Looking over statistics from this past year confirms that our patrons really value the newsletter. The majority of our library patrons (~50-60% monthly) report that they hear about our programs and services through our library newsletter.
Palatine Public Library produces the newsletter three times a year, which covers a four month period. Our staff works extra hard to plan programs several months ahead of publication so patrons know what programs are going on in advance.
Rather than just shoehorn all the great events into wherever it will fit on the page, we create a layout that is easily readable and helps folks find information quickly. We try to eliminate as much “library jargon” as possible. As we go through the editing process, we make sure that our newsletter communicates clearly, especially among people who have limited familiarity with the library.
Over the last several years we have continued to refine our process to produce an attractive, engaging, and readable newsletter.
Here are some guidelines we use to keep us on track.
- Keep program descriptions short and sweet – we limit most to 25-30 words!
- Tell what the benefit to the participant will be, such as: “Learn how to _______”
- When referencing the speaker tell why they are important – what credentials do they have?
- Eliminate writing in passive voice as much as possible. For example:
“John Smith is presenting tips on ____” – changes to” John Smith presents tips on ____”
- Write an engaging title that’s easily understood. Make sure it’s simple and to the point.
- Consider where your program will fit in the newsletter. Page layout can make a difference in the flow of information.
- Is there a program partner? Will the event occur outside of the Library? Make sure to mention all the details and supporting groups.
- Make it clear how patrons can engage in a program. Is the program a drop in, sign up, or ticketed event? Keep it simple (if possible)!
- Do the communications for the event need additional emphasis? Is the event something out of the ordinary? Determine how the layout can best feature it.
Consider re-vamping the whole newsletter. Review the budget and see if printing in full-color is an option. Full-color can be attractive and eye-catching, but be sure to keep the design clean and readable.
One last tip to share is to get some fresh eyes on the newsletter. Ask someone outside of your Library to look it over. One of my staff often asks his mother to look over text to get an outside view. Now we find ourselves saying– “What would Kiel’s mom think?”
These are just a few ways that we try to keep our newsletter fresh and engaging. No sooner is one newsletter finished then the next one is right around the corner! What keeps us going is knowing that patrons read and truly appreciate the information.
Andrea Lublink is the Communications Manager at the Palatine Public Library District.