Library Snapshot Day

Library Snapshot Day provides an easy means to collect statistics, photos and stories that will enable library advocates to increase public awareness and show the value of their libraries to decision-makers and to their communities. A digitally illustrated graphic of a smartphone displaying a Twitter draft post screen. The draft is a real photo of a person holding a JavaScript & jQuery book inside a library.

What happens in libraries in a single day? How many books are checked out? How many people receive help finding a job? Doing their taxes? Doing their homework? This initiative enables library advocates to prove the value of their libraries to decision-makers and increase public awareness.

Although it was initiated as a way to collect information across a state, it can be used at any level: state, region, system, community, or even in an individual library. Libraries of all types can participate.

Creating a Library Snapshot Day

1. Choose the Date

Six months of preparation time is optimum for a “Snapshot Day” date. This allows plenty of time to generate interest among potential participants and it also allows libraries to schedule events that will attract numerous attendees. In addition, this is an opportunity to send out press releases to your local news outlets about the upcoming event. Schedule your date to coincide with popular library events, and give partner institutions a two-week window to work with around the chosen date so that they can maximize their impact at their locations.

2. Document Your Statistics

Make participation in Snapshot Day easy. Offer a data collection tool and choose a simple platform for sharing information. Identify a contact person who can answer questions quickly and constructively.

3. Encourage Participation

After the initial announcement, use multiple channels to send reminders and build enthusiasm. Ask participating libraries to post a link from their library's home page to the "Snapshot Day's" results page. Use a uniform image that can be downloaded by participants. Feel free to use these samples (smartphone graphic 1, smartphone graphic 2, smartphone graphic 3) or create your own.

4. Collect Data and Photographs

Announce a short (about one week) collection window for participants to upload their data and photographs. Make the process easy to use for both submitter and aggregator. Use an online form to collect data, text, and attachments. Or have your participants post to a shared site.

5. Share Your Results

The most important thing is to share Snapshot Day results as quickly and widely as possible, so choose a platform that works well for you. This may be in the form of a website or it may be through a different platform such as Tumblr. The New Jersey Library Association launched the original Snapshot Day and continues to showcase the work of New Jersey libraries:


Other states have been inspired by New Jersey's example and have added their own ideas and resources. Here are some examples:


Library Snapshot Day originated in New Jersey as a joint effort between the New Jersey State library and the New Jersey Library Association in 2009. They created a task force comprising librarians from all over New Jersey and from all types of libraries. Task force members met monthly to brainstorm and generate ideas to demonstrate libraries’ worth. They wanted to come up with a simple, effective method to capture all the ways that libraries offer vital services every single day, and asked library staff to document in statistics, stories and photographs “a day in the life” of their library. They knew that we could take this data and aggregate it and come up with powerful statistics that would show the positive impact libraries have on community members in every part of our state on a daily basis. Library Snapshot Day proved a success: statistics, photographs and stories gathered on those two dates provided indisputable proof that libraries consistently provide invaluable services to their communities.

Participants have used the results of “Snapshot Day” to advocate with their mayors and council members, have published reports in their local newspapers and newsletters, and have shared statistics with their “Friends of the Library” members and other stakeholders. The New Jersey State Library created a poster celebrating “Snapshot Day” activities and sent the poster and a letter describing the day’s activities to each and every New Jersey legislator.