This year, at the Ontario Libary Association Super Conference, I presented Ad/Lib’s Library Marketing Year in Review for 2017. It featured library marketing that caught my eye or was recommended to me, while other content was solicited directly from a variety of libraries across Canada. The goal of the presentation was the same as the website: show off great ideas and provide inspiration. I’ll be sharing the content of that presentation over a series of posts.

Saskatoon Public Library

“We actually did a lot of really fun and engaging stuff on our Facebook page this year which resulted in us more than doubling the likes on our page (from about 4,000 to 9,200+ and counting in the past 12 months).”

Kirk Sibbald, Senior Marketing & Communications Specialist, Saskatoon Public Library

“In September, we asked people to Ruin a Book With One Letter. So the idea is to remove or add one letter to a book title in such a way that it alters the original meaning. For example: Here’s Waldo instead of Where’s Waldo. Or: Gone With the Wine instead of Gone With the Wind.”

“This post went incredibly viral. It reached nearly 2.7 million people, was commented on 9,200+ times and shared 6,900+ times.

We found that people really liked how we were responding to their “ruined” titles with funny GIFs or comments. So we have continued doing a lot of this. Basically, it’s just a quick and fun way to engage followers and let them know we’re reading (and appreciating) what they post.

We followed up on the success of this post by asking followers to choose their favourite “ruined” title using a poll.”

“Here’s Waldo was the winner, so our library’s Writer-in-Residence wrote a prose poem based on this title and read/unveiled it during our annual Stories in the Bar program.” What I appreciate about the “Ruin a Book” idea is that SPL didn’t just leave it at a fun, high-engagement post on social media. They found a way to convert that energy into a new idea, by working with their Writer-in-Residence.

Ruin a Book - Prose Poem

Another post that has gotten high engagement is Word Nerd Wednesday. “Every Wednesday we post an obscure word that is somehow related to the literary world, explain its meaning and create a custom graphic for each one.”

Finally, Kirk notes that a thoughtful post with a compelling story can generate a lot of engagement and reach (>34,000), as with this post about Orange Shirt Day.

St. Thomas Public Library

St. Thomas Public Library’s relatively new Instagram account, done entirely in the #bookstagram style. Recommended to me by the Social Media Editor at Kitchener Public Library, who described it as a good example of what can be done with a small library and staff.

Ottawa Public Library

Ottawa Public Library worked with local charity EcoEquitable to create “This bag has a story” totes, which were distributed all across the city. From the OPL post about this campaign, EcoEquitable is described as a “…bilingual, registered Canadian charity in Ottawa that empowers and inspires newcomers and immigrants who arrive in Canada to acquire skills and enter the workforce with dignity and confidence. Women workers at EcoEquitable’s Vanier atelier used newfound skills and upcycled denim fabric to create these bags.”

“The Book Bag Blitz took place Wednesday, October 25 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at all 33 Ottawa Public Library branches and seven OC Transpo transit stations. OPL representatives engaged members of the public about the Library and its many programs and services, and offered fabulous new book bags to customers and potential new customers alike.”

Anna Basile, Division Manager, Governance, Communications, and Strategic Services

Calgary Public Library

Calgary Public Library was one of many libraries across Canada to use the #LibraryMoments hashtag developed for October’s Library Month (spearheaded by Ottawa Public Library). What was unique about Calgary PL’s approach, though, was the scope of the campaign. It included a variety of social media graphics, both stills and motion gifs, with an eye-catching design. The content was largely driven by user stories and feedback, with some interviews with local personalities (I thought the video with local morning tv host Leah Sarich was particularly well done). It immediately jumped out of my twitter feed as something with a strong, yet consistent design, with well-thought-out content.

Locked Library

Another thing that caught my eye was an escape room event, or locked library in this case, run at the central branch of Calgary Public Library.

I think it was the sheer scale of the event that really grabbed my attention.

To mount a locked library event of this scale, CPL worked with a company that had run a local event called Treasure League.

Some feedback on the event:

Escape rooms, locked libraries, and puzzle boxes are becoming increasingly popular in the library community. For more reading on this topic, check out the following:


More to come in part II