Library Stories vs. Library Advertising

One of the most important tasks libraries have is to tell our stories, and the stories of our communities. To show the difference we make in people’s lives. This is the best way for us to show why libraries are important.

But as soon as telling these stories crosses over into calculated advertising for your library, it destroys the message.

Consider:

This past month, there was a video that went viral online, featuring Derrick Coleman, an NFL running back for the Seattle Seahawks, telling his story of struggle being a deaf football player:

His story is inspirational and important. This is powerful and moving video…

Until I learn that it’s a commercial for Duracell batteries.

Knowing that this is an ad cheapens the whole thing. It’s a callous use of a man’s personal story co-opted for private profit. Maybe I’m alone in this reaction, but it angers me how blatantly Duracell attempts to manipulate me this way.

Unfortunately, in our desperation for funding and support, and to gain visibility in our communities, it’s all too easy for libraries to cross that line, from storytelling to advertising, from inspirational to manipulative.

I fear that we’re sabotaging our own message.

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