Scholarship Report: Karen Lemke – Library Marketing and Communications Conference

Event: Library Marketing and Communications Conference

Attendee: Karen Lemke – Head of Marketing and Community Engagement, Rochester Public Library


How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?

LMCC is the best conference for library marketing professionals. Everything shared at the conference directly relates to every aspect of my position: community engagement, marketing, and public relations.

Several sessions at LMCC focused on developing more meaningful relationships with community members, providing insight into using data to guide community engagement. Surveys, comment cards, available data from other sources, and certain software programs were all highlighted. Some of these tools I am able to bring back to our library to improve our own engagement work.

Various marketing strategies and tactics were presented at this year’s LMCC. With marketing always changing and evolving, keeping up on the latest trends is vital to what I do. Without having that knowledge or exposure to new tools, I am unable to reach our full marketing potential.

Lastly, public relations continue to be a large part of my role at Rochester Public Library. Other libraries are facing the same challenges and issues, and one presenter shared their struggles with crisis communications after a fire damaged their building. For me, after dealing with a major water leak at our library, I was able to assess how we can continue the conversation months after the situation.

I will continue to highly recommend this conference for any library staff member who provides marketing and communications services. The sessions cover broad topics and always include valuable takeaways.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session that I attended at LMCC was a presentation on using Insta-Stories. This one-hour session was timely for our library as we just started using Insta-Stories this past year. We have struggled to maintain our Story content, and Catherine Fonseca from the Sonoma State University Library shared her experience and insights on using the short-story feature of Instagram.

While social media is only one tactic that we use at RPL, we learned through other LMCC sessions that utilizing social media is incredibly important to certain segments of our population. In 2020, Instagram users will spend an average of 28 minutes a day on the platform, and users are increasingly interacting through IG’s Stories.

Fonseca says that the key to successfully using Stories is to make the content feel exclusive, authentic, casual, and intimate. At the same time, she also reiterated that the Stories don’t need to be overly complicated. In fact, she says simple stories can yield strong results. For example, using stock photography that speaks to community norms and values can go a long way. At her library, she used photos of a particular type of Mexican sweet bread and simple text. The Story felt authentic and included a poll to encourage interaction.

The content in the presentation, as well as how it was presented, made for an interesting session full of practical tips and tricks that I can implement at RPL.

What is one idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?

I left the conference with an idea on how to completely revamp our social media strategy by creating a well-defined, library-wide plan. This plan will allow for more staff engagement and provide clearer direction for our social media activity, which will in turn help us to reach new audiences and better engage with our current audiences.

I attended three sessions to help inform this idea: “Using Insta-Story,” “20 Tips for Making Social Media Work for Your Library,” and “Marketing to Diverse Populations.” All three of these talked about social media and the best practices for different platforms.

“Using Insta-Story” was very Instagram focused, but also included insights into the audiences using that platform and different ways to manage the content that’s used there.

The “20 Tips” session covered multiple platforms, trends, as well as the organization of content. One tip is to recognize YouTube as the social media channel it is, and also to understand that it’s a search engine so we should use it more, if possible.
In Susan Lucas’ presentation on “Marketing to Diverse Populations,” she touched upon how different populations interact and use social media. For example, Hispanic Americans tend to be younger, and use more social media. Meanwhile, African Americans tend to utilize television and YouTube for information.

By attending these sessions at LMCC, I feel fully prepared to develop a robust, successful social media plan at my library.