The Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Content Marketing. By Laura Solomon. Chicago: ALA, 2016. 128 p. Paper $50 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1432-8).

The Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Content Marketing is a must-read for every librarian or library considering creating or revamping a marketing or social media plan. At a time when many librarians still consider simply posting a comment to their library’s Facebook page or Twitter feed to be “advertising for a program,” this guide provides excellent advice.

In the very first chapter, “Get over yourself,” Solomon explains what is wrong with most libraries’ online presence: the library has “prioritized the needs of itself over the needs of its users” (3). Solomon uses many examples that we are all probably familiar with: social media accounts that post nothing but event notifications, websites that haven’t been updated in months, library RSS feeds or blogs with no engagement, and so forth. Many of us are aware that our marketing efforts are inadequate, yet we wonder why no one shows up at the events or clicks on the articles, or why patrons get lost on a website we thought was great. This first chapter explains it all.

Solomon then discusses why we should care about content marketing. Chapters address topics such as identifying audiences, planning not to fail, writing in a way that engages readers, avoiding common mistakes, and finally, determining whether you are actually succeeding. Packed with useful graphics, text boxes, and charts, this book explains just about everything we are doing wrong and how to fix it. One of the most fascinating diagrams is the comparison of promotion and marketing, a distinction that many libraries confuse. She explains that “content promotion is about the library, [while] content marketing is about the library’s value to the patron” (21).

Complete with chapter notes, a thorough bibliography, and an index, this is a resource every library should use, no matter what stage they are at in their social media or website revamping plan. Solomon even includes a complete example of a digital strategy. Any struggling web development team or social media librarian is likely to benefit from reading through the examples and tailoring them to work at their own library.

A great read for any team, The Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Content Marketing is also highly recommended for librarians in charge of their own program promotion or even LibGuide material updates. With just a little more than one hundred pages of content itself, it’s a quick read and a great resource.—Lara Cummings, Instruction Librarian, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington


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