by Nicholas Van Dorn, Senior Librarian Nutley Public Library
For two years straight, the staff from the Nutley Public Library has been stopping by the Nutley Park ShopRite to reach out to residents, students and workers of Nutley encouraging them to sign up for library cards during National Library Card Signup Month. We setup a table, promoted some of our new books, DVDs, CDs, and video games, and had a free assortment of bookmarks, key chains, and small children toys for anyone interested enough to stop at our table. This September, we had 8 people sign up for cards; last September we had over 100. Looking back I can only say that some days are better than others. Our approach stayed the same, kindly greet patrons as they are either entering or departing the store, hand out some free promotional items, and always remember to point people in the direction of the library. Many familiar patron faces were recognized and they made an effort to stop by and say hi.
Remember this should not be numbers game. Regardless of the number of responses, even if only one person signs up for a card you have succeeded. Even if only one person asks where the library is or picks up a library flyer you have succeeded. When you pack up your supplies and drive back to your library, you can be proud in knowing that we have made our presence known more than if you had just stayed inside the library that day.
Below are Five Tips I Picked Up Along the Way:
1. Make sure to schedule your visit at least two months in advance. Scheduled times in front of stores get filled fast.
2. Always bring something to sell just in case someone wants to hand you money. While this was not our motivation, many times people were looking to donate to the library. We adjusted for this by bringing Nutley Public Library tote bags and Friends of the Library membership forms.
3. Wear your name tags and greet people with a smile. First impressions last a long time. Remember you are representing your library even when you are outside of it.
4. Try to schedule a two day visit instead of one. Many times people may be in a rush and unable to stop to sign up for a card. By going the extra day, that one person who could not stop at the table the first time, might be able to stop by and get a card the following time you are there. Also this gives different staff members the opportunity to represent the library.
5. Have fun, you are outside on a beautiful sunny day, unless it is raining, then you should probably be back at the library rescheduling your visit.