After a few years of using the same newsletter format, your library staff and patrons may be ready for a spruced-up, swept-clean look to the information you provide to your community.
In the last year, Elmhurst Public Library in Elmhurst, Illinois has done just that: revamped graphics standards, updated the appearance of the website, and refined the look and content of the community-wide newsletter. Here are the steps we took to make it happen.
Identify a vision: Our Library director had a vision to refresh the look of the newsletter by focusing on simple changes that would make a big impact. Our previous newsletters arrived in mailboxes folded in thirds. Not only did this limit the visual “pop” of the newsletter cover, but it also made it easier for residents to view the newsletter as junk mail. So, we increased the size of the newsletter from 8 ½ x 11 inches to 9 x 12 inches, and doubled its length from 8 pages to 16. This gave it more heft to make the newsletter appear more like a magazine than junk mail.
Give yourself wiggle room: Program listings are always the bread and butter of library newsletters, and will always take up the most space. However, we wanted white space and room for brief articles, book suggestions, and larger photos. The larger size and longer length of the newsletter helped provide this.
Consider the budget: Even with the larger size and longer length of the newsletter, at EPL we were able to keep costs down by making the newsletter seasonal instead of bi-monthly. Postage costs went up very little even though we more than doubled the size and weight of the document.
This requires departments to submit program information earlier and for a three-month period of time; however, in the end it saves time and money.
Design the appearance: Working with the design and public information department to create a consistently branded appearance to your newsletter, website, and all signage can help to ensure a unified appearance to all library communications. At EPL, we worked with an outside design firm to create an updated logo, color swatches, and font selections to pull together this updated look. Then we made sure all of the various communications, including the community newsletter, matched these standards.
Add high-interest content: In addition to program notes, use extra space to promote upcoming changes at the library, new services or equipment, new releases, or patron spotlight articles. Give your community user stories by highlighting patrons who use various services or programs at the library that you want to feature. For example, we compiled user stories which highlight one patron’s attendance at new technology programs, another use of meeting rooms, and another accessing databases. This not only promotes services, but also gives a shout out to those in the community making good use of the Library’s services. At EPL, as we continue to settle into this new approach, we are now expanding our newsletter by four additional pages to allow for more space and program notes.
The response from the community about our new look? Overwhelmingly positive. One patron gushed, “Most people get excited when a new magazine or catalog gets delivered to their mailbox. For me it’s Fine Print, the newsletter from Elmhurst Public Library. …I can’t wait to open it to see what’s happening and what’s new!” This is the sort of feedback coming from our community members, showing their pride in their Library, and their appreciation for the new look, the new information, and the products and services featured in the newsletter.
It’s always nice to shake things up by changing the color palette, the font choices, and the overall design of your brochures, signage, and newsletter. By following these steps you can create a unified, refined, and freshened-up appearance to all of your library communications.
Julie Stiegemeyer is the Public Relations Assistant at the Elmhurst Public Library.