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Unit Five
Planning and Marketing Your ISL Programs

Good planning leads to successful programs – and fewer headaches! Numerous planning guides, implementation checklists, and marketing templates are available
throughout this website.

We’ll explore several of those resources in this unit, and you will:

    • Develop a timeline for planning, promoting, and implementing the Pushing the Limits program series


    • Learn how to use marketing communications to strengthen your library programs and build community partnerships


  • Begin creating your Marketing and Communications Plan and strategies

    • Begin by downloading Timeline and Checklist for Program Implementation, a checklist that will help you organize the tasks involved in planning and implementing your program series. arrow icons


  • Take a few minutes to review the information in the checklist. You don’t need to fill it in now, but familiarizing yourself with the process will give you a good overview of our work in this unit.
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Each Pushing the Limits program is designed to run 60-90 minutes. You can decide the order in which you want to present the four Pushing the Limits programs – “Nature”, “Connection”, “Survival”, and “Knowledge” – and the time interval between each program. Many libraries find that a monthly or bi-weekly schedule for a discussion-based series works best.

As you plan the dates, consider factors that might influence attendance, including weather, holidays, other community events, or the schedule of different library programs and events.

Once you’ve decided when to schedule each program, you’ll be able to work through the checklist and assign dates for each of the tasks.

Marketing your program will be one of the first steps leading to a successful event. You’ll quickly discover that as you’re marketing your programs, you’re also marketing your library.

Peggy Barber is a librarian and consultant who has worked with hundreds of public libraries on marketing and communications activities. In this next video, she explains why marketing is so important not just for this event, but also for your library overall.

Unit Five, Video One
Marketing Your Public Programs


  • To support your marketing efforts, please download the Marketing and Communications Plan Template. You can use this document to take notes and jot down your ideas throughout the unit. arrow icons
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Launching a new project often comes with challenges, one of which can be marketing the program to your community. The first step is to develop a Marketing and Communications Plan, focusing first on planning and then on communication strategies. Let’s take a look…

Unit Five, Video Two
Your Marketing and Communications Plan


Now consider your own “audacious dream.” Maybe you’d like to expand your library’s services to a new target population, and you see ISL as a way to do that. Or, maybe you’re most interested in finding new local partners and think that this program series will be a good way to engage them. Whatever your goal, it should be appropriate to your library and to your community.

  • Begin filling in your Marketing and Communications Plan by describing how the programs will promote your library’s mission and benefit your community.

Next, you should consider how you will determine if your programs are reaching their intended goals. As you view the video below, think about ways you might measure the impact of your library’s STEM programs

Unit Five, Video Three
Setting Targets for Program Success and Impact


    • Before going to the next video, take 5-10 minutes and write down ideas for your targets to help you determine the impact of the programs in your community.


  • The next video describes how to compose your positioning statement. As you watch, start to plan what yours will be.

Unit Five, Video Four
The Positioning Statement


  • Take some time now to write a positioning statement for your new ISL programs.

Once you’ve filled in that portion of your Marketing and Communications Plan, you can begin to think about the final parts of planning:

    • Identifying target audiences


    • Building partnerships


  • Creating key messages

Unit Five, Video Five
Identifying Target Audiences


Engaging new audiences and organizations increases your library’s profile as a resource for informal STEM learning.

In Peggy Barber’s presentation, we heard about ways that the program planning involved groups such as the library board and the Friends group, as well as the Department of Natural Resources, a local college, and the city council.

Take a few moments to review the document you completed in Unit Four, Strategies to Identify and Select Your Science Partner. What organizations and resources that you listed on this document would you like to involve? Take some time to fill in this portion of your Marketing and Communications Plan before moving on.

As you begin this step, you will find it useful to look at the marketing materials available to download on the Public Program Resources page. The materials include posters, press releases, and other items you can customize for use in your own library.

Unit Five, Video Six
The Key Message and Communication Strategies

    • Who are your target audiences and what key message will reach them and, in the process, move your library towards its goal? Take 5-10 minutes and begin your notes for how you’ll make that thinking part of your Marketing and Communications Plan.

      With your key message complete, you are ready to move to the next step in marketing: communication strategies.


  • What communication strategies will you use to get the word out? What is the best way to reach your target audience(s)? Begin creating your communication plan inside the Marketing and Communications Plan.


Broadening your library’s role as an ISL community resource doesn’t happen overnight. As you partner with different organizations and groups to plan and offer the programs – and, as these programs generate interest, discussion, and community engagement around STEM topics, you’ll be building your library’s capacity as a vital STEM resource for the community.

  • The other librarians in your cohort will be some of your most valuable sources for ideas and support as you build your library’s capacity. Use the Community of Practice to share strategies, test your marketing ideas, troubleshoot challenges you encounter, and celebrate your accomplishments.


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