Why Digital Marketers Should Use Their Local Public Library System

Joseph Volk / 14th May 2020 / Comment / Digital Strategy

How to Use Your Local Public Library for Marketing Research

“Digital Marketing” is an incredibly broad term, referring to dozens of channels, strategies and tactics executed by thousands of people using hundreds of tools and platforms. However, one thing all of us who do digital marketing have in common, whether we’re working for an agency or in-house, from the smallest local business to the largest enterprise, is that our work involves research. Without ways of keeping track of the latest technologies and tools, patterns in user behavior and preferences, as well as insights from the community of expert marketers into what’s working and what’s not, all of us would have a much harder time doing our jobs.

Now, with Covid-19 putting a strain on resources, as new opportunities are emerging and evolving in real time, doing research efficiently and affordably is more important than ever. Many marketers have a free, incredibly helpful set of resources that they’ve never utilized before just waiting to be taken advantage of: the public library system.

Here at Wheelhouse, those of us who are members of our wonderful local Seattle Public Library or King County Public Library systems have access to a goldmine of online resources. While the brick-and-mortar library system may be closed during this time of quarantine, we’re still able to use the online databases our libraries provide.

Here are four ways that we use our local libraries at Wheelhouse:

1. Online Access to Industry Publications

AdWeek, Advertising Age, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and other popular industry publications are available, with full text and full color, from our wonderful local library. This gives us the ability to keep up with trends and thought leadership and quickly grab key data for client presentations even without access to our hard copies of these same publications that are currently gathering dust in our office during WFH. The ability to download .pdfs of articles and studies is also helpful for personally storing away resources to read later during “brain breaks” or open-ended brainstorming sessions.

2. Free Use of MOOCs and other learning programs

In our local library system, the most notable free MOOC platform is Lynda by LinkedIn. This incredibly valuable resource allows us to take self-paced online courses taught by experts, which is great for both the times when you need to watch a quick video to brush up on some skills or terminology or when you want to earn a certificate or work toward a long-term professional goal during this current time when other learning options may be inaccessible or offer an uncertain ROI.

3. Technical eBooks for Beginners and Experts Alike

Our library system offers eBooks from O’Reilly, No Starch and other respected publishers. Some of our technical experts have been able to use books on coding languages, data analytics and other topics to brush up on knowledge, develop new skills and explore possible solutions to tricky client problems, while beginners on our teams have also been able to learn more about a whole host of technical topics using these incredibly valuable (and often expensive or hard-to-find in “real life”) resources.

4. Free Audiobooks and eBooks (and user-friendly apps!)

With all of the databases, streaming media and other cutting edge digital resources available from our local libraries, it’s easy to overlook what they’re best known for: books. While closures of brick-and-mortar branch locations have limited our ability to browse and check out hard copies of books for now, local library systems are still a tremendous resource for free loans on audiobooks and eBooks.

At Wheelhouse, we tend to hire curious minds with a bit of an autodidactic streak, but our commutes, workouts and on-the-go lifestyles have meant that for many of us audiobooks and eBooks have already become the norm. And while daily routines are changing, audiobooks and eBooks are still lifesavers during those long socially-distanced walks around the neighborhood or all the times in WFH life when a good read on a cozy couch is a go-to source of comfort and focus.

Our local library systems have made it delightfully easy to access audiobooks and eBooks (including hundreds of insightful works on management, business, self-improvement, cognitive science, marketing, rhetoric and communication, graphic design, and dozens of other topics relevant to our daily work) through user-friendly apps like Libby that impress even those of us who spend all day critically assessing UX for a living.

How Can Wheelhouse Help?

Hopefully this post has provided some timely encouragement to dig out the library card and start exploring the resources available to you via your own local library system. If you’re currently doing research on a strategic opportunity and could use another set of eyes, or are looking for more tactical advice on how we like to perform thought-leadership research, data analysis, competitor evaluations, user behavior research and studies and other key inputs into our strategies, reach out or chime in in the comments below – we’d love to hear more about how you approach research, what kind of help you need, and any ways you’ve been able to use your public library system or other free resources to gain actionable insights!

By Joseph Volk