Pewaukee Public Library

Program promotion reaches new heights with help of focused eblasts

At a Glance

Pewaukee Public Library
Pewaukee, WI

Institution Type:   Public Libraries
Related Products:   LibraryAware

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Meet Nan Champe! Nan is the library director at Pewaukee Public Library (PPL) in Pewaukee, WI. PPL serves both the city (approximately 16,000) and the village (approximately 8,100) of Pewaukee. It is part of the Bridges Library System, a state-funded library system in southeastern Wisconsin that provides services to its 24 member libraries. 

The Bridges Library System became LibraryAware subscribers in 2020. With the pandemic, they recognized that their member libraries were looking for new ways to market materials and programs to members of the community and bring people back into the library. In August 2022, Pewaukee began to explore some new marketing efforts, specifically with adult programming promotion.

Bringing people back into the library

Like many libraries and the communities they serve, the pandemic caused a shift in communication for Pewaukee. “We had a lot of patrons coming to us and telling us, ‘Oh, we don't know what's going on,’“ recalled Nan. “How do you notify us?’”   

This illustrated a real need for a new tool and became one of the main reasons PPL started using LibraryAware. “Also, the fact that it is library-specific in its content, I think, was a big draw for the system to explore LibraryAware,” said Nan. “Librarians generally are not marketing experts by tradition, so really anything that can be library-specific or targeted for our needs just makes marketing so much easier for those of us like me who struggle with that aspect of the work.” 

“Over my career, I've worked with librarians who are artists. And then there's someone like me who has never been artistically gifted. I always struggled with that. I think LibraryAware gives every staff member the confidence to create professional promotional materials. It puts everyone on an equal plane and the product is easy to use, which is always a time saver.”

Nan Champe
Library Director
Pewaukee Public Library

A fresh start

As part of their launch of LibraryAware in August, PPL wanted to start a brand-new database of subscribers. They began with the list of email addresses for all current library cardholders and sent out an initial welcome email (complete with step-by-step information on how to opt out of library emails. “We also assured them that we wouldn’t sell their emails to other organizations or inundate them with constant marketing information like you get from retailers,” said Nan. “We informed our list that they would receive one very short email, about once a week, with information about the library.”  

With this method, PPL saw a huge change in their subscribership. Before, when their emails were opt-in, they had a list of about 1,700 subscribers. Now they have a list of nearly 8,000 subscribers. “So, with that change, I think we are getting new people for programs,” reported Nan. “We have so many patrons whose usage of the library is all electronic, so they may not enter our facility anymore. It's just getting these physical programs on their radar. So hopefully, that's driving use for people who hadn't been physically coming to our facility in the past to now attend our programs."

Program promotion

Nan and her team at Pewaukee have mostly been using LibraryAware for program promotion so far. There has been a real focus on (and real success with!) programs that have traditionally had low enrollment. “We’ve really been using this product a lot with adult programs, and that is where we are seeing our greatest success,” enthused Nan. “We're not using the product for children’s storytime or some adult craft programs that fill up right away.” 

The first program that Nan promoted through LibraryAware was a gardening program. “We have a rain garden on our property, and we were having some local gardening experts come in to talk about it and the possibility of having a rain garden on your own property,” remembered Nan. Nan decided to send out an eblast on the Monday morning of the week of the event. “We didn't really look at the numbers or pay much attention, and when that event came up later in the week, we were really surprised. We had 60 people coming to this event, and traditionally we would expect 15 to 20 people. So that was a great surprise to us!” said Nan.

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Rain Garden eblast

Make LibraryAware work for you

Since then, and through some trial and error, Nan and her team have found that what works best for their community is to send out an eblast once per week, highlighting one event. With PPL’s current focus on adult programs, they have carefully considered how adults run their schedules: “They may come into the library, they may see a flyer for a program that's three weeks from now that may be of interest, but they really don't know what their calendar will look like at that time,” said Nan “So being able to send out the eblast in that sweet spot from 3 to 7 days when they can look at their calendars and say, 'Yes, I'm available to attend' is really a game changer.” 

More recently, PPL hosted a Shred Fest at the library. They hired a shredding company truck to be available to the community. This was when Nan really saw the importance of LibraryAware. “We did all our traditional promotions,” recalled Nan. “We had flyers posted in the building. We posted the event on our website. We use Twitter, and we use Facebook.”  

This event required registration and had 200 available slots. Through the traditional means of promotion, PPL was able to get 80 sign-ups. The Monday before the event, Nan and her team decided that the Shred Fest would be the promoted event in that week’s eblast and sent it out that morning. Within five hours, the remaining 120 slots had been filled.

shredfest eblast image

"Without LibraryAware, we just realized that there was no way for us to drive attendance to our adult programs,” enthused Nan. “We would have done all the marketing available to us and passively sat and waited to see if we would have had additional sign-ups. So, it is a great way that we can actively market our programs, and it’s just phenomenal the response that we’ve gotten.”

Empowering staff with LibraryAware

“As a library-specific product, LibraryAware gives any staff person the power to create marketing materials,” said Nan. “Over my career, I've worked with librarians who are artists. And then there's someone like me who has never been artistically gifted. I always struggled with that. I think LibraryAware gives every staff member the confidence to create professional promotional materials. It puts everyone on an equal plane, and the product is easy to use, which is always a time saver.” 

Nan also started an initiative at PPL to convert all their recommended reading lists to LibraryAware and get all her staff involved (and excited about the change). She wanted a standardized format and system for sharing these lists that she and her staff could update as needed and provide links right to the catalog that patrons can click and immediately place a hold. LibraryAware has streamlined this process for PPL, especially for its younger patrons who expect a more seamless process. 

“This initiative was so important to me as I see the world as evolving, and anything that we can do paperless, we should,” said Nan. 

Getting started

If your library just getting started with LibraryAware, Nan has some advice for you: “Really embrace the product and explore all the features it has to offer and see what works for YOUR library,” she advised. Other branches in the Bridges Library System are using LibraryAware in different ways. Some send a welcome email with an opt-IN message, and others send more or longer emails than PPL. It’s not a one size fits all,” said Nan. “Get a good sense of what YOUR patrons want and expect and make tweaks where necessary.” 

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