The library has something to market

In Finland, public libraries have begun to market themselves on network TV. Libraries have not traditionally been very industrious networkers or active advocates for new forms of cooperation. However, having participated in various forms of cooperation many libraries have noticed that the library is a much desired partner when operations get under way. One sign of this is the Kirjastokanava (library channel).

Foundations for marketing

Public libraries have a high status and are valued in the welfare societies of the Nordic countries, but are also familiar with the impacts of weakened operating resources. Library staff is aware of the library’s great contribution to people’s well-being and equality. Today, it is popular to be environmentally aware and many companies emphasize themes of societal responsibility. The library’s basic service is built on recycling material and, at the same time, operations as a whole promote equality. This creates strong foundations for marketing the libraries, and their ‘brand’ value makes libraries an excellent partner.

The library’s image is, however, a twosided issue; on the one hand, libraries are highly valued, on the other hand, they are associated with a tedious, dusty reputation. The central issue in building the library’s image is to communicate honestly about what libraries are and how diversified their services have become. Unfortunately images of the library often do not reflect the reality. Therefore, libraries need to make a greater investment in advertising and marketing.

Joint marketing efforts with libraries

The Kirjakanava (book channel) and Kirjastokanava are jointly produced by Kuntakanava (an Internet TV channel), which is owned by and Täsmätelevisio Oy. The central goal of the Kirjastokanava is to market libraries using video material.We live in an over-stimulated world, where there is a flood of information and tough competition for people’s leisure time. It is a challenge for libraries to make their voices heard under these circumstances. Using moving images in library marketing is an excellent way to respond to these challenges, because the advantage of a moving image is speed – it shows and tells at the same time. Using moving images is not a new technique for libraries; indeed many libraries have been archiving their events and producing other video material for many years now.What is new is the production of this material in a coordinated way in the spirit of Internet television. The Kirjastokanava programs involve author interviews, book recommendations and library-themed programs.

Library staff joins in

The single, greatest, positive surprise in producing the Kirjastokanava was that the library staff has been bold and eager to be involved in the program. The stereotype of the somewhat shy and delicate librarian withdrawing behind the curtains has been proven wrong! In the early stages, the library programs were produced as studio interviews. Despite the cameras and bright spotlights, the interview atmosphere provided warm moments of discussion. As the producer of the Kirjastokanava, it has been rewarding to hear from many interviewees of their pleasant interview experiences. One of the guests described the experience as that similar to going for coffee or a glass of wine and talking about work issues.

Cooperation with Kuntakanava Cooperation with Kunta-kanava has proven to be good in terms of the production of literature programs. However, there is no reason to broadcast the Kirjakanava and the Kirjastokanava on the same interface in the future. In February 2010, the Kirjastokanava will be transferred to a user interface managed and produced by its own library. Cooperation with Kuntakanava will continue with innovation and production of literary programs. Being transferred to its own channel will give the library the freedom to produce programs specific to its own operations and perspective. The parties in the cooperation partnership have partially differing interests, which makes branding the channels easier, when they operate on different interfaces.

Program series being produced for the spring season

The Kirjastokanava is aspiring to be a genuine and equal nationwide Internet television. To ensure that it reaches this goal, the Kirjastokanava will be starting tours to the provinces in the spring. The producer and a cameraman will visit libraries all around Finland and produce a program on their journey although the number of trips they make will be limited due to the long distances. The Kirjastokanava will also participate in field-related events, which attract a library crowd from across the country. Although this is not a way to film library premises and events outside Greater Helsinki, it will bring library folk and library themes in different parts of the country to the forefront.

The Kirjastokanava does not merely focus on recording the present and visions of the future. It wants to record the history of the field. In March, the channel will also launch a program series in library careers (Kirjastoura) where professionals, who have been working for a long time in the field, will highlight what goes on in the background and tell stories from decades past.

Library colleagues, channel viewers and partners also gladly contribute with new ideas for programs. One program idea in the planning phase is to regularly send a library newscast (Kirjastouutislähetys). The idea was recently proposed by a cooperation partner.

Marketing the Kirjastokanava

The marketing of the Kirjastokanava has not yet begun in earnest, but premarketing, which focuses on the advertising of the project, has of course been launched. However, marketing for the Internet television itself began in February 2010, at which time the Kirjastokanava was transferred to its own interface. Timing must be said to be the core factor of success in marketing. It is best to start marketing when there is a solid basis for it, and it is well known that the first few times something is shown leave the greatest impression.

One goal of marketing the Kirjastokanava is to find viewers for the channel and to achieve the marketing goals of the library and of the library field. Another goal is also to make the Kirjastokanava useful for libraries. In practice, this means that libraries can show the programs on the channel at their events, record videos made by the libraries on the channel itself or enrich their own websites by showing the channel programs on it.

The channel’s first marketing plan has been compiled for January-April 2010. Although marketing is an on-going activity, it is most profitable for a small group of producers to focus on progressive marketing efforts incrementally. Networking, cooperation and visibility are key issues – both on the net and in the real world.

Welcome to the channel!

The Kirjastokanava in a nutshell signed a contract with Kuntakanava, owned by Täsmätelevisio Oy, for a channel trial. The Kirjasto-kanava is a project, during which a nation-wide Internet service is created for libraries that presents and markets libraries using video material. The project is being funded with financing from the Ministry of Education to to develop the use of Internet television in the library field. The project began on 1 October 2009 and the Kirjakanava and Kirjastokanava were launched in beta on 12 November 2009. During the first three months, just over 100 programs were produced for the channel. Almost all of the channel programs are initially in Finnish, but in the future there will also be some Swedish and English programs.

Riitta Taarasti
Web Editor, Kirjastokanava
riitta.taarasti AT
Translated by Turun Täyskäännös


Web Editor, Kirjastokanava