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SC/MLA Members Share Inspiring Ideas for Promoting Libraries: Part 1 of 3

These articles originally ran in the Southern Chapter of the Medical Library Association’s newsletter Southern Expressions, 2021;37(4):4–8.

October is National Medical Librarians Month, a time to both celebrate and raise awareness of the important role of the health information professional! A section of the SC/MLA Newsletter, Southern Expressions, showcased ideas from across the chapter for how libraries are promoting library services and programing.

Bulletin Board Draws Attention to the Library

Submitted by Loretta Westcott, Prisma Health, Greenville, South Carolina

Over the last year or so, marketing library services and resources has proven challenging to say the least. The Health Sciences Library at Prisma Health’s Greenville Memorial Hospital continues to draw attention with a simple idea that has proven quite effective: bulletin boards.

Years ago, the Library was awarded a bulletin board space just outside the cafeteria. Since this area receives a great deal of traffic, the bulletin board has garnered interest and frequent positive comments from hospital staff. Teresa Head, library support specialist, consistently demonstrates creativity to deliver eye-catching displays. The Valentine’s Day display included unsolicited quotes from hospital staff on how they have benefitted from using the Library. Over time these bulletin boards have announced new resources, marketed Library services, informed viewers regarding library history, promoted National Medical Librarians Month, and this year offered a special thank you to health care workers for their sacrifices during COVID-19.

Get Your Library a Stuffed Mascot for National Medical Librarians Month!

Submitted by Shalu Gillum, AHIP, Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library, University of Central Florida College of Medicine

Over two years ago, a large stuffed llama showed up in the library. He would appear in a different place every day. He had large, friendly eyes, a sweet smile, and his head was tilted ever so slightly to one side. For the library’s public services team, it was love at first sight. When the llama did not disappear after several weeks, and after no one seemed to be claiming it, we decided to adopt the llama as our own.

Library Llama, as he’s now known (or Llama, for short), has become the unofficial mascot of the Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library at UCF College of Medicine. Llama has been featured in many of our Instagram posts, showing up at library events, welcoming users at the front desk, or even trying out PubMed at one of the library’s iMacs. We started a “Where’s Library Llama Wednesday” Instagram campaign where Llama would show up around the medical education building, even outside. Llama helped us spread the word to mask up during the 2020 pandemic. We even used Llama’s face to solicit donations to the library during the university’s annual fundraising campaign. Who could say “No” to that face?

This silly, completely unorthodox method of promoting the library has had the most surprising results. College of Medicine administration have come to the library on several occasions during our events just to see Llama. Some have even come to the library to take selfies with Llama. A suggestion was left in the college suggestion box that “the llama should stay!” Llama was a big hit during our most recent orientation activities, where Llama welcomed new and returning students, many of whom had not yet met Llama because of the library being closed during much of the pandemic.

We are grateful to Llama’s owner for graciously leaving this creature in our library space and for humoring us while we use Llama to promote the library and welcome users into our space. This zero-cost publicity tool has spread positivity and joy, and made our library space and our team appear more low-key, accessible, approachable, inclusive, and friendly to our users. Who wouldn’t want to hang out in a library with a stuffed llama at the front desk?


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