Auraria Library wins $5,000 in for "books and boards" marketing idea

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At the recent R-Squared: Risk and Reward conference held in Telluride, Cengage Learning offered a $5,000 reward for the library/librarian that came up with the most innovative way to engage the library's customers. Basically, how to make libraries cool again.

Joseph Sanchez, an employee of the Auraria Library, came up with an idea that falls right in-line with the Colorado state of mind -- and we aren't talking about Amendment 64. Read on to learn about Sanchez's award-winning concept. See also: - From Auraria's Archives: Allen Ginsberg's postcards to Ed White - From Auraria's Archives: Degrees of separation from Thomas Hornsby Ferril's autograph

"The idea behind it was how to reinvent ourselves (libraries) and be relevant," says Kristina Massari, senior manager of public and media relations at Cengage Learning, "and to get people to realize what libraries can, and always have, offered."

The R-Squared: Risk and Reward Conference 2012 was held in Telluride in early September. The conference welcomed librarians from all over the world, to discuss "how to keep libraries from going the way of the dodo," as Massari puts it. The conference encouraged professionals in library sciences to brainstorm ways to re-connect with patrons through creative ideas and marketing implementations -- and Cengage put up a $5,000 prize.

Joseph Sanchez, a ten-year veteran in library academia and employee of the Auraria Library, had been toying around with the idea of integrating skateboards into his professional world, but had not yet found a way to fund it in Colorado.

Auraria Out of the Box Contest Entry from Auraria Library on Vimeo.

"The idea itself was basically me finding a way to give students real-world experience," says Sanchez. "I've always used skateboarding to connect with students." The idea he presented at the conference on behalf of the Auraria Library called for holding a graphic design contest for art for a skateboard deck, then giving that art to new students to use however they wanted. "Some said they would put it on their wall, and some students said they would use it. It works both ways," he explains.

And that idea was good enough to win $5,000 for Sanchez and the Auraria Library.

Sanchez, a native of San Diego, grew up pushing wood with some of the best skateboarders in the world. "Boards and books have always been my shtick," he explains, "and my marketing approach is to re-image the library as a high-tech, action-sports environment." Sanchez is now working in conjunction with the Auraria marketing team to determine whether they'll be giving out complete skateboard set-ups that are ready to ride, or just the decks -- it depends on how far the money will stretch.

"We have a big disconnect with our students," he says, "and this type of contest may give someone, perhaps the lower income or less fortunate, the realization that college is an option."

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