Think outside the barn @ your library®

Contact: Megan McFarlane
Campaign Coordinator
Campaign for America’s Libraries
ALA Public Information Office
mmcfarlane@ala.org
312-280-2148

NEWS
For Immediate Release
September 15, 2009

Rolling Prairie Library System promotes libraries at the 2009 Farm Progress Show

Chicago – There was something unexpected at this year’s Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill.: libraries.

The Decatur-based Rolling Prairie Library System designed its Farm Progress Show booth with the theme “Think outside the barn @ your library” to promote the value of librarians, libraries and their services to the residents of agricultural communities.

Rolling Prairie originally created “Think outside the barn @ your library,” which uses the Campaign for America’s Libraries’ “@ your library” brand, for the 2007 Farm Progress Show. The “Think our side the barn” logo has appeared on banners, yard signs, coffee mugs, post-it notes and the staff’s polo shirts.
Check out photos from the show on ALA’s Flicker page.

“The theme catches people’s eye,” said Bev Obert, executive director of the Rolling Prairie Library System. “We use it as an opportunity to get people talking about their libraries, how they use their libraries.”

Watch and interview with Obert by visiting the ALA Public Information Office’s blog, Visibility @ your library.

Catching people’s eye is the key. The Farm Progress Show is the nation’s largest agricultural show, with an annual attendance of 300,000 people from 20 states and 10 countries. For the Rolling Prairie staff and its volunteers, it’s the perfect time to talk about the importance of rural and small libraries.

The booth offered visitors the opportunity select a book to take home with them from the literal ton of books that were donated from Rolling Prairie’s member libraries. Each book was emblazoned with the message, “A gift form your Illinois library.”

“We wanted it to be generic,” said Obert. “We wanted to get people thinking about not just Rolling Prairie, but their library, and what their library means to them.”
While people browsed the stack, Obert and her staff talked with people, reminding them about what the library has to offer them. The booth proved so popular in previous years that visitors specifically looked for it this year.

Rolling Prairie has participated in five Farm Progress Shows with the goal of raising awareness for rural and small libraries across the country and helping those libraries do the same. Obert and her staff have taken the show on the road, leading “Think outside the barn” presentations at last year’s Illinois Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago and at last week’s Association for Rural and Small Libraries conference in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Rolling Prairie has also lent its signage to area libraries during Agricultural Week, Future Farmers of America (FFA) Week and for local fairs.

“The campaign has remained fresh,” says Obert. “We plan on using it for many years to come.”

The Campaign for America’s Libraries, ( www.ala.org/@yourlibrary) is 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 by ALA’s Library Champions, corporations and foundations that advocate the importance of the library in American society.

Visibility @ your library provides librarians and library supporters with news and information about important communications issues from ALA’s Public Information Office and the Campaign for America’s Libraries. It also contains links to the latest ALA News.