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Congratulations to the 2024 John Cotton Dana Award-winning Libraries

Congratulations to the 2024 John Cotton Dana Award-winning Libraries

The John Cotton Dana Awards provide up to eight grants for libraries that demonstrate outstanding library public relations. The 2024 award winners, recognized for their strategic communications efforts, have been selected. This award is managed by the Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures division of the American Library Association and EBSCO Information Services and consists of $10,000 grants from the H.W. Wilson Foundation.

The 2024 John Cotton Dana awardees are: 

Anchorage Public Library (Anchorage, Alaska)
Campaign: Booch For Books-Library Love in a Can

With a deep understanding of the community they serve and the growing needs of their target audience, the Anchorage Public Library campaign Booch and Books was innovative and creative. Leveraging publicity events paired with personable and approachable creative proved successful in helping them achieve their communication goals. Their campaign evaluation was insightful and top-tier.

Barrie Public Library (Barrie, Ontario Canada)
Campaign: Discover Opportunities with a Barrie Public Library Card

From planning through implementation, Barrie Public Library’s library card sign-up campaign was fun and built upon community spirit and personal connections. Their campaign forged connections within the community through referral cards that were well-designed and truly had the community “sharing the love” of their public library. They were savvy with staff utilization in this multi-channel campaign. Their ongoing evaluation and monitoring led to updating goals and invigorating staff for a highly successful campaign.

Curtis Memorial Library (Brunswick, Maine)
Campaign: Make Way for Visitors!

Like many libraries, Curtis Memorial Library tried many things to bring visitor and new cardholder numbers—and corresponding municipal funding amounts—back to 2019 levels. It wasn’t until the library hosted an exhibit of work from the late Robert McCloskey (Make Way for Ducklings, Blueberries for Sal), raised private funds and partnered with community and city organizations that things really took off. By mounting a campaign to promote the exhibit in multiple venues and formats, new cardholder, visitor and circulation numbers all exceeded 2019 levels and the library received local, statewide and national media attention.

Orange County Library System (Orlando, Florida)
Campaign: Bright Past, Bright Future

In 2023, the Orange County Library System celebrated its 100th birthday. The library built a campaign that brought awareness and engagement about their major milestone. They connected the present-day library to its history in a meaningful way, generating interest in, and enthusiasm for, the library’s modern mission. Using a combination of public relations events aimed at VIPs, an engagement campaign directed at existing customers and a traditional advertising campaign to educate the public, they boosted library use, new card signups and overall community engagement.

Richmond Hill Public Library (Richmond Hill, Ontario Canada)
Campaign: Richmond Hill Public Library ReBrand

With a need to rebrand, the library developed a campaign that challenged preconceptions and embraced innovation. Their “Yes, at the Library” messaging effectively invited the community to rethink what a library means in today’s world, resulting in an increase of 32% in their patron’s positivity during that single year. The campaign not only showcased what today’s library looks like in terms of design, but also created measurable buy-in from staff and residents within the diverse community, helping mend a major disconnect between the library’s values and the way community members perceived the library as a whole.

Salt Lake County Library (West Jordan, Utah)
Campaign: All-Star Winter Reading Program is a Slam Dunk

With a need to increase winter reading participation, the library created and executed  a campaign centered around their NBA team, Utah Jazz.  Their campaign used eye-catching visuals like life-size cutouts of Jazz players and shoe prints to attract children to the program. The team also used a variety of marketing techniques and impressive messaging to promote the program. The library incentivized children to complete the reading challenge like basketball-themed prize books, a mascot event and a raffle to win tickets to a future Utah Jazz game. This campaign resulted in a 52% participation.

Spokane Public Library (Spokane, Washington)
Campaign: Be Your Best Self

As the guides to help residents of their service area be the heroes of their own stories, Spokane Public Library set a goal to reach one million residents with the transformational power of the library. Their “Be Your Best Self” campaign, anchored by a video with a custom song, and utilizing multiple print and digital channels and a Library Learning Week event collection to help people see themselves and their futures in the context of the library. The campaign resulted in 1.2 million impressions (in a community with a population of just 260,000), increased door counts by 29% during Library Learning Week and clinched a library levy renewal.

Tacoma Public Library (Tacoma, Washington)
Campaign: You’re Due for a New Adventure at Tacoma Public Library

With creativity, dedication and collaborative spirit, the library set out to increase library card signups throughout their service area. The campaign’s success is evident in the positive responses and enthusiasm expressed on social media, reflecting the impact the team has made on the community. The library’s efforts have resulted in increased program attendance, greater awareness of the library and the establishment of strong partnerships with various organizations and businesses. The team’s dedication to showcasing the library’s diverse offerings and reaching a wider audience has paid with an increase of 14.5% library card signups.

2024 Selection Committee

The 2024 John Cotton Dana Award selection committee included: Gregg Dodd (chair), Director of Marketing & Communications, Columbus Metropolitan Library; Kelly Sitzma (vice chair), Director of Communications & Employee Development, Pioneer Library System; Martha Alvarado Anderson, Digital Services Librarian, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville; Chris Boivin, Assistant Director of Community Relations and Marketing, Jacksonville Public Library; Jennifer Brandon, Reference Librarian/Digital Interface Designer, Michigan State University Libraries; and Theresa Davis, Communications Manager, Fort Worth Public Library.

John Cotton Dana
The JCD award is named after John Cotton Dana (1859–1929), the father of the modern library, who is credited with helping transition libraries from reading rooms to community centers. JCD submissions include strategic library communications campaigns from libraries of all types and sizes. In recognition of the achievement, JCD Award winners receive a cash development award from the H.W. Wilson Foundation. The John Cotton Dana Awards will be presented during an awards ceremony hosted by EBSCO Information Services held during this year’s ALA Annual Conference.

About the H.W. Wilson Foundation
The Foundation was established by Halsey W. Wilson in 1952 to support the needs of company employees and retirees. Since 1957, The H.W. Wilson Foundation has focused on providing financial assistance to causes having the greatest impact on improving the spirit, mind and body of the greatest number of people through aid, support and cooperation with charitable, benevolent, educational and religious institutions. Major donors to the Foundation included Mr. and Mrs. H.W. Wilson, and the H.W. Wilson Company.

About EBSCO Information Services
EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO) is a leading provider of online research content and search technologies serving academic, school and public libraries; healthcare and medical institutions; corporations; and government agencies around the world. From research, acquisition management, subscription services and discovery to clinical decision support and patient care, learning, and research and development, EBSCO provides institutions with access to content and resources to serve the information and workflow needs of their users and organizations. For more information, visit the EBSCO website at: