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December 11, 2003

Marketing Wireless in Libraries

Someone on Web4Lib asked about posting symbols or signage to identify wireless access in libraries. This is a slightly revised version of my reply on the list, sent after several folks referred the original poster to the wireless warchalking symbols popular among the digerati.

Essentially, this is basic library marketing 101. If you're planning to market wireless services not only to the folks who will seek it, but to folks who would either find a way to use it if they knew what it was or may never even use it but will mentally file this service under "what a great library this is," then integrate the fancy symbols with very plainspoken, large, plain-lettered wording. Go to a site that offers wireless for its customers and see how they peddle it. (Remember, that's what you're doing: selling a service.)

Make the language achingly clear. "Wireless hotspot" comes to mind... but maybe something else makes more sense locally. Assuming you have a bookmark or brochure advertising this service, repeat the logo and the phrase throughout the materials. I know that libraries offer things for free anyway, but why not push that as well? Wireless--FREE!

A funny idea that comes to mind is a play on the universal blue and white "library" sign, emanating radio waves from a slab that is more laptop or PDA than book, with WIRELESS HOTSPOT on it.

Or you could practice another kind of library marketing, and either put up one tiny, very obscure sign, or make it very large and then title it "Bibligraphic WEP-enabled 802.11* Access." And in your assessment of the service, observe that very few people use it. ;)

Posted by kgs at December 11, 2003 05:05 PM

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So here's a question we are knocking around: if a library offers wireless web access and wants to qualify for E-Rate do they have to filter the wireless server. And,if it does, as we are in the filtering business and sell IF2K on a per seat basis, what the hell do we charge for a wi-fi situation?

No, seriously, it is a very real question.

Posted by: Jay Currie at December 17, 2003 05:22 PM

I'm looking for a list of libraries (not hotspots in general) anywhere, US or beyond, that offer free wireless. Does anyone have such a list or know where I can find such a list?
Please e-mail me back directly @ dvz12@hotmail.com
Thank you

Posted by: Douglas Van Zandt at February 20, 2004 09:07 AM

You should *definitely* push the FREE aspect when marketing wireless web access in libraries.

Reading this has made me envious though; I wish we had such a facility here in Ireland!

Posted by: Michael Heraghty at March 6, 2004 05:59 AM

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