San Francisco Public Library

Engaging the Community with LibraryAware™ Newsletters

At a Glance

San Francisco Public Library
San Francisco, California

Institution Type:   Public Libraries
Related Products:   LibraryAware

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Michelle Jeffers, Chief of Community Programs and Partnerships at the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) faced a problem familiar to many libraries. The system’s email newsletter was growing, which meant her Constant Contact bill was growing, too. She knew of LibraryAware™ because SFPL used it to send the PDF of their eight-page print newsletter to 500 to 1,000 people, but it wasn’t until Michelle was talking about the clunkiness of Constant Contact that a colleague mentioned LibraryAware as a possible replacement. This short conversation led to the solution Michelle had been looking for.

Because it’s so easy to pull books and collection items right from our catalog, we are promoting a lot more reading lists and top fiction.

Michelle Jeffers
Chief of Community Programs and Partnerships
San Francisco Public Library

Finding a Great Service

When Michelle heard that she could send out as many emails as she wanted and that more subscribers wouldn’t mean a bigger bill, her response was pleased disbelief. “I thought, ‘Really, all this is part of our subscription? Really? That can’t be right.’”

Kathy Lussier, Customer Engagement Coordinator, walked Michelle through setting up her branding, importing her subscriber list, and making an email template. “Kathy was so helpful in making this happen and walking me through this,” Michelle said. “There was one person to call, and I always got a quick response.”

Promoting the Entire Collection

Working together, Michelle and the LibraryAware team reimagined SFPL’s print newsletter into an email newsletter incorporating all of the newsletter’s great content and make it easier for patrons reading on phones and desktops by seeding it with links for immediate use.

SFPL uses email newsletters to promote events such as the Friends of the Library Book Sale and Brainfuse, a service provides online tutoring. However, since starting with LibraryAware, they’ve increased the number of books they promote. “Because it’s so easy to pull books and collection items right from our catalog, we are promoting a lot more reading lists and top fiction,” Michelle explained.

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Getting the Word Out

Branch managers who’ve seen Michelle’s LibraryAware newsletters have been inspired to create their own.

“Branch Managers have said they are looking for a way to engage more deeply with their neighborhoods,” said Michelle. “We’re hoping use of LibraryAware will grow organically throughout the system. We’re also looking at other departments, like the Wallace Stegner Environmental Center, to make the switch.”

Michelle has already gotten positive feedback. “Bernal Heights has liked LibraryAware a lot,” she said. “They’ve already sent out two newsletters.” Two other branches, Glen Park and Parkside, are working on building theirs. “Those branches are led by go-getter branch managers looking for ways to get the word out.”

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Measuring Success

Of course, with built-in readers’ advisory materials, NextReads newsletters and integrated social media, getting the word out about library services is what LibraryAware is designed for. For SFPL, the proof is in the numbers. Their At The Library newsletter is going out to 9,000 subscribers a month, with a 26% open rate. LibraryAware’s metrics give SFPL an immediate understanding of how many people are opening their newsletter and what interests them based on what links they click.

According to Michelle, all of this is part of LibraryAware’s being “so easy and beautiful.”

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