San Mateo County Libraries Win Prestigious American Library Association Public Relations Award

"Open for Exploration" Campaign Offers New Vision for Libraries

On April 25, the American Library Association, opens a new window (ALA) announced that we are one of eight recipients of its prestigious 2017 John Cotton Dana Award, opens a new window, which is given to libraries for outstanding public relations. The ALA is recognizing us for our rebranding campaign, “Open for Exploration”, which unified our twelve community libraries and many programs into a shared vision and brand. Our goal was to better communicate all of our services and positive impact to individuals and communities.

The need to rebrand came out of our strategic planning process in 2015, when we discovered that many members of the public were not aware of the full array of our services. As our Library Director, Anne-Marie Despain put it, “We needed to build awareness of the depth and breadth of our innovative services and programs, and convey the essence of who we are, champions of learning, sharing and exploration for everyone in our community.”

We are delighted and humbled to report that the campaign has been received enthusiastically by the public. Since the launch of the campaign, monthly visits to the website increased by 30% and monthly card applications increased by 17% as compared to the same period a year ago. We're very fortunate to have had wonderful partners in the development of the campaign, including Pivot Design, opens a new window, which helped us create the perfect visual and linguistic brand.

With our new brand, signage, print materials, website and social media, opens a new window, we look forward to continuing to help you fulfill your aspirations by offering our growing collections, exciting new services, welcoming, modern facilities and innovative programming.

So who was John Cotton Dana? Born in 1856, John Cotton Dana was a Progressive Era librarian who believed that libraries should be vital community centers and not historical reading rooms. He is credited with the creation of the first children’s literature collection and developing concepts of ergonomics and flow in library spaces. He also believed that effective publicity was essential to a successful library services model. His goal, like ours, was to make sure that libraries grow and adapt to the needs of communities, so we’re incredibly delighted to receive this prestigious award that has been given out since 1946 for excellence in library communications.

Search for John Cotton Dana on our electronic resources and find out why he’s called the “father” of the modern library and museum.