John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Awards announced

For Immediate Release
Fri, 07/31/2020


Kerry Ward

LLAMA Executive Director

Library Leadership & Management Association

American Library Association


IPSWICH, Mass. — July 29, 2020 — The Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) of the American Library Association (ALA) have awarded eight winners this year’s John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Awards. Each library receives a $10,000 grant provided by the H.W. Wilson Foundation. The 2020 winners will be honored at a reception held by EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO) at the 2021 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.

The 2020 John Cotton Dana Award Winners are:

Niles-Maine District Library

The Niles-Maine District Library in Niles, Illinois designed a creative 16-month campaign to increase library card ownership in their culturally and economically diverse service area. Using bright and friendly graphics, Best. Deal. Ever! aimed to normalize card ownership while spelling out the benefits of having a library card. The project came in under budget, and the library saw an increase in new card sign-ups, exceeding its goal.

The Bridges Library System

The Bridges Library System in Waukesha, Wisconsin created a coordinated, multi-library system advertising campaign for Library Card Sign-up Month designed to reach non-library users.  The campaign inspired and encouraged people to seek out the library for their direct personal benefits that library services and materials provide, such as an enhanced quality of life, convenience, and cost savings. The campaign included billboards, radio ads, and Facebook ads, and exceeded the goal, resulting in an increase in new cardholders compared to the same time period for the previous year.

Enoch Pratt Free Library

After three years of construction, the Enoch Pratt Free Library (EPFL) in Baltimore, Maryland reopened the doors to their historic Central Library after a $115 million restoration. To raise awareness, EPFL created and executed a public awareness campaign that successfully kept customers informed throughout the renovation process, leading up to a multi-faceted grand opening celebration. Campaign tactics and results included a dedicated webpage that led to 23,000 visits, a video series highlighting behind-the-scenes tours received 13,000 views, a number of targeted customer emails that saw an open rate of nearly 46 percent and an aggressive earned media plan that resulted in a dozen television interviews aired on the Baltimore  television stations.

Alexandria Library

In 1939, five young black men led by civil rights lawyer Samuel W. Tucker were arrested for using the whites-only Alexandria Library in Alexandria, Virginia. In 2019, Alexandria Library celebrated the 80th anniversary of their peaceful protest, the first known library sit-in in United States history, with a public relations campaign to educate and engage the community. Alexandria Library hosted a series of events to commemorate the sit-ins, culminating in a program featuring the protestors’ descendants discussing the significance of their ancestors’ action. And perhaps one of the most meaningful outcomes of the entire program was that Alexandria’s Commonwealth’s Attorney recommended dismissal and the Alexandria Circuit Court actually dropped all charges against the sit-in participants, which had been outstanding for 80 years.

Cleveland Public Library

In 2019, Cleveland Public Library (CPL) in Cleveland, Ohio celebrated its 150th anniversary, a milestone that speaks to the revered place libraries have long held in Cleveland. The Cleveland Public Library hosted special events honoring not only their storied past, but also the library’s future. Nearly 10,000 people attended the CPL150 Street Festival and more than 400 guests, including six nationally recognized authors, enjoyed a night in the Literature Department at the Black, White, and ReAd Anniversary Affair. The gala raised more than $7,000 for CPL’s transportation fund which allows students to attend programs and events at Cleveland Public Library. Overall, the CPL gained new patrons and welcomed back those who had not recently visited Main Library or one of the 27 branches.

Milton Public Library

In response to the rapidly changing demography of Milton, one of Canada’s fastest growing towns, Milton Public Library’s (MPL) in Milton, Ontario newly appointed Chief Librarian hoped to create a new ‘brand’ for the library that supported organizational efforts to better meet the evolving needs of MPL’s patrons. Together, with the new Manager, Marketing and Communications, the tagline ‘Be Inspired’ was selected as the driving force behind the new brand and development of the ‘bee’ logo. Social media and the new website increased the average number of likes and followers on Facebook by a staggering 200 percent in just twelve months. Twitter and Instagram followers increased as well. Subscription to MPL’s e-newsletter increased from 10 percent of patrons in 2018 to almost 40 percent by the end of 2019.

Anaheim Public Library

For the past four years, the Anaheim Public Library in Anaheim, California has served as an official host for the Orange County ZineFest, an event where DIY zine creators “table” and share their zines, promoting self-publishing as a form of literacy and an accessible means of self-expression. The Anaheim Public Library developed a strategic marketing campaign for the annual OC Zine Fest in 2019 which successfully developed awareness for the library. These measurements demonstrated that the unique interest in adding zines to the library collection and vigorously promoting the inclusion of such materials on social media was successful in reaching an “untapped” demographic of potential library users.

Deerfield Public Library

The Deerfield Public Library in Deerfield, Illinois hosted the “The Fight to Integrate Deerfield: 60 Year Reflection” a months-long initiative about a significant period in the town’s local history and its lasting impact. During the current era of heightened interest in integration issues, the Deerfield Public Library worked with residents, historians, and experts to provide new resources and insights into this history. These efforts included the creation of a digital archive, providing open access to important historical documents for current and future generations. The success of the eight different “Fight to Integrate Deerfield” programs were measured with statistics, new community initiatives, and community feedback. All programs were filled, and the digital archives had 1,500 unique users engage in 3,000 sessions.

About the John Cotton Dana Public Relations Awards

The John Cotton Dana Awards were inaugurated in 1946 by The American Library Association and the H.W. Wilson Publishing Company. The award is named after the first librarian to make use of public relations to "publicize" library activities. The award is one of the most coveted, perhaps the most prestigious of the awards recognizing marketing and public relations excellence. The award is managed by the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) division of the American Library Association.

About the H.W. Wilson Foundation

The Foundation was established by Halsey W. Wilson in 1952 to support the needs of company employees and retirees. Since 1957, The H.W. Wilson Foundation has focused on providing financial assistance to causes having the greatest impact on improving the spirit, mind and body of the greatest number of people through aid, support and cooperation with charitable, benevolent, educational and religious institutions. Major donors to the Foundation included Mr. and Mrs. H.W. Wilson, and the H.W. Wilson Company.

About EBSCO Information Services

EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO) is the leading discovery service provider for libraries worldwide with more than 11,000 discovery customers in over 100 countries. EBSCO Discovery Service™ (EDS) provides each institution with a comprehensive, single search box for its entire collection, offering unparalleled relevance ranking quality and extensive customization. EBSCO is also the preeminent provider of online research content for libraries, including hundreds of research databases, historical archives, and clinical decisions tools serving millions of end users at tens of thousands of institutions. EBSCO is the leading provider of electronic journals & books for libraries, with subscription management for more than 360,000 serials, including more than 57,000 e-journals, as well as online access to more than 1,500,000 e-books. For more information, visit the EBSCO website at: EBSCO Information Services is a division of EBSCO Industries, Inc., a family owned company since 1944.