Verb Up Your Image
Everything you do is another building block in creating the overall image for your library and teen services program: Every piece of paper you put out. Every poster you put up. The overall look of your area (Is it neat and organized? Are you merchandising titles face out and filling holes and straightening throughout the day?). The number and types of programs that you do. Think of it as a piece of pointillism art: Each action is one small pointy stroke of your art brush and as your teens pull away from the canvas they begin to see the whole picture. What do you want that picture to look like?
When putting your copy together, you need to think about your audience: teens! Teens are active. Even if they are just sitting around, they are still “hanging” and “chilling” (or chillaxin). So what you want to do is tap into this desire to be active, to be a part of something and lead all of your copy with verbs. Verbs are an important brushstroke in your marketing plan. You want to let teens know that there is something unique, amazing, powerful happening at your library – something they want to be a part of. Don’t tell them they don’t want to miss out, show them in your marketing materials and let them come to that conclusion on their own.
Think of the awesome verbs you can use: capture, engage, feed, explore, discover, crave, win, delight, share, fascinate, captivate . . . You can even use hang and chill, depending on your overall goals.
The temptation is to use being/helping verbs. Or to use the verb Read. Of course we are promoting reading, but you want to present a more multi-faceted image. Libraries are not, after all, only about books.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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