MEMPHIS MAGAZINE | Toby Sells
The Memphis library system hopes to attract new and different users with a new name (you’ll love it) and a new campaign to make the city’s libraries more user friendly.
Walk into a library branch and you’ll now find a big red sign that reads “start here.” That’s the slogan of the new campaign for the library system’s 18 branches and it’s meant to make the library easier to use and expose its users to the wealth of information there.
“We sought a fresh perspective of where and how we, as Memphians, use the library,” said Keenon McCloy, director of Memphis Public Libraries. “And what we’ve learned from our community is incredibly motivating. The library is more than an archive or repository for books. It’s a living, breathing, and free platform for knowledge.”
Part of that new perspective started with that new name, if you caught it. Leaders have changed the name of the system from “Memphis Public Library & Information Center” to “Memphis Public Libraries.”
This effort began last year as library leaders hired research firm Little Bird Innovation and the DCA communications agency to learn how the library’s users used it and why some Memphians don’t use it at all.
Researchers found that each library branch had its own identity and communities surrounding them used them in different ways.
“We realized that these locations truly are neighborhood community centers, each with its own area of expertise and influence,” said Doug Carpenter, principal of DCA. “Across all branches, the position of the library is one of individual investment with ‘something for everyone.’ Through restructured and refined communications, we sought to lower the public barrier to access and support.”
The research work led to the Start Here campaign, which rolled out this week. Start Here can be found throughout all of the library’s channels from its websites and social media to physical wayfinding signs in the library branches.
The campaign launched in coordination with September’s National Library Card Sign-Up month, a national effort to build awareness and increase library access.
“We’re especially proud of the Memphis Public Libraries’ longstanding commitment to serving the citizens of our city,” said Mayor Jim Strickland. “We encourage all Memphians to revisit their branch of choice, ‘start here,’ and learn something new. Memphis would not be nearly the same without the programming and preservation of this free resource.”
To learn more, visit memphislibraries.org.