Marketing Tips and Tricks for Small and Rural Libraries

December 7, 2015 / by Lindsay Mullen


Can you believe it’s almost 2016? For your small or rural library, that means the opportunity to make a greater impact in your community and redefine your marketing goals for the new year. Although you may be constrained by a limited budget, there are many low-cost and effective marketing options to help you attract more patrons and get them better informed of their local library’s offerings. Here are four budget-friendly ways to get your community members excited about your library in the new year.

Existing Members

Your small library already houses a community of undercover marketing ninjas ready to strike at any moment. Who are these mysterious agents? Your existing members. Chances are, your library is frequented by a few committed regulars who have been coming there for years. These are your best advocates and great tools to build your marketing plan around. Honor their dedication to your establishment by throwing an open house and extend an invitation to their family and friends, or create a referral program where you reward your members with a free book for every new signup they bring in.


Schools can be a library’s best friend. With similar missions uniting these two establishments, there’s no reason you can’t team up and become a modern day Batman and Robin. By forming a joint strategy with a local school, both can benefit from low-cost marketing and get more book for your buck. Hosting an event to promote your new makerspace? Invite teachers, students and the librarian from your local school to combine an event with yours. Keep in touch with teachers to find opportunities to connect what’s going on at your library with what’s happening in their classes. Are fourth graders starting book reports soon? Plan a field trip with their teacher to the library to help connect kids with great books and even help them with their writing. Not only will this increase your turnout and expose people to new offerings at your library, you are likely to attract local press opportunites with two establishments standing together.

Traditional Marketing Efforts

Looking for something a bit more traditional? You may want to try marketing your library on local billboards or flyers. According to Capitol Outdoor, billboards are one of the most low-cost options for traditional advertising and have one of the highest recall rates among other marketing options. This means that when a patron sees your message about your new collection of biographies on the royal family, they are likely to not only remember they saw it, but also act on it by taking a trip to your library. Many storefronts will also allow you to hang fliers and posters outside (or even inside) their stores to get your message out.

Don’t just think you can whip up a flyer in Microsoft Word and send it out into the world. The strongest advertisements are eye-catching and well-designed, so take some time to make your posters look nice. If you don’t have the flair for design you think you’d like, enlist a local artist or talented student to help you out.


Your library’s marketing efforts may require some extra help. Fortunately, many college or even high school students are in the market for a some marketing experience! Students who want to boost their resumes may be willing to work for minimum wage or college credit to help your library build its marketing plan. By fostering a relationship with a volunteer or intern, you can get the best new talent to help you craft a lasting strategy, help you educate new library patrons on recent additions to your library and get outside insight on how you can make your library even better than it currently is.

Despite having a limited budget to market to your community, your small library has the distinct opportunity to personalize its marketing efforts and improve its offerings at the same time. Do you want to learn more about how some libraries have flourished and added new library perks for patrons? Check out 5 Libraries Making the Most of Mango to see if Mango might help you increase patron satisfaction at your small library!

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Topics: Public Libraries

Lindsay Mullen

Written by Lindsay Mullen

Lindsay Mullen is CEO of Prosper Strategies, working behind the scenes to support the Mango team's world of lovable language learning. A language aficionado herself, Lindsay oversees a team of marketers fluent in public relations, content development and strategy (and they speak some German, French, Spanish and Chinese as well.)

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