Evidence C                                                                         

Marketing Assignment

El Cajon Public Library

El Cajon is an incorporated area of San Diego County that is generally called East County. It has a population of over 100,000, including a large Assyrian/Chaldean population and unfortunately, a significant part of the population living below the poverty line.

I did my assignment on the El Cajon Branch, one of the 33 branches in the San Diego County public library system, which also runs two book mobiles. The San Diego County public libraries collectively circulates nearly 11 million books, DVDs, CDs and other materials and hosts over 20,000 library programs yearly. Each item circulates an average of 7.25 times (San Diego County Adopted Operational Plan and Budget Information, 2011). Their mission statement reads “to inform, educate, inspire and entertain” (County of San Diego, 2011). Their guiding principles are responsiveness, accessibility and capacity, communication, inclusiveness, teamwork and collaboration. To help in their goal of serving their community, a diversity plan was implemented to transform the library into a multicultural organization, complete with marketing and programming appropriate for its customers (San Diego County Library Diversity Plan, 2011).

Nestled in historic Downtown El Cajon and located near the Civic and Performing Arts Centers, the library features a computer lab and laptop station with plug-in station, private study rooms, and self-checkout station with brand new RFID machines, and separate areas for youth services and adult services, including reference desks for each front and center. The library, located on Douglas Avenue, celebrates its 20th anniversary on October 9th, featuring a celebration with live music and birthday cake.

Right when you walk in, past the Friends of the El Cajon Library office with multiple shelves of used books and movies for sale, there is a display featuring a large chalkboard with the day’s library events (which, this rainy Tuesday includes a local community meeting, yoga, computer and ESL classes, children’s story time, and teen Dungeons & Dragons club), a calendar of library events for the month, free local newspapers and an array of flyers advertising library events. There is a display of local artists in the front area, followed by several book displays that follow the marketplace formula and shelves like ones you would find in a book store.

The flyers are pretty plain: large bold text on white or colored paper, with minimal decoration in the form of photos or single graphics, all advertising different events for different demographics. The only common thread is the San Diego County library logo. The web plays a large part in the library’s marketing. The official San Diego County website and its library website are its main marketing tools; with public outreach programs in community events and local schools next. The community events calendar features an El Cajon library-sponsored family day at a local mall with free snacks, craft time for kids, story time and more, a Book Fair at the local Barnes and Nobles book store with branch librarians doing a story time event, and ESL classes in conjunction with a local community college. The programs are aimed primarily at families, teens, children and adults. The flyers for teen programs focus on free food to draw them into the library with free brownies during book club meetings, “Teen Iron Chef” and “Best Pizza” in El Cajon competition, with teens as the judges.

Budget cuts limit the publicity that the library can do but an increase in foot traffic due to the economy cancels each other out more or less, making library services more important and an obvious choice for cash-strapped people. Its expansive library catalog, free computer lab and Wi-Fi services are immensely popular, followed by free classes such as yoga, nutrition, literacy, how to market your writing and self-publish, dance as well as mommy and me classes. Homework help for teens and other young children are also utilized heavily. These services were aimed at promoting literacy, health, and education and to the general public. Despite cuts in funding (loss of $3.2 million, with $900,000 of that originally earmarked for services and supplies, primarily due to losses in revenue from taxes) and the elimination of over 20 staff positions, the library has expanded operating hours instead of cutting back like many other public libraries. Their website has just over 118 million hits yearly, up from 30 million hits yearly in 2008. There has also been an increase in database and reference service usage as well as program attendance (San Diego County Adopted Operational Plan and Budget Information, 2011).

The San Diego County public library’s 2011-2012 annual budget is $33,574,452, with the bulk ($22 million) going towards operations. Their annual budget is down $4.3 million dollars from the previous year and down $9.3 million from 2008 (San Diego County Adopted Operational Plan and Budget Information, 2011). Given that budget, each library has just over $1 million dollars to spend yearly.

Social networking is an inexpensive and relatively easy way to publicize and market your business or services, though it can be time-consuming to set up at first. The El Cajon Branch Library is on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, but they have few followers; only 129 on Facebook, 199 on Twitter, and 62 on Foursquare. Some posts or alerts are spaced weeks apart, highlighting that they are rarely used. Publicizing their social network pages, creating a listserv and/or a blog, and developing their own personal website rather than relying on the county website are all simple ways they could promote their services and events. Using a program like Microsoft Publisher, another design program, or even taking advantage of Word’s many design features to create more visually appealing flyers. There could also be a general brochure with information about the library, focusing on the facility and the services available. Having a volunteer or a staff member design and create brochures and flyers would probably not be too hard. The El Cajon Branch library does a good job with the budget and staff it has, including several volunteers. If funding was not an issue, they could develop the E-book program and purchase more E-readers to loan out. Or they could purchase laptops for patron library-use; people can use them throughout the library and access the Wi-Fi when the computer lab is full. Perhaps they could offer video games for people to play in the library or gaming night, with board games as well as video games.


Works Cited

County of San Diego: Operational Plan & Budget Information. (n.d.). Retrieved October 1, 2011, from County of San Diego: http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/auditor/pdf/adoptedplan_10-12_csg.pdf

County of San Diego: San Diego County Library – About us. (n.d.). Retrieved October 1, 2011, from County of San Diego: http://www.sdcl.org/aboutus.html

San Diego County Library Diversity Plan. (n.d.). Retrieved October 1, 2011, from San Diego County – About Us: http://sdcl.org/PDF/SDCL_diversity-plan.pdf