2018 Minnesota Library Association Conference Report from Shari Fisher

I attended a session called “Visual Merchandising in Marketing your Library: What is it? How can you use it at your library?” with Lean Egersdorf and Tony Molaro as presenters. I attended a session on the art of communicating with Tony Molaro on Thursday. I found that session to be very interesting and saw a few colleagues there. That session prompted me to attend this marketing session. Tony is the MLIS Program Director at Saint Catherine’s University. Lean is a student at the university.

The marketing presentation began with the discussion of visual merchandising that is used by retail stores, such as Target. As customers, we often go in for one thing and walk out with $75 in products. (This always happens to me when I enter Costco!) One of the marketing ploys Target might use is to place facial products next to women’s clothing. As the shopper is looking at women’s clothing and notices a facial products display right next to the clothing, the shopper might want to try something new to go with that new outfit. Target might place bug spray next to the outdoor furniture to remind us that if we are sitting outside in the Minnesota weather on our new outdoor furniture, we just might need some bug spray.

Barnes and Noble displays new books for 6-12 months. They are new to patrons for this timeline. Patrons don’t tend to come in every day. What about having a children’s book display where children can see them?

Some useful tips were provided for libraries:

  • Pyramid shape stacking is used in merchandising to draw attention to the book or other material display.
  • Signs provide first impressions of your library. Make sure they are easily visible and useful to patrons.
  • Keep your bulletin board neat. People see it when they walk in the door.
  • Plant ideas about other books or materials your library has with displays. Place a healthy eating cookbook display next to fitness books. Place expectant mother’s books next to children’s books. Place workout books next to audiobooks, to listen to while working out.
  • Place a slip in a book that says “people who read this book also read this_________”, providing a reader’s advisory service.
  • Create board book displays. Make it easy for kids to find books.
  • Bring these marketing ideas to your book sales to promote better sales.
  • Use Instagram to see what other libraries are doing.
  • Keep a cart by the checkout desk with a sign saying “Returned books.” Patrons love to see what others are reading and often check them out. This is also time-saving as there are less items for the library staff to shelve.
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