Blog: Will the shift in people reading habits also change Library marketing?

The new normal has become a living statement in almost every business, eagerly looking for opportunities after the coronavirus crisis. And while experts discuss how the past two years will impact the way we interact with each other, let’s look at what new trends we see in people’s reading habits and how this might impact the way libraries interact with their community and how libraries should run their marketing strategy.

The COVID-19 lockdown changed not only how people read during times of stress, but also what people turn to for comfort or distraction. People state that they consumed more media during the lockdown (including more reading), and their choice for genre had also changed. Novels and home learning books saw a rise in bookstores, also “classics books” seemed to re-gain the popularity.

This corresponds also to ChiliFresh data. The search activity across the libraries in the USA, Canada, Europe, Middle East and Australia has more than doubled. In 2019, the term “education” is searched more often than in 2021 while in 2021 the search for cookbooks has significantly increased. However, some things remain “trendy” across the years – “Game of Thrones” and “Harry Potter” seem to remain as the most searched items both in 2019 and 2021.

So how this changes library marketing?

Experts state that we can expect the shift to virtual activity for more things like learning, working, transacting and consuming, and this will continue into the near future. Libraries will be forced to look for new ways to stay close to their communities through digital solutions even after going back to normal. Or, the “new normal”.

During pandemic, we noticed that several libraries launched virtual book clubs which might have changed the course of their marketing strategy already. Several libraries also noted that they have changed their library’s promotion approach by using social media as the platform to not only post news but to talk to their audience in live – through live webcasts or online consultations.

The question that most libraries should ask to themselves today: does my library communicate to my patrons in the channels that they consume and does my library’s communication approach reflect the interests of my audience?

Most successful businesses say that the key to their success is not a product but the continuous focus on their customer needs. Even though libraries are not seen as a business, we believe that focus on customer needs / interests is another factor to consider when reviewing your library’s marketing strategy. What library’s reading statistics tell about your audience’s interests? How can your library’s communication approach echo these interests? Do your library’s products and services support online interaction either with library’s staff or other readers?

Whether that’s through virtual book clubs, webinars, online consultations, or by empowering their patrons to become the voice of the library – e.g., through virtually shared bookshelves or booklists thus giving them a chance to find new interest groups across the globe, or by giving them the power to become book critics through reviews and ratings.

ChiliFresh data shows that over the past two years, the number of booklists and bookshelves have increased by 35%. We expect that online engagement, patrons centric content and reader empowerment will be the key to stay at the centre of the community, and that should be included in the future library marketing strategy.



Blog author:
Amber Jones, Chilifresh