Swag is fun. I don’t need more rubber bracelets or gummy erasers. Really, who does? To the people who distribute it, though, there is a deeper purpose. The goods aren’t cheap. Advertising rarely is. However, people who take swag are like honey bees lured to fragrant flowers. The bees fly and disperse pollen as they travel. Because people take items from vendors and libraries, we take the logo. We carry bags with the logo, use magnets with the logo, write memos on notepads with the logo, possibly using a pen with the logo. What is the common thread in all this? LOGO.
It is more than a common thread in promotional products. We have our library’s emblem on library cards, business cards, web sites, and attire. As Summer Reading Program approaches, I just received a t-shirt with the “Fizz, Boom, Read” theme emblazoned on the front. That way, even when I’m not saying a word, students, teachers, kids, parents, grandparents—whoever—get the message.
Why is this so important? We have a public affairs department to deal with the details. What I understand, though, is the need to uphold a certain aesthetic. That is a fancy way to say that it has to look good. I think of this like restaurants. The food at two different places may be identical, but the one with better ambiance is more likely to garner customers. I think the food even seems to taste better when the table is clean before I sit down. Great food + gross setting= bad taste overall. Great food + pleasing setting= the formula for return customers who tell their friends about this restaurant they like.
Here’s where our question comes: What does this have to do with outreach? We are walking billboards. When we are well-groomed, wear clothing that sports our library’s logo, and share books that are clean and rip-free, we showcase the library in a positive light. People want to come in to see our buildings. Even if they never make it in, we still leave a pleasant impression about what the library is. When we do outreaches to schools, the kids want to see us when they visit the library with their families. When we do outreaches to the home-bound, patrons want us to return. When we do outreaches at general community events, people who see the flyers that they pick up featuring the same logo that “that sweet person had on her shirt” lets warm-fuzzies about us transfer seamlessly to the library.
Anna Francesca Garcia earned her Master of Library and Information Sciences Degree from the University of North Texas and has worked for over nine years in public libraries in Nevada and Missouri. Currently, Anna Francesca is Kansas City Public Library’s Education Librarian. Even before needing to set an example for her daughter (who is almost seven), she brushed her hair and teeth and showered regularly.