CASE STUDY:

Galesburg Library

Yellow Line Digital uncovers insights to draw people to a physical library in the digital age.

The Premise

Is it possible to attract visitors to a brick and mortar library in the digital age, by digital means? That is the challenge that Yellow Line Digital took up on behalf of Galesburg Public Library.

The Library had recently secured funds for construction of a new building. The project was well on its way, but bringing in foot traffic was another story. A library is not only a place to borrow books, but a space for community, events, learning, and relaxing. It’s designed for all ages and interests. It’s meant to be a place you make your own. The Library was particularly interested in reaching 18–30-year-olds, since it has had success with older citizens and children.

Yellow Line Digital conducted its signature health check – gathering data, analyzing trends, and uncovering insights to shed light on the way forward.

The Research

In the digital health check, Yellow Line Digital analyzed Galesburg Library’s social presence, surveyed similar competitor presences, and conducted in-depth interviews and social listening to better understand audience and sentiment.

1. Client History — reviews how Galesburg Library has performed on digital channels in the past, generating insights on channel presence, brand awareness, popular content, and trends in engagement.

2. Competitive Landscape — analyzes how competitors and allies operate in the digital space, revealing insights into popular or unpopular messaging, tactics to avoid or emulate, and channels to consider.

3. Audience Persona — studies the behaviors, habits, mindset, state in life, geography, age, sex, etc. of the audience that matters most to the Library. Content will fall flat if it’s not shown to the right audience. The better we understand the audience, the better we understand how to make them care as much as the Library does — or even more so.

The Insights

The health check uncovered a wealth of valuable information for Galesburg Library; the biggest insights lie within the audience’s persona. The 18–30-year-olds we spoke with in our in-depth interviews revealed a positive attitude toward libraries. Not only that, they trust libraries and believe that they are important to communities.

So why has usage among plummeted? The answer lies in the convenience of the competition — i.e., the internet — negating this group’s use of the library in practice. However, this is not true for all young people. Young mothers are highly engaged at the library, presumably because they utilize it for their children. They are aware of the library’s wealth of resources. They swing by to pick up books, attend events, and take advantage of other services. Students also utilize the library as a quiet place to study. The library had to become a blank canvas for young people. The space must be highly customizable so that they associate it with an experience that they want again and again.

The Opportunity

With a new space under construction, now is the time for Galesburg Library to improve its digital presence and attract young people to a “new” library experience. When people know the library well and all it offers, they make good use of it. Galesburg Library staff often hear new visitors say they did not know the library had so much to offer! Young people will be addressed as a generation that can use the library as a canvas for experiences and self-improvement in many forms.

A wealth of data affirms the value of libraries despite the rise of the internet. We recommended that the Library share that data and value. Call out the competition — the bookstores, internet companies, and streaming services — and ask them to endorse public libraries by stating why libraries are valuable despite all the services they themselves provide. This is an instance where digital can serve rather than undermine the library. Through use of videos, hashtags, and campaigns of posts, Galesburg entities can cooperate instead of compete with the public library. 

Our Health Check uncovered insights that brought Galesburg Library closer to its goal of broader reach and high engagement. Considering a health check from YLD for your purpose-driven organization? Here’s what Galesburg Library has to say about the work we provided: 

“Yellow Line Digital’s Health Check process has been incredibly valuable for our team. The team clearly puts in an unparalleled amount of work and presents the information gathered in a clear and concise way, and expertly answered all of our follow-up questions. We recommend YLD’s Health Check to anyone looking to improve their digital presence.”

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