Because Libraries Bring Communities Together

The Bridges Library System, which serves 24 public libraries across Wisconsin’s Waukesha and Jefferson counties, covers a wide and diverse community—but this February, their month-long Libraries Transform campaign will bring together local residents in celebration of libraries.

Timed to coincide with National Library Lovers Month, the festivities will use the ALA’s Libraries Transform campaign as a starting point to raise awareness of the crucial role of the library in the community. The Bridges Library System staff has worked closely with their two dozen member libraries to unite staff in their common goal of community engagement.

Jill Fuller, Coordinator of Marketing & Communications for Bridges Library System, credits the campaign’s dedicated planning committee with helping make this celebration ideas a reality and advises other library professionals to put together an enthusiastic team before undertaking such a project. “As with any marketing/promotion campaign, getting buy-in was essential, especially since this involved so many libraries and staffs,” Fuller says. “Having a committed team to brainstorm, plan and implement the campaign worked really well.”

The system’s varied and creative tactics include the following:

Bridges Library System brochure featuring Libraries Transform statementsDistributing a "programming passport."

A Libraries Transform brochure (PDF), available online and at local businesses, highlights the unique programs available at each member library throughout the month of February—topics range from “Adulting 101” lessons to a fairytale-themed STEAM workshop. To encourage community members to check out libraries they’ve visited before, the brochure doubles as a “passport” with spaces to mark off each program one attends; when someone participates in three or more programs, they’ll be entered to win a prize.

Developing a marketing toolkit

To make sure every member library could participate—including those without graphic design and editorial staff—the Bridges Library System distributed a toolkit including social media content, press releases and digital versions of their Libraries Transform Because statements in a variety of sizes. They also provided libraries with themed bumper stickers to use as incentives for drawing community members to their programs.

Spreading the word with billboards

“We decided to make a big statement by putting up billboard ads in four locations throughout our two counties,” says Fuller. The billboards will feature custom Libraries Transform statements including “Because books are just the beginning,” “Because you can borrow more than you can buy” and “Because everyone is welcome”—the last statement will be printed in English, Spanish and Hmong in recognition of the area’s multicultural community.

Man seated in library with personal READ posterFeaturing locals with READ® posters

Creating custom READ® posters featuring “local celebrities” and leaders—including everyone from grocery store owners to the Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin—has helped raise further awareness of the system’s libraries, highlighting the many community members who support the unified message that libraries are important. With help from ALA’s READ® Design Studio software, more than 100 posters have been created thus far, debuting to enthusiastic feedback from social media users and the local celebrities themselves.

Collecting community stories online

Waukesha and Jefferson County residents are passionate about their libraries’ impact on their community—take Oconomowoc local John Rollefson, who says he’s “still exploring and developing” thanks to his decades-long patronage of the area’s libraries. To encourage more community members to share how their libraries have transformed their lives, the Bridges Library System will host an online form for people to submit their stories.

Photo of Libraries Transform billboard from Alice Baker Library in Eagle, Wisconsin.