Thursday, February 22, 2024

Library District Launches New ‘Free To Be’ Public Education Campaign

September 13, 2023 by  
Filed under Highlights

Bilingual messaging designed to illustrate the unexpected experiences found at your local library. New, dramatic branch signage spotlights and connects all 25 unique library locations.

This is an exciting time of change and transformation for libraries — and the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District is leading the way in telling this story with a new public education campaign. 

“We are launching a unique campaign, titled ‘Free To Be,’ which is designed to share the library’s wonderful world of discovery — both in our buildings and digitally,” said Kelvin Watson, executive director of the Library District. 

The campaign was designed in both English and Spanish. “For children and young people who currently use our ever-evolving spaces and digital services, the word ‘library’ already means something fundamentally different than it did just a generation ago,” Watson said. “Beyond books, which will always be part of our mission, libraries have become centers for technology, hands-on learning, after-school tutoring, job training, economic empowerment, arts and cultural performances, and community gathering spaces for people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. This is the message we intend to send with our new campaign.”

Free To Be Concept 

The Library District tagline, Free To Be, was inspired by hundreds of conversations with library staff conducted by the library’s branding and marketing department over a two-year period. The Free To Be concept was also sparked by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden; in a New York Times interview, she spoke about librarians as purveyors of free speech and quoted Frederick Douglass, who said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” 

The Free To Be campaign spotlights seven words, which highlight the kinds of experiences that benefit children, teens, and adults at the Library District’s 25 branches. The words that illuminate these Free To Be experiences are: Curious, Connected, Captivated, Inspired, Fearless, A Trailblazer, and Yourself. The Library District is also unveiling a new logo, which features an abstract image of a joyful person, symbolizing the people that the library serves and the dedicated staff who assist them. 

“Libraries are first and foremost about people,” Watson said, “and we know that in order for our programs and services to support our residents’ hopes and dreams, we have to attract them into our branches and onto our website, TheLibraryDistrict.org. We have to communicate that the library is always here for them — open, free, and bursting with remarkable, life-changing experiences. This was the impetus for our Free To Be campaign, where each word combined with different images of diverse people discovering, learning, and enjoying.” 

The Library District will also be installing bright, colorful interior and exterior Free To Be signage on its buildings, mirroring the campaign, with two additional goals in mind. 

“Currently, our branches aren’t always clearly marked,” Watson said, “so people often drive past them not realizing there is a library in their neighborhood. The signage will highlight our locations and also visually tie together our 25 branches as part of one library system. We serve 8,000 square miles of Clark County — from Las Vegas to Laughlin and Mesquite to Goodsprings and Bunkerville. The public doesn’t always realize these libraries are all part of our District.” 

Over the past several years, the Library District has been reimagining and repurposing its buildings, while forging innovative community partnerships that bring the library out into the communities it serves. 

“We especially target underserved populations with our programs,” Watson explained, “such as enabling downloadable books, movies, and music on 400 RTC buses, and lending out cell phones to residents who are experiencing homelessness. In fact, both these initiatives received national awards from the American Library Association. The digital revolution has allowed us to completely reimagine how we deliver services to our communities.”

Educating the Public 

“Each day, people are presented with a dizzying array of options to search for information, improve their family’s education, pursue a career path, and enjoy entertainment, arts, and culture,” Watson said. “We want people to think of the library as their primary resource for all of this and more. The role of the new Free To Be campaign is to capture the public’s imagination and prompt them to say, ‘I didn’t know the library had that!’” 

The campaign is designed to educate the public on everything that the library offers. What are you searching for? Summer reading and activities for kids? Got it. Free after-school tutoring and hands-on technology training? Got it. Art, music, dance, and theater performances year-round? Got it. Résumé writing, adult education, English as a Second Language classes, plus programs on STEAM, DJing, robotics, and sound/video editing? Check, check, and triple check. 

Another goal is to expand beyond the Library District’s current reach of 600,000 library cardholders, to attract new and existing residents who don’t realize how a library can improve their lives. 

The campaign will conduct outreach through advertising, social media, community events, direct mail, and public relations. The Free To Be campaign was developed by the Library District’s in-house branding and marketing department. For more information on the Free To Be campaign, go to TheLibraryDistrict.org/FreeToBe 

The award-winning Las Vegas-Clark County Library District is an independent taxing entity that serves a diverse community across 8,000 square miles. Through its 25 branches and website, the Library District offers a collection of 3.2 million items consisting of books, movies, music (including streaming and downloadable), online resources, as well as free programs for all ages. The Library District is a vibrant and vital member of the community offering limitless learning; business and career advancement; government and social services support; and best of all, a place where customers find a sense of culture and community. For more information, and to support Library District programs, please visit TheLibraryDistrict.org

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