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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

King County Library System, a PR Powerhouse, Is Named 2011 Library of the Year by Gale and Library Journal

The annual announcement of Library Journal's Library of the Year (sponsored by Gale, part of Cengage Learning) is always big news. Today I was especially excited after I got the email, because the 2011 winner is a library system that I know & respect. Congrats to the King County Library System in Issaquah, Washington!! 

If you haven't ever read anything about KCLS, you're missing great stuff. And marketing is a major part of its success. The press release makes that clear early on (emphasis mine): 
KCLS is one of the busiest libraries in the U.S., serving 1.3 million county residents with its 46 branches and 2,131 square miles of service area. Patrons have visited the library 10.2 million times in the last year, and KCLS’s unique marketing efforts and innovative programs have helped get them in the door.
Oh, and over the last year, there have been more than 30 million website visits. (The press release shares some of the reasons why.)

If KCLS sounds familiar, you might have read about it here or in the Marketing Library Services newsletter that I edit. Here at The M Word, we've highlighted these projects: 

Partnered with a homeowner's association to open an unstaffed "branch" where people could pick up their books at times convenient to them in 2009

Also, in the March/April 2011 issue of Marketing Library Services, KCLS's PR Specialist Marsha Iverson was highlighted in the column "Interviews With Marketing Masters," written by Judith Gibbons.
(The full text is not online, so find a copy on your shelves or your colleagues' shelves. Or order a back issue from

Finally, back in the November/December 2007 issue of MLS, Marsha wrote a How-To article called "Improving Our Media Relations via Strategic Communications Planning." I thought it was so valuable that I later got her permission to include it as an appendix in my book, The Accidental Library Marketer.
But coming back to 2011's news... 
For decades, the King County Library System (KCLS), Issaquah, WA, has earned a reputation as a model for libraries throughout the nation and the world. The surprise is that it has not won the Gale/Library Journal Library of the Year Award until this year.
So if you want to know more about media relations, great marketing, good strategic planning, and community-building, then get to know this multiple-award-winning library. Reading these articles and studying King County Library System's website can give you a free crash course.

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