Library Association urged to forge partnerships in branding push
By Erica Lazare
Director of the International Relations Office and Chapter Relations Office of the American Library Association (ALA) said that it is
imperative for members of the Library Association of Barbados (LAB) to utilise all of the resources available to them as well as indulge in creativity to revive the roles of libraries in Barbados.
Speaking on the topic, “Campaign for the World’s Libraries”, during a LAB seminar at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus on Wednesday, Michael Dowling highlighted examples from around the world where library associations have used ingenious methods to reach their communities and create awareness of their services, many of which were adapted from the successful ALA’s “@ Your Library” campaign, which started in 2001.
He explained that many of these methods, implemented by the over 30 global library associations working with the ALA, centred on the forging of collaborative relationships with other entities.
“Work with other institutions like the Ministry of Transport, Education and Teachers Associations as well as private companies as they can also be interested in getting their information out to the public through your institutions.”
Stating that “branding of the library is important”, he said the use of popular figures, such as sportsmen and women, recording artists and politicians, have proven to work in permeating messages to the public. The ALA currently has Miami Heat basketball player Dwyane Wade as its spokesperson for its National Library Card Sign-up campaign, and used American national soccer team player Landon Donovan and former First Lady Laura Bush for previous reading initiatives.
“Why should you be doing this? Well simply it is because libraries are part of the 21st century and must know how to market their collection. The questions you should be asking yourselves is, ‘How is your library part of the solution? How does it impact your communities?’ I believe that what we all want is to let people know that the old way of thinking of libraries is no more.”
He then revealed that “seed money” will be available to the LAB to “kick-start” some of its programmes.
One highly successful ongoing relationship that has forged tight bonds with one of ALA’s partners using interactive avenues is with Women’s Day magazine. Every year the publication showcases how the library has helped with different aspects of people’s lives by encouraging readers to send in their experiences. Dowling said that such innovative concepts should be used here in Barbados to get the public to utilise the libraries on a greater level.
He then spoke of Jamaica’s Library Association’s great effort in a short space of time, whereby partnerships were made, memorandums signed, issue-focused weeks and a highly popular poster competition were implemented to great effect.
Finally, he invited members of the LAB to the ALA’s 2011 Annual Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans in June and also reminded them about the World Library and Information Congress: 77th International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) General Conference and Assembly, which is set to take place in San Juan, Puerto Rico next August under the theme, “Libraries beyond libraries: Integration, Innovation and Information for all”.