On June 15, New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced that six-day library service would be maintained and financial cuts were reduced to $5 million.
The NYPL's campaign launched on May 6 and included YouTube videos featuring celebrities such as Bette Midler as well as user-generated video. A call to action was posted on its Web site to generate donations and to ask visitors to contact their elected officials in support of the library system; it also conducted outreach via Facebook and Twitter pages.
“The main purpose was to mobilize users and supporters of the library to communicate to local elected officials how important libraries are to them,” said Deanna Lee, who came on board as the NYPL's VP for communications and marketing in May. “The library today is about inspiring life-long learning that can be from books, digital materials, performance, and exhibitions. It's about advancing knowledge in the broadest sense.”
In addition to staving off cuts, the NYPL reaped a number of gains, Lee said. It raised $50,000 from 1,100 donors, averaging $47 per donor, which will be applied to library services, increased its Facebook fans by 40% and added 1,300 Twitter followers. Of the 10,000 people who sent messages to their elected officials, 4,000 requested more online e-communications, she said.
“We're hearing that message from people that they want to be invited to be part of the library community online,” said Lee, noting that 60% of users come to the library via the Web rather than brick-and-mortar branches. “They want online engagement to continue.”
Lee added that the next step is to enhance the NYPL's online presence to continue its engagement with audiences. Online enhancements include a Web site redesign that will communicate the organization's new mission statement - "To inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen our communities," adding Facebook enhancements, and an iPhone application. But because the budget is not yet set in stone, the threat of cuts still looms.
“These are people saying, ‘Get us involved with the next campaign,'” she said.
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