Promotional Tips and Ideas

Your voice as depository librarian is critically important in the promotion of the FDLP and Federal Government information.

Keep your audience in mind when you are creating promotional efforts. Tailor messages and benefits for each audience. Diverse audiences will respond differently to the messages and mediums you use. Serving your audiences at their point of need is important. Local collections are a unique strength of your library. Emphasize your local collections.

Reaching Your Online Audience

Clearly the last several years have seen a significant shift in the way people communicate. Using social networking and social media is an inexpensive and effective way to reach current and potential users of your depository collection. Many libraries are already using social media/networking to reach out to users. Include your library in any rotation of blog posts, status updates, or videos that already exist in your library or library system, either for special events or on regular intervals.

Social Networking

Choose from a plethora of social networking sites. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ are the most popular options, and there are others. These sites deliver a great deal of visibility for the time and effort you invest.


While social networking sites work well for brief updates, blog posts allow more in-depth communication. You can use posts to describe and promote your collection detail. 

Some ideas to help you get started:

  • Create blog posts about: promotional efforts, current events, school assignments, and reference questions.
  • Consult with colleagues for ideas, especially subject specialist librarians.
  • Consider writing a blog series on a specific topic.
  • Invite guest bloggers if you need expertise on a specific topic or are running short of time (ill, on vacation, etc.).
  • Allow for public comment on your pages; it will take you extra time and effort to edit out inappropriate content, but will greatly increase your market and audience.
  • Provide "share" buttons on your blogs.

Videos, Photos, and Vlogs

Photos, videos and vlogs (video blogs) can promote your library with promotional photos, tutorials, tours, and instructional videos that can generate attention and reach a wider audience. Use your imagination and be creative. The tone can range from studious to silly. Ask student workers or interns to create fun promotional videos about your library. Air the videos on college and/or local access television stations, or the library's Web site, or sites such as Flickr, Pinterest and YouTube. 


Library users are increasingly accessing library materials, catalogs, etc., via their phones and mobile devices. Serve those users by creating your own app. Libraries are creating apps to search library catalogs, reserve materials, find library locations and hours, take virtual tours, view videos, and more.

QR Codes

Posting your Quick Response (QR) codes on your library Web site and on public postings (e.g., bus advertisements, billboards, and brochures) can promote your library to potential users. QR codes are a type of 2-dimensional barcode users can scan with their Smartphones to access library Web sites and other online information directly.

Some examples of ways to use QR for your library promotions:

  • Place code on shelf at the end of a serial run of tangibles that have converted to EL, so users can directly access new issues.
  • Situate codes in the stacks where docs change SuDoc class number to help users locate materials.
  • Add to handouts and other educational materials to provide more in-depth information.
  • Include on business cards and bookmarks so users can easily contact you.
  • Position codes to the shelves of other collections in your library to link users to Government documents on similar topics or your library guides.
  • Attach to promotional materials that are displayed at other libraries academic departments, and community organizations to make it easy for new users to find you.
  • Work with your colleagues to ensure that codes that link to depository resources are included in all relevant library materials. Subject liaisons can be especially helpful.

Email Distribution Lists

Exploit existing emails lists associated with your library or parent institution. Ask list administrators for guest posting rights, and tailor a depository library to the list's audience. Try to rope in fringe audiences to make them users.

Create your own distribution list. Collect user contacts through a physical drop box and either send email updates as needed, or create a newsletter to send on a regular basis.

Communicate In Your Community

Leverage existing communications channels in your community on behalf of your library. Ask your city, county, local senior center, high school and/or college if you could make announcements and post articles and public notices in any communication vehicles they offer. If there are local newsletters, blogs, radio or TV stations, see if the mangers of those resources wil let you write a guest column about your library. See if they would interview you and/or your staff about your library. 

Use area resources to communicate about your library as well. Inquire at your local Congressional office to include information about your library's events in their local communication vehicles such as Web sites and newsletters. Solicit endorsements from your local celebrities, especially those celebrities who have personal ties to your institution, e.g., an alumnus/alumnae from your university. 

Build your own communication vehicles. Generate a guide to Federal Government documents for new students/new users. Keep track of frequently asked questions (FAQ), find the FDLP resources that can answer them, and generate a FAQ Web page and/or a handout for your users. Continually look for new or improved ways for your library to reach new audiences and communicate more effectively with your core audiences.

Reaching Out To Your Audience In Your Community

Promote your library by attending community social events and by creating your own library's social events. These occasions are valudable opportunites to increase your user base.

Here are some ideas to help you with brainstorming for these opportunities:

  • Create library displays to highlight services and collections at your library, and to celebrate holidays and special events such as elections, exams, etc.
  • Celebrate your depository library's milestones and use your anniversary as an opportunity to share your story.
  • Make events for children and push forward Federal publications and Web sites designed for children. Demonstrate and share Ben's Guide to the U.S. Government.
  • Offer orientation classes at your depository at the beginning of the school year or each term if your library is at a school.
  • Talk to library school students and professors as a guest speaker at local library schools.
  • Use your school, university or institutional mascot, if you have one, at your library events to meet community members.
  • Enlist aid from your library's subject specialists; send them newly distributed FDLP materials to review so they can recommend them to users.