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Word of Mouth Marketing: Forbes Library

                A place for everyone, from day one!

Structural details


Increase marketing through friends and family recommendations

Build new partnerships with local organizations that serve 0-5 year old children

Encourage new parents to sign up their young children for library cards


Local early educators


Children 0-5 years old

Potential advocates (pediatricians, social workers, etc.)

Library staff


# of outreach events Between May 2017 and January 2018

Program attendance During this same period

Library card sign ups for children 0-5 years old


Between May 2017 and January 2018 we conducted outreach on 14 different occasions, including at school fairs, celebrations, private schools, and in Teacher’s Lounges to promote Teacher Card Signups.  In previous years, we had done little to no outreach.

During this same period, we offered 119 programs for children 0-5 years old, with over 2,150 attendees. Our weekly Baby Storytime went from having 0-2 attendees each week in 2016 to up to 35!

Between May 2016 and January 2017, we had 105 card sign-ups for this age range; during the same period last year, we had 182 signups, so we saw an increase in library card signups of 73%, which far exceeded our goal of 20%!

Forbes Library
20 West Street
Northampton, MA 01060-3798

Project description

Between May 2017 and January 2018, Team Forbes aimed to dramatically increase the public’s awareness and engagement with services for children from birth to five years old and highlight the Library as an essential community resource for early literacy education.

"The children’s department fosters a community around early literacy starting at birth. It’s the place to learn and grow!" -Team Forbes

Communications strategies

New brochures and “Welcome to Forbes Library” packet for new parents

Action steps: -Take new photographs of the department and its programs -Write new text describing space, resources, and programming -Design layout of materials -Print with Paradise Copies -Ask Friends Group members to donate their time to help us assemble Welcome Packets -Distribute at the circulation desk and during outreach Budget: $400

E-mail/message sheet for staff

Action steps: -Craft text that describes the concept of early literacy and how it relates to library programming -Provide updated text when programming changes -Encourage staff to observe a storytime so they can speak more confidently about programming -Involve all members of the Children’s Department in the WOMM program -Keep a binder at the circulation desk with flyers describing programs in the department Budget: $20

Social media

Action steps: -Emphasize early literacy’s role in our programming on social media -Highlight outreach events with local organizations who work with young children and encourage a reciprocal relationship on social media of retweeting each other’s events, etc. Budget: Free

Free press in traditional media (Gazette)

Action steps: -Invite local media to attend special events for children at the library -Submit event details to local press for publicity Budget: Free

Partnerships with organizations that serve youth

Action steps: -Maintain partnerships with existing partnerships -Build partnerships with new organizations to showcase our offerings Budget: ~$50 per outreach event


Action steps: -Conduct outreach to promote summer reading and our other year-long programming -Distribute library card applications to attract new cardholders -Make educators aware of our fine-free Teacher Cards -Drop off monthly calendar of events to be distributed to parents and caregivers Budget: $100

New babies

Action steps: -Form a partnership with Cooley Dickinson Hospital to promote our programs, distribute our “Welcome to Forbes Library” packet to new parents, and to cement the idea of the library as a place for babies from birth Budget: $200

Head Start, early intervention

Action steps: -Invite local early intervention providers to promote their services at our storytimes -Invite Head Start attendees to come to our programs Budget: Free

And so, how'd it go?

We’ve exponentially increased outreach this year, visiting local public schools, the People’s Institute (a child care center for 0-5 year olds), Lander Grinspoon Academy, farmer’s markets, the Montessori school, Smith College Museum of Art, the Northampton Parents Center, community festivals, the Highview Nursing Home, and the YMCA. One change we made to our plan is we’ve been focusing more on promoting our new Teacher Cards and increasing WOMM among educators. We’ve realized the impact that their opinion has on usage by families, especially new families. We’ve signed up 28 teachers for cards so far, and many have expressed how happy they are that the program exists. During outreach at the Jackson Street School a few months ago, teachers applauded when Kat explained that we had done away with subject limits in our department, so we feel that local educators have become wonderful champions for us. Additionally, the president of the Bridge Street School’s PTO, spoke about our work during a Legislative Breakfast, which really made the case for the importance of the library to our elected officials. We’ve also been more heavily promoting our programs and services to the media and have had four articles, including one in-depth department profile and one blog post on ALA’s ALSC blog, since starting WOMM.

And how will you keep the momentum going?

We’re going to continue conducting outreach, especially to promote Summer Reading. It’s been heartening to have the schools invite us to the same outreach events that we attended last year, without us having to ask. We’re almost finished with creating new Children’s & YA Department brochures to distribute, and we’re going to complete updating our webpage so that it’s a more useful marketing tool for us. We will also finalize our “Welcome to Forbes Library” packets for new parents, and begin distributing them.

And can you talk a little about setbacks, adjustments or lessons learned?

We realized that we were overly ambitious with our plans to create and distribute Welcome Packets while also creating Teacher Cards, increasing outreach, and increasing programming. We listened to the feedback we were getting and heard from patrons that Teacher Cards were really important so we focused more heavily on that aspect of our project. We would like to communicate more with the rest of the library staff about what’s going on the Children’s Department, and plan to work on that goal in the coming months.