Back to the stacks




By Mandy Treccia

The Chicago Public Library wants young people to know there is more to the library than old books.

Starting Nov. 17, the library will launch a new ad campaign targeting people who are in the post-college and pre-family planning demographic.

Ruth Lednicer, director of marketing and press for the Chicago Public Library, said focus groups conducted earlier this year on 25-35-year-olds found the age groups were not aware of all the services the library had to offer.

Soon, Chicago will learn about the plethora of media their library branch has to offer as they ride the train to work.

The print campaign will run on the CTA’s Purple, Red and Brown lines, as well as in publications like Time Out Chicago, RedEye and The Onion, to target the audience where they get their news, Lednicer said.

“People used the library while they were in school,” she said. “Then they forgot all about it.”

Lednicer said the point of the ads are to let people know about all the features the library has to offer beyond the books, including multimedia elements such as CDs, DVDs, audio books and downloadable music. The library also offers free WiFi

Internet access, concerts, author signing events, poetry slams and provides music practice rooms. The new campaign ads were designed by All Terrain Chicago marketing group and funded by the Chicago Public Library Foundation.

“We have what they want,” Lednicer said. “It’s just getting them to come into the library [that is the problem].”

Lednicer said another goal of the new ads is to show people the library is not the old-fashioned place people tend to associate with libraries. The first ad shows an elderly lady standing over a turntable with the tagline “get your beats where granny gets hers.” Under the picture, there is a list of all the different music options the library has to offer.

Another ad features a tattooed librarian with the tagline “Yes, she’s one of ours,” while a third features a young entrepreneur in a money suit with the tagline “All the money he saved in our business center.” Lednicer said the library wants to show people that librarians can be young and hip, too.

“The library is free, and it’s easy,” Lednicer said. “We want people to take advantage of everything we have to offer.”

John Rayburn, the head library clerk at Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State St., has worked for the library for the past 16 years and thinks the new campaign is a good idea.

“Everybody should use the library,” Rayburn said. “We get a lot of people who come in just to use the Internet.”

Rayburn said multimedia is what he sees circulating the most, but people still do not know about all of the resources the library has available.

“We have a lot of books that can be played on MP3 players,” Rayburn said. “People still take out a lot of audio books [on CDs] because they don’t know the MP3s are offered.”

Rayburn has also noticed more young people applying to be librarians straight out of college.

“I think having younger librarians will attract more young people to come into the library,” Rayburn said.

Danielle Gates, 26, recently finished graduate school at DePaul University and uses the library business center on a regular basis. She said it’s great the library is advertising to people her own age.

“The library has a lot of services, and it is convenient being able to go to one place and get everything done,” Gates said.

Overall, circulation has increased 28 percent in 2008 from last year at Chicago’s more than 79 library branches. Lednicer said she credits a more user-friendly website the library introduced in March, hoping to bring in more people amid a struggling economy.

“People are checking out books from the library instead of spending money on the latest best sellers,” Lednicer said. “It’s a good way for them to save money.”