Get it. Use it. @ your library

Contact: Megan McFarlane
Campaign coordinator

For Immediate Release
December 16, 2008


See how libraries have used the “Smartest Card”

(CHICAGO) The Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the ALA, is offering new “Smartest Card” merchandise at its Library Store…Library Stuff found at Café Press ( “Smartest Card” items include messenger and tote bags, mouse pads, note cards and even license plate frames.

Created by PLA and the Campaign for America’s Libraries, the Smartest Card campaign was developed in 2004 to promote the library card as the important card in every wallet.

Librarians looking to use the “Smartest Card” to promote their library locally can download logos from the Campaign for America’s Libraries Web site under “popular resources.” Below are just a few stories of how libraries across the country have used the logo and made the campaign their own:

  • The Jefferson County Library Cooperative of Jefferson County, Ala. library began using the “Smartest Card” in a variety of ways in January 2005. The library has created a three-dimensional library card, distributed large posters to each of the 39 libraries in its cooperative and circulated an additional 1,000 poster to the libraries and city halls in the county. The “Smartest Card” logo has also been included on the cooperative’s delivery vans.
  • The Naperville Public Library of Naperville, Ill. partnered with local downtown businesses in the “Smartest Card. Get It. Use It. @ your library” Campaign. The library sent letters to downtown merchants and businesses asking them to respond with discount offers when residents “Show Us Your Card, Naperville!” In its first year the library partnered with 20 local businesses, and grew the program to 83 following year. Businesses that partnered with the library posted signs in their windows announcing support.
  • The Scott County Public Library of Georgetown, Ky., has featured the “Smartest Card @ your library” logo on billboards throughout the community to promote library card registration. The billboards feature members of the community, like the high school’s girls basketball team, families and grandparents and grandchildren. The library also developed magnets, advertisements and brochures using the “Smartest Card.”
  • The state of Maryland used the “Smartest Card” Campaign as a way to not only increase library card use but to create awareness about the importance of funding Maryland’s libraries. The Maryland Library Association began the advocacy effort to make this happen by securing a “Smartest Card” photo opportunity with the governor and key legislators. This gave them the chance to have face-to-face conversations about the value of Maryland’s libraries and their services. The state library then conducted a survey that found that Maryland citizens: use their public libraries on a regular basis; rate them as a top local public service; support library improvements; see their local public libraries as essential; view libraries as a solid tax investment; and look to libraries for lifelong learning. It was these findings that served as the catalyst to get funding legislation introduced and ultimately unanimous bi-partisan support of a new funding bill, resulting in a per capita increase from $12 to $16.
  • Using a $10,000 Community Foundation grant, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library of Chattanooga-Hamilton County, Tenn. launched a year-long “Smartest Card” campaign to promote its 100-year anniversary. The campaign consisted of billboards, street banners, bus transit ads, radio and television PSAs. There was a 9% increase in registered card holders, a 9% increase in program attendance, and a 9% increase in recorded Web site requests. In 2006 there was a 10% increase in circulation. Comparatively Web site hits went from 1-million plus hits in August 2006 to 2-million plus hits in 2007.
  • For the past three years the State Library of North Carolina has used the “Smartest Card” and celebrities like as part of its Library Card Sign-up Month efforts. As part of this program the state library has selected a celebrity to champion the library card as the most important card in every North Carolinian’s wallet. So far celebrities have included Kevyn Adams, co-captain of the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team, actress Andie MacDowell and world-renowned saxophonist Branford Marsalis. In 2008, 57 public library systems in the state have signed up to promote the campaign. In 2006, 67 percent reported an increase in their library card registrations as a result of the campaign.

The Smartest Card campaign is part of the Campaign for America’s Libraries (, ALA’s public awareness campaign that promotes the value of libraries and librarians. Thousands of libraries of all types – across the country and around the globe - use the Campaign’s @ your library® brand. The Campaign is made possible in part by ALA’s Library Champions, ALA’s highest level of corporate members.