Are you looking for a well-educated, up-to-date, tech-smart market for your product or service? Look no further than public librarians.
Librarians? Aren’t they women of a certain age with their hair in buns, wire-framed glasses perched on their noses and the ever-present index finger up against their lips shushing rowdy patrons?
If that’s the image you have of librarians, you need to update your mental files. “These people are very well-versed in technology as well as information,” says Pat Billadeau, national accounts manager for MCH, a compiler of business-to-institution data. “They know all the new things.” Here, we give you a book’s worth of details on how to target this savvy market.
Cataloging Their Data
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 45,000 public librarians in the U.S. (If you include school libraries and academic libraries, that number zooms up to 137,000.) In addition, public libraries employ 91,000 people as other paid staff. The American Library Association says that there are more public libraries in the U.S. than there are McDonald’s: more than 16,000 if you include branch libraries.
If librarians are anything, it’s smart. “We’re finding a well-educated audience with probably a higher than average college achievement,” says Marge Fernbach, a senior account executive at the list management and brokerage firm Statlistics. “They are a little more educated than some because they’re readers. Their knowledge has to be broad to help the people coming into the library.” Many librarians have Masters of Library Science degrees, and also go through continuing education to stay up-to-date.
Since, otherwise, librarians’ demographics are all over the map, perhaps the best way to get a handle on them is to understand what they do and where they work. “For some people who don’t visit a library often, they would be blown away by the services that libraries offer now,” says Billadeau. “It used to be you would just check out a book. Now, there are music, movies, books on tape and a complete computer setup to search the Internet.”