Located 55 miles south of Houston, Brazoria County includes 12 library branches that serve a population of more than 300,000. The library system provides patrons with access to a variety of electronic resources including dozens of research databases, more than 140,000 e-books, and Flipster®, EBSCO’s digital magazine solution. To promote these collections as well as the library’s programs and services, Brazoria began subscribing to LibraryAware™, a web-based tool that provides newsletters as well as hundreds of professionally designed templates for creating posters, flyers, bookmarks and more. After sending out email blasts promoting the library’s newest digital resources — Total Boox and Flipster — the number of e-book and magazine downloads rose sharply.
LibraryAware is becoming more integral to our workflow.
LibraryAware is becoming more integral to our workflow.
Brazoria County Library System initially purchased LibraryAware in 2014 as a way to spruce up flyers and help with in-library promotions.
“We had a mish-mash of different skill levels and competencies,” Adult Coordinator Tom West explained. “We were all over the map. The quality of our materials varied drastically.”
To assist branches in creating more attractive promotional materials with consistent branding, library leaders purchased LibraryAware, a web-based tool that makes it easy to incorporate library content — both books and e-resources — into social media posts, email blasts, image carousels, and printed marketing materials.
LibraryAware also includes user statistics that can help librarians measure the success of a newsletter or email campaign. These statistics show the number of subscribers, email opens, clicks and views.
In December 2014, Brazoria County Library System began a new subscription to Total Boox, a service that provides patrons with access to 35,000 e-books. In-house promotion of the service led to 745 downloads in the first month. In mid-January 2015, West uploaded to LibraryAware the email addresses of more than 50,000 patrons and sent out a blast to announce the new service. More than 17,000 people opened the email, representing a nearly 33 percent open rate. When West looked at the number of e-book downloads for the month of January, he was thrilled to see that they had jumped to 7,520, about 10 times higher than the previous month.
“I thought that was really, really good,” West said, adding that a lot of people came into the library to ask about the new service. “It’s really exciting. We’ve noticed a difference right away.”
The success of the first email blast led West to try another campaign in March 2015. The library system had recently added Flipster, EBSCO’s digital magazine service, and he wanted to promote it to patrons. This time the email went out to nearly 54,000 email addresses. More than 13,000 people opened the email, representing a 24 percent open rate. When West checked usage numbers at the end of March, he was pleased again: Flipster saw 2,021 downloads, up from 436 in February.
“It was a very sizeable increase over what we had been doing,” West said. “Flipster was a totally different product, and we needed to get the word out. So we got the word out, and they loved it.”
In May 2015, West sent out two additional email blasts: one promoting the library’s NewsBank database, and another promoting Freegal Music, a service that provides patrons with access to more than nine million songs. At the end of May, the number of NewsBank searches had quadrupled, and 7,710 songs were streamed from Freegal Music, up from 1,675 the month before.
West said he is planning future email blasts to promote more of the library’s resources including Hoopla, a service that provides patrons with access to music, movies, television shows, e-books and graphic novels. In fact, West said, Hoopla is offering Brazoria County Library System a credit toward the purchase of future content for promoting the service through LibraryAware and sharing the campaign’s statistics.
“We pay for the service, but we have to promote it,” West said, adding that he also arranges for local newspaper coverage. “Most of the time patrons say, ‘I didn’t know you had this.’ That’s why I decided to use the email blasts. You assume that, because you put it on your web page or hang up a flyer, people know what’s going on, but they don’t. You have to approach them on all fronts.”
West said that he is informing all of the library’s vendors that he is using LibraryAware to promote their services and is working with them to develop new email promotions. “We are definitely moving forward with these email blasts,” he said. “Our goal is one a month.”
Meanwhile, patrons can subscribe to any of the library’s 45 LibraryAware newsletters, which include custom newsletters from each of the system’s 12 branches. Other newsletters include information on fiction and nonfiction bestsellers, genres such as mystery and horror, new DVD releases, and fun topics such as “PURR: Paranormal Undead Romance Readers” (titles patrons can sink their teeth into) and “I Despised This!” (books and movies that the library staff did not enjoy).
West said he and his colleagues are also creating flyers, bookmarks and shelf talkers using LibraryAware. Most recently, they loaded images created in LibraryAware onto flash drives and began displaying them on digital picture frames around the library. The image carousel promotes everything from crochet classes to children’s story hour to adult reading recommendations.
“LibraryAware is really a good tool [and] well worth the investment,” West said, adding that it is helping to modernize the library’s brand. “It makes things look so much more professional and saves so much time. LibraryAware is becoming more integral to our workflow.”
For more information about LibraryAware, or to request a free trial, click here.