Announcing the 2015 winners of the John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Awards

For Immediate Release
Fri, 04/24/2015


Fred Reuland

LLAMA Program Officer



CHICAGO — This year the John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Awards website received 77 entries, and as in years past, the judges had many inspiring, thoughtful and exceptionally well-executed  entries to choose from, making their job of selecting the eight winners very challenging.  It is always impressive to see how all types and sizes of libraries, public and academic, are able to not only accomplish so much with many great partners and resources, but also make big impacts in their communities with very limited resources.

This year’s winners of not only bragging rights but, $10,000 cash awards generously provided by EBSCO and the H.W. Wilson Foundation are:

The Contra Costa Library, which, inspired by their large community of veterans and the need to tell their story, created War Ink, a powerful exhibit and forum that helps to bridge the divide between the veteran and civilian communities. Using photographs of tattoos as a springboard for California veterans to share their stories, this campaign reached beyond the Contra Costa communities to libraries across California and to thousands of others online.

The Columbus State Library, which seized the opportunity during Banned Books Week to create a campaign designed to innovate, curate and disseminate. The Exhibit the Right to Read campaign offered multiple opportunities for community engagement and content creation, including an online exhibit exploring such themes as censorship and intellectual freedom. Their “Which Banned Book Are You?” quiz created a buzz nationwide. Combine that with story booth recordings and a traveling photo booth generating more than 200 mugshots.

The Durham County Library, which anchored its role in the community by creating a strong, meaningful campaign that was successful at engaging both current and new audiences. The well-executed campaign was filled with thoughtful and robust activities that expanded past Durham Reads Together into extensions such as Durham Marches Together and Durham Sings Together.

The Flathead County Libraries, which took a huge risk by rebranding themselves completely to reflect a new generation of libraries, transforming into the ImagineIF Libraries. Their rebranding campaign was multifaceted and challenged their very culture, everything from a new name to new programs to going fine free. They pushed the limits of public perceptions and the results included achieving funding for three new libraries.

Twelve Illinois libraries and library organizations teamed up for the "Soon to be Famous Illinois Author" project, a groundbreaking effort to demonstrate the power of libraries to publishers. With a budget of a mere $400, the project created a collaborative process for libraries to find quality self-published authors for their reading audiences. The project also provided a valuable market for the authors by soliciting nominations of self-published books from 76 libraries across the state, judging the entries and selecting a winner.

The Loyola University Chicago Libraries for Celebrate Gorey, an extensive programming and outreach campaign on the writer and artist Edward Gorey.  The libraries collaborated to bring the first major Gorey exhibition to his native Chicago, recognizing a remarkable gift of over 1,300 rare items to the libraries. Enhanced by multiple partnerships, including the Loyola University Museum of Art and the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, the multifaceted campaign served to raise endowment funds, expand Friends group membership and bolster awareness of the Libraries’ Special Collections.

The University of Maryland Libraries for “Thinking Big,” a data-driven communications campaign to increase awareness of UBorrow, an interlibrary loan service made available to students, faculty and staff as a result of the university joining the Big Ten. Driven by careful data analysis and consistent messaging, the campaign resulted in cost savings and directly supported the university’s goal to promote the academic benefits associated with membership in the athletic conference.

The Hesburgh Library at the University of Notre Dame used the 50th anniversary of its iconic building – home of the famous mural Word of Life and affectionately known as "touchdown Jesus" – as an opportunity to build awareness of the library and its services among the Notre Dame community. Their comprehensive strategy and flawless execution helped stakeholders rally around the libraries, further establishing them as vital to the school's landscape. 

Congratulations to the winners, who will receive their awards at a celebratory reception at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference this June in San Francisco.