Geek the Library PA Style

Geek the Library with Jennifer Powell, OCLC – Tuesday, October 22, 2013

(I’ve written about Geek the Library before, so I’m excited that I didn’t miss the boat on this!)


What does advocacy look like? Q&A.  A’s: visit commissioners, Rotary, social media, newsletters, flyers, Teen boards writing to Reps, meetings with Superintendent, Parades, t-shirts, and Summer Reading Program yard signs.

What are the benefits of proactive awareness?

  • learn about and understand the total value of the Library
  • “Actively educating the public builds a foundation of knowledge that may facilitate library support when a need arises.”

Need both Internal and External Advocates – Can staff articulate the value of the library?  Do we gather stories of Transformation?  How do we demonstrate that the library supports success?

What is Geek the Library? It starts with the very simple Geek Board, where the community is invited to share (with chalk or silver sharpie markers on a black board) what they “geek” – or what they are passionate about.

  • Awareness campaign by the Gates foundation
  • Improves programming – for example, several people write that they geek gardening…you can do programming with the local horticultural society.  Do your folks geek their pets? Create posters with pictures of patrons and their beloved pets…right after you’ve had a program about grooming.
  • Geek is a verb – to love, promote, express interest in…and the Library supports what you Geek!
  • The 6-month campaign:
    1. Creates Awareness
    2. Generates Engagement with the local community
    3. Encourages Action – tell stories, show flow charges, focus on the value of the library and the need for support.  Turn library services into successes.

Why it Works

  • Takes the library out into the community
  • Starts conversations
  • When you increase awareness, you change behavior
  • Results in informed supporters who drive change
  • It’s Dynamic and draws attention and gets the community looking at and talking about the library
    • Teen clubs have been started because of Geek the Library
    • Database use increases
    • Friends groups expand
    • Libraries who participate are busier in general

Grant Objectives

  • 1,000 locations by June 2014 – free to start any time.
  • Should result in improved support structure for the library
  • ALL MATERIALS ARE FREE – one librarian said, “it was like Christmas and we just couldn’t believe it was all free!”  Includes, table skirt, 6-ft banner, posters, t-shirts, and templates to make local posters
  • Communications and ideas are sent weekly – ideas, one-on-one support and webinars
  • Access to the Campaign Management Center (CMC)
  • WebJunction Webinars

Consumer site: | Includes: funding myths and realities, Facebook, templates, videos

Library Campaign site: | Includes case studies, marketing and promotion materials, information kit (with a Powerpoint presentation to pitch the idea to Board/staff/Friends), planning help, talking points, “more information that I could use,” pre-written press releases, customizable items, and lots of ideas and pictures at Flickr.

Campaign requirements:

  1. 1 hour webinar
  2. Activate your CMC account
  3. Take an initial survey
  4. Let them know when the campaign ends

Planning –

  • Jennifer recommends 2 months lead time for a 6-12 month campaign.
  • Localize and personalize the campaign with local faces, celebs, and businesses.
  • Join events: fairs, job fairs, holiday events, sporting events (5Ks), farmers market, music events and expos
  • Involve the schools – have bulletin boards, bookmarks, contests
  • Have an Open House and party
  • See if community members with signs and billboards will share what they geek!

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