By Joey Garcia, Infortmation & Technology Librarian at the Robert J. Kleberg Public Library

Recently we spoke with Joey Garcia of the Robert J. Kleberg Public Library about a unique marketing idea they’re using to promote their digital library. The library has started promoting their “Blind Dates with an eBook” to area students as a way to get them excited about digital reading. What follows is how they are executing this and other great marketing ideas to get their digital collection spread through the community.

Where did the idea for the Blind Date with an eBook come from?

The idea for Blind Date with an eBook came about as a result from our Children’s Librarian putting together Blind Date with a Book, where library patrons can choose from a selection of paper-wrapped titles and decide to go on a date with the book based off of a limited description that we provide for each book. We simply took that same concept and formed it to fit our Digital Collection by using QR codes and Google’s URL Shortener. Even though the patron will instantly know what title they are going to be reading when they scan or type in the link on their device, there are no hints when they are deciding what code or link to choose.

ValentinesDayHow do you select the titles for the program? Do you swap out the titles?

For our first attempt at doing Blind Date with an eBook, we decided we would gear it towards our area students, so when selecting the titles, we chose items from the Hidden Gems collection on our OverDrive-powered website. Using the filters in the search results allowed us to find titles specifically for Juvenile and Young Adults which made the selection process that much easier. As for swapping out titles, since the QR codes and links that we made are permanent for each title, we decided early on that we would provide more than one sheet of QR codes and links so that students could “speed date” or move on and select the title that best fit them if what they chose didn’t interest them. If they still could not find something that caught their attention, we provide the direct link to our OverDrive-powered website for them to check out the Kids & Teens eReading Room.

Have you done this program before/how long do you plan on doing it?

This is our first year doing Blind Date with an eBook and we are really excited about the potential that it holds to introduce not just OverDrive and our Digital Collection to students, but also how tech-friendly our library can be to students who already live in a tech-filled world. We recently had the Digital Bookmobile visit us last November, so many of the area schools, students, and their parents are now familiar with OverDrive and our digital content. We are planning on running this campaign for the entire month of February, and since the Google links that we used can track the number of times an eBook is viewed, we will have a clear picture of how successful our Blind Date with an eBook campaign was in the end.

What has been the reaction so far with the students?

In general, the student population has responded positively to OverDrive and the content that we provide. Our library has the privilege of conducting Academic Outreach Programs, where we go to the surrounding school districts and talk face to face with students and faculty in their classrooms about our library services, including OverDrive. Students that may not feel motivated to pick up a book are instantly turned on to reading when we show them that some of their favorite subjects and topics are available in an eBook. The best part is when we get to tell them that their devices are meant for more than just texting and social media – we tell them that with the OverDrive app, not only can they read their favorite topics, they can share what they are reading on their Facebook profile or in a text so that their friends get excited about reading as well.  

How else do you market your digital library?

We employ several marketing techniques for our patrons and community to discover what titles we have available in our Digital Collection. For instance, through our library’s social media channels, we heavily rely on pasting a digital item’s link into a Facebook post so that a preview of the title comes up, or we hashtag tweets with #OverDrive so that they can be discovered by a wider range of readers. Titles that we have centered on a holiday or other historical day are also promoted as well which draws interest towards our Digital Collection. We have also recently started our OverDrive Screening Room, so to help promote it we select one movie from the collection and advertise it on Facebook in a post called Feature Film Friday. To give our library patrons a full movie theater experience at home, we also pair up the movie with a fun snack idea that gets the whole family involved for the night. Other marketing tools that we utilize include submitted articles to our local newspaper, articles in our library’s newsletter that are sent to various local officials, informational brochures that we provide to newly registered library patrons and outreach attendees, and web banners that we place on our library’s website.

By promoting our library resources, such as OverDrive, through these marketing tools, we are educating our patrons that libraries in today’s digital era are no longer just repositories of the past – they also hold the key to changing the lives of its many patrons that it sees every day. When we provide quality services, such as OverDrive, to our community, not only are we changing the way our residents perceive our library, we are also changing lives in our communities.