Marketing and design in your library

I am delighted to be in Cairns at a full day workshop organised by the Catholic Education office for the schools in this area.  “Contemporary School Library Design” – the whole day is designed to help schools look at their school libraries and to build or renovate school libraries that meet the needs of 21st century learners.

The first session of the day to set the scene was provided by Kevin Hennah.  Kevin is a wonderful inspiration to many in Australia, using design and marketing ideas to repackage school libraries.  Many of our teacher librarians are familiar with his work, and have already made transformations to their libraries – with either a lot of money or on a shoe-string budget.

80% of your loans are generated by 20% of your collection.  Yes!! Kevin urges us to weed, weed, weed.  Don’t pride yourself on the size of your collection – pride yourself on the quality and presention of your collection. No question, part of Kevin’s focus is to remind us of the hugely relevant focus of reading and literacy that our school libraries MUST retain in the age of digital learning.

The trick of great ‘merchandising’ is to cater for kids needs. First impressions count! Remember your visit to Boarders?  The presentation of so many ‘front facing’ books is essential, as our kids are so image conscious. We must market ourselves. We must entice. So grab the flavour of this conversation and make your transformations. Kevin always talks about “prime real estate”  –  don’t put a big table in that space, with a tablecloth and some books.  Think Borders and think clever.

School libraries have way too much signage. Return shute? make a list of all the things that frustrate you! Make sure you have lots of front facing books – and put them on the ends of your aisles.

Kevin loves the creative use of slat wall. But remember, to be careful what acrylics you buy and where you place these display units. Image Plastics are developing excellent perspex holders.

What we are aiming for – walking into a school library and thinking “wow”!!  First impressions are so important!  Retail book stores provide a powerful marketing ideas – take the ‘good stuff’ from retail, and package it into 21st century pedagogy. Use the base line of clean design, and a colour palette that allows you to change in the future.

Remember, don’t display your magazines by displaying them in alphabetical order!

My view for the future?   I believe we have to renovate to innovate – to make books and digital engagement our prime focus, to sell our passion for learning by ‘marketing’ to each new audience! Clean, creative, gorgeous!

Kevin’s message is to take the flavour of possibilities – and translate them into your own setting.  Make an impression – don’t be generic. Think outside the circle of traditional libraries. Be bold – and don’t let your teachers hold you back. Yes, it’s about change, and pedagogical innovation. Love life, love your library, love change!!

5 thoughts on “Marketing and design in your library

  1. I am really interested in all discussion about making libraries stimulating and inviting.

    I have my fingers triple crossed that our school library is to be upgraded and refurbished or a new one built in the new BER. I have a split level library-right in the middle!!

    It means up and down 6 steps(some shallow-others deep!!) to the computers and the workareas every time a student needs assistance.

    Office, computers, reference upstairs and fiction, non-fiction, circulation desks and IWB downstairs.It is not a good learning environment-hidey holes at the sides of the deep stairs. I am gathering as many great ideas for 21sr Century learning spaces as I can.
    You wrote: “Remember your visit to Boarders?”
    I don’t understand. Is it too late to check out somehow??
    BTW Judy I attended one of your workshops in Coffs Harbour with Mary Walsh and now have really embraced some of those technologies you introduced.
    Cheers 🙂

  2. Kevin Hennah is such a fantastic speaker. His enthusiasm is infectious and his advice and ideas are great. I love the way he can give big picture ideas but, if you dont have the money for that, other creative ways of making the library space look more inviting and inspiring to the school communities.

  3. This looks really interesting and fits in with a lot of things that I learned from my former assistant, who also came from a retail background. I would be really interested to read the Rethink book – especially as I am currently planning a new library – but it is only available in Australia!

  4. Having worked for Borders for over 7 years and currently working as a librarian, there are a lot of merchandising skills I would love to transfer over. However, many obstacles block such creativeness like sticking to the Dewey system. At Borders, we were encouraged to not only do windows for faceouts but to also cross promote merchandise. I love group items by relevance in addition to their own subjects. Libraries need to think more about the end user and make more user friendly options to find the materials easier.

    • Really interesting to think about these ideas, and even better when school libraries begin to transform their spaces to inspire students with easy access. You have a great advantage working as a Librarian after having had your ‘Borders’ experience. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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