Part Two: Helen Matthes Library “Synopsis of Training Session “

First Impression

To a customer, YOU are YOUR Library and you may be one of the only contacts he or she will have with the organisation. From first impressions made through personal and telephone contact, all of your customers will come to a conclusion about what kind of person is serving them and the perception of your business is based upon the impression YOU create.

 Creating a positive first impression

  • Make sure you are appropriately groomed
  • Always greet customers as soon as they enter your building
  • Keep workspaces, entrance and public areas clean & tidy
  • Never make assumptions
  • Treat your co-workers the way they would like to be treated
  • Be aware of your posture, poise and facial expressions
  • And SMILE!

Three Parts to the Communication Process

  •  Verbal 7%
  • Vocal 38%
  • Non-verbal 55%

Making Conversation

Knowing how to start a conversation is vital in the service industry. A conversation can help a visitor feel welcome and more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment. It may help YOU gain the information you need to solve a problem or serve the customer’s needs

Use Open Questions

  • Who, what, where, when, which and how (5W, 1H)

Avoid Closed Questions

  • Can, does, do , will , would and “yes” or “no”

Telephone Skills

Professional telephone techniques are essential skills for ensuring continuity of service. Your customers will form an impression of your organisation based upon how every single one of you sound on the phone.

The Cost of a Dissatisfied Customer

1 unhappy patron + 26 other unhappy patrons = 27 unhappy patrons

27 unhappy patrons tell up to 10 others = 270

270 people have heard about a bad experience with your company!


  • Remain calm
  • Give encouraging responses
  • Mirror feelings
  • Clarify facts
  • Work together

The Art of Service Recovery

  • Take ownership
  • Have a positive approach
  • Apologize
  • Listen
  • Thank them
  • Keep your promises
  • Follow up

Now it’s up to you!

Going the Extra Mile is easy… once you have the directions.

Catherine Bailey is the Marketing and Adult Services Coordinator for the Helen Matthes Library.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Part One: Helen Matthes Library “Our Customer Service Rules!”

Once a year the entire staff of our library, the Helen Matthes Library has the opportunity to come together on Martin Luther King Day for a training day. This year we gathered with excitement and in trepidation as we look forward to moving into a new library building later in the year. As a library known in its community for exceptional customer service we want to make sure this tradition continues when we move into our new building, so we made it the focus of our training day.

We know that not only will we be looking after our current patrons as they (and ourselves) get to know a new building, with a new layout, multiple floors, new services; but that we will also be dealing with many new patrons and potential patrons who have possibly never used us before or in a very long time and are not aware of everything that we do and how we do it. We expect to be very BUSY!

So how do we maintain our high standards and levels of customer service through the biggest period of change our organization has ever had to deal with? We called in an expert!

With the help of a grant from The South Eastern Illinois Community Foundation and thanks to a connection with a member of staff we were able to go completely outside our community and our service sector to bring in an exceptional trainer.

Our trainer, Stephanie Berkley, was the former marketing manager of one of Ireland’s top visitor attractions, W5, the interactive science museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland. W5 is the winner of multiple marketing and tourism awards and known for its customer service. As Berkley explained to us, customer service is the delivery of the promise you make in your marketing communications and that is why it is vital you get it right.

Berkeley was impressed that we had already made “Service” one of our three core values (along with Culture and Technology). And that all staff members are judged on their customer service skills in the very first part of their annual appraisal. As we talked through our current and future environment and staff concerns, it became obvious that we needed to show our staff just how well they already did, reinforce and enhance their skills, and give them the confidence to believe that they had both the skills and support to handle the new environment.

We brought in an improvisation workshop from St Louis to move us all outside of our comfort zones and to show us just how quickly we could react and support each other in weird and wacky situations. This then led nicely into our customer service training session with Berkley which we were able to do by Skype.

In an interactive session we were tested on the knowledge of our mission statement and values, just how different first impressions can be, we considered opening and holding conversations to acquire knowledge and reminded ourselves how just one tale of bad customer service experience can spread like wildfire through a community.

By the end of the day our staff felt their confidence in their customer service skills had increased and they understood that they had the knowledge, skills and support to deal with all the new situations and questions a new building will bring.

Our Customer Service Rules!

  • Acknowledge every patron
  • Observe 10′ rule
  • Be an owner, not a renter
  • Stay informed
  • Be kind and treat everyone the same
  • Follow through to solve a problem
  • Person in front of you first
  • Keep asking questions to make sure you and they know what they really want
  • Be efficient AND be accurate

Part Two will be posted tomorrow so stay tuned!

Catherine Bailey is the Marketing and Adult Programming Coordinator for the Helen Matthes Library.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Demonstrating Your Library’s Value to Your Community: A Library Sales Kit

A recent LinkedIn group discussion asked “Does anyone have examples of sales kits or media kits for their library they could share?” While I hadn’t thought to call it a “sales kit,” we, at Quincy Public Library, recently gathered material in order to highlight the value of library offerings to our elected officials, the media, and other interested community members.

Having a background in sales and marketing, rather than formal training as a librarian, allows me to approach this effort in a different manner: more along the lines of marketing a for-profit company, considering the library to be the company and the brand, and the many library programs and services as products.

The first step in our process was to review library offerings, to make sure we understood the entire scope, and to group together related services for ease of explanation in future discussions.

Next, we reviewed our constituent groups to make sure we understood what they were looking for within the library. We knew that discussions with city council would necessarily center on cost. Other groups were interested in scope of services or individual library programs.

Several documents were created. The first was a PowerPoint presentation, detailing the many programs and services, the scope of community needs the library serves through those programs, the cost to taxpayers, and testimonials from community members who use the library.

Next I created a one-page “Leave Behind” to give to audience members as a reminder of our discussion, as we left the presentation, and one additional document, showing library services that was deployed as a follow-up a few weeks after our initial effort.

I also made a series of testimonial ads (Ad #1, Ad #2, Ad #3, Ad #4) featuring the different library patrons who were shown in the PowerPoint. These ads ran in our local paper during National Library Week and were incorporated in the library’s Facebook page, website, and on digital display boards within the library.

After reviewing the PowerPoint with library staff and boards, Library Director Nancy Dolan made appointments with Quincy’s mayor and our city council members to sit down with them. We invited any interested board member or staff member to also attend these appointments along with us.

The information within the PowerPoint was also made available to local media and serves as the basis for presentations to civic groups or others interested in learning more about the library.

In all the presentations we made, we found that people (including our staff and boards) were surprised that the library offered so much at such a reasonable cost to taxpayers. The presentation also served to bolster the idea that the library was still a vital component of a strong community, despite the rise in e-readers and digital entertainment.

This campaign utilized what I feel are important components in library marketing:

1. Understand the scope of library programs and services.

2. Understand the needs of the community in which you work.

3. Show and tell how library programs and services support or enhance shared community goals.

4. Highlight patron testimonials to put a friendly face on the library. Nothing works better to show community members that their friends and neighbors enjoy using the library.

I believe this campaign served to show people the scope of services Quincy Public Library offers and helped to mitigate what could have been a severe budget cut, impacting library staffing and hours. We continue to work toward the goal of providing our community with evidence of the value of the library.

Efforts such as this work best when they are incorporated into daily and weekly planning and are repeated on an ongoing, regular basis. It takes repeated exposure to information to bring about awareness and understanding.

Ruth Cuthbertson is the Marketing & Events Librarian at the Quincy Public Library.

Posted in Branding | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

What I know about how marketing can help libraries in a nutshell

It’s always difficult to determine the return on investment in a public library setting. To a large degree, it’s subjective. Decreased circulation doesn’t necessarily mean that your library isn’t important to your community. High or low program registration and attendance can be chalked up to weather, other community events, or the time of day. I think the main question to ask is how your organization determines success. Is it, indeed, circulation? Is it program attendance? Is it database usage? Is it bodies in the library? Is it the passage of a building referendum? For the Eisenhower, it’s how people feel about the library. We know we won’t get everyone to visit or even use our virtual resources, but we do want every person to know that the Library is an integral component of the community. Part of making that connection is helping people recognize us and who we are. That’s where marketing comes in.

Based on that concept, it is obviously important to define your organization. What is your focus? Of course as a public library, our primary focus is getting people information in whatever form that takes, but what is it that makes you unique as a library? For us, it means establishing trust on an individual level with members of our community. We want people to know our librarians by name. The communities we serve cover a relatively small footprint, and community members rely heavily on word of mouth to inform their decisions about everything from the plumber they call to the flowers they order for weddings or funerals. It takes quite a bit of time with repeatedly positive contact to make that kind of impression but once someone is positively disposed towards someone or something in our community, they are loyal. We definitely strive to establish a trusting relationship with members of our community. The question then becomes how to establish that trusting relationship with people who visit infrequently or never.

For us, it has been all about creating a recognizable brand and making sure that every marketing piece, every contact, every outreach effort conveys that brand and supports the image we want to convey. This is even reflected in the furnishings we selected for the building. We want people to think of our library environment as a well-appointed den – comfortable, inviting, clean, and esthetically pleasing without being ostentatious. It sends the message that books are still the focus here, but we also want people to feel comfortable hanging out and enjoying the company of fellow community members. We felt it was important that our brand conveyed the same message – smart yet accessible, idiosyncratic yet self-aware, classy yet comfortable.

A good branding and marketing message can effectively convey these things in print, virtually, and through staff representation outside the building. Even the contacts you make and the ways in which you decide to present your institution outside the library should be driven by your brand. If you are defining your institution accurately and – more importantly, in my opinion – if how you define your library is a reflection of the community you serve at its core, then you should be able to move easily between chamber events and farmers markets without anyone becoming confused about your message. The most important thing is to be authentic. If you try convey an image that your institution simply does not “own,” people will know and it won’t be effective.

Our marketing strategy has done many positive things for our organization. A few of these benefits have been:

  • It helped us organize our communication efforts both internally and externally.
  • It has provided us with a clear message to convey to the local press.
  • It helped us create a recognizable brand that truly reflects what makes us unique.
  • It informed the redesign of our website into an online presence that matches our image and gels with the feeling of the building.
  • It has driven our outreach efforts and encouraged creative thinking with regard to where we place ourselves in the community outside of the building and the ways in which we do that.
  • It guided the redesign of our newsletter, which is still the primary source of information about the library for our community.

Ultimately, what is our return on investment and how do we measure it? Truthfully, we are still figuring that piece out. However, I can tell you anecdotally that I have had more people approach me in the last year and say something to the effect of, “I didn’t know what a great library this was until I saw the newsletter/your website/you at the farmers market/you at the mall” etc., than I have in the previous 7 years I worked here. That cannot be a coincidence. The number of times our local newspaper has featured a story about the library has gone up. Definitely, that can be directly credited to our marketing strategy.

We recently established a “How are we doing?” box for people to give us feedback. Nearly every comment we’ve received – and we’ve received many – mention a staff member by name and how deeply appreciative the writer is for all of the help that staff member provided. In the end, that tells me that we are succeeding in sending the right message.

We’re here to help. We want to know you. We can’t wait for you to come back.

Stacy Wittmann is the Library Director at the Eisenhower Public Library District.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Soliciting Patron Feedback: Make it Easy

How do you find out if your patrons think your library is doing a good job? Just ask “How Are We Doing?” and give them a chance to tell you. Eisenhower Public Library District started up two new ways for our patrons to do that in 2How Are We Doing014.

In March of 2014, the Library began soliciting and tracking patron comments on the service we provide to them. The Library conducts surveys as needed and program evaluations on a regular basis, but we wanted to give patrons an easy way to write down their thoughts to pass along to us. The Marketing Department created comment cards to give patrons a way to let us know how we are doing. Comment cards are available at every service desk, and they can be returned at any service desk or in the comment box located in our main lobby. Staff are encouraged to hand the cards to patrons who come to them with a comment or fill one out with a comment that was verbally expressed to them.

Since we started using these comment cards in March of 2013, we have received about 100 comments. While some of these patrons may have taken the time to make sure their voice was heard, the majority of these comments would not have reached us. Both positive and negative comments come to us this way, and they are looked at weekly during our management team meetings. They are also shared each month with our Board of Trustees.

Patrons comment on all aspects of library service, but most of the comments are about our staff, and they have been overwhelmingly positive. Our staff have been called knowledgeable, patient, joyful, understanding, fast, polite, nice, courteous, friendly, intelligent, professional, “amazingly helpful” and “completely awesome!” When a staff person is mentioned by name, the manager of that department is encouraged to share that comment with them. Teachers have also taken the time to let us know that they “had never seen a library so dedicated to serving school” and that our children’s staff “will make me a better teacher tomorrow”.

Other comments included “My tax money is being spent wisely!” (always nice to hear); “I don’t like that there is no desk to put your books down when you are scanning/checking out” (immediately remedied by placing a small table near the self-check station); a couple of comments on the need for blinds or shades on the west windows to cut down the glare on that side of computer row (which was done); “fax number is not easily found on the website” (it was added to the footer), and many comments about the various programs we offer or suggestions for new programs to try.

We asked for contact information to follow up as necessary, and added check boxes for email newsletter sign up and permission to use comments in library promotions. This has given us a resource to look through when we need a patron quote for a news article or grant proposal.

The second way we made it easy for patrons to offer feedback was to institute a monthly “Coffee with the Director” where our Director, Stacy Wittmann, is available for two hours each month for patrons to drop in and have a cup of coffee or tea and sit and talk with her. While it only attracts a few participants each month, it gives each of them a chance to express their opinions directly to someone in charge. It also gave patrons a chance to meet Stacy, who was new to the position in 2014.

During these sessions, Stacy has heard many compliments, and the occasional complaint, from those attending. Many comments are about the programs our patrons enjoy or ones they would like the library to consider; our new investment club got started from one of these suggestions.   Others ask questions about what we offer and it gives us a chance to promote the library and its programs.

Both Coffee with the Director and the “How Are We Doing?” comment cards give patrons a chance to feel their voice is being heard by the Library. Letting patrons know that their concerns matter gives them a sense of ownership and belonging. This gives us a chance to build a group of supporters who truly care about what happens to their library.

Julie Stam is the Marketing Specialist for Eisenhower Public Library District.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

New Year’s Resolution: Usability Testing Your Website

Happy New Year!

It’s that time of year when everyone has made personal resolutions, usually about losing weight, but it’s also an excellent time to make work-related resolutions too. This is one that every library should consider: conducting monthly usability testing of your website. Why do usability testing? Usability testing gives you a chance to interact with users of your website, get their honest feedback, and use their input to make your website better.

You can coRocket Surgerynduct usability testing without buying any extra equipment, but I do recommend getting your hands on a copy of Steve Krug’s book Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems. It contains useful information and a script that you can tailor to your needs. If you do have money to spend, I recommend getting a screen recording program such as Camtasia, which records what is happening on the screen and the participants’ voices. This allows you to concentrate on what the patron is doing and saying instead of taking notes.

Since launching our redesigned website in 2013, Eisenhower Public Library District has tried to do regular usability testing to catch any problems that might occur and to test our iterative design changes. We began testing our site before it went live and it helped us to catch a few things before launch. We also test the site whenever we made changes to make sure that what we had done made the site easier for patrons to use.

It is actually fairly easy to get people to participate. We set up a table in our lobby with a sign asking them to “Help Us Improve Our Website!” Some people stopped by; some we stopped and asked to participate. We offered inexpensive incentives ($5 gift certificates to our café or a library t-shirt) to motivate people to help us. We also assured them that it would take no more than 15 minutes of their time. We began by asking some simple questions: where they lived, if they had a library card, how often they came to the library, and if they had used our website before. Next we had them take a look at the homepage of our site and tell us what they thought of it. Then we had them attempt to use the website to do three assigned tasks.

Here are a few examples of scenarios we asked participants to try and what we found out from each.

On your last library visit you checked out five books. You only had time to read three of them and would like to renew the other two. How do you sign into your account to renew your books?

This was one of the first scenarios we tried out before launch. What we found was that people looked to the top right corner of a website for an account login and that we had failed to put an account log-in box anywhere on the homepage when we were designing our site. This was corrected before launch and the scenario was run again.

You just got home from the library and were impressed with how helpful one of the staff members in the Answers (Adult Reference) Department was when you were there. You would like to let their manager know about the excellent service you received. How do you find the contact information for the department manager?

We found out that contact information for our departments was very difficult to find and we moved where it was located on our site based on where we saw patrons looking for it.

You are new to the area and would like to apply for a library card online. How would you go about doing this?

This scenario was created because our Library Services department had indicated that online library card applications had dropped since the launch of our redesigned website. Everyone we asked easily found where the information was. What we realized was that our clear instructions on that page of our site had cut down on applications from non-local residents. We kept the online application information as is.

You just heard the Library has interactive electronic books for kids called Tumblebooks. Find Tumblebooks.

Where we had the link to Tumblebooks was not where our patrons were looking for it, so we added the link to those pages.

You are interested in volunteering and becoming part of the Friends of the Library group. Find out information on the group and when their next meeting will take place.

Our Friends group was concerned that people couldn’t easily find the information on their group now that they were not listed on the homepage as they had been on our old site. Every patron we asked to do this could easily find the information, so we left things as they were and reassured our Friends group that people knew where to look for them.

We have also run usability testing with kids and plan to do some with teens in the future. Conducting regular usability testing costs very little in terms of time and money, but can make a big difference in how well your website functions. I highly recommend adding a resolution to do usability testing to your plans for the new year.

Julie Stam is the Marketing Specialist for Eisenhower Public Library District.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Anatomy of An Ad Campaign – Des Plaines Public Library

Daily Herald Print Campaign Ad

Daily Herald Print Campaign Ad

Things are a-changing in libraryland, especially on the marketing front.  Just seven years ago when I began at the Des Plaines Public Library, my position (head of public information services) was a rare one.

All too many public libraries had no staff dedicated full-time to marketing library offerings. Fast-forward t0 2014 and, well, here you all are:  marketing pros who know the impact of a well-coordinated and funded multichannel marketing campaign on library resource awareness and use.

For the second year in a row, Des Plaines Public Library is running a $19K consumer advertising campaign with the tag line “Your DPPL Library Card: the most valuable card in your wallet”.   It includes print, digital and email components and was paid for with State of Illinois per capita grant funds.

Daily Herald Email Campaign

Daily Herald Email Campaign


The campaign began in mid-November and runs through the end of the year. It is timed to coincide with the holiday season when patrons are shopping for digital devices and looking to save money.


The campaign includes:

  • Twelve 4-color ¼ page print ads in the Daily Herald ($7.2K)
  • Two ¼ page Spanish language ads in Reflejos ($780)
  • 375,000 keyword-driven digital ad impressions over 6 weeks on  ($2.25K)
  • Three emails over 14 days to 30K emails from a Daily Herald database, targeting women 18 – 40 interested in music and film within a 10 mile radius of DPPL. ($2.8K)
  • Eight 8 ½” x 11” inserts into Des Plaines Journal and Topics (40K pieces total), zoned to our community ($4k)
  • Other miscellaneous community based advertising (chamber of commerce map, etc.) ($2k)
  • DPPL website, Facebook, Twitter and in-house display system. (Free!)


I developed the concept for the campaign and wrote the content. The ads were designed in-house by our manager of creative services Kelly Maron Horvath.  DPPL’s manager of web services Ali Van Doren created custom URLs embedded into each of the pieces to track traffic to the resources so that we can accurately track and report our ROI. Because all was done in-house, there were no outside production or design costs.


Relejos Ad

Relejos Ad

Members of our library board have asked over the years that we reach non-DPPL users with information about the library and all we have to offer.  Their first thought was mailings, but I convinced them that an advertising campaign would better penetrate the market we are hoping to reach, especially in a town as large as Des Plaines where mailing is expensive and response is difficult to track.

From staff perspective, we want to see the usage of the digital products we have invested  in grow.  In late 2015, we are installing a new digital device eBar and a Digital Learning Center. These two spaces will allow DPPL to teach patrons to both use their devices AND use our “e” on their devices.  The baseline usage established by this ad campaign will allow us to easily compare the growth in usage after the installation, and help us to cost-justify our expansion in digital offerings for years to come.

Des Plaines Journal & Topics Insert - Front

Des Plaines Journal & Topics Insert – Front


Hard to pick, right? EVERYONE is a possible user of these products.  But in marketing, to be effective  you need to focus. We chose to target our images, message and ad placement to women 18-40 interested in music, film, magazines and downloadable books, at a time when they are shopping and needing to save money.  This is the demographic hoopla – a key product featured in the campaign – tells us is a main user group for their product.  Secondarily, the ads are designed to appeal to new mobile device owners and anyone with a familiarity with digital resources and a desire to save money.


Des Plaines Journal & Topics Insert - back

Des Plaines Journal & Topics Insert – back

The campaign is still running and we have yet to tally final numbers, but the initial numbers look promising. The 60K dedicated emails alone had 10 – 12% open rates (9,580 opens) and 1,340 clicks to the featured links in the first 2 weeks.


  • Focus your target and message:  The most effective campaigns market one kind of product and service, sending one specific massage to one specific group of people. Will the message of our ads reach those outside reach those outside of the ‘target’ group too? Sure. You notice and respond to ads all the time, despite not being the key demographic target, right? The same applies here.
  • digital ad digital ad

    Lobby for the money:  In advertising, it is all about the number of impressions. More money = more impressions = (hopefully) more usage of your resources.   My budget to advertise hasn’t always been $19K. My piece of our library’s Per Capita Grant “pie” has increased over the past several years.  Each year, I’m able to justify asking for more dollars because the money I have spent the previous year yielded results backed up with usage increases.

  • You don’t need to be a media buying expert:  Especially at the local level, trust your local media sales reps to steer you in the right direction. I was a little skeptical about the email campaign recommended by my Daily Herald rep, but it’s turning out to be fantastic.
  • Good design matters:  I’m lucky. I have an incredibly talented and experienced commercial graphic designer on my staff. If you do not, PLEASE consider hiring a well-vetted freelancer to do your ad design. Nothing distracts more from a message than a poorly designed ad.

 Heather Imhoff  is the  Head of Public Information Services at the Des Plaines Public Library. Reach her at

Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce Community Map Banner Ad

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 3 Comments