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Relationship Management as a Successful Approach to Public Relations in Public Libraries : A Case Study



In the wake of reacting to the global pandemic, and with the knowledge of another impending wave, the idea of libraries as a “third place” has finally fully been turned on its head. Perhaps library professionals always knew this was a bit of a stretch ‒ libraries are not just buildings and this has surely been proven true as many scrambled to work from home while the majority of leadership fretted about proving the value of that labor to stakeholders. As many return to their buildings, what do promotion, marketing, and public relations look like?

Library professionals are pulled in so many directions, the expectation that they are brand ambassadors and marketers can feel like too much. In some libraries, the staff is restricted from engaging in marketing, and in others, they are expected to do everything on their own. Updated job descriptions should include elements of marketing and public relations and those expanded responsibilities should be compensated accordingly. It is unrealistic to assume that the staff who spend the most time interacting with patrons do not engage in some kind of public relations, so why not make it official? Library professionals need the tools to do this effectively, which is where relationship management theory is especially helpful.

By examining relationship management theory and its five major components: trust, openness, involvement, investment, and commitment, within the context of an actual public library setting, there is persuasive evidence that this is a good model for library public relations. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship that libraries have with their publics and how they can utilize relationship management principles to run successful public relations campaigns and truly understand the needs of their community within a mutually beneficial relationship.

- Slaven Aaron Lee, MLIS


How to Cite: Rhood, S. (2020) “Relationship Management as a Successful Approach to Public Relations in Public Libraries : A Case Study”, The Political Librarian. 4(2).