Greater Victoria Public Library program one of eight honoured by American Library Association

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“Change Your Mind” strives to bring more awareness to library resources

Photo provided by the Greater Victoria Public Library.

One of the greatest challenges faced by most businesses and public services is staying relevant in the eyes of the public. 

This problem is particularly faced by libraries, which many people assume simply loan out books. While that is the most well-known library service, they also offer many other resources, like renting out Kindle versions of books and videos, and a public space for people to hang out, do work, or use computers. 

What initially started as an update to the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) official website to raise awareness of these resources has grown into an award-winning campaign.

The Change Your Mind campaign began as an update to the official website and grew into a marketing campaign to raise awareness of the libraries’ services by starting a conversation. If you’ve been to any public library branches recently, you’ve probably noticed the new brain mascot. It’s a small thing, but it gets the conversation going, and gets the public to interact with the library staff to ask what’s going on.

The John Cotton Dana Award, for library public relations marketing, is offered to eight libraries a year by the American Library Association. It is awarded to outstanding marketing campaigns that raise awareness of public libraries. A conference is held once a year, where thousands of library professionals show up from around North America. This year, it is held in Washington D.C., where the Change Your Mind team will receive the award.

“We came up with the slogan ‘Change Your Mind,’ because that’s what libraries do. It’s where information, inspiration, ideas ultimately when you interact with some material or something new — you’re changing your mind,” said GVPL Communications Officer Jessica Woollard, a UVic alumni, about how the campaign started. “We wanted people to change their minds about what they think they knew about libraries if [they] haven’t been in one in a while. Obviously we still have lots of books, but we have other things too.”

One aspect of the campaign was the Pick Your Brain Quiz, a short personality quiz where people can discover their different brain types: adventurous, creative, curious, healthy, or hungry, along with a list of book recommendations specific to the brain type. The quiz is updated regularly with new recommendations, and you can also get your library card customized with your brain type. As of writing, over 32,000 people have completed the quiz.

“We’ve put the campaign into people’s hands,” Woollard said. “It has been a way for people to change the conversation around libraries and the materials that we offer.”

Although the quiz is a hit among people already aware of the library, the GVPL still wanted to engage more of the local community. To this end, the library decided to partner with Serious Coffee, a local cafe. Serious Coffee locations now sell “Change Your Mind” coffee sleeves with inspiration messages about the local library in order to keep this conversation going. 400 000 coffee sleeves have been printed so far.

Since the Change Your Mind campaign began, 34 per cent of 24 to 34 year olds signed up for a library card online, doubling the rate prior to the campaign. The books promoted through the Pick Your Brain quiz have had high circulation rates. 15 100 new Change Your Mind library cards have been issued, an increase of 13 per cent when compared to 2017.

“The campaign gave us a way to have those conversations [about library resources], to catch someone’s interest and lead them down that path to Change Your Mind,” said Woollard. “You can use [the library’s] e-books and audio books, and you can stream movies and music from home. Those are all wonderful ways to learn and engage with the library.”

If you’re interested in the Pick Your Brain Quiz, check it out here or take the Life Story Quiz to discover the genre that best fits your life story.

This article was updated on July 1 to reflect that the GVPL has printed 400 000 coffee sleeves so far, not 40 000 as previously reported. We apologize for this error.