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Library Spokescritters on Social Media

Does your library have resident pets?  They can become effective "spokescritters" for libraries, particularly when they use social media to express "themselves."  How effective? Consider Thorntown (Indiana) Public Library (TPL) as an example.  TPL has Chance, library cat-in-training, who succeeded Tober, TPL's library cat from 2008 to 2015.  Thorntown is a community of under 2,000 residents.  Tober's (and, now, Chance's) blog has 220,061 viewings (as of today), reaching a worldwide audience. Moreover, Chance (and Tober before him) draws many loyal fans through TPL's doors everyday.

Resident library animals are patron magnets.  People love to visit them at the library.  They are also effective "bloggers" and "posters" on social media and library websites (with a little help from their human library co-workers).  Here are several examples of library "spokescritters" and their online presences:
Resident cats, birds, lizards, turtles, snakes, mice, guinea pigs, fish, and other small critters abound at public libraries.  As public relations specialists, they are good will champions.  If you want your patrons to flock through your library doors, you should have a "spokescritter."  Or several.

Library cats have been especially effective as "spokescritters."  In addition to those felines mentioned above, there are:
Of course, everyone has heard of Dewey Readmore Books, late Library Cat at Spencer (Iowa) Public Library; and Baker & Taylor, late Library Cats at Douglas County (Nevada) Public Library (Minden) and "spokescritters" for the Baker & Taylor Company.  They are truly world-famous, and millions of books about them have been sold.

What if your library board doesn't want to have resident animals?  (All together now:  "Boooooooo!")  Mooresville (Indiana) Public Library (MPL) has a solution:  Have a "roving reporter" who visits and hangs out outside or around the library.

In December, 2010, a female black cat started hanging around outside MPL, begging for attention (and probably food).  It was bitterly cold, and she appeared to be a stray, so a couple of friendly folks affiliated with the library (and who lived nearby) adopted her and gave her a fine forever home.  She was named Cauli Le Chat, and she continued hanging around outside MPL, attracting patrons (particularly youngsters) who enjoyed petting the friendly feline.  Library staff gave Cauli treats but decided that she should earn her keep, so to speak.  Cauli became MPL's official feline roving reporter, blogging about what was happening in and around the library.  From 2010 to early 2017, Cauli served the library's patrons and staff, or, rather, they served her (as her minions).  She's a cat, after all.

Cauli Le Chat, MPL Feline Roving Reporter

At the height of her popularity, Cauli Le Chat had two blogs, Cat's Eye View @ MPL and Catch It @ MPL (Cauli 4 Kids).  As of today, Cauli's "grown-ups" blog has been viewed 376,397 times, and her children's blog has been viewed 46,124 times.  Cat's Eye View still garners between 200-300 views daily, even though no new content is added since Cauli retired.  That makes Cauli's blogs more popular than all of MPL's other blogs combined.

Library "spokescritters" are tremendously effective when they post to social media such as Facebook Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, Tumblr, Flickr, or blogs.  They should also be mainstays of library websites, having a page devoted to themselves.  People will read about them and what "they" think or what "they're" doing at the library.  You will never find anyone more effective in promoting your library programs or services than an animal that patrons will surely love.

Even if living, breathing pets are not an option for your library, there are always hand puppets.  At MPL, we've had several successful animal puppets serving as "spokescritters." Meet just a few of them.

Miss Jaymi & Sammy the Toucan
"Happy Mother's Day" (2012)

Miss Michelle @ MPL (with Aggie McPooch)
"Making Noise at the Library" (2013)

Queenie's MOOvelous MOOvies @ MPL
Early Literacy Fun
(Week of March 24-30, 2013)

Cauliette (hand puppet) (2012)

[Update:  Just today (February 26, 2018) I discovered a cute and clever promo trailer featuring Sid and Bernice Llama, "spokescritters" at Tyler (Texas) Public Library.  Watch their Facebook video.]

Whether real or imaginary, your "spokescritter" can be a powerful positive force promoting your library.


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