The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County sees the phenomenal growing demand for downloadables as a tremendous opportunity for better serving our customers and attracting new users. In 2011 we embarked on a comprehensive plan to expand usage of our eBooks and e-audiobooks. Among the many steps we took to accomplish this were greatly expanding our collection to reduce holds and increase the selection, conducting extensive training on downloadables—first for our staff and then for customers, and increasing visibility of downloadables on our home page.  To further support the plan, a major marketing effort was implemented.

Graphics were developed to create a look consistent with the Library’s brand and website design (font, color palette, and fresh, clean look) yet would provide a distinctive brand for the campaign. The slogan, “great (e)xpectations,” was selected to tie together digital books, audiobooks, and music. The branding carried through with all of the promotional pieces but the images featuring people using iPods or eBook readers were switched out to reflect diverse ages, ethnicity and gender.

Following a staff kickoff unveiling the marketing campaign, which included live drum rolls, a downloadables jeopardy game, and dynamic visual presentation, press releases were sent to the media and promotional materials were distributed to all 41 of the Library’s locations. The highly visual internal marketing components featured self-standing 7’ banner signs, brochures about how to download, a series of “ads” on our digital signage, web features on the Library’s home page, articles in the Library’s printed and e-newsletters, and social media on Twitter and Facebook.  The Library also began offering a Downloadable Only library card for our customers age 18 and older who only want to use the Library’s downloadable resources.

Through an anonymous donation, the Summer Reading program grand prize was a NOOK Color given to the child, teen and adult who read the most in June & July at each of our 41 locations—123 NOOKS in all were awarded. These grand prizes have been widely promoted on the website, all posters, and other program promotional materials.

The keystone of the external portion of the campaign has been truck wraps on two of the Library’s delivery trucks that make daily trips to the branches throughout the Library’s 413-square mile service area. The rectangular side panels of the trucks are 14.5′ x 7′. At a total cost of $1,750, these “moveable billboards” provide far-reaching coverage with each truck averaging 450 miles traveled each week. Both trucks also have a QR code on the back—a smart phone-friendly touch that makes it much easier for the target audience to reach more information. People with iPads or other tablets can also use them. The same artwork as on the truck sides has been running on the huge LED board on Fountain Square in the heart of downtown Cincinnati.

The success of the campaign can be demonstrated with the phenomenal increase in usage of digital materials with a 673% increase in circulation in August 2011 (52,667 items) compared with August 2010 (6,808 items).

Amy Banister is the Marketing & Programming Manager for the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County, the winner of the 2011 Outreach Program Contest Outside the Library Category. Visit the Outreach Program Contest Winners Gallery to view photos and an entry description from each winner.

One Response to “2011 Outreach Program Contest Outside-the-Library Winner”

  1. Kirsten Corby

    a 600 percent increase in usage is amazing. Good thing you thought to beef up your collection beforehand! It sounds like a very well thought out, integrated strategy. I like the idea of the “Downloads Only” card – we do have some patrons who only use the electronic resources. Good work and congrats in winning the contest.