Catherine McElrath is Broward County Library’s (BCL) behind-the-scenes marketing maven on a mission. As the library’s public information specialist and part of a six-person Library Marketing team, her job is to spread the word about Broward County Library’s outstanding, award-winning staff, resources and services, creating promotional materials that turn heads and fill seats. Additionally, as the library’s recognition-wrangler, she’s one of the reasons for the library’s “award-winning” adjective, producing dozens of award nominations annually on behalf of/in support of the library that have garnered BCL local, state and national honors. She consistently demonstrates excellence in library marketing, her area of expertise, as evidenced by numerous professional recognition awards earned by her and her fellow marketing team members , media coverage of the BCL and her prolific output, which includes twice-weekly newsletters, a monthly magazine, articles, press releases, award nominations, presentations, speeches, ad copy and social media posts.

A former magazine editor and print journalist, Ms. McElrath began working for Broward County Library in 2003, first as an intern and then as publications specialist for the Library’s Marketing Section. Her editorial background, coupled with a lifelong love of books and libraries – she was inspired to pursue journalism after meeting columnist/author Carl Hiaasen at a library event when she was 11 – helps her bring a fresh and forward-thinking approach to library promotion.

An expert copywriter, she has written and produced BCL’s award-winning customer newsletters, print and electronic, for more than a decade, creating readable and engaging copy about library events and news and growing its circulation from a few thousand to its current subscriber base of 164,000. The BCL e-newsletter has won National Association of County Information Officers Awards of Excellence for seven years straight, from 2012 through 2019. She’s also versatile, publishing articles on behalf of Broward County Library in local publications such as Broward Legacy and Art Hive magazines, writing speeches on behalf of library leaders for national and international audiences and crafting attention-getting social media posts for the Library’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

Additionally, Ms. McElrath is responsible for the final production and distribution of BCL’s many news releases – an average of 25 annually – as well as for following up with the news media to ensure coverage. This includes successfully pitching stories to local media about the library, such as a 2018 WPLG Channel 10 News “Healthcast” feature segment focusing on the library’s use of makerspace technology and 3D printers to create assistive devices for a local library customer. From writing the press release to coordinating interviews with library staff to being on-site for the filming and production of the segment, Ms. McElrath went above and beyond to facilitate an outstanding promotional opportunity for the library.

Since 2011, Ms. McElrath has been responsible for writing, coordinating and submitting nominations that have garnered over 100 local, state and national honors for Broward County Library in competitions sponsored by the Florida Library Association (2015 and 2020 Library of the Year), the American Library Association (2020 Library of the Future), the National Association of Counties, the National Association of County Information Officers, Library Journal Magazine and SirsiDynix. As part of the Library’s Marketing staff, she has been the joint recipient of two Florida Library Association’s Excellence in Marketing and Public Relations awards (2019, 2020) and an honorable mention in Library Journal’s 2020 Marketer of the Year competition. Individually, she’s earned National Association of County Information (NACIO) Excellence and Marcom Communication Awards for press release writing (2010, 2011) and NACIO Excellence Awards for external publications and newsletters (2012-2019).

Of all of the awards that she has worked on, she is most proud of her participation in producing successful Florida Library Association “Lifetime Achievement” nominations for two of Broward County Library’s most beloved leaders, now both retired: Sam Morrison, former Broward County Library Director, and Julie Hunter, former director of Broward County’s African American Research Library and Cultural Center. Working side-by-side with these two outstanding library pioneers to assist them in getting the recognition they deserve for their contributions to the field of library science was a career high point for her, as working to promote and highlight others is her favorite part of the job. This passion for publicizing others was also evident in her work creating a winning award nomination for her colleague Robert Anstett, Broward County Library’s Coordinator of Digital Initiatives, who was named Florida Library Association’s 2018 Paraprofessional of the Year.

Overall, Broward County Library’s Public Information Specialist Catherine McElrath is an exemplary communicator, content creator, publicity generator and an outstanding candidate for the 2021 Florida Library Association’s Paraprofessional Award. In her 17 years with Broward County Library, she has been a strong and avid proponent of promoting professional growth for her colleagues via professional recognition opportunities and awards; has shown active support for Broward County Library’s development through her pursuit of media coverage and publicity for library programs, services and staff; and has consistently demonstrated excellence in performance in her areas of expertise, as evidenced by numerous individual and team awards for marketing and public relations.

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