Greater Victoria Public Library wins John Cotton Dana Award

Library’s “Change Your Mind” campaign wins top international award

Greater Victoria Public Library awarded prestigious John Cotton Dana Award for outstanding library marketing and public relations

Victoria, BC – The American Library Association announced today Greater Victoria Public Library has won the 2019 John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award for marketing and public relations excellence. The award comes with a prize of 10,000 USD provided by the H.W. Wilson Foundation and will be presented at a reception in Washington D.C. in June. This is the first time GVPL has won this prestigious international award.

GVPL received the award for the Change Your Mind campaign, an integrated marketing campaign that encourages people to change their minds about what they think they know about the library and literally change their minds by using the library and reading, watching, listening and learning.

“This campaign reaches beyond our traditional user base and beyond library walls,” says Maureen Sawa, GVPL CEO. “Conversation about discovery, curiosity and human potential are taking place in coffee shops, on social media, on the bus and wherever people connect. Libraries have always changed minds, and I am proud GVPL’s promotion has succeeded in changing people’s minds about libraries.”

“The power of libraries to make a significant impact on people’s lives is unique, says Deborah Begoray, GVPL Board Chair. “This campaign shows how libraries transform communities making them stronger, more resilient and more inclusive.”

The Change Your Mind campaign includes custom graphics featuring a friendly brain, in-branch signage, and a web and social media presence all designed by in-house staff. People are invited to take an online quiz that “diagnoses” what kind of mind you have – Creative, Curious, Adventurous, Healthy or Hungry – which then provides a curated list of books and e-resources and a link to get a free library card branded with the brain types. More than 32,000 community members have completed the brain quiz.

For the latest component of the campaign, GVPL partnered with Island café chain Serious Coffee to distribute more than 400,000 co-branded beverage sleeves that delivered “Change Your Mind” messaging. The sleeves are available right now at all Serious Coffee locations on Vancouver Island and one in Powell River.

“The GVPL team presented a very inventive and creative concept that has been a natural fit with us and our guests,” says Jeannette Humphreys, special projects coordinator at Serious Coffee. “The Change Your Mind campaign is fun, informative and even prompted members of our team to renew their library card because of what they learned from the GVPL team. If we were motivated by the campaign to renew our cards, we believed that many others would do the same and our belief has been well founded.”

Libraries of all types and sizes in North America and beyond are eligible to submit an entry for the John Cotton Dana Award. Seven other libraries were awarded the prize in 2019: Vancouver Public Library, Los Angeles Public Libraries, Spokane Public Libraries, Ypsilanti District Libraries, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Saline County Library and Delaware County District Library.

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About Greater Victoria Public Library

Greater Victoria Public Library builds community and supports literacy and lifelong learning by providing free access to information, space, tools and expertise. GVPL provides services and collections in 12 libraries and online at to more than 380,000 residents in 10 municipalities. The library is your place to connect, discover and imagine.

About the John Cotton Dana Award

The award is one of the most coveted and prestigious of the awards recognizing marketing and public relations excellence. Inaugurated in 1946 by the American Library Association and the H.W. Wilson Publishing Company, this award is named after the first librarian to overtly make use of public relations to publicize library activities. The award selection is managed by the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA), a division of the American Library Association.

Media Contact
Jessica Woollard, Communications Officer, Greater Victoria Public Library
Office: 250-940-4875 ext. 346 Mobile: 778-679-7228 or

Fred Reuland, Program Officer, Continuing Education, Library Leadership and Management Association, American Library Association
Office: 312-280-5032 or

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