Content Strategy for Librarians

Callan Bignoli
Public Library of Brookline


Let's get to know each other.

• Your name, library, & role
• What kinds of information you create
or provide access to online
• One thing you hope to get out of this workshop

What is content strategy?

CONTENT | noun

a : something contained
b : the topics or matter treated in a written work
c : the principal substance (such as written matter, illustrations, or music)* offered by a website
- Merriam-Webster


a : a careful plan or method
b : the art of devising/employing
plans toward a goal
- Merriam-Webster

The dictionary definition

Content strategy is a plan or method with specific goals
for managing the information you create or provide access to.

The emotional appeal

Content strategy is the art of bringing the right content to the right person at the right time and in the right context.

But how?!

But how?!

Why Before How

1) Identify problems

• Too many cooks
• Too many platforms
• No one saying "no"
• Not enough [insert here]

1) Identify problems

• No control
• Bad usability
• Teams are too small
• Learning curves

You can't set it

& forget it

2) Know business goals

Awareness Visits Usage

3) Know content goals

Useful Usable Findable




4) Understand your audience

Who are they?

(be more specific than "everybody")


What do you want them to do?

What do they want to do?

How & where are they trying to do it?


LibGuides look like this

Websites look like this

Boston Globe (Proquest)

Boston Globe (Regular)

Gale search results

Google search results

5) Assess what you've got today

Your platforms

& channels

Your messages

Your voice & tone

Your process

Content audit!

Content type/purpose
Responsible person
Keep, revise, delete?

What's missing?

6) Establish workflows, governance, and standards

Pick your team

Give editors the support & power they need

Create (and enforce) style guidelines


Make your life easier

(Buffer: Social Media Manager)

7) Evaluate

Return to goals

Awareness Visits Usage

Useful Usable Findable

What can you measure?

Lots! Usage of a streaming service, e-book/article downloads, circulation, program attendance, web analytics, new followers, retweets, feedback (good or bad)

Is your process working?

Who's doing it well?

New York Public Library

New York Public Library

Informative, Inviting, Inspiring

"The New York Public Library offers 93,000 programs a year across its 92 locations, from author talks and performances to exhibitions. Meet your favorite author, hear a live concert, or find something new at the Library."

Free Library of Philadelphia

Put it all together...

Core Strategy Statement

We will publish content that
• Is useful
• Is aware of our audience and context
• Supports our mission, objectives, and brand
• Helps us deliver effective service to our users
- Jefferson County Public Library

Work on your core

• Describe your library's goals
• Describe your audience
• How & where is content currently created?
• What are your content goals going forward?
• How will you measure success?

The dream

All content serves the needs of the audience and the goals of the organization.

Be a content advocate

Reading List

Don't Make Me Think
Steve Krug

Content Strategy for the Web
Kristina Halvorson & Melissa Rach

The Elements of Content Strategy
Erin Kissane

Content Strategy for Mobile
Karen McGrane

Some Other Helpful Things

 Content strategy worksheet (pdf) | (doc)

 Buffer (social media manager)

 Xtensio (free persona builder)

 Excel template for content audit

 MailChimp content style guide

 A Librarian's Guide to User Experience Design