my league and had no business being there. Thankfully, I found out I did belong and still have a lot to learn.” 

“I was thrilled at the opportunity to meet other people that straddle the line between librarianship and marketing and social media,” said Shellie Ziegler, who works for the Mississippi Library Commission and who also attended the conference thanks to sponsored registration from LibraryAware. “I love to get ideas from others that I can incorporate into what we are already doing on a state level, as well as assisting our small rural libraries. I am constantly looking for ways to empower the small, rural librarians to promote and market themselves more effectively.” 

“What I liked most about the conference was rubbing shoulders with people who do what I do,” revealed Alice. “I wear a lot of hats at my library, and sometimes I feel like I live on the desert island of marketing and promotions with no boat to get ashore. A lot of my co-workers have no idea what I do and think I spend all day goofing off on social media, wasting time manipulating pictures and text, or just making pretty signs for our library programs. My library management and board of directors support what I do and are very complimentary. However, it was nice to talk to people who know what I do all day and can give support and advice.” 

Shellie came away from the conference with a concrete list of ideas to incorporate into her work. For example, Shellie is considering partnering with similar library systems at a state level to share each other's services and features on social media. And she’ll share that advice with the libraries she works with. “Instead of merely using your social media to state facts and program information, use your social media to show patrons that the library is approachable,” said Shellie. “I will stress that more to the libraries that I consult.” 

And speaking of social media, Shellie discovered something about TikTok at one of the conference sessions. “TikTok is fun,” Shellie commented. “But it can be used to inform the public of vital information. We do not currently have TikTok, but one session demonstrated beautifully how TikTok can be used not just for the silly, fun reels but for actual service content.” 

Alice says the conference had an unexpected benefit for her. "I traveled 1,000 miles from home to meet someone who lives 30 miles away,” said Alice. “We are now friends, and I hope to be able to learn from her and share ideas. It makes me feel like I have been given a speed boat to get off my marketing island. “ 

Alice DeFriez is the Promotions Coordinator and Marketing Director for the Wasatch County Library. She is reading Opera Sisters by Marianne Monson.  

Shellie Zeigler is a Library Consultant for the Mississippi Library Commission. She is reading Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead and Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson.