On Saturday I spent three hours lobbying for library cards. During the month of February, the Somerville Public Library is competing against the Arlington, Belmont, and Lexington Public Libraries to see which can sign up the most new library cardholders. I donned my “Libraries: Shhhh Happens.” t-shirt (which received many comments and compliments) and stood at the entrance of the Somerville Winter Farmers’ Market trying to attract potential cardholders.
I was surprised by how many people already had a library card, delightfully surprised by how many people are avid library supporters, and happily surprised by how many people said “I’ve been meaning to get one of those!” It was great to see such positive levels of interest and support from a random sample of locals.
It felt equal parts strange and refreshing to be representing the library outside of a library setting. Branding, marketing, and publicizing are all aspects of public libraries that can never be overdone and can always use improvement, and talking to unsuspecting farmers’ market dwellers was a great environment for putting the library on people’s radar. We may be back there in a few weeks, hopefully with similar results. I feel that Saturday was a great success, regardless of how many people actually follow through and get their new card. Who would have thought that a few hours at a farmers’ market would reaffirm my love for libraries?