Does your library use Meetup?
A year and a half ago, one of our then new librarians launched a totally new (to us) program – Book Dating. It’s been delightfully successful (press coverage has definitely helped), and sometimes we’ve had almost 40 people attend an event.
But after a year, promoting Book Dating has presented a challenge to our usual publicity avenues. With most programs, you need to make sure your regular users know the program exists, and that new folks can find the program info easily on your website.
But in order for Book Dating to work, you have to attract a new crowd of people each month.
And I don’t know about your town, but for all the progress we’ve made in raising awareness of the Library as a vital community asset, most people don’t look to the library when they’re single and want to date.
We’ve registered for a 6 month subscription, and I spent part of today setting up the page. The whole process took about 4 hours, because I kept discovering related pages on our site that needed to be updated, too.
Meetup has some pretty cool and flexible features. After creating my first event, I was able to make it recurring, set an RSVP cut-off deadline (just before the program starts), a maximum number of respondents (25) and a waiting list. I also added:
- A poll about what kind of books you like to read.
- Reading-habit related profile questions to answer when you join the group.
- 2 event-registration questions: Have you done Book Dating before? and Who are you hoping to meet?
- A page for the Washington Post article about our Book Dating program.
- Sponsor info – The local, awesome theater company gives us 2 tickets to raffle off each month.
And I added every related topic to the Topic List that I could find – everything from Avid Readers and Book Discussion to Singles and Speed Dating.
Unfortunately, our next event is on January 20 – the Sunday of a long weekend, and the night before the inauguration – when much of our area will have either fled town, or will be attending parties. So we may not be able to attract many people for this month with or without Meetup, but I hope that by February we’ll be able to tell whether we’re attracting local folks who love books – but who wouldn’t think to look to their public library for their next great date.