Marketing Libraries to Men: Beyond Tom Clancy and W.E.B. Griffin

My thoughts began whirring after reading an article entitled On Men, Elevator Speeches and Market Segments on the Marketing for Libraries. by Library People blog. I had already posted a comment on my elevator speech to the article and then began to thinking about men as a market segment. These thoughts come not from any particular formal research, but from thirteen years of experience in circulation, readers' advisory and reference along with fifty-one years of being a male. Women have two more reasons for gravitating toward the library as men: 1. They tend to come to the library, for the sake of their children, or grandchildren and 2. Women tend to read more for pure pleasure than do men. Let me say about these observations, they are based on my experience with one library in Nebraska. Also these reasons may evolve a great deal as sexual roles and family roles evolve. 1. Women tend to come for the sake of children and grandchildren. Since in traditional roles, women were home with the children, while men worked, women tend to be more interested in nurturing the education of their children and grandchildren. This tendency has tended to remain in our community, even after the majority of women have entered the workforce. This means that adult women come back to the library sooner and remain involved longer than their male counterparts. 2. Women tend to read more for pure pleasure/ entertainment. This is based on three observations: a. Women tend to check out more fiction, narrative nonfiction and biographies/ memoirs than to men. b. Women tend to have a greater variety of genres that entertain them, than do men. In general, women will tend to read more broadly on the sex/ violence scale than men, i.e women will tend to read more broadly from bonnet fiction to Fifty Shades of Gray, from Danielle Steel (romance) to Anne Rule (true crime). c. On the basis of conversations over the circulation desk, I have heard many women, but no men comment that I have to read so much because there is nothing of interest on television. These statements resonate with me, because while I am a librarian and a voracious reader, I can be more easily entertained with an evening of television, than can my wife. Men have only two basic motivators for reading: 1. Do-It-Yourself practical reading, or 2. a passionate following of a particular genre or subject. Both men and women read a good deal in the do-it-yourself field. Any healthy nonfiction collection will have a large and varied 600's section, because this will be one of your most used sections of the library. This leads to the difference that defines men and women readers. Men are not natural pleasure readers, but read passionately those genres and topics that they do enjoy. This is why services to men so often seem to be focused on Tom Clancy to W.E.B. Griffin. Men tend to have fairly narrow, very definite genre and topic preferences. The Clancy-Griffin readers have a high preference for military battles, operations and intelligence books. They may read a good deal between fiction and nonfiction, but oftentimes they will read heavily in certain eras: World War II, Vietnam, U.S. Civil War. The men who read in this field will read many of the same books over and over again. This is not the only path to male readership. Some of the others are: Western/ Historical fiction. This can be related to the military readers, but it can go in many other directions as well. Historical conspiracy. Dan Brown, Steve Berry and Brad Meltzer are leading authors in this field. It combines an interest in ancient/ historical mysteries with modern stories if military, business intrigue or crime. Science fiction, fantasy and graphic novels. The men who enjoy this style of literature like to read series fiction with a recurring cast or in a recurring universe. The men who gravitate to this have a long connection to their particular genre. They are action and adventure oriented. Biography and memoir. Men do not read widely from these genres, but like the fiction genres, men will read deeply in the areas in which they are interested. This is one of my favorite areas of interest. I focus on political, sports and music biographies. The emphasis of the sports and music biographies on those who were playing when I was a preteen or teen. Narrative nonfiction. The majority of men who read primarily from this stream focus on history, adventure/ travel and politics. Take-aways: Winning the support of men is important to the future of libraries. The following are some tips to help to win the support of the men in your community. 1, Suggest audiobooks and large print. Most men who try audiobooks love them. One of the men that I serve at our library fits the Clancy-Griffin mold completely. When he started reading audiobooks due to an illness, he discovered that he loved his old favorites all over again. Many men also find that, regardless of their age, they enjoy large print. 2. Maintain a strong 600's/ Technology section in your library. Over the long haul men will always use the DIY elements of your library more than the narrative fiction and nonfiction sections. 3. Remain engaged in the community. This ranges from community information, governmental information, local history. The library needs to be a hub for the local government, jobs and career development and information about government services. The local library should also maintain the history of the community in as much detail as they can find. Many of these information streams will draw men into the library. The more complete the information available, the more positively you will be seen by the men in your community. 4. Finely, libraries must stay ahead of the technological curve. Many men will not check out a book, but they will use your wireless internet, digital resources and look to the library for information on technology and technological education. In short, while I appreciate libraries trying to market to men, it is a field which requires a good deal more scrutiny in order to do it well. Original Link 

Add new comment

Plain text

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.