Archive for August, 2008
I was going to go in TOC order with these previews, but Lara Z. did such a nice job of setting up the discussion for this topic in her comments to the first Book Preview post that I thought we’d just move on and see where the conversation takes us. So, on to Chapter 4: Advocacy, Marketing, PR & Outreach!
Liz & I use the example of a nascent graphic novels collection for kids throughout the book, both for continuity, and because we’re hearing about and seeing more & more GNs better suited to a J (juvenile) classification than YA or adult. We discuss this kind of collection from both the point of view of the GN advocate and the GN skeptic, and while it’s no secret whose side we’re on, we are sensitive to the concerns of the skeptics, and we think practicing your advocacy, marketing, PR and outreach skills every day is the best way to rally community members & colleagues within your library to your cause.
Here’s a taste of how we view outreach on behalf of this kind of pop culture collection, and the benefits it may bring to your library’s services:
When you built your pop culture collection, you didn’t start from scratch. You used existing collection development staff, policies, and resources to create a collection that fits your community’s interests. Now use the same strategy for outreach. Pull out your library’s current policies, guidelines, and other existing outreach tools. Consult resources such as the tipsheets provided by ALA’s Office for Literacy and Outreach Services ). Look at your pop culture initiative and start brainstorming groups, people, events, and places to visit. Start with the ideas you had when you launched the initiative, but think bigger!
Ask yourself,where do your comics-loving patrons go? Is there a county, state, or other nearby convention that they look forward to? Add that gathering to your “to-visit”list. Remember:You don’t have to do this alone. Sit down with staff to brainstorm outreach possibilities and preferred outcomes. Do you want to make connections with parents, so that they know that reading comic books can actually improve literacy scores? Do you want to generate excitement about the new collection among kids and teens? Do you want to develop a mechanism for soliciting collection input and book reviews from patrons? Do you want to establish a relationship with a local comics shop? Write it all down, and don’t censor yourself. We understand there are only so many hours in the day, someone has to stay in the branch, and it takes time to plan all those programs. Still, we encourage you to shut off your inner naysayer. For now, just brainstorm: The sky is the limit. Put down as many ideas as you can think of. You can prioritize later.
Continuing with our comics collection example, your list of outreach possibilities could include:
- Public and private schools, including art teachers, English teachers, reading specialists, related school clubs, activities, and publications
- Parent-teacher organizations
- Parenting groups
- Local art schools
- Art galleries
- Comic book shops
- Comics and manga conventions and associations (local, county, or state)
- Authors, artists, and illustrators
We admit, that’s a pretty long list. Now think about why you want to talk to each group, using this process to help you determine your top outreach priorities. If you’re hosting a contest to help promote the collection, talking to art teachers may be your first priority—not only could you ask the art teachers to promote the contest to their students, but you could invite them to judge the contest, too. If your main concern is letting parents and concerned adults know the value of comic books (beyond the obvious—readers love them!),then target parent-affiliated groups first. When brainstorming with staff, ask them about any connections they might have. If you have a comic book lover on staff who visits the local comic shop weekly to pick up new titles, use that connection to build your relationship with local experts (and maybe negotiate a discount on bulk purchases!).
Many of you who responded to our survey told us about the kinds of outreach strategies you use at your libraries, and many of those suggestions are in the book. Of course, we are always excited to hear about & share more ideas with our colleagues, so what are you up to? We’d love for you to share your top tips, your most mortifying disasters (feel free to go anonymous with those, if you’d prefer), and your assessment of why this stuff works.
Note to everyone who responded to the survey: we’ll be extolling your invaluable contributions to our book in a future post!
Yes, you read that right. Check our index and you’ll see “Jolie, Angelina 62-63″.
Curious about what Angelina has to do with libraries?
How about fandom (163-165), Working Girl (100-101), or Rachael Ray (12, 214)?
Only one way to find out…
The first in a series of snippets from the book designed, we freely admit, to encourage you to think about buying a copy, and to encourage conversations among our online & in-print readers about the topics we address in the book.
Although the book is now out there, in the world, and may even be winging its way toward you right this moment (if you are my Mom, who pre-ordered her copy months ago, because, well, she’s my Mom! I should live so long to do the same for my daughter), I don’t view it as final & complete all by itself. I am hopeful that the book will truly come alive (a la Frampton, only with better hair, and no cheesy vocoder) in real-world and online conversations, discussions, and arguments.
So, enough with the introductory remarks already! Here’s a taste from the book’s first chapter, Using Pop Culture to Connect:
We define popular culture very broadly: To us, pop culture is whatever people in your community are talking, thinking, and reading about. The breadth of this definition can be intimidating — after all, it includes everything! — but we think it will give you the flexibility to identify and meet the pop culture interests and needs of your particular community.
We also insist on this potentially challenging definition because we want to encourage you to see popular culture everywhere around you. By viewing the world through this lens, you open yourself and your library to an overwhelming abundance of possibilities.
When we present workshops on using pop culture in libraries,we like to emphasize that although pop culture is often associated with youth culture, it is not limited to the interests of any particular slice of the demographic pie. Although it’s natural to conflate pop culture with celebrity news, music, and movies, because pop culture magazines from InStyle to Entertainment Weekly to In Touch report on these areas regularly, this definition is too narrow. It ignores the great wealth of pop culture topics that lie outside of those areas regularly canvassed by Entertainment Tonight.
Because people are passionate about the aspects of pop culture that interest them most, these topics can be a powerful lure into the library, not only for your supportive veteran users,but also for those elusive and tantalizing non-library users.
So, what do you think? Does this feel like a definition of pop culture that you can put to work at your library? If not, how would you tweak it? Or would you throw it out & start all over?