Lee Van Duzer

Lee Van Duzer


Law Library Manager
Washington County Law Library

Lee Van Duzer

In this Marketing Maven profile we are going to focus on marketing for small government libraries – one, two, or three person shops that don't have large marketing budgets. We'll be spotlighting Lee Van Duzer and his outreach project providing walk-in legal reference assistance at local public library branches.

1. Pre-covid you had a really interesting partnership with your local public library to help extend your outreach. Could you give a brief description of the program and how you marketed it?

We spent one afternoon/evening a month at each of two local public libraries offering legal reference assistance. The goal was to reach beyond our walls to people in the county who might have trouble reaching our physical location. We also stayed until 7pm, so it offered service later than our normal hours. We had positive reception both from patrons and the librarians.

Our marketing of this program relied heavily on the local libraries to reach their service populations. They included it in their newsletters and calendars, had posters and flyers, and then we had Facebook events that they shared to their followers. We also asked their staff to be aware of and refer patrons to the program. Amy Gregory, my Assistant Librarian, has experience marketing programs from her prior work in public libraries. That was helpful in this process, and in our other efforts.

2. What's the status of that project now?

Sadly, we had to suspend it when the pandemic started. We touched base with the libraries last summer - when we briefly thought things were looking up. We hope to resume once we can all do so safely. We have tried to make sure local libraries are aware of our enhanced virtual reference options.

3. What “if I only knew!” advice would you give others wanting to replicate that program? (Could you touch on how you made this happen as a smaller library?)

Be prepared for it to take time. I was surprised at how far ahead public libraries plan their programs. The promotional material for their newsletters needed to be ready a few months before the actual program. Also, it's a commitment. We need to make sure we have a staff member to go to the partner library, and one to keep our doors open. That reduces our flexibility for staff leaves on those days, which makes a difference with only three staff.

I also wish we had worked more on branding at the beginning. We called our program Law Librarians in the Library, but later started informally calling it Ask a Law Librarian. We may have an opportunity to rebrand it when we resume.

Last, I wish I knew Sue Ludington, my assistant librarian at the time and who deserves credit for initiating this program, would leave to take over her own county law library before we launched. That delayed our start a bit. But it illustrates that you can't predict the future and we and our partners needed to be adaptable – as we had to do with COVID-19.

4. What are your current marketing challenges and solutions?

We recently launched an eBook pilot using LexisNexis Digital Library. We initially pushed it to county legal offices, members of the local bar, and issued a press release through our County's public relations office. There was some early momentum, but we are struggling with how to spread the word more. We are sending posters and business cards to the local public libraries, and will consult with our County's public relations team to find other options.

We are also working on building awareness in the state legislature regarding the ongoing funding shortfall for county law libraries in Oregon. A local legislator suggested we create a video after we gave her a tour, so we created one. Our County's public relations and government affairs departments took the lead on making this happen. The video can be viewed at https://youtu.be/bkQNqTekf0g. This was my first video; as I told the video team, I was the least knowledgeable person involved in the project. I think that best describes my approach to marketing: find people who know what they are doing and get them to help.

5. What's the best way to spend a day off from work?

I love the Oregon coast and recently spent a few nights there with my husband. We just relaxed and hunted agates on the beach. I also took some pictures, which is a hobby of mine.

6. What are you currently reading?

The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe, which I had learned was a precursor to Sherlock Holmes. I'm also planning to return to The Wheel of Time books, which I never managed to finish, after seeing the Amazon series.