When Bertha Signer was a little girl, her mother took her to the library. Those early visits launched a lifelong love of the library. Decades later, when she was 103 years old, Bertha was still reading. She devoured as many as three books a week, brought to her assisted living facility by her library’s outreach volunteers. “Reading opens up a new life for you,” Bertha once told me. “As long as you’re reading, you’re learning. If you stop learning, you stop living.” 

I share Bertha’s story with library staff because we are in the business of creating more people like Bertha. The collection is your most important asset in that endeavor. And if you are worried about getting your library back to pre-pandemic usage levels, as most libraries are, then you'll need to use your collection to attract your community once again to the library.  

Library cardholders want the stuff. They’re checking out books. They’re watching free videos. They’re listening to music. They want your collection. That’s why they signed up for a library card! 

The latest edition of the Public Library Survey Report from the Institute of Museum and Library Services shows that only about three-tenths of one percent of the entire population of the United States attends a library program in any given year. But some 2.2 billion items circulate in a typical year at libraries. That’s about eight items for every person in the United States!  

And your library certainly spends more on the collection than on programming. Library Journal’s most recently released Budgets and Funding Survey shows that libraries spent 11.9 percent of their total budget on collection materials in 2021.  

Your collection, including print books, ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, movies, and music, is your library’s biggest investment and your best asset. Our community members can get anything they need from the library. But they might not know that’s the case. So, promoting your collection is essential. And you’ll need to do more than a few social media posts. A collection marketing plan that’s tied to your library’s overall goals and is measurable is key. 

That’s why we created the course Collection Promotion Deep-Dive as a professional development session for libraries. With Summer Reading coming, we wanted to offer this course more widely, so on Thursday, May 19 at 2 pm ET, we’ll walk you through the steps to setting up a successful collection marketing plan. This two-hour session is packed with tips that work for any size library, are easy to execute, and, dare I say fun. There are interactive activities and plenty of time for questions and discussion. And best of all, you can buy a seat for $99 in this exclusive live session, taught by library and marketing experts, on the Learn with NoveList platform

If you need to make a case to your library about the importance of investing in this professional development course, we’ve got you covered. We created a letter you can send to your supervisor, so they’ll understand the value of your participation in this session. 

Your collection makes it possible for your library to offer social services. Your collection makes it possible for you to create programming and support educational institutions in your community. Your collection makes it possible for your library to exist. If your library spends a few minutes every day marketing your collection, it will increase circulation, which can pave the way for more funding for your library. And, most importantly, your library will be the place people turn to when they need books, magazines, movies, and music. 

Collection Promotion Deep-Dive

Live session on Thursday, May 19, 2022 at 2 pm ET

Angela Hursh is Senior Engagement Consultant for NoveList. She is listening to Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker and reading Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir.