In the spring and summer of 2009, the State Library staff worked with the first Administrative Training Package, a program later called Learning 2 Action. To get 15 contact hours of training, a participant needed to attend a one day workshop via ELMeR, attend one of two short programs offered through Wimba, implement a project and post a report on it to WebJunction Kansas Continuing Education. The topic chosen for this first package was Marketing and Merchandising Collections.
Since it was a new approach, we didn’t know exactly what to expect. But it turned out to be very rewarding. Exploring this field with so many Kansas librarians was really a lot of fun. It makes us sorry that we don’t have a public library to play with. Can you do dazzling displays and collection neighborhoods in a trailer?
Jennifer Dalton was the first classmate to post to WebJunction and complete the project. She has been doing a general inventory, weeding and updating of the nonfiction in Coffeyville to foster information fluency. She took some of the perfectly good nonfiction that wasn’t circulating and put it on a “Check or Die” display, complete with a lethal looking hatchet. Jennifer reported that about 30% of the books had been rescued from weeding by check-out. The patrons may have been motivated by curiosity or compassion or both.
Nancy Saddler has also been weeding out in Colby, not only to polish up the collection, but to gain space for much better merchandising of the audio book collection. In “Weed ‘em and Reap” Nancy says that she hopes for a double benefit with increased circulation of both books and audio books.
Audiobooks are at least familiar. Playaways are still fairly new and they weren’t circulating at the Meriden Public Library. Jerie Tichenor knew the library wasn’t getting the return on investment, but this is an attractive and usable technology that deserved a fair chance. So she put the Playaways in an attractive display. The patrons started to ask about them and check them out. There has been a 60% increase in circulation.
Julie Hildebrand of Independence has been concentrating on merchandising DVDs and developing the Large Print collection. The circulation of DVDs has more than doubled. The Large Print circulation has increased slightly, but the collection needs continued good management. Julie also took a thoughtful look at the community and decided the library could do more for the significant Latino population. Those books have been “flying off the shelves” and the library is now planning special programs as well for this population.
Anna Whiteman correctly points out that she has little space to spare in rural Grainfield, but while participating in this project, she has pursued colorful and imaginative seasonal and topical displays, to the particular delight of the community’s children. The children loved the flowers, the Dalmatian puppies and the speech bubbles.
Joyce Homm has led a major campaign in Oakley to market the switch to Verso and get the library users comfortable with the online system. Joyce believes that marketing is an important part of every project and has built her relationship with her community to reflect that.
In the meantime, Joyce’s staff member, Victoria Halbleib, has developed lively and colorful displays, catching my eye with the wonderful idea of enlisting an antique car buff to market the Teen Read Week. They had a different antique car each day for “Rev Up and Read!”
Millie Dearden of Scott City has been busy merchandising the library’s new Art Deco-style Young Adult Library. She tries to vary the shelving, the displays and the signage to catch the teens’ roving interest in all parts of the collection. The other staff members are vastly entertained and the young adults are delighted with their unique new department.
Mary Luehrs of Norton has also been working to market a new teen space. It wasn’t easy to get one. Norton had to reconfigure the entire collection and do some creative fundraising before the new Teen Area became a reality. Then they had to let the kids know it was there. Now use is increasing rapidly.
Linda Homolka and her staff at Ellsworth went to work on an unattractive display of cookbooks, turning it into a very colorful and attractive display that makes for a most appetizing project. I was glad I discovered Linda’s posting after lunch instead of before.
Holly Mathes of Grant County took a good look at Ulysses and discovered many sewing groups. It was a dream project for a collection update, a marketing campaign and a lovely display called “Sew Fun to Read.” Holly put together a cleverly integrated project that was a perfect fit with the needs of her community.
Hollis Helmeci at Bradford Memorial has won the gratitude of all series readers in El Dorado by organizing books in series and labeling them. She has done this for children, adults and finally for young adults. I think it is a great idea. Too often, a reader has to find a later novel and hope the titles are listed in order. Helping the readers unfold a favorite story is also a great way to increase circulation.
The only poster from a truly urban library was Benjamin Ropp, who works at Wichita Public. Wichita liked the collection neighborhood concept and they have adapted it with new signage and Dewey guides for the library’s Art, Music and Video Department. Really good signage not only makes these collections more browsable, but helps the library users remember how the Dewey system works. It should increase the usefulness and circulation of these materials. Ben remarked ruefully that “this seemingly simple proposal turned out to be a lot of work.” But he adds, “The Wichita Public Library is currently in the planning stages of designing and building a new central library. There is administrative support for embracing a collection neighborhood approach in the new building. This project is seen as an early effort in that direction.”
The staff at the State Library of Kansas was delighted with the variety and imagination of the posted ideas. It was wonderful to see the training programs result in tangible results at the libraries. Good librarians have always generated projects from their training, but the WebJunction Documents area is a wonderful way to stimulate and showcase these projects and give them a permanent visibility. This time we can prove that interesting training had creative results.
Actually, there is no law that says that sharing projects has to be limited to Learning 2 Action participants. If you like this field of Marketing and Merchandising Collections and have done something creative at your library, feel free to post your project to the Marketing and Merchandising Documents site on WebJunction Kansas Continuing Education. We may end up with a unique resoure to share with other WJ Community Partner states.