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

"Open for Exploration" Campaign Offers New Vision for Libraries

Contact: Anne-Marie Despain, Director of Library Services
San Mateo County Libraries
(650) 312-5258

San Mateo, Calif.—On April 25, the American Library Association (ALA) announced that San Mateo County Libraries are one of eight recipients of its prestigious 2017 John Cotton Dana Award, which is given to libraries for outstanding public relations. The Libraries are being recognized for their rebranding campaign, “Open for Exploration”, which unified their twelve community libraries into a shared vision and brand, and effectively communicated their positive impact on individuals and communities.

“To build awareness of the depth and breadth of our innovative services and programs, our new brand and community engagement plan was launched a year ago,” said Library Director Anne-Marie Despain. “The new campaign perfectly conveys the essence of who we are, champions of learning, sharing and exploration, and has been enthusiastically received by our communities. We are delighted and honored to receive this award in recognition of our work and impact.”

Since the launch of the campaign, monthly visits to the website have increased by 30% and monthly card applications have increased by 17% as compared to the same period a year ago. Supervisor Carole Groom, who served as chair of the San Mateo County Libraries Governing Board in 2016 said, “Our Libraries are invaluable community resources and the board is thrilled with these communications efforts that capture the vibrancy and variety of our Libraries’ programs, services and spaces."

Since 1946, the John Cotton Dana Award has been considered one of the library field’s most prestigious and is named for “the father of the modern library”, who transformed libraries from reading rooms to community learning centers. He believed that effective public communications were essential to a successful library service model.

Winners will be honored in June at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois.

This award is the latest honor for San Mateo County Libraries, which won a 2016 National Association of Counties Achievement Award, was named a finalist for the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, and has been rated a “Star Library” by the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service for the past eight years.