It’s no secret that we ❤️ newsletters and library newsletters can come in quite a few different flavours. In this second post in our series to mark 200 issues of Newslet, our own library newsletter, we wanted to recognise some of our favourite examples and explore how they produce content that keeps their audiences engaged.
Newsletters are a fantastic option for marketing and communicating directly with your users. But it also means competing with a lot of other email noise to get people’s attention. Our inboxes are busy.
Creating engaging content, from the subject onwards, makes a big difference in establishing a connection with your audience, and that’s what all of our examples have in common. They tend to have a particular focus or theme…
1. Events & library programming
The most common type of library newsletter is the monthly recap – a regular summary of events, programming information, new titles and other news. These are an effective way to keep the community up to date with all the impressive things happening at the library and how they can get involved.
You can upcycle existing content from your blog and events calendar and push this to a different audience.
There are many quality library newsletters around, providing good solid information to their patrons, but the offering from Suffolk Libraries has caught our eye.
Suffolk Libraries keep readers up to date with events, news and staff picks which they combine with a clear call-to-action – asking their subscribers to support the library.
New York Public Library also has an impressive collection of email publications to help you keep up-to-date.
2. Project showcase
Newsletters can also be used to showcase different initiatives and the people behind them. A great example of this is LC LABS LETTER – A Monthly Roundup from the Library of Congress Labs Team.
LC LABS is the Library of Congress’ initiative to encourage innovative engagement with digital collections, and they commission some really inventive projects and collaborations. These projects and ‘experiments’ combine datasets with emerging technologies, and are designed to open up the collections to a wider audience.
Their newsletter is great for finding out what goes on behind the scenes, and for keeping up with cool things built at the LC Labs. There are updates about different residency programmes that they run, and insights from the Innovators in Residence.
3. Expert Aggregator
Be a subject expert! There are some awesome library newsletters out there that curate content in various specialisms.
Public Library News (PLN) is an excellent example of expert aggregation. PLN is award-winning Librarian Ian Anstice’s indefatigable digest of public libraries. Ian manages to keep us up to date with what’s happening, not just in public libraries in the UK, but internationally as well. His motivation is a belief in ‘free access to information, facts and the views of all sides’.
Tara Calishain’s ResearchBuzz is available as a newsletter. The digest has been providing a wealth of news and resources from in and around the web since 1998. For daily updates on digital archives, online databases and search engines as well as what Big Tech is up to, it’s pretty much unrivalled. The digest is vast but you can also search by subject at RB Firehose.
Colleen Theisen’s Library News This Week is a great summary of news from (mostly) US-based libraries, museums and archives. Published sporadically but always a great read.
4. Hidden treasures
Ok, sure. It may seem that not every library has access to hidden treasures that they can share in their newsletter. This is mostly the realm of national libraries and large archives who can dig up interesting things from the depths of their collections.
National Library of Scotland’s monthly full-colour newsletter provides info about new acquisitions and online or digital services, as well the latest in their program of events and workshops.
The newsletter of Europeana, the EU digital cultural heritage initiative, does this really well with each issue featuring different galleries as well as highlighting different findings in the collections.
But in the event that you are not a National Library (or even if you are), your newsletter treasures may be in the form of free resources or bits of knowledge that you share with your readers.
For example, the National Library of New Zealand’s Services to Schools’ newsletter is published once a term and keeps school staff informed of the resources and services available to them and their students.
The Public Library Innovation Exchange (PLIX) creates and shares learning activities and kits that libraries can use to host STEAM programs and events. They have a newsletter that, among other things, highlights treasures from their remix forum where library staff share their experiences of running STEAM and maker activities.
5. User-generated content
Users are also great sources of content for newsletter. Whether it’s reading or resource recommendations, interviews or quotes or other kinds of contributions, including your readers can help generate a lot of engaging content to keep your newsletters interesting.
Not many library newsletters seem to include user content beyond occasional reader recommendations .
But there are loads of other ways you can collect and share recommendations and other content from your different audiences.
Why not start by asking for tips from your users to share with others? Or embed content from social media?
We were impressed to see a recent issue of the National Library of Scotland newsletter seeking input from readers about the purchase of a new keyboard for their Special Collections Reading Room – a great way to directly include users in service development.
These are just a few of the awesome newsletters that we are particularly enjoying at the moment and we hope this has given you some inspiration. Look back at our previous post for our 7 top tips for publishing awesome library newsletters to get started on your own publication, and sign up to Newslet, our library newsletter digest for your fortnightly dose of library news and resources.