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Multnomah County Library: public awareness and fundraising campaigns
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For more than a decade, Multnomah County Library contracted with MG to create and coordinate comprehensive public awareness and fundraising campaigns. Major campaigns effectively engaged the public in supporting both public and private funding of library renovation and improvement projects, and increased systemwide use of libraries and special programs as well.
The Library’s brand perception has moved from that of a kindly regarded but neglected institution to one of a vibrant, key community player that is one of the community’s top investment priorities. Voters approved hundreds of millions of dollars in bond measures and operating levies to build a new library, renovate every existing branch to state-of-the-art status, and radically increase collections and program budgets and the hours of operation. Further, private support rose from virtually zero to more than $13 million in five years. Library use census and materials checkout per capita have increased to among the top in the nation.
Our award-winning work on behalf of the Library has also included public awareness/ communication campaigns for both the move out of Multnomah County Central Library during its $27 million renovation project (Imagine Moving Your Library) and the move back to Central (Come Home: The Return to Central Library). The campaigns included more than $100,000 in leveraged television, radio, newspaper, and transit advertising as well as cash support. MG conducted media relations and public involvement outreach, and secured community-based public information venues. Media coverage was substantial throughout the campaigns, with hundreds of stories placed locally and nationally. MG’s comprehensive public awareness and event strategies helped the Library achieve its goals of decreased public confusion during the closure and increased use of the Library over the long term. In fact, during the move to the temporary Trans-Central Library, not a single patron complaint was received. The week after the reopening, more than 10,000 people per day were using the Library. A year later, numbers were between 4,500 and 5,550 per day—a dramatic increase from the 3,500 per day prior to the reopening. MG and the Library were recognized with the public relations industry’s top national award, The Silver Anvil, for the Come Home campaign, as well as with the American Library Association’s John Cotton Dana Award for the Imagine Moving Your Library and the Come Home campaigns.
MG also developed creative public relations and sponsorship strategies to promote the Library’s summer reading program over a period of years. These strategies have increased the number of summer readers by as much as 300 percent. Other work with Multnomah County Library has included communication related to branch renovations, as well as fundraising consulting and communication.
Throughout our work for the Library, we have continually articulated the core brand value of equal access to information as a major community, educational and economic benefit to the region. The success of every campaign we have undertaken on behalf of the Library, the growth in number of library users, the increases in summer reading participation, and the birth of The Library Foundation and its subsequent growth and support in the philanthropic and business sectors are evidence of the effective collaboration MG has achieved with Multnomah County Library.