Public Libraries in Smart Cities and Communities Toolbox
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Raising awareness is an important first step. Citizens usually know that there is one a public library in their community, but they do not always know about what the library has to offer, particularly in terms of programs and services related to smart community development. Often, citizens still think that libraries have very limited roles: to lend books and to provide free internet Wi-Fi and computer access. Therefore, there is a need to expand knowledge about what your library does. One way to do that is to focus on the programs and services your library provides that are helping your community become smarter.
You can certainly use digital means in order to do so. Distribution lists, social media, and the website have proved efficient tools to advertise the library’s activities. But do not forget about the individuals that are digitally excluded (you are trying to develop them into smart citizens too): they will need to be reached out through other means, such as brochures and information available in other community organizations (schools, non-profits, local government offices, etc.).
In raising awareness about your library, it may be a good idea that you build a brand that is connected to an image of innovation and smartness and that disseminates the idea that your library is a relevant actor in making your community/city smarter.
Build a Brand
Branding is an important component of any or (your) marketing strategy. Branding is the process of defining your library’s story and distilling it into something easy to understand by everyone. But, what is a library’s story?
A library’s story is the articulation of the role it plays or wants to play in its community. If you want to play an active role in making your community smarter, your library’s story needs to specifically articulate that role. Your story can be about what makes your library unique (for example, being an innovation hub by making innovation spaces, such as a makerspace or a music studio, available to the community).
It can also be about the needs that the library is focused on filling within its community (for example, hosting an open data portal, developing smart residents through access to technology and training, and providing spaces for citizen participation). Through your library’s story, you will communicate your relevance and value to your patrons in building a smart community/city.
Your logo is the most importance piece, although not the only one, of your brand. A logo is a visual representation of your organization, the mental shortcut that brings the uniqueness of your library into mind (playing a key role in the development of a smart city/community) when patrons and other community members see it.
By using a name and/or visual imagery related to the participation of the library in building a smart city/community, the logo could effectively communicate your story tying it to your smart city/community strategy or plan.
General resources in how to build a brand:
Creating Your Library Brand. Communicating Your Relevance and Value to Your Patrons: http://nwcentral.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/9780838909621_excerpt.pdf
How You Can (and Why You Should) Build a Digital Image Library: https://www.bounteous.com/insights/2019/07/17/building-a-digital-image-library/
Librarians: Build your Brand:
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