Skip to main content


See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 

Read more about Early Journal Content at 
journal-content . 

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 



business men. In financing your library, 
you need the business man. You should 
serve him, to enlist his support of your 
plans. The advertising clubs are anxious 
to help the librarians, and we will be de- 
lighted to co-operate with you in any move- 
ment to interest the business man in books. 
I am here to suggest, in as definite a 
way as possible, co-operation between our 
Association and your Association, in order 
that the 16,000 men in our organization 
may put their shoulders behind the wheel 
of your wagon and help you. Advertising, 
in these times, is rendering many a won- 
derful public service. We find advertising 
employed for the Red Cross, for the Lib- 
erty Loan. We find advertising employed 

in building up the church; and in every 
case where I have heard the statistics, 
church advertising, when it has been in- 
telligently used, has paid for itself in dol 
lars and cents, and in all the advantages 
which come from having bigger congre- 
gations, from getting new people into the 
church and from interesting old people as 
they have not been interested before. Here, 
again, is a demonstrated fact that when 
you make people want a thing, they will 
gladly foot the bills. 

The advertising men of this country 
would like to help the library as they have 
helped all the other great causes which 
have recently applied advertising to their 

By Willis H. Kerb, Emporia, Kansas; Chairman A. L. A. Publicity Committee 

Recently the American Library Associa- terested in publicity? To look at it more 

tlon Publicity Committee undertook a Li- comfortably, if thirty per cent is the aver- 

brary Publicity Survey. This is a brief age number of replies to any questionnaire, 

and informal resume of part of that survey. we are one-third interested. 
The full report, it is hoped, will be printed 

j ater Reducing the figures to a minimum, we 

The part of the survey addressed to 11- have the f °»°wing averages for 24 "Large" 
braries was mailed to 3,500 American pub- Public libraries (annual expenditure of 
lie, college, and institution libraries a $40,000 and upwards) ; 44 "Medium" libra- 
little more than a month ago. To date, «es (expenditure from $10,000 to $40,000) ; 
294 replies have been received, or 8.4 per 100 "Small" libraries ($2,000 to $10,000 
cent. Obviously, one query is whether less annually), and 57 "Village" libraries (less 
than ten per cent of our libraries are in- than $2,000 annual expenditure) : 

Percentage Percentage Total Expended Percentage for 
Population Reached Hoped for Expended for Publicity Publicity 

Large (24) 588,000 25.6 58. $179,150 $1,335.00 .0074 

Medium (44) 55,650 27.6 33. 16,400 176.00 .0107 

Small (100) 18,556 33.3 55. 5,004 37.74 .0068 

Village (57) 3,600 35. 77. 1,060 7.92 .0075 

Composite 121,146 30.4 56. $36,409 $ 280.00 .0072 

It is frankly recognized these "averages," ture of $36,409, or about 33 cents per capita, 
and especially the "composite" American It is reaching 30.4 per cent of its popula- 
rity, do not exist. But using this as our tion, and with sufficient support and proper 
present means of looking at ourselves, the advertising it reasonably hopes to reach 56 
composite American library has a popula- per cent of its population. It is now spend- 
tion of 121,146 to serve, an annual expendi- ing $280 per year on all forms of publicity, 



labor cost not included. This is an average 
of 72/100 of one per cent of its total ex- 

Estimates were asked as to how large an 
income a library should have in order to 
afford an advertising department with a 
member of staff in charge. The replies 
vary from $5,000 to $500,000. 

There was a wide divergence of opinion 
as to whether libraries should advertise 
at all. Two or three statements on either 
side of the argument will suffice: 

From a large university library: "It is 
very wise indeed to emphasize the need 
of having something good to advertise be- 
fore you begin an advertising campaign. 
I believe that the motto of the Advertising 
Clubs of America has some rather definite 
relation to truth in advertising. If a li- 
brary has to apologize for its material, it 
is in a rather poor position to advertise." 

From a village library, with an income 
of $1,000 annually: '^One librarian is all 
that can be afforded, and her salary is 
necessarily small, but her time is certainly 
well occupied with the checking of from 
1,300 to 1,500 books each month, together 
with cataloging, accessioning, mending, 
and reference work, which during the 
county high school session and months of 
club work forms no small part of the daily 
task. Under these circumstances we would 
not be justified in spending our limited 
funds for advertising." 

From a large eastern public library: 
"Publicity work, like classification, seems 
to us a very inexact science, in which 
definite results cannot usually be expected 
to follow. As I believe that millions are 
wasted annually on unnecessary and un- 
wise advertising, so I believe that thou- 
sands may be squandered by us librarians 
unless we keep our heads and decline to be 
stampeded into this publicity vortex. At 
the same time I think that a 'publicity 
agent' would be very useful in large libra- 
ries, provided she possessed common sense 
and did not try to supplant the librarian." 

From a medium sized library in Penn- 
sylvania: "I do not at all consider it a 
simple question of percentage of expendi- 
tures. A library that possessed material 
really adequate to the needs of its con- 
stituency, if not generally used, would be 
justified in spending a very high percent- 
age of its total income on publicity, till 
proper patronage was secured. On the 
other hand, a library that was daily forced 
to admit that its income was insufficient 

to purchase material its patrons were per- 
petually calling for would not be justified 
in spending on publicity much, if any, 
more than sufficient to print the monthly 
lists of accessions. ... If the pub- 
licity expenditures were made with a view 
of increasing the library's income rather 
than of advertising its present collection 
and for each dollar so spent a dollar and a 
half increased income was secured, most 
libraries would feel justified in spending 
this year on publicity a sum equal at 
least to their total receipts of last year." 

And this from a large library of New 
York state: "I don't believe there is any 
one answer to the publicity question. The 
fundamental thing about it is human in- 
terest. If the library is an interesting 
place it will get publicity in print and by 
word of mouth. The way to make a library 
interesting is to have it touch human 
nature and the spirit of the hour at as 
many points as possible. The bill for 
printing for this library will not be ma- 
terially greater this year than last, but we 
are showing an increase of from 25 to 35 
per cent in circulation over last year, 
month by month. Some of this is acci- 
dental, most of it I think is due to the 
fact that the newspapers and the public 
find that the library is an interesting thing 
to talk about and an interesting place to 
go and that it has a smiling welcome for 

From a small library of the middle west: 
"Above all other factors I place personal 
contact with the people of a community. 
Our policy is to become identified in some 
way with every community movement, 
even to giving the time and personal serv- 
ices of the librarian in any good cause. 
We see to it that almost every community 
enterprise is worked out by committees 
which meet in the library building. It is 
important to go out and work with peo- 
ple, but it is more important to bring the 
people into the library building. The use 
of the library is then almost certain to 

From an eastern village library with an 
income of $450 per year: "I am just be- 
ginning to realize the duty and the privi- 
lege of systematic publicity in connection 
with our little library. It is a deplorable 
condition of things when so many books 
valuable in helpfulness in every line of 
work or study stand idle on the shelves." 

From an Oklahoma library: "I am a 
firm believer in advertising books as well 
as other needed commodities, and think 
public libraries should be built on down 
town streets where attractive window dis- 
plays would attract the attention of the 



public to something free for their mental 
and physical uplift." 

There you have the two sides of the 
crucial point of this whole publicity idea. 
Your committee feels that it is a test of 
our ideals, a test of our willingness to trust 
the public to recognize and support libra- 
rianship that dares to render the service 
the public wants. 

Two or three statements of problems 
from individual libraries are examples of 
the service that a library publicity expert 
at A. L. A. headquarters should be giv- 

" It would pay the state organizations to 
employ a good publicity expert to go from 
library to library and instruct the libra- 
rians how to reach the people." 

"What is to be done when the library 
is some distance from the center of the 
city, so that it is an effort to people to 
visit it? Also, when the library building 
is so imposing and forbidding in aspect, 
both outside and inside, with its high 
granite steps, and almost overpowering 
marble interior, that people are actually 
uncomfortable when they enter and find 
they must traverse the long mosaic floor- 
ing to the loan desk, each footfall resound- 

"How shall we get the business men to 
' sense ' the individual, commercial, and 
civic value of the public library? The lo- 
cal commercial club printed a poster call- 
ed 'Facts you should know about Our 
Town.' The public library was not in- 
cluded, although ' miles of paving ' and 
' miles of sewer ' were." 

"My chief problem is the minds of the 
library committee. Have tried several 
years to get permission to print a new edi- 
tion of a technical list. Meanwhile several 
times the amount needed has been spent 
on ornamental shrubs." 

I venture to state the following conclu- 

sions somewhat categorically, because 
there is no time for any other method: 

1. There is no magic or mystery about 
library advertising. It is a science. It 
must be based upon our stock in trade. It 
must be accompanied by service. 

2. There is no hard and fast method 
to be followed, no fixed percentage to be 
spent on publicity. We must each study 
our conditions and lay out our compaign 

3. State library commissions need to 
study and help more with the publicity 
problems of small village libraries. In 
many cases, I believe, it will be found to 
be a fundamental matter of librarianship, 
to be helped only by training. 

4. College and university libraries have 
a publicity duty from which they are not 
excused by reason of their assured cli- 

5. We are still playing with library ad- 
vertising. The American Library Associa- 
tion as an organization has not tackled 
the matter as seriously yet as the condi- 
tions warrant. We are not spending 
enough for conference publicity, and not 
anything approaching what we should for 
general library publicity. Individual 
libraries are not spending enough, or wise- 
ly enough. 

But we shall all spend more for library 
publicity, and that more judiciously. And 
we shall have a permanent A. L. A. pub- 
licity officer to lead in A. L. A. ofllcial pub- 
licity and to advise in the publicity prob- 
lems of all libraries. These problems will 
be found to be matters of community serv- 
ice, of library finance, and of librarian- 

By Mes. Elizabeth Claypool Eabx, President Indiana Public Library Commission 

I find that state commissions who are 
doing things at all, work along about the 
same lines of publicity, through publica- 
tions of various sorts, exhibits at county 
and state fairs, club conventions, news- 

paper articles, addresses, distribution of 
helpful literature, etc., all of which is ex- 
cellent. But something more is needed, 
and I feel the time has come to weed out 
misfits through a constant presentation in