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The winners of the 2016 John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award are:

Northwestern #UndeadTech

College / University

How does an archivist preserve potentially historic data on a digital device if it has no power cord?

It’s a growing problem at archives everywhere. Increasingly photos, letters and important documents are kept on cell phones and laptops that become outdated, their cords lost to time. #UndeadTech was a social media campaign to crowdsource the donation of old power cords and connecting cables to resurrect these devices for preservation. This zombie-themed campaign raised 100 unique donations to “raise dead devices and save history” -- most notably the cellphone of a famous alumna.

San Diego County Library 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten


San Diego County Library (SDCL) set out to increase the number of kids ready for kindergarten by launching a 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program in 2015. SDCL developed a robust program that incentivizes reading, gets the whole family engaged, and provides access to thousands of new children’s books. The launch of the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program was a resounding success, with 18,121 kids signing up for the program. As a result, SDCL has seen a 17% increase in picture book circulation and a 43% increase in early reader book circulation.

A Library of Possibilities


In today's age of seemingly infinite digital access to information, there is often the question "Why do we need libraries?" Whether the question is asked from the perspective of a customer, donor or advocate, the answer is crucial for the future of libraries. While we know that libraries ensure an increasingly literate, informed and livable community, it is important to build awareness that the library as a place to only check out books is a thing of the past. The library of today and tomorrow is so much more.

And what better way to answer the question than to show the positive impact of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library on the community through the authentic stories of our patrons? Through a video of eight interviews, viewers hear real life stories of how our library system has changed lives for the better.


Chicago Public Library's 2015 Rahm's Reader's Summer Learning Challenge: Explore and Soar!


Research in summer learning inspired Chicago Public Library (CPL) to redesign its summer reading program in 2013. The new Summer Learning Challenge keeps reading the primary focus but adds opportunities to discover and create. Following two summers executing the redesign, CPL created a space-themed program for 2015 (“Explore and Soar”) with strategic communication goals to increase participation and engagement. Objectives included improving awareness of the program, mitigating the “summer slide,” inspiring staff, and using communications materials to create an immersive learning experience.


Harry Potter’s World at the Alfred University Libraries

College / University

In 2015, the Scholes Library at Alfred University hosted the National Library of Medicine’s “Harry Potter’s World” traveling exhibit. To welcome the exhibit, forge ties with the campus and community, and raise awareness of our collections, we created a two month long event series in the university libraries. The product of collaborations with university staff, faculty, student groups, and local public libraries, this event series energized the Alfred community, created new connections between the library and outside institutions, and brought several hundred additional patrons into the libraries.


Houston Public Library - My Link Card Campaign


The Library Card Campaign was designed to promote the HPL MY Link Library Card and increase awareness of the Library’s services to the City of Houston community. The campaign made clear, through messaging, that HPL is a place for community to connect with each other and to link to the different things they like and love in their lives. We did this through print, outreach, social media and partnerships.


New Orleans Public Library Millage Campaign: A Library At A Crossroads


The New Orleans Public Library faced a financial crisis and was at a crossroads. A millage proposition (tax increase) was scheduled to appear on the May 2, 2015, ballot and the outcome would either allow for stabilized future funding and increased library services or create an overwhelming budget deficit resulting in a drastic cut in library services. 

The Library could not actively encourage people to vote for the proposition, only inform the public of the election and its outcomes. 

Concise messaging, consistent branding, and clearly defined target audiences were developed to create a cohesive and effective informational campaign that resulted in the proposition passing by a 75% margin.


Vancouver Public Library Inspiration Lab Launch Campaign


May 2015 marked the opening of Vancouver's newest creative destination – the Inspiration Lab – a free digital media hub dedicated to creating, preserving and sharing stories. Located at the Vancouver Public Library's Central Library, the lab is free to use – for the first time giving Vancouverites access to creative technology, a place to use it, and training workshops. An extensive marketing campaign highlighted the unlimited creativity of imagination and encouraged the public to create, explore and bring ideas to life at the Inspiration Lab.