Monday, May 23, 2011

A Tremendous Marketing Force for Public Libraries

Fans of Tober, the Thorntown (Indiana) Public Library Cat, may have noticed that his blog viewership has now surpassed 80,000.  That is an amazing audience for a public library serving a community whose population is well under 5,000 (according to the 2009 estimate, it was 1,627; it was 1,520 in the 2000 U.S. Census).  Residents of western Boone County served by TPL certainly have a fabulous library facility, resources, and staff available.  But, then, the same could be said for public libraries in general.  What makes TPL stand above others is Tober.

Tober the Thorntown Library Cat
promotes a recent booksale
(photo courtesy of Tober's Blog)

The most famous American library cat,  Dewey Readmore Books (1988-2006), late of the Spencer (Iowa) Public Library, has millions of readers worldwide, thanks to several bestselling books about Dewey written by librarian Vicki Myron.

Library felines attract a following, which makes them a potent marketing force.  They are patron favorites who can promote library programs, events, resources, and activities as effectively, if not more so, than even local or regional human celebrities.  As a goodwill ambassador, Tober has no equal in Hoosier public libraries.  Tober's online postings are a must-read for his many blog followers.  "He" writes clever, imaginative articles that subtly advertise the library and its resources.

Of course, most public libraries do not have resident felines or canines, although reading programs such as Paws to Read have effectively joined patrons and pets to boost reading and literacy.  Many public libraries, however, have other types of resident animals, including birds, fish, rodents, lizards, amphibians, and others.  These animals, too, could "write" blogs or tweets designed to inform and entertain library users.  For instance, Morgan the Library Bunny, at Morgan County (Indiana) Public Library, blogs, tweets, and posts to Facebook.

Public libraries without resident animals may also invoke this critter marketing technique.  Cauli Le Chat, feline roving reporter at Mooresville (Indiana) Public Library, has her blog, even though she doesn't live inside the library (rather, she hangs around outside and lives in a nearby neighborhood).

In an age of declining revenues, libraries need innovative strategies to educate and inform the public about their community value.  Resident (or non-resident, affiliated) animals may lend their voices, faces, and personalities to charm patrons and advertise library initiatives.  Ask yourself:  Who would you rather visit at your public library?  Tober or a human library representative, such as, say, me?  Well, that's not a fair comparison--Tober clearly wins, paws-down--but I think we might all agree that library cats, dogs, rabbits, parrots, or other wildlife would be clear preferences.

Congratulations, Tober, on reaching the 80,000 blog readership mark.  I can only dream of having so many blog followers.

William R. Buckley, J.D.
MPL Indiana Room Historian & Reference Coordinator, Adult Services

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Thirty-Nine Steps at IRT (Read the Book, Too!)

The 39 Steps, the Tony Award-winning play adapted by Patrick Barlow, based upon an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon, began its run at the Indiana Repertory Theatre on April 20 and will be playing through May 13, 2011.  Remaining show dates include May 6, 10, 11, 12, and 13.  It is billed as a combination of Alfred Hitchcock, who directed the 1935 movie version, and Monty Python's Flying Circus (BBC Television series, 1969-1974).  That should deliver plenty of laughs and excitement.  If you have never seen a stage production of this mystery/suspense story, now is your chance.  Don't miss it.

Sarah Nealis as Annabella in The 39 Steps, now playing at IRT

Did you know that The Thirty-Nine Steps was first a novel before its stage and screen adaptations?  Scottish writer John Buchan presented his mystery/suspense novel The Thirty-Nine Steps in 1915, during World War I's first years.  Buchan wrote the book while bedridden--recovering from a duodenal ulcer--and its success skyrocketed the author to the heights of literary popularity.  It was the first of five novels featuring Richard Hannay, an action-adventure character whose aplomb, pluckiness, and ingenuity enabled him to escape a continuous series of difficult situations.

Buchan characterized 39 Steps as a "shocker" novel, in which the story's events were so improbable that readers would have to be willing to suspend disbelief and engage the adventure.  Readers were certainly willing and able to join the fun.  The book was eventually adapted for plays, motion pictures, and television programs. The most famous movie adaptation was undoubtedly director Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 version starring Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll.  The movie helped define the thriller genre and introduced a new generation to Buchan's work.

Our book trailer gives a hint of what to expect.

The novel is nearly a century old, but it holds up well and delivers sufficient excitement, adventure, and intrigue to keep the reader turning pages until the end.

If you have an Evergreen Indiana library card, you may place a hold on the book.  Click here or here for copies in the E.I. catalog.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Revised MS-PowerPoint Slideshow for E.I. Conference Workshop on May 6, 2011

For my upcoming workshop at the 2011 Evergreen Indiana Conference, I have revised my MS-PowerPoint slideshow to include an Evergreen Indiana promotional holiday video created by North Webster (Indiana) Community Public Library.  To download a free copy of this slideshow, click the hyperlink below.

 This hyperlink above will take you to the Media Fire website.

Look for a yellow box to start the download procedure.  It looks like this:

Once you have clicked the yellow box link, this window should pop-up:

Select either "open with [Microsoft Office PowerPoint (default)]" or "save file," depending upon which choice you wish to make.

When you attempt to run the MS-PowerPoint Show, this security alert will probably pop-up:

There are Macros and ActiveX controls in the PowerPoint slideshow, so you should choose "Enable the content" and click the OK button.  Otherwise, the slideshow may not display properly.

In the slideshow, if the embedded video boxes appear with X's on the PowerPoint slides, this indicates broken hyperlinks. However, the titles of each video (as shown on the slides above the X boxes) are also hyperlinked, so clicking the titles should open a pop-up window playing the videos. Active textual hyperlinks should appear in blue or purple.

Please email the presenter should you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for your interest.

National Historic Preservation Month

May is National (and Indiana) Historic Preservation Month.  To learn more about efforts to preserve our historic buildings, places, cemeteries, and cultural resources, please visit the Indiana Department of Natural Resources website.

North Webster (Indiana) Community Public Library has an ingenious approach to spotlighting the importance of historical cemetery preservation.  Each year the library holds a cemetery tour, in which personators portray deceased residents by their gravestones.  It personalizes the cemetery walk and hammers home the realization that the memories of these folks' lives are a significant weave to the fabric of our collective historical experiences.  It is a wonderful way to promote family history and preservation of vital historic sites such as cemeteries.  Please enjoy these videos from the 2010 cemetery walk courtesy of North Webster Community Public Library.