Mild-mannered library staffer John Schaffer transforms into the hat-wearin', book-totin' Larry—a parody of a fast-talking huckster who looks like he moonlights as a used-car salesman, instead of being the unassuming, well-spoken librarian he actually is.
John debuted Larry in the spring of 2020 to explain Covid-19 protocols. Since then, he's become a fixture on the social channels as well as a viral phenomenon outside the library. His Twitter debut video
has 1.2 million views. He's appeared on Good Morning America
. And Texas Monthly
ranked Curbside Larry as one of the Most Iconic Local
Give us another viral hit, but make it '90s style. Curb Side Baby transforms Vanilla Ice's iconic song while also sharing important Covid updates. Also there are rapping mice puppets (Vanilla Mice, Mice baby?).
This one is truly inspired: The Dover Public Library takes the TikTok sound I'm at the Pizza Hut I'm at the Taco Bell
to answer the important question: What would happen if these classic book titles hooked up and had a baby...? Like: Who would be the lovechild of The Very Hungry Caterpillar
and Star Wars
ASMR Library Sounds
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Not exactly plot-driven. Instead, an hour's worth of background library sounds produced for people who missed the vibe of working or studying in a public space. It's one of the most viewed videos on the library's channel.
This entire library TikTok is so much fun. This example uses Ursula from the Little Mermaid to make reference desk librarians approachable and relatable and kinda cool.
* * *
Video is time-consuming. Scary. Hard. Or so libraries (and a lot of us) think.
But then, closed or much-quieter libraries found themselves trying to reach their audiences digitally.
"Out of all that, a whole new world of library video was born.... Now that they've seen it's doable, successful, and fun, I think library video marketing is here to stay!" says Angela Hursh
, a former library staffer who now runs a library marketing consultancy.
* * *
But you're not in charge of the reference desk. Your budget is more than 3 nickels. What's the takeaway for you?
I don't want to get too prescriptive. (Readers like Andrew will stop reading.) But I want to leave you with 4 thoughts:
> Riff on what already exists
(song, audio, ASMR
, TikTok sounds). None of these libraries started from scratch.
> Who has your back? Great content is more about brains and risk than budget—sure. And it ALSO requires someone to have your back. Would I have liked to be a fly on the wall in the library director's office when John proposed Curbside Larry? Yes. Yes, I would have.
> Start with audience questions (what does your audience need to know?) Layer on fun. Not the opposite.
> Debunk myths. Librarians take themselves seriously. Libraries are quiet, buttoned-up places. "Nay-nay, friends," Larry and the Vanilla Mice sing in harmony. JUST COME ON DOWN. So: What's the myth in your industry?
* * *
* * *
EVERYBODY WRITES WRITING TIP OF THE FORTNIGHT
No great writing is ever produced at knifepoint. Limber up your fingers; loosen up your heart.
A great example of that from an unlikely place: the boilerplate on a press release my colleague Jen Smith forwarded to me last week.
A boilerplate is a one-paragraph description of a company that lives at the bottom of a press release. Most of the time it is unoriginal, boring, uninspired.
But lookee at this one... from convenience-store chain 7-Eleven. Here's the boilerplate at the bottom of a press release it issued last week about its collaboration with Froggy, the riot grrrl punk rock band out of Doylestown, PA, who wrote the song "7-Eleven Nachos."
Are you still reading this? Awesome. Most people stop when they get to the small print. But not you! You get to read the cool stuff. 7-Eleven, Inc. is the premier name and largest chain in the convenience-retailing industry. They don't like to brag, but they invented convenience stores. For real. Google it. Based in Irving, Texas, 7-Eleven operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 77,000 stores in 17 countries and regions, including nearly 16,000 in North
America.... Also, they trademarked the word 'Brainfreeze.' No lie. Thanks for sticking with this. You're unstoppable.
There's more; I condensed it. I also called 7-Eleven headquarters because I HAVE QUESTIONS! (How did this glorious piece of writing get approved? Can I hire the writer? A song about nachos?
Waiting for a call back.)
Anyhoo.... You can see the full glorious paragraph here
40+ CREATIVE IDEAS TO TRANSFORM YOUR MARKETING [SPONSORED]