Native New Yorker takes on Michigan, Canton library and new marketing job
As a native of the Big Apple, Rebecca Baumgold often visited the magnificent New York Public Library. But she can't say it was a place she wanted to hole up and study or read for hours.
"It wasn't a welcoming place," Baumgold said.
At the Canton Public Library, where the West Bloomfield resident is the new marketing and communications manager, Baumgold sees a wholly different atmosphere than she experienced in New York.
"I like the community aspect of living in a small town. Having a library in my backyard is wonderful," said Baumgold, who moved to Michigan for her husband Jon's work as an ophthalmologist.
For the former magazine editor and hospital communications director, Baumgold admits marketing for a library will be a new adventure. "The concept of the library profession is brand new to me, but libraries personally have always been a part of my life," she said.
In short, Baumgold plans to put the Canton Library on the map.
"I was really blown away by the sophistication of this library," she said. "We want to be a model for other libraries in terms of innovative programs. I am impressed with the depth of resources, innovative programs and the Internet branch."
The decision to hire a marketing expert came out of the library board's strategic plan. "We want to let everyone know the various programs we have," said Jean Tabor, library director. "We want to tell everyone all the great things we do."
Even with a burgeoning circulation rate, the Canton library is much more than books and magazines. Times are changing and the library has kept up, if not outdistanced, the majority of information centers.
Baumgold's charge is to develop a marketing plan that will show the world all the neat things patrons can do at the library and with the library's Internet branch. "We're not just bricks and mortar," Baumgold added.
And that's where she comes in.
According to a survey, residents admit they don't use the library and say they don't because they do their own research on the Internet. Baumgold plans to show these residents how they just might have an easier way of it if they tapped into the library.
"We have a virtual library on the Internet. We put all those resources together so they're packaged," Baumgold said.
Get into www.cantonpl.org and you have opened up an entire new world - and right at your fingertips. Click onto the database links and a user - through the library - has accessto 40 databases. "These will take you where you want to go. You don't have to move around blindly," Baumgold said.
Librarians also have added a special Web resource guide for patrons. Users can pick from any number of subject areas including travel and leisure, health and fitness, technology and education.
"They did research on what is the best. We plan to continue adding on a monthly basis," Baumgold said.
For someone who only began her new job in June, Baumgold seems to have all library programs and activities and future plans down pat. But that's not tough for someone who started out as a a journalist with Child's Magazine, a national publication with one million circulation. She then became the magazine's health editor.
Her next adventure came with a move to Philadelphia, where she became a public relations, marketing and communications specialist with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "I came at it from a journalist's perspective," she said. "I had the inside track."
Baumgold's passion for libraries came shining through for Tabor. "She brought with her such a passion. Her experience is great. She's very poised and bright," Tabor said.
Armed with a degree in political science from Brown University, Baumgold is applying her journalistic and research experience to her new job at the library. "I definitely like being able to look at an organization and see what's unique and valuable about it - and to get the word out," she said.
She has a list of what she wants to get the word out about. For starters, there's the library's newsletter. She wants to publish it more frequently. Brochures are in the plans on what the library has to offer. The Friends of the Canton Public Library will be yet another organization and program she will market.
"They are really doing some innovative programming," Baumgold said.
Of course, kids and teens are a whole other market.
"This is a wonderful place for kids and teens," she said. "They have ownership and independence. There is a focus on their needs. They have a room with nooks and crannies that are just for them."
For teens, Baumgold sees the library as a central meeting place. It is also a place where teens can get help. The Tutor Me program, for example, offers online homework help. "They can hook up with certified tutors. We are one of the biggest users in the entire nation."
And the list can go on. Baumgold says she welcomes suggestions: "I want to know what people what to see at the library."