OCLC: National Marketing Campaign May Hike Library Funding

OCLC: National Marketing Campaign May Hike Library Funding

From Awareness to Funding: A Study of Library Support in America, a new report to be issued by OCLC, examines the potential of a national marketing campaign to increase awareness of the value of public libraries and the need for support for libraries at local, state, and national levels.

With funding from a $1.2-million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, OCLC partnered with the research and advertising agency Leo Burnett to conduct the research, targeting residents of U.S. communities with populations under 200,000 (90% of the nation’s public libraries serve such communities) and elected officials with responsibility for local library funding.

Among the findings from the report:

  • A library’s most committed funding supporters are not its heaviest library users.
  • Perceptions of librarians are an important predictor of library funding support.
  • Voters who see the library as “transformational” as opposed to “informational” are more likely to increase taxes in its support.
  • Increasing support for libraries may not necessarily mean a trade-off with financial support for other public services.
  • Targeting marketing messages to the right segments of the voting public is key to driving increased support for U.S. public libraries.

“For many public libraries, the need to grow awareness and mindshare is intensifying as library annual operating funds are not keeping pace with the services and resources needed to meet their mission,” says OCLC Vice President for the Americas Cathy De Rosa in her introduction to the report, adding that the results of the survey are promising: “Findings suggest that there is sufficient, but latent, support for increased library funding across the voting population. There is evidence that a national library support campaign could make a difference.”

Upon its release, the document will be available on OCLC’s website. De Rosa and Jenny Johnson, OCLC executive director of branding and marketing services, were scheduled to give a presentation on the report June 28 at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference at the Anaheim (Calif.) Convention Center.

Posted on June 27, 2008. Discuss.