Publicity, programming & promotion - Reach out to kids & families

kids! campaign logo

The Monroe Township Library serves a sprawling, suburban/semi-rural community of about 30,000 people in Central New Jersey, about 40 miles southeast of New York City. Once dominated by older adults living in pre-retirement and retirement communities, the area has undergone a major population shift with many young families moving into the area.

Five years ago, Library Director Irene Goldberg and Leah Wagner, Assistant Director and Youth Services Manager, decided the library needed to shed its image of “being for old people” and hired a consulting firm to help develop a marketing plan directed at young families.

Here’s some of what they did:

  • Used the consultants’ findings to convince the township board to add a bookmobile and Sunday hours during the school year. The bookmobile focuses on newly developed neighborhoods of family residences. It also goes to Little League games and parks in the summer and makes appearances at parades and fairs.
  • Set up crafts tables on Sunday afternoons for parents, grandparents and kids to do activities together—a popular feature.
  • Organized “Kids for Kids,” a joint program with local schools, for 3rd-6th graders. The group of 26 kids publishes a newsletter with news, poetry and book reviews that goes to all school kids. Their activities have included a used toy auction and valentine sale to replenish children’s materials of a library damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
  • Added evening and drop-in storytimes.
  • Published a newsletter “Teacher Talk” in the fall and spring to remind teachers how the library can help them and their students, titles of good reads and announcements of upcoming programs. It is designed to look like a sheet of notebook paper.
  • Sent copies of the book Because of Winn Dixie and subsequent titles, with a discussion guide to all 4th-6th teachers as part of the state’s “One Book New Jersey” program sponsored by the New Jersey State Library and New Jersey Library Association. Some teachers have incorporated the book into their yearly lesson plans.
  • Introduced “The Haunted Library”—now a favorite tradition of both families and staff. Held the 2nd Friday of October before Halloween, it takes a full day to transform the library complete with a graveyard and an assortment of ghostly and ghastly characters.
  • Redesigned the library’s website with a special focus on parents and kids, including a listing of day trips for families.
  • Organized Families and Neighbors, a volunteer group of parents that plan and assist with family and parent programs.
  • Started a raffle for teachers who contact the library about assignments. Their names are put in a drawing for a gift certificate donated by a local restaurant. Teachers help spread the word.

Contributed by:  Leah Wagner