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Module 2: Marketing skills for librarians (SUM): Home


Marketing is the ongoing process of creating a connection between the library and its users. Research is a key element of marketing. Librarians must match what the library offers with what users want and need. Then, the library must demonstrate its value in meeting a customer’s need to continue the cycle.

Effective marketing requires careful planning, creative approaches, and focused strategies. Librarians must think beyond traditional methods of recruiting non-traditional clients and nurturing existing users.

Keep in mind that a marketing campaign doesn't need to take months and cost thousands of dollars. Small, focused efforts can be just as effective.

(Marketing 4 Libraries,

What is Marketing?

Marketing is a systematic approach to identifying specific user needs, providing services to meet these needs, and persuading users of the need to act. The focus is on matching customers with quality services through community involvement. This is an ongoing process that anticipates the need for change.

Some definitions of marketing:

"Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large." - American Marketing Association

"The process of planning and executing conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives.: - American Marketing Association

In the 1970s, Philip Kotler (1975, 5) began focusing on marketing in non-profits. He defines marketing as:

"the analysis, planning, implementation, and control of carefully formulated programs designed to bring about voluntary exchanges of values with target markets for the purpose of achieving organizational objectives. It relies heavily on designing the organization's offering in terms of the target market's needs and desires, and on using effective pricing, communication, and distribution to inform, motivate, and service the markets."

Library marketing research has experienced a shift from "selling the library" toward "meeting the needs of users. According to Darlene Weingand (1999, 2),

"marketing is an exchange relationship: a process providing mutual benefit to both parties in the transaction... (today's) information professionals design a product to meet community needs instead of spending time in the often futile attempt to persuade a reluctant public that they 'should' use the library because it is intrinsically valuable."

(Marketing 4 Libraries,

Marketing your library (Emerald Publishing)

If we don't tell people how crucial libraries and librarians are, who will?

At a time when information is being stored and accessed in so many new ways, some might perceive the tradtional role of the library and librarian to be under threat. But the sheer quantity and varying quality of all that information actually makes the need for libraries and, in particular, librarians stronger than ever.

In this 12-part series, Lisa A. Ennis discusses how librarians can bring the library and its services much closer to the people who need them, making them aware of the services it can provide and, in turn, making the librarian's role a more fulfilling one.

What's in each section?

10 skills librarians need for the future

Tips on marketing the 21st-century library

White papers

Library Network Support Services Western Balkans Platform