It might surprise some that Libraries must worry about marketing. For example in 20-13, staff will work to create a new image for Lexington’s Public Library System. The campaign includes an effort to boost card carrying members by some eight thousand people within six months.
Like most days, the children’s section of the library is a busy place. Randy Lawhun comes to the central library almost daily and his son is there about once a week. On this day, his three year old was playing a learning game.
“It’s just a magnet, a word building board to help him learn how to spell. It he uses words and syllables. And they have computer access for all the children, little games on them. They’re all learning games. It really benefits the children,” said Lawhun.
For over a hundred years, Lexington residents have taken their kids to the library. But, not too long ago, there were no games at the library…only books and that’s the image many people may still have of the library. Kelly Dean, who heads outreach services for the Lexington Public Library, says too often they’re still thought of as a ‘grocery store’ for books.
“Where in a grocery store, you just go and pick up what you need. A lot of times you already have what you need at home. But, we want to be like a kitchen atmosphere where you can do things with what you have. And so, I think that’s what we’re doing a lot with our computer classes and a lot of programs for children and a lot of things like that. You can actually put the knowledge that you have to work to put it to use in the library,” said Dean.
Within recent memory, Libraries have expanded services to offer all kinds of content in a variety of media. Given such changes, Library Director Ann Hammonds says they need to foster a new image which is captured in a new logo.
“It’s been described as a number of different things. People see a book with the pages fluttering open. Some people see crazy hair. Some people see who knows what. But, it’s meant to spark the imagination and say humm what are the possibilities,” said Hammond.
Hammond says their old logo, which was more than 20 years old, showed the Central Library. She says the idea is to get a new look that’s energetic and up to date. The new logo is a blue, red and orange depiction of pages as they flip in a book. It can be found on billboards, buses, and magnets….along with a new slogan “Reading is Just the Beginning.”
Of course, library users can still check out a hard cover book from one of the system’s six locations, but, in recent years, electronic books have come on in a big way. Some might think, e-books would cut into a library’s circulation, but Hammond says it hasn’t been the case..
“The e-books I think have been kind of an affirmative thing for libraries. They’ve shown that we’re not just old fashion, we’re not just about print books, we’re changing with the world and adapting and offering things that people needs they, as the new things come along, we’re right there with them,” added Hammond.
There are also mobile apps which allow users to check-out, reserve and renew books and other content.
Computer services are also a big part of what’s offered…with access provided to the internet. There are computer classes, digital studios and additional assistance with research.
“We’ve just started something here at Central called ‘Book a Librarian’ where you can make an appointment and get one on one time with a librarian if you’ve got an in depth research project or you’re doing some genealogy or you’d just like to have a tour of the library, we can do that for you.”
New technologies can also be used to bring history alive. The Kentucky room contains all the historical archives about the Bluegrass State. Virginia McClure is head librarian for the Kentucky Room.
“And so we’re looking at ways we can bring contents of the Kentucky Room and bring them out into the open and so we’re looking at digitizing items and making them more available on the website, creating web galleries of images that we have and we’re revamping our local history index to make that more accessible,” said McClure.
Director Ann Hammond admits the rebranding of the public library system is not all about keeping up with the times. Part of it is to restore the community’s confidence in the library system. A few years ago, a library director was terminated after reports of excessive spending. That case is still courts, but, at the Library, Hammond says they’re trying to get back on track.
“There was some negative publicity around the library and this rebranding effort was an attempt to say, ‘that’s in the past, that was not about the library, that was an isolated incident involving a specific person and that’s not who we are and where we are going now,” said Hammond.
So, the beginning of 2013 marks the one hundred and seven years of library service to the Lexington community. Library officials hope thousands of new patrons will take a much deeper interest in their services this New Year.