Skip Navigation

Identify Your Target Audience

Jump To a Topic

Use this quick-link navigation to get where you need to go:

Section Overview Identify Target Audience Choosing Your Target Market Brainstorm Services Advertising/ Find the Why Overcoming Challenges

Target Audience Overview

This section is designed to help you narrow focus on a specific audience and start thinking about how digital skills can be incorporated into everyday life, in different contexts. Without this initial brainstorming and framing you would be trying to find digital skills for everyone, and for every reason. That can become overwhelming. There is a reason adults, children and young adults all have their own section in the library.

The process of identifying who is learning, and why walks hand in hand with Defining Digital Literacy. Luckily, this process doesn't have to be formal, or hugely in-depth. It can be as easy as getting together with a few active community members, or fellow librarians, jotting down some notes, and experimenting with different ideas. What problems are people facing, and how can digital skills help?

In the Identify Your Target Audience section, you will:

  • Narrow focus on one target audience and consider how digital skills fit your audience.
  • Consider why people would care about Digital Literacy and what would bring them into the library.
  • Explore common challenges and consider ways to overcome these challenges with good planning.

The Learning Process:

  1. Review possible target audiences and choose a target market.
  2. Brainstorm Digital Literacy Services, why people care, and how they relate to your audience.
  3. Task: Complete the Target Audience Worksheet and submit to instructor.

Note: You might not have an answer to all the questions on this planning worksheet right now. The main purpose is to get you thinking about the topic in a different way. We will revisit this planning sheet at the end of the course.

Identify Target Audience

Library users have a wide variety of needs and desires for library services. Unfortunately, we cannot fulfill every request from every library user. Not every service we provide is going to be suitable for every user. This section is about identifying which patrons we can best assist with digital literacy needs.

Group Users into Categories

Many libraries already group users as children, young adults, adults, and older adults. Consider additional demographics within each group. For example, the Library of Congress’s Marget Segmentation guide categorizes demographics by specific ethnic, generational, geographic, and other lifestyle groups. Here are some possible library-related characteristics for these groups:


  • Schoolwork/ Computer Access
  • Research Assistance
  • Skill Building/ Exploration
  • Homeschoolers, day care groups
  • After School Clubs

Young Adults

  • College Preparation
  • Career Preparation
  • Job Seeking/ Volunteer
  • Alternative Education
  • Interest Groups


  • Parents/ Family Life
  • Job Seekers
  • Professional Development
  • Continuing/ Alternative Education
  • Small Business/ Entrepreneurs

Older Adults

  • Social Outings/ Connection
  • Health & Wellness
  • Retirement/ Entrepreneurship
  • "Empty Nest" Resources
  • Feed the Mind

There are also characteristics that can fit any age group: English as a Second Language (ESL) learning, hobbies and entertainment options, and self-directed learning are examples.

Every community is different, so decide which grouping or sub-grouping works best for you.


Library Use and Market Segmentation Study: The San Antonio Public Library provides a definition and example of market segmentation in the library.

Teens Need Libraries: One of the hardest markets to target are teens. The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) offers ways to meet the needs of teens.

13 Community Segments that Public Libraries are Targeting: Princh provides printing services to libraries and knows target demographics very well. These categories may prove helpful.

Target Populations: The Association for Library Service to Children provides helpful examples for targeting specific audience groups and tailoring services to meet those needs.

Choosing a Target Market

Libraries cannot target every market in the community. Start narrowing down which demographic(s) you would like to help with digital skills. Consider the following questions:

  1. What is your role in the library? Are you already geared towards a specific audience?
  2. What does your overall population look like? (e.g. average age groups, profession, life stages, etc.)
  3. Who currently uses the library most frequently?
  4. Is there an audience you would like to draw into the library?
  5. Have people been asking for anything specific?
  6. How do different generations interact with technology?
  7. Have you seen any other cool services at other libraries?
  8. Are there any other organizations who are helping specific demographics?

As you narrow down which demographic you will be working with, start brainstorming digital/ technology services to meet their needs. Most of this process is going to be trial and error, so don’t be afraid if things don’t work on the first try! When building new services, you can always return to brainstorming or decide to target a different market.

Brainstorm Digital Literacy Services

As you work your way through this Digital Literacy Guide, consider how these services can benefit your target audience. As you explore new topics and skills that are being required of current students, consider what your library can do to help. What do people need to know, any why?

Here are some examples to jumpstart the process:

Target Audience: Parents

Potential Library Services:

  1. Workshops to help families find a technology plan that works for them.
  2. Parent resources to learn safe online communication skills for kids.
  3. Raise awareness of what kids are learning in school.
  4. Group discussion of "What are 21st Century Skill?". What can we do to help?
  5. Updating privacy settings and monitoring kid's devices.
  6. Media literacy: which information can you trust for you and your kids?
  7. Workshop to discuss online behavior/ etiquette.
  8. Provide resources/ handouts for parents about popular digital tools.

Target Audience: Older Adults

Potential Library Services:

  1. Privacy & Security for home computer
  2. Online scam awareness
  3. What the Internet Can Do For You
  4. Basic Computer and Device Use
  5. Searching for information online
  6. Buying Things Safely Online
  7. Setting up an Account Online
  8. Connecting with friends & family online

Target Audience: Professional Development for Adults

Potential Library Services:

  1. Adult Code Clubs
  2. Basic Computer and Device Use
  3. Job search skills/ resume building workshops
  4. Technology Ted Talk video & Discussion
  5. Resources to learn tech/ digital skills online
  6. Explore New Interests/ Meet New People
  7. Create Supportive Self-Learning Environment

Target Audience: Teens

Potential Library Services:

  1. Code Clubs
  2. Media and Information Literacy
  3. Imagine Future of Technology w/ Projects
  4. Interst Groups/ Tech Clubs
  5. Connect with Virtual Communities
  6. Gamify Learning (learn how to learn online)
  7. Techonlogy for college prep (market to parents)
  8. Stay Safe Online (handouts & Resources)

Find the "Why"/ Advertising:

Start thinking about how these services can improve everyday life, and encourage social learning. This will help you with advertising and choosing services that will atract the most people. Start thinking about this as you review the information in the digital literacy categories throughout this guide.

How do people find events at the library? Why should people care? What will bring people through the library doors? In this step, we will find what motivates people to learn. Try to find a story that resonates with your audience. Put this motivation in your advertising!

Consider the following questions as you connect people with new skills and concepts:

  1. How will this benefit the learner?
  2. Can this skill be used as a foundation for future skills?
  3. Is your target audience intimidated by technology?
  4. What is their technology comfort level?
  5. Is your audience already in the library for other reasons?
  6. Can you integrate this skill into an already popular program?
  7. Are people familiar with this topic, or is it completely new?
  8. How will people use and retain this skill in the future?

For each target audience and service, try to answer these questions to find how this service adds value to the community. Make the library a valuable resource in a digital world.

Some Examples

Here are some examples to frame your reading through this course. Consider how you will use the information from start to finish

Target Audience: Professional Development for Adults

Library Service: Tech Club/ Learning Group (Note: a tech club does not have to be about learning how to build technology. Interest groups can discover how to use and leverage technology, determine whether technology is trustworthy to the public, or find out what good technology can do for people.

Value Added:

  1. Benefits to Learner: There are hundreds of options to learn new skills online. To complete a course successfully, people need accountability, additional resources and social support.
  2. Foundational Skill: Online learning is new to many. There are different tactics needed to thrive in online learning. Learning how to learn and connecting with resources in real time is valuable.
  3. Technology Frustration: There are an overwhelming number of routes to learn online. Having a learning support group can be helpful to talk through problems and overcome frustration.
  4. Multipurpose: People may already be seeking information and entertainment resources in the library. However, many may have never set foot in the library. Adtervise outside the library too!
  5. Integrate Existing Services: Do you already have a code club or makerspace? Add a tech group or learning interest group and add equipment to meet the needs of the new group. Is there a local community college or training group that may need supplemental services?
  6. Topic Familiarity: Let people shop for interests in your library. Interest groups in the library can shift and change over time. The focus doesn’t have to be set in stone.


Given this information, the library might want to distribute flyers online, and through other channels where adult learners generally go for entertainment. Demonstrate the need for social support in learning and encourage people to come in and find common interests. Create a safe space for learning and experimentation.

Emphasize that the group is for multiple experience levels. If possible, try to bring in an experienced mentor to get the group going. If a physical person isn’t available, find a series of online video tutorials with ample resources. Help people learn together and carve their own learning process using existing tools. Feature different, yet related topics so people can find their niche.

When in doubt, borrow inspiration from existing advertising. Remember to attribute the original source! Try to find examples that tell a compelling story that will resonate with your community.

Advertising Examples:

Living to Serve: Google shows how its tools can help veterans thrive after transitioning to civilian life.

Coca-Cola Make it Happy Commercial: This Super Bowl commerical is uplifting and tells an amazing story about the impact of cyberbullying. Get creative!

Cyberbullying: is an organization out of Europe that strives to reach a global audience.

Use Tech Responsibly: Orange, a cell phone company, created this marketing plan that encourages families to balance tech use.

5 Ads that Tell Great Stories: This interview in Forbes shows how to turn great stories into great ads.

So, what's your story?

Overcoming Challenges

Identifying your target audience and fitting the right service to suit their needs is sometimes easier said than done. This section will provide examples of common issues libraries have faced in bringing digital literacy into the library. Some possible solutions will be provided as well.

Issue: Lack of Time and Resources

Potential Solutions:

  • Solo librarians can partner with other organizations in the community to meet patron needs
  • Find and use pre-existing infographics and handouts related to specific topics and audiences
  • Partner with local schools to target information outreach
  • Join a national digital literacy support group for tools and resources
  • Collaborate with other librarians in the state and pool resources/ ideas

Issue: Librarians Not Comfortable with Technology

Potential Solutions:

  • Gather and curate resources, don’t spend time learning/ perfecting the skill yourself
  • Consult experts/ outsource programming efforts
  • Use educational tools with pre-existing curriculum
  • Learn with patrons, find answers along the way
  • Recruit local high school students or patrons to teach skills
  • Crowdsource information from patrons

Issue: Patrons Not Comfortable with Technology

Potential Solutions:

  • Incorporate technology into other programs (e.g. add a digital skills resource handout to parents in a children’s story hour group)
  • Read a few technology themed books during story hour
  • Use easy technology examples in crafting groups
  • Find craft, diy projects or recipe inspiration online
  • Provide freely available handouts for hesitant, yet curious patrons

Now you are ready to explore Digital Literacy Topics! Keep your completed Target Audience Worksheet on hand for future reference.

If you haven't already, feel free to fill out the Defining Digital Literacy form.

Online Privacy & Security →

Back to Top