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Libraries Demonstrate How Data Can Supercharge Low-budget Marketing

Sarah Steimer

Libraries may still be analog institutions, but their creative staffs are finding ways to leverage both data and their traditional expertise—information sharing—to adapt their marketing for modern communities

“Spoiler Alert! Dumbledore dies on page 596.”

This message, which appeared on a billboard in Arkansas, wasn’t really a surprise (the Harry Potter books and movies had been out for years), but the messenger provided the shock value: It was an advertisement for the local public library.

Once upon a time, libraries never had to market themselves. If you wanted to know something, they were the only game in town. They had a monopoly on knowledge that lasted for centuries or longer; however, it was a trust busted by the advent of Google, Amazon and numerous other internet resources. Suddenly this well-known entity was tasked with doing something that was once entirely unnecessary: It had to vie for our attention.

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Sarah Steimer is a staff writer for the AMA's magazines and e-newsletters. She may be reached at ssteimer@ama.org or on Twitter at @sarah_steimer.