Winners of the 2010 John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Awards

Contact: Fred Reuland

Marketing Specialist




For Immediate Release

January 26, 2010

CHICAGO - Six libraries are winners of the John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award, which recognizes and honors outstanding achievement in library public relations. The John Cotton Dana (JCD) honor has been awarded continuously since 1946 and is sponsored by the H.W. Wilson Company, the H.W. Wilson Foundation and the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). It is considered to be the most prestigious of all library awards in the field of public relations.

“The committee was impressed by the high quality of the public relations campaigns by libraries of all types and sizes from across the country,” said JCD committee chair, Linda Holtslander. “With reduced budgets and staff, the winning libraries showed creative use of social media and Web marketing to convey their messages. In these challenging economic times effective marketing techniques are essential to communicate the many valuable services and programs provided by libraries to meet the increasing needs of their customers.”

The following six libraries were honored:

Hackney Library at Barton College
, in Wilson, N.C., for the “Band Book Tour,” a music festival that more than tripled the attendance at the library’s annual open house and created a new image for the library in the eyes of the college’s students. An innovative publicity campaign, including the use of social media and a fictional band tour featuring stops at literary locations in controversial books, built excitement on campus. The development of partnerships with numerous local businesses garnered $500 worth of door prizes and additional publicity. Giveaways of tour t-shirts and “all-access” lanyards and wallets continue to provide the library with exposure to this day, as students are frequently seen on campus with their tour gear.

King County Library System
, Issaquah, Wash.: With 89,000 local workers unemployed, the library system reacted by creating the “Look to Your Library…Especially Now” campaign, designing an extensive outreach program guiding residents to free resources available from the library. Extended library hours, hands-on demonstrations, workshops and guided Web resources led to increased use of database resources, including a 403-percent increase in use of Resume Builder. The program garnered extensive print, media and Web coverage both locally, nationally and internationally.

New Jersey State Library
, Trenton, N.J., for “Tell Us Your Story,” a library advocacy campaign that motivated and mobilized staff from 240 New Jersey libraries to identify messages and cultivate customer stories. These stories were used locally and in a statewide media campaign that reached millions of people, including elected officials, through stories, commercials, outreach and the Web. This award-winning campaign provided a marketing toolkit to participating libraries and established a library communication network linking more than 500 users.

Pasco County Library System
, Hudson, Fla., for “Rockus Maximus: Battle of the Bands,” a library- and community-sponsored Battle of the Bands competition. Rockus Maximus truly maximized social media (making great use of YouTube, MySpace, Vimeo and Vizio online polling) and featured a kick-off concert, an online contest featuring a video documentary of the competing bands, which was viewed more than 10,000 times, and the Battle of the Bands live concert, which was attended by more than 600 teens – all for the modest budget of $3,800, covered by donations. In the six months following Rockus Maximus, teen attendance at library programs increased 48 percent, and the number of teens signing up for library cards increased 12 percent.

San Francisco Public Library
, San Francisco, Calif. for “Return the Books,” a low-cost effort using the tag line “What’s your excuse?” The library began a multifaceted overdue fine amnesty program to help library patrons cope with the economic downturn by removing an obstacle – overdue fines --allowing them to resume using library resources. Clever quotes from well-known personalities such as Captain “Sully” Sullenberger offered novel excuses for not returning library materials. The successful campaign netted a 23.6-percent return on overdue materials.

Westbank Community Library District,
Austin, Texas, for “One Library: Two Locations; Building a Branch and Expanding a Community” which raised more than $1 million to construct their first branch library through 22 separate creative public relations campaigns. With only a staff of 12, a budget of $25,000 and a special visit by former First Lady Laura Bush, whom the library is named after, Westbank had the support of the entire community, tripling its “family donor” goals and having more than 500 families volunteer. As a tribute to their success, 1,000 people from this small community attended the Grand Opening event.