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Geek the Library awareness campaign increases library visibility and support among residents in pilot communities

Geek the Library, a community awareness campaign designed to highlight the value of public libraries and inform the public about critical library funding issues, positively changed community perceptions about libraries in a pilot, according to a new OCLC membership report. The report, Geek the Library: A Community Awareness Campaign, offers a comprehensive overview of the pilot campaign completed in 2010.

“The pilot experience confirmed our hope that Geek the Library can not only get people’s attention, but that it can activate an interest in local library funding,” said Cathy De Rosa, global vice president of marketing for OCLC, a nonprofit library cooperative. “The campaign is bold, it’s fun and it gives libraries a unique opportunity to connect with the public and start important library funding conversations.”

• Geek the Library gets people’s attention. In just five months, more than half of surveyed residents were familiar with the campaign.
• Geek the Library encourages support. Over two-thirds of surveyed residents in both southern Georgia and central Iowa had planned or had taken an action supporting their local library, including talking to friends and family about the value of the library to the community or attending a library event.

Geek the Library was piloted in two primary regions: southern Georgia and central Iowa, with additional communities added later in Georgia, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Comprehensive market surveys conducted before and after the pilot campaign, ongoing tracking of campaign elements and direct feedback from nearly 100 participating libraries confirm that the campaign not only garners attention, but it actually helps change public perceptions about the library, librarians and public library funding.

“The advertising makes a big splash, which causes people to come up and ask what it’s about when they see us at an event. It was also great to have the advertising bring up the funding issue, so it wasn’t coming directly from us,” said Art Weeks, Director of Ames Public Library in Ames, Iowa.

OCLC is currently conducting a program to help U.S. public libraries implement the campaign locally. Interested libraries can visit for more information. Libraries adopting the campaign benefit from the results documented in the report, including an overview of the pilot implementation and strategy, results from quantitative and qualitative research conducted to test the impact of the campaign, and analysis of feedback from pilot participants.

“The Geek the Library campaign is effective because it is flexible. You can quickly personalize it to engage people of all ages,” said Laura Guenin, Public Relations Manager at Shelbyville-Shelby County Public Library in Shelbyville, Indiana.

Geek the Library was developed based on the results of OCLC’s research published in From Awareness to Funding: A study of library support in America. The pilot campaign was funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

About OCLC
Founded in 1967 and headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, OCLC is a nonprofit library service and research organization that has provided computer-based cataloging, reference, resource sharing, e-content, preservation, library management and Web services to 72,000 libraries in 170 countries and territories. OCLC and its member libraries worldwide have created and maintain WorldCat, the world’s richest online resource for finding library materials. Search on the Web at

OCLC advocacy programs are part of a long-term initiative to champion libraries to increase their visibility and viability within their communities. Programs include advertising and marketing materials to reinforce the idea of the library as relevant, and market research reports that identify and communicate trends of importance to the library profession. For more information, visit

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Learn more at

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