Announcing the 2017 John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award winners

For Immediate Release
Tue, 05/02/2017


Fred Reuland

LLAMA Program Officer, Continuing Education

Library Leadership and Management Association

American Library Association


CHICAGO — After many hours of deliberation the judges for this year’s John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Awards competition announced eight winners.  Each winning library will receive a $10,000 award from the HW Wilson Foundation.  The following winners will be celebrated June 25 at a reception sponsored by EBSCO during the American Library Association’s 2017 annual conference in Chicago.

The Columbus Metropolitan Library System (CML) for the Great Libraries Create campaign to raise funds to revitalize seven urban branches and two suburban branches, and make transformational changes to their Main Library. The Foundation created the Great Libraries Create campaign and CML created a very effective public awareness campaign to reach several objectives: generate additional gifts, welcome broad-based public participation and cultivate a culture of philanthropy for the library. By the end of 2016, they had a 148 increase in first-time individual donations over the previous year.

The Irving Public Library for their “Endless Stories” campaign to promote the North Texas Teen Book Festival. The free two-day festival featured 75 authors and attracted an impressive 8,000 attendees, becoming the largest library-sponsored teen book festival in the nation. By leveraging social media to engage authors and teens, partnerships with educators and sponsorship support from the regional transportation network, this campaign resulted in high impact for minimal financial investment.

The San Jose Public Library for a multi-lingual campaign to launch TeenHQ, a space designed by teens exclusively for teens. Using a comprehensive audience-focused strategy, the campaign reached well over 200,000 people with marketing tactics targeted to schools, parks, local businesses and recreation centers. The initiative resulted in 400 attendees on opening day, 84,000 social media impressions, news stories that ran for days, engagement interest from high tech companies and growing numbers of teens using TeenHQ.

The San Mateo County Libraries for their rebranding initiative Open for Exploration: Rebranding to Engage New Audiences. Their goal to revitalize and re-introduce the library to its community moved San Mateo to develop a beautifully engaging and visually appealing brand. Through this initiative, in which staff education and support for the new brand played a big role, the library increased the number of card holders by 45 percent and increased the number of visitors to its locations by almost 50,000, as well as increasing use of its website.

The San Francisco Public Library for its “Summer Stride: Read. Create. Explore.” collaboration with the National Park Service, which went from “tales to trails” with a unique twist on the traditional summer reading program. “Summer Stride” encouraged learning, reading, creating and exploring both inside the library and outside in the region’s majestic national parks. This wide-ranging initiative featured traditional tracking of time spent reading, enhanced by park trailheads inside library locations and weekend shuttles from neighborhood libraries to national park sites. Through appealing, consistent graphics that were carried through from the promotions to the program itself, the campaign captured the attention of the community, leading to a dramatic increase in summer reading participation. 

The Saskatoon Public Library for "Better Than Ever," a disruptive campaign created to communicate the libraries' relevance while reminding patrons of its service offerings, in particular their digital media services. The campaign was created internally with the addition of a freelance copywriter and together they developed a bold campaign that achieved high impact while still being flexible enough to promote all of SPL's services and collections through all marketing channels.

The University of Tennessee Libraries­ for their creative response to the challenge of connecting their subject-matter experts with students and faculty.  The “Information Is Our Game” marketing campaign used a sports theme to capture attention and highlight librarians’ expertise. They created trading cards, videos and social media posts featuring librarians in sports activities, detailing each librarian’s particular skills as an information professional.  

The Whatcom County Library System for “My Modern Library,” a campaign designed to increase cardholders and library circulation (particularly, digital circulation). Whatcom County Library partnered with Red Rokk to create this campaign to promote the library’s digital services in a fresh and innovative way through email, social media, web ads, blogging, and media outreach. Part of this campaign involved the #BookBrainChallenge, a viral video challenge aimed at increasing new card sign-ups. A strong needs assessment with goals carried through to the evaluation. The campaign resulted in an 85 increase in digital circulation, more than doubled the goal for total circulation and cardholders, and broke the record for most card sign-ups ever in one month by 26.

The John Cotton Dana Award honors outstanding library public relations.  Winners of the award receive a $10,000 cash award.  The program is managed by the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA).