New Marketing Trends

Marketing Ideas for Non-Profits and Libraries

The M Word helps librarians learn about marketing trends and ideas.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Giving Green @ the library

I was giving a presentation the other day and was encouraging libraries to think green for their give-a-ways. I told the story of being in the grocery store and how people were buying fabric bags for a dollar. "Why aren't we giving those bags away- helps the environment AND gets our name out in the community!" There in the audience was Princeton Public Library's Janie Hermann ( also of Library Garden Blog fame) nodding away. And for good reason- she not only knew about the bag, Princeton had just started selling theirs for a dollar and it was already a huge hit.

She's posted several pictures on their Flickr pages . Here, I'll let her tell you how they're doing...

"Our first order was for 3000 bags and that allowed us to order them for 97 cents plus tax per bag. Tim Quinn, our Public Relations Director, tells me that our goal was “to have an attractive, sturdy bag with our on it logo that we could sell at reasonable price point that would make it easy both for the customer and the staff working the circulation desk”. Being able to sell the bag for $1 seems to be doing the trick – no change to give and most people think it is a bargain for a dollar. Even though our initial “rush” on the bags is slowing down slightly we are still selling about 200 per week and are preparing to order another batch of 3000—and we will get a price break on the bags this time since it is our second order. This is not a fundraising item for the library – we break even. But we do save the cost of buying custom plastic bags and (more importantly) we are helping the environment.

We have received so much positive feedback from the community about these bags. I know that many people use them to store their library material between visits and this makes returns even easier. I myself use them for groceries and I just talked to another patron who does the same as they are bigger and sturdier than most canvas bags."

I love that they took they took that extra step and applied "new lib think" - covering the cost by selling them for a buck.

Inspired yet? She also shared that Princeton Public is considering using the bags for marketing special events, such as creating a limited edition with special artwork and poetry for our upcoming Centennial celebration that starts in 2009.

They purchased them at:


Janie L. Hermann said...

Thanks for posting this Nancy. Just wanted to update you to let you know that we are also going to start a new campaign with our Red Bags encouraging people to take the bag on trips with them and send us a photo of the PPL Bag at a famous landmark. We are just in the early planning stages of launching this and I will let you know how it goes.

We also started selling customized 512MB USB Drives with our logo at our Circulation Desk this week for $10 each with a slogan of "Save it in Flash". Again, we are at the break even point in selling them and it is not a fund raiser. But it is a great service to offer and yet another way to brand our library.

Aerin Jacob said...

Hi Nancy,
This is Susan, a community member at, a premier Green Bag community in USA. Seeing your post, I found that you are also engaged in a nobel cause of making the Earth more "Green".

Do you have any blog or site of your own? I would like to review your blog or site in one of our blogs.

Thank You,

webmaster @