Marketing Critique: Yorba Linda Public Library

Yorba Linda Public Library is a city library in Southern California serving a population of approximately 71,000 city residents. This city has a very high median household income, which implies an Internet-savvy population with frequent access to new technologies. Thus, YLPL is in a great place to implement and explore the opportunities made available by social media.

Yorba Linda’s social media presence is a bit mild, but appropriate to its audience and community. Yorba Linda is only a city library with no additional branches, so I believe that its social media endeavors, while smaller and less flashy than other library system’s, is very specific to its audience and is able to speak to patrons that exist not only online, but also in the physical space of the library. For example, YLPL has a YouTube account that is infrequently updated and has only 17 subscribers and 2 friends. However, the library’s teen advisory board, a group of real teenagers who are active at the library, created all the video uploads. While this page is not a wildly popular Internet sensation, it is entirely owned by the teen patrons who subscribe to it. The most recent video is titled “Mock Battle of the Books” and is described as “a practice session for Yorba Linda Public Library’s 2011 Battle of the Books.” This video, created by teens for teens, not only increases participation among those who are in the video, but also gets teens who are not in the video excited about the upcoming program. This is what all of the library’s marketing endeavors are designed to do.

Yorba Linda Public Library also has a Facebook “local business” page where they post messages about upcoming events, announcements, and book recommendations. The posts are frequent, relevant, and written in an appropriate tone. Messages invite patrons to events, make reader’s advisory suggestions, and notify the public to library closures. YLPL’s usage of Facebook applications and abilities is also quite commendable. While some features are semi-neglected, it is encouraging to see that the library is willing to try many applications and run with those that work. For example, there is a “discussions” feature on the Facebook page where the library began a “discussion” inviting Facebook users to suggest improvements to the teen programs. While this makes it obvious that the Facebook initiative is primarily targeted towards teens, it also makes it obvious that the library wants to make its Facebook page just as interactive and teen-owned as its YouTube page is. Even though YLPL will have to eventually adjust their target audience as they recognize that more users are older than teens, this application demonstrates their online flexibility. Their Facebook page additionally uses the photo and calendar application, keeping it updated and reflective of what’s happening in the library. All information on the page supports the library’s events and keeps the public well informed about all activities at the library. Perhaps indicative that the library is aware of having a wider audience than the teen population, adult events are also marketed on their Facebook page.

Yet, I would say that YLPL’s twitter feed is the social media tool most used to target the adult population. YLPL’s tweets often cover adult events in addition to teen and children events. Additionally, tweets are often links to pertinent news stories about the library or subjects the library is discussing, such as news about casting for the new Hunger Games movie. Books such as The Help are promoted, and new additions are shared. While I assumed that a twitter feed could substitute for the status updates on Facebook, YLPL is using both for different purposes and capitalizing on the pros and cons of each tool. The statuses on Facebook have a different tone and are able to add more content and personality to posts. This is effective when marketing to teens, their primary demographic on Facebook. The twitter posts are shorter, more informative, and more to the point, which busy adults will appreciate. The only downfall I see with YLPL’s use of Twitter is the frequency and repetition of posts; events are promoted repeatedly and several posts are made in a day. However, not being a seasoned Twitter user myself, I am unsure of what the social norms are for this tool, and if users are used to multiple tweets from the library in a day.

Adding to its social media repertoire, YLPL also has a Flickr account with photos of the library’s events, library cards, and “field trips” where they post photos of other local libraries. This helps to create interest in libraries all over the region, which is a great cooperative promotion for YLPL to take on. While there is not much activity on the Flickr stream, the photos are interesting and act as good promotions of events. However, I do believe that this tool can be marketed to a much greater effect. While the “info” part of their Facebook profile mentions their Flickr account, there are no other mentions of it on their website or Twitter account. Their website at the very least should be a place where patrons can learn about all of the library’s online activity and have the opportunity to participate in what could be a more thriving virtual environment.

Lastly, there is one thing that I find incredibly strange after researching Yorba Linda Public Library’s online endeavors. In looking over YLPL’s YouTube page, I noticed a spam comment and wished to notify them about this comment and that it should be removed. Fearing that a simple comment of my own would go unnoticed, I searched for alternate methods of notifying the library. Searching the website for contact information, I could only find the library’s phone number and address; as far as I can tell, they do not have an email address! How strange that a library would incorporate such new social media tools into their services and lack such an essential means of online communication! If I had to pick one thing that Yorba Linda Public Library could improve about their services, it would be to add a means of direct online communication such as email. Even an IM or chat service would suffice if an YLPL librarian were on the other end.

In conclusion, Yorba Linda Public Library is a great example of how a small city library can use social media tools to great effect. All patrons can benefit from their online services, which present a strong and consistent branding of the library. While the library can vastly improve their services with the addition of email contact information or updating and promoting their Flickr and YouTube accounts more effectively, this library has begun its social media endeavors appropriately and with great value.

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3 thoughts on “Marketing Critique: Yorba Linda Public Library

  1. Very interesting library critique. Although I was glad to see how concerned the YLPL is at marketing the teen audience, it was a little disappointing to see that they assumed that some of the social media outlets are utilized only by teens. It's almost an insult to the other generations. I'm in my early thirties, and like to use Facebook and YouTube regularly. Additionally, no email or IM? That's extremely bizarre in this day and age. Although perhaps an oversight, no email is also a message of “we don't want to be contacted”. In my opinion, this is a detrimental signal to be sending to customers whom the library is supposed to be welcoming.

  2. Hi Toverduin!

    As the primary library assistant in charge of maintaining the Yorba Linda Public Library's social networking presence, I wanted to thank you for your thoughtful and honest assessment of our social networking pages. Many of your observations and criticisms were spot on! (For example, the Facebook page was originally started by the TAB and has only in the last year converted to a page promoting information for all departments.) To respond to the concern of the lack of direct online communication, it is simply a staffing issue. The library does maintain an email that can be reached through our website, but it is difficult to locate. This email is maintained only by our IT specialist so it is not widely publicized. We have discussed extensively providing IM services, but have not been able to determine a way to do so; there is just no one available to be on the other end consistently. We are in the process of developing a new website that should hopefully launch in June. As per the issue of the spam on YouTube, I believe I noticed this problem just a few weeks ago myself when I was uploading new videos and hopefully I have remedied it. If not, please email us here at the library at ylpl@ylpl.lib.ca.us

  3. Hi Heather!
    Thanks for your reply! I did this assessment for class, and I am amazed that you ever found it! How did you run across my blog? I chose Yorba Linda for my assignment because 1) you guys are doing a great job of using social media! and 2) I used to work there! I don't know if you remember me, I was a LA sub who usually worked the children's desk from March-August 2010. My husband and I then moved to Holland for three months, so I quit 😦 But it's really cool to hear from you again!

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