Wisconsin Library Heritage Center

The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation promoting understanding and appreciation of the history of libraries and librarianship in Wisconsin.

Public Relations Retrospective

Posted by Larry T. Nix
Larry T. Nix
Larry T. Nix has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, November 18, 2009 in Marketing-Publicity


The unveiling of the Wisconsin Libraries Say Cheese! publicity promotion takes place today. The promotion is part of the Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries of the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) Foundation. It is another in a long history of library public relations efforts in Wisconsin. In 1896, at the American Library Association Conference in Cleveland, Lutie Stearns, Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame member, said: “There is no stratum of society not reached and influenced by some form of advertising. 'Nine-tenths of the world would rather be interested than educated, and the other tenth likes to be interested too.' The librarian, then must first interest the masses, to bring them within her doors, and then attempt to educate. 'She must first capture the eye. The eye is the sentinel of the will. Capture the sentinel and you will capture the will. The feet follow the eyes.' It is the untiring, unremitting, keeping-everlastingly-at-it-and never-taking-no-for-an answer appeal to the eyes of the people that will bring them within your portals.”
 It was not until 1938 that the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) got around to establishing its first formal Publicity Committee. In 1958 the National Book Committee and the American Library Association conducted the first annual National Library Week campaign with the theme “Wake Up and Read”. In 1964 under the leadership of Gerry Somers, Director of the Brown County Public Library, WLA was given the first $1,000 Grolier Award for most effective state National Library Week program in the nation.
As a spin off of the 1962 National Library Week campaign in Wisconsin, Mrs. Bruno Bitker of Milwaukee provided the leadership for founding in 1963, the Friends of Wisconsin Libraries or FOWL. That organization was the model for the national Friends of Libraries USA which was also founded in Wisconsin.
In 1961-62 the WLA public relations committee initiated a statewide effort to “spread the word of what good library service is and can be, with a special effort to reach persons of influence.” In this effort the PR committee worked with a television station in Wausau to develop TV slides and audios, it prepared and distributed flyers explaining regional library service, contacted clubs and other organizations about including free library advertisements and articles in their publications. It prepared an exhibit of public relations materials for the annual WLA conference, and conducted public relations workshops at all the district library association meetings.

The 1970s saw the creation of a multi-year library public relations effort in Wisconsin funded with grants from the Library Services and Construction Act. This public relations project was called the Cooperative Library Information Project or CLIP. It was directed by Meriam Edsall. A major outcome of this effort was the creation of Wisconsin’s annual summer library program which became a model for the nation.

In 1995, the Council on Wisconsin Libraries (COWL) put together an ambitious cooperative public relations effort involving COWL, WLA, and the Wisconsin Educational Media Association. It resulted in the theme “Wisconsin Libraries – More than books. More than ever.” This PR effort received support from a professional public relations firm and three years of LSTA funding totaling $55,000. A highlight of this campaign was several celebrity TV ads paid for by commercial sponsors.

In 2000, the WLA Public Relations Committee coordinated Wisconsin’s celebration of the bicentennial of the Library of Congress by promoting Second Day of Issue Events around the state in conjunction with the issuing of the Library of Congress postage stamp. The committee also promoted the involvement of Wisconsin libraries in the ALA @your library public relations campaign.

In 2004, the Library Advocacy Round Table of WLA came up with an idea to tie in library promotion with the local, state, and national elections for that year. This resulted in the “I Love Libraries and I Vote” campaign and the designation by the Governor of February as Library Lovers Month in Wisconsin.

In 2005 the WLA Foundation embarked on the Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries to promote a wider understanding of the value and importance of Wisconsin’s libraries.  This effort has utilized a variety of public relations materials and techniques to promote Wisconsin's libraries. The Wisconsin Libraries Say Cheese! public relations effort is just one more way that Wisconsin is following Lutie Stearn’s advice to “keep-everlastingly-at-it”. 

Note: Much of the content of this post was included in a presentation that I made at the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries Conference in the Spring of 2006. 


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Leave your comment

Guest Monday, July 15, 2019


Popular Tags

cam Events & Meetings Peter G. Hamon Brown County Library UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies Council on Library and Network Development Uncategorized Wisconsin Free Library Commission Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries DeForest Area Public Library Lutie Stearns Milwaukee Art Museum Katharine MacDonald Jones hall of Manitowoc Public Library anniversaries Woman's Congress William J. Wilson Public library systems Brown Deer Public Library Wisconsin Historical Society Public libraries World War I Governor's Conference on Library and Information Services trav Hall of Fame 2015 Hall of Fame 2015 Eratus Swift Wilcox American Library Association Library War Service Library people Postcards Suring Area Public Library books-by-mail Orrilla Blackshear Carl Spitzweg Digital Collections Marketing-Publicity Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Meter mail slogans Library e Robert Bocher UW-Milwaukee Libraries campaign Eager Free Public Library WLA 125 Elroy Public Library Bernard Schwab Wisconsin Library Bulletin Milwaukee Public Library James Huff Stout Evansville Wisconsin Middleton Public Library 28 Madison Public Library Library Trustees Inform Wisconsin 20 Kimberly-Little Chute Public Library Jane K. Billings Wisconsin State Normal School-Milwaukee Clinton Public Library membership libraries Hall fo Fame 2012 Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries 14 Academic Librarians McMillan Memorial Library Centennial Wayne A. Wiegand Wisconsin Free Library Commission Lutie Eugenia Stearns National Bookmobile Day Oshkosh Public Library Historical Register Hall of Fame 2016 Lowell W. Wilson Black River Falls Public Library Public libraries Hall Ice Storm Postcards James Duane Doty John Miller Chancellor School libraries Events & Meetings WLA 125 Hall of Fame 2010 T. B. Scott Free Public Library Library people Helen Adams Hall of Fame 2017 Lucy E. Smith Morris Parcel post 10 Milwaukee Public Library caly film I Love Libraries Capitol Fire 1904 National Library Week Hall of Fame 2009 Rusk County Community Library Postcards Charles Bunge Dorothea M. Krause People Carnegie libraries Bookmobiles Campaign Postcards Cooperative Children's Book Center White House Conference on Library and Information Services Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Hall of Fame 2008 library education WWI Library War Service Special libraries Nolan I. Neds Anniversaries WLA 125 Increase A. Lapham Portage Public Library School of Library and Information Studies Brown Deer Public Library Tower Hill Wisconsin Hall of Fame 2012 Wisconsin Federation of Women's Clubs archives WLA 125 traveling libraries American Library Association Sarah Janice Kee Delia Ovitz Sandra Friedman Dolnick Hall of Fame 2018 Wisconsin Literary Travel Guide 27 Association of Library Trustees Advocates and Friends Zona Gale Cornelia Marving Pierce Hall of Fame 2015 Wisconsin Library Heritage Center caly film Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Library Buidlings Gerald A. Somers Black River Falls Wilbur Lyle Eberhart campaign Pinback buttons campaign Anniversaries WAAL ca bookworm library legislation Louise S. Robbins Exhibits Marjorie Sornson Malmberg COLAND Campaign library exhibit WHCLIS Jerome P. Daniels Hall of Fame 2015 state historical society Publications J. D. Witter Library Artifacts 11 21 Irene W. Newman Frank Avery Hutchins John J. Jax Wisconsin State Law Library Hartford Public Library buil Hall of Fame 2011 Campaign 24 background Superior Carnegie Libraries Appleton Public Library Ripon Public Library Cam Matthew S. Dudgeon presentations Klaus Linderfelt Library History Ruby Roeder Library celebrations Clarence Brown Lester CCBC S. Janice Kee Beloit Public Library campa Library Systems library memorabilia Wisconsin Library Association Campaing for Wisconsin Libraries Richard E. Krug State Law Library Bob Bochfer Pewaukee Public Library Larry T. Nix Events UW-Madison school of library and information studies Soughton Public Library Hall of Fame 2012 Dianne McAfee Hopkins Hall of Fame 2012 Wisconsin Rapids Buttons Gilbert H. Doane Hall of Fame 2014 Library Buildings Edward Asahel Birge Gertrude Thurow Wisconsin Library Trustees and Friends Hall of Fame 2015 Ruth Ann Montgomery 23 caly film Academic Libraries 22 bed and breakfast Beaver Dam Public Library Hall of Fame 2018 Amer Hall of Fame 2013 Library People Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo