Winners of the 2011 John Cotton Dana Awards

Editor’s note: Below you’ll find great examples for boosting your library’s PR. And don’t miss Loudoun County Public Library’s “Try Poetry” program.

Five libraries are winners of the John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award, which recognizes and honors outstanding achievement in library public relations.

The John Cotton Dana (JCD) honor has been awarded continuously since 1946 and is sponsored by the H.W. Wilson Co., the H.W.Wilson Foundation and the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). It is considered the most prestigious of all library awards in the field of public relations.

“This was a very difficult judging year,” said JCD committee Chair Kim Terry. “The quality was outstanding. We had entries from a variety of libraries—several academic libraries applied with fabulous campaigns. Many of the submissions came from small- to medium-sized libraries. It’s amazing that in these challenging economic times how wonderfully gifted libraries are at leveraging what they have to produce effective marketing campaigns. Libraries have come a long way.”

The following five libraries were honored:

Loudoun County Public Library, Leesburg, Va., for “Try Poetry”—a year of building community through the borderless conversation of poetry. The program developed a long partnership with the public school system, created a unique relationship with the juvenile detention center and offered a variety of captivating presentations to the community. Extensive media coverage in the Washington Post and other outlets, as well as highly respected authors, poets and actors helped to inform and excite all ages of the community.

Anythink Libraries of Adams County, Colo., built a “library of the future,” responding to a voter-approved funding increase. A new customer service philosophy and branding increased population awareness and use in all areas, including a 42 percent increase in cardholders and 66 percent increase in visitors. The district Anythink name and orange swirl has become a nationally recognized signature for the library.

The University of California Santa Cruz Library for its hugely successful campaign surrounding its acquisition of the Grateful Dead archives. In addition to coverage in many national newspapers and magazines from the Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone, the library’s Facebook page for this archive has more than 48,000 friends—second only to the Grateful Dead’s own Web page—and they have received $1.5 million in donations.

The Edmonton Public Library, Edmonton, Alberta, for “Rebranding the Edmonton Public Library,” a masterful blending of the work of professional designers and library staff that let each do what they do best. The simple, stylish logo and the slogan “Spread the words” were taken by library staff and customers and used in a guerilla marketing strategy that was impossible to ignore and hard to resist. The success of this campaign was built on a strong foundation of shared values, clear assessment, strategic marketing and a committed and enthusiastic library staff. The result was a colorful, adaptable, effective campaign that also happens to be a lot of fun.

Worthington Libraries, Worthington, Ohio for the “Find Yourself Here” rebranding campaign, a unique, informative and fun way to position the library as an information source and inviting destination. Beginning with staff communications guidelines and expanding to service provision, the library was positioned as a place where everyone belongs and is accepted. The net result was a 35 percent increase in online homework usage and a 36 percent increase in the circulation of downloadable books.

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