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  • Tips to Make Your Dial-a-Story Service a Success

    Are you looking to increase the number of calls your Dial-a-Story service receives, or do you simply need tips on how to get the word out to the community? LibraryCall is here to help!

    My name is Lorena Romero, and I am both a Librarian II at the Santa Clara City Library and a Spanish Content Developer at LibraryCall. Working at a library that provides Dial-a-Story while simultaneously working for LibraryCall has helped our team gain insight on how to make this passive resource a success. Through many trial-and-error approaches, our Dial-a-Story team has figured out how to get our community involved and increase our calls. In fact, our library has the highest number of calls of any public library that has this service. Here are some tips based on what’s made Dial-a-Story a success for us:

    Marketing, marketing, marketing
    Marketing has proven to be the key to our Dial-a-Story success. We quickly learned that offering the service, posting flyers, and creating a webpage for it was not enough. We created more captivating flyers and posted them widely, shared them with our local schools, and printed out small versions for patrons to grab at self-service desks. We also use a calendar for our monthly events, and add Dial-a-Story on there to encourage patrons to call. Our stories change every Monday, so we send out an email notification once a week. The more you get the word out, the more calls you will get.

    Make other language lines available
    This is especially helpful when your library serves a diverse community. Did you know LibraryCall offers stories in Spanish and Farsi? If either of these languages is popular in your community, consider adding language lines in addition to English. Dial-a-Story Studio clients can create additional language lines based on their needs.

    Partner with community organizations and/or volunteers
    Getting your community involved with your Dial-a-Story service is a fun and productive way of engaging with your patrons! Invite your community members (volunteers, teachers, etc.) and library staff to record stories. Children love hearing voices they recognize!

    Celebrate upcoming holidays
    LibraryCall offers stories that celebrate holidays and cultural months (Día de los niños, Women’s History Month, Black History Month, and more). Schedule stories for those specific celebrations, or read your own in a recording.

    Create a Dial-a-Story team
    The Santa Clara City Library has a team of four Youth Librarians that contribute to the success of this service. The team schedules, records, and markets stories. We also work with our community and schools to get them more involved with Dial-a-Story. It is very helpful to have a team that has become familiar with this resource and can answer any questions from patrons or staff. Another agency, Merced County Library, gets many of their staff members involved

    Analyze your community
    As a librarian, you know your community best, so if your library subscribes to the Dial-a-Story Studio service, try to incorporate your patrons’ favorite things into your story calendar. Does your fairy tale collection circulate well? Do you have a lot of families that speak another language? You can survey your community and learn what types of stories they want to hear, then tailor your service to match that feedback.

    Get Creative
    There are so many things you can do to market Dial-A-Story along with other resources from your Library. We have used it to promote Summer Reading, upcoming holidays, partnerships with other literacy organizations, and more! Talk with your team, brainstorm together, and think outside the box about what you can do with a phone service.

    These tips have made our calls go from 18 calls per month when we began, to over 100 calls month after month. We hope you will try some of these techniques, and feel free to share other ideas with the Listserv. What’s worked for you?

    If you’d like to hear how the Santa Clara City Library’s Dial-a-Story service is organized, call (408) 615-2909. We have 3 different lines (1 for English, 2 for Spanish, and 3 for “Special Stories,” which feature stories in other languages or for special events). You can also check out our Dial-a-Story website, or see how we promote it on our monthly calendar.

    Happy storytelling!