Re-Engaging Your Patrons and Community Post-Pandemic


Thursday, September 23, 2021
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM



Engaging patrons and creating community awareness has always been challenging for libraries. That has deepened during the pandemic and it is naïve to think that as the pandemic subsides your library’s usage and attendance will return to normal without major efforts on your part.  The session will interactively discuss how libraries can re-engage their communities and residents and what actions will be needed to make libraries a key part of their residents lives again.

In working with hundreds of libraries and thousands of library staff, patrons and community members over the years we have developed an understanding of their concerns and biggest opportunities in terms of engagement and communication. That has translated into a series of tips and solutions to help solve these dilemmas and a collection of creative ways that libraries are addressing them. Best practices including a glimpse into how other industries address these situations and how that may translate into the library environment help provide a starting point. From there, a plan for managing communication in extraordinary circumstances, such as a pandemic or supporting a special event, is addressed. Join us to find techniques keep your community knowledgeable and engaged with your library. No special expertise is needed to participate in this session and all levels of library leadership and staff can benefit from the presentation.


Learning Objectives:

  1. Why communication is a complex problem for libraries and what library users are looking for
  2. What marketing and planning tactics and tools are available to reach your patrons more efficiently and effectively
  3. How libraries can plan for reengagement with their patrons post-pandemic
  4. Key actions and activities to take now to re-engage your community.



Janet Nelson, Principal, ReThinking Libraries

Janet is currently a Principal and Senior Consultant with ReThinking Libraries, a national library consulting firm working primarily with public libraries in the areas of Strategic Planning, Facility Planning and Marketing Planning. She co-founded the organization with Rob Cullin in 2020. Janet has over 20 years of experience in the education market, 17 of those years with Demco, Inc. Her responsibilities at Demco included developing marketing strategy for library design services, creating quality content to educate librarians, and engaging with industry partners and library leaders/staff to better understand and create dialog around the needs of libraries. Her focus has always been directed toward helping librarians better serve their communities. Specific areas of expertise include strategic planning, marketing strategy, research and development and space planning.


Rob Cullin, Managing Principal, ReThinking Libraries

Rob has been serving libraries with unique solutions for over 18 years. Initially, he co-founded Evanced Solutions, LLC (later acquired by Demco, Inc.) providing him with exposure to thousands of libraries across the USA, Canada, and Australia. In 2004, he helped launch the library consulting firm, Kimberly Bolan & Associates, and has been involved in hundreds of KBA’s strategic planning and facility planning projects. This experience led to launching the ReThinking Libraries consulting firm in 2020. With a broad set of experiences reaching beyond libraries, Rob has direct specialties in strategic planning, community engagement, complex data and demographic analysis, marketing, service and organizational design. He was also a Library Journal recognized “Mover & Shaker” in 2008.