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In honor of National Library Week, I took a whirl through the Library of Virginia’s published holdings related to librarianship and library services. As the state library, we support the work of public libraries across Virginia, and our collection of library science publications dates from the late 1800s to the present.

One particularly charming pamphlet from the Library’s collection is Winifred F. Ticer’s Advertising the Public Library, published in 1921. Winifred F. Ticer served as the head librarian at the City Free Library in Huntington, Indiana, and in Advertising the Public Library, she enthusiastically shared her PR tips with a national audience of library workers.

Though her advice is a century old, Ticer’s marketing strategies will resonate with small-town library workers today. Ticer used humor and bold imagery, such as a crying baby, to get the attention of a busy public. A parade float with images of chickens and hogs shows her willingness to tailor her message to her agricultural community, who may have had more urgent need for poultry manuals than classic literature. Ticer also recognized the importance of building relationships with community stakeholders—in innovative newspaper advertisements, she actively courted the “public men and influential citizens” whose support was crucial for her library’s continued future.

Library services have changed dramatically since Winifred F. Ticer’s time, but her words still snappily sum up the message of public libraries everywhere: “We exist for this community. INVESTIGATE US.” We hope you’ll follow her advice!

Rebecca Schneider

Senior Reference Librarian

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