Niche Academy provides library-specific learning management software that serves over 1,000 libraries worldwide with cost effective, professional and customizable training and learning tools, that empower library workers to support communities. 

Over 1500 video guides cover all major eresource platforms, digital skills, information literacy, safety and much more. Niche embeds seamlessly alongside the library site and catalogue, white-labelled so that all tutorials and content appears as the library’s own.

Librarians love Niche because it is so easy to use and configure across a wide range of applications.

Over 20 UK library authorities are now using Niche to engage users in increasingly innovative ways; to effectively train staff, and to collaborate with other local-authority services, extending the reach of libraries within their communities.

DCA introduced Niche to the UK around 5 years ago, helping libraries who faced challenges around delivering e-resource training, embedding custom video and content into the library site.

A successful Niche installation saves staff time, promotes resources to library users, and enables libraries to engage audiences and leverage the value of all their resources and programmes. Above all, Niche is a force multiplier for everyone around libraries – staff, volunteers, and users.

That’s what this award is about. We’ve seen some wonderful examples of libraries using Niche innovatively to empower library collaborations with health, education and heritage services (to name a few).

This is our first year to offer an award, recognising these outstanding achievements.

The 5 shortlisted libraries were selected by the Niche Academy head office, and are:  

Hertfordshire – highlights of their use of Niche include onboarding tutorials for their volunteer staff

Lancashire – who created a library academy, school libraries academy and a heritage learning academy in partnership with their heritage and museums service

East Sussex – who support the refugee community with essential training tutorials built within Niche

Leeds – re-branded as the Leeds Online Guides, Niche here acts as a helpdesk for the library, offering digital literacy and accessibility training. Leeds partnered with the local NHS Trust to build community health support tutorials and information ….. all delivered through Niche.

Hillingdon – who use Niche to curate a substantial and sustainable archive of their arts and crafts videos and author events material.

All of these libraries have done a fantastic job with Niche, and to find out more about how your library could use it to engage your community, click here or contact us for more information.

We are pleased to announce our two winners, who made a real difference to their community with Niche – Leeds and Lancashire libraries!


With Niche Academy, libraries can create attractive, interactive elements for their customers such as quizzes, polls and writing competitions. 

One of our finalists for the Niche Award, Lancashire Libraries, found new ways to engage with their audience by using Niche’s Quiz template and creating dozens of multiple-choice book quizzes for their young readers. By doing this, they engage and encourage the next generation of library-goers.

They also encourage return visits, with recommendations for your next book or comic coming at the end of every quiz.

They also got maximum benefit from their subscription by opening a dedicated Heritage Learning academy, with tutorials about the local area including Shakespeare’s connections with Lancashire. 

In addition their Schools Library Service academy hosts the Brilliant Book Awards and other ongoing resources to support schools. While the Lancashire Staff academy not only familiarises library staff with the library’s e-resources but also provides digital skills training and stores recordings of team training sessions. Bespoke tutorials on services such as Ask a Librarian, Business and Intellectual Property network, and Adult Education courses improve staff awareness and confidence in these programmes. 

“The staff academy refreshes the library team’s knowledge of digital resources, using assignments to embed the team’s learning and has become an invaluable resource.”

– Carolyn Waite , Lancashire Libraries

Lancashire’s Academies not only successfully train and support the region’s library team, but also reach right into the community by blending with other council services.

Congratulations to Lancashire for being nominated as a finalist in the Niche Awards 2023!

With Niche Academy, your subscription is all-you-can-eat, meaning you can run multiple separate Academies for different audiences as needed. 

For example, our first Niche Award finalist, Hertfordshire Libraries, runs a separate Academy just for their volunteer staff members.

This allows them to not only keep their public-facing tutorials separate from their staff- or volunteer-facing ones, but also allows them to assign specific tutorials to specific volunteers – and check that they’re actually doing them!

Using a mixture of public and custom-created tutorials, Hertfordshire have created an ordered pathway for each new volunteer at the library to step through. This instructs them in everything they need to know to help customers out – whether it’s how to use some of the eResources the library has, or even how to use the till at the front desk. Volunteers can progress through the tutorials on their own time, only asking for help when it’s needed, freeing up time for their instructors too.

On the back end, Instructors and Supervisors at Hertfordshire can assign specific tutorials to new volunteers, track their progress, and even see any quiz results they get – allowing them to make sure the volunteers are fully understanding the information they’ve been given.

Of course, once created, these tutorials also serve as a handy way for volunteers to double-check a process if they forget, meaning that alongside training, Hertfordshire have also created a powerful reference tool.

“Hertfordshire Libraries starting using Niche Learning Academy early in 2021, as a learning platform for the 300+ volunteers who support us with providing a library service in our 13 community libraries.  As these libraries had been closed for over a year due to the Covid pandemic and we could no longer offer in person training, it was a vital aid in helping us to refresh their knowledge and increase their confidence as part of our service recovery and restoring library opening hours.  We found the tutorials provided by the Academy very useful when creating our own training, and soon learnt how to upload custom made tutorials of our own following the guidance.  The feedback from our volunteers was very positive; they all found the access very straightforward and the tutorials relevant and informative.  Giving our volunteers access to Niche certainly resulted in us having a very smooth transition back to volunteering, and is continuing to be a valuable training tool with new volunteers too.”

Imelda Jackson, Community Services Librarian at Hertfordshire.

Hertfordshire’s Volunteer Academy is a seamless combination of pre-existing and custom-created tutorials, and functions as a full learning management system to ensure all volunteers are fully trained and supported in their work. Congratulations to Hertfordshire for a well-deserved spot on our Niche Awards shortlist!


Every day, public libraries are proving and improving their ability to engage and serve communities, adding value and delivering successful social outcomes. Niche Academy provides over 1,000 libraries worldwide with cost effective training and learning tools that empower library workers to support community engagement. 


DCA and Niche Academy are excited to announce the launch of the “Niche Academy Award for Excellence in Community Engagement” – our way of recognising those library authorities working with Niche, who go above and beyond for their communities. 


Each of our five shortlisted libraries uses Niche Academy in innovative and unique ways, and over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing their stories. Niche is a powerful and flexible tool, and we’re excited to tell you all about the libraries who use it to its fullest – from creating exciting content in collaboration with other community services, to efficient and sustainable onboarding of new staff and volunteers.

Our five finalists are:

The winners will be announced at the EDGE Conference dinner on March 2nd in Edinburgh. Join us there, where DCA will be presenting the award in person, on behalf of Niche Academy.

Our recent survey, in partnership with Koios, asked library staff to think about the role of their website.  While the number of responses we got were too small to draw any meaningful statistical conclusions, the feedback and comments we got were thought-provoking enough for us to make some initial observations.

  • We asked, ‘In terms of providing service, what is the relative importance between your building and your website?’  Most people rated the importance of their website and their physical building about equally. 
  • While almost every library surveyed has web analytics installed, most respondents felt their analytics were underused.
  • It seems that everyone would like more online discoverability.  

We also found that the libraries paying for online advertising on social media platforms, primarily Facebook,  are not sure whether this advertising has any effect. Our analytics have shown that social media generally does not drive much traffic to library websites.

Most respondents rated ‘Promotion’ as their websites’ primary function, but driving circulation, providing community space, and meeting the needs of the underserved also scored highly. Other recurring themes included combating digital exclusion,  supporting local business,  and community health. The current economic squeeze in the UK will give libraries an opportunity to show their value in providing all of the above. It’s good to know that so many librarians recognise the critical role their websites are going to play. 

We have two winners of our prize draw: Congratulations to Doncaster and Hertfordshire libraries – some nice tea is on its way to you.

We’re donating $300 to our nominated charity, Clear voice interpreting services. 

Huge thanks to our respondents and if you haven’t yet shared your website thinking, please look out for our new and improved perma-survey, which will be out soon.

If you want to talk about how your library can get more value from its website, make better use of analytics, and spark more traffic – both online and to your buildings – please get in touch. Email us or fill out our online form to learn more.

This survey is designed to grow our collective knowledge and understanding of how library websites are perceived, designed, and used. It is not about website design, but rather about the utility and purpose of your website. We want to know: what is your website for, and how successful has it been in achieving your goals?
We will summarise and share all responses with you.

DCA will donate $2 to Clear Voice for each completed survey. You’ll also have a chance to win a special prize of some delicious tea!

The information you provide will be used by DCA (Digital Content Associates Ltd) in relation to the optional prize draw, and market research purposes only. Prize Draw winners’ surnames and regions may be published. If you object to this, please email

DCA regularly conducts library research, which is very important and valuable to all parts of our business and the library sector –  including content provision and product development. If you do not wish to participate in future public library research, there will be an option to select this at the end of the survey.

For more information on your rights and how we use your data, please see our Privacy Policy or contact

An example of a library website’s Google Analytics doughnut, showing where their visitors are coming from.

At DCA, we have a thing for libraries; we love public libraries and we want them to succeed. But when it comes to library websites, well our besottedness enters the realm of a disorder: We’re obsessed, we can’t lie. 

So to feed our beast we’re doing some work designed to grow our collective knowledge and understanding of how library websites are perceived, designed, and used. 

This is not about website design, we don’t care to debate button placements or colourways. But we do want to know stuff like: What’s your website for? And how successful is it in achieving your goals? What is the right ratio of service population to website visits? What represents a good library website ROI? And what’s more important, your building or your website?

We know something about this already from the clients and customers we work with, and some of that (eg what Koios knows) is pretty darned interesting.  But we want to know more, understand better, and then we’ll share.

So please look out for our library website survey (with prizes) and webinar in the coming weeks. 

It’s going to be a fun summer!

DCA Director

  • Successfully applied and won an Ad Grant via a community library
  • Brought over 40% more visitors to the library website each month
  • Exposed the library catalog to Google searches
  • 86% increase in visitors to the library’s YouTube channel

In January 2021, DCA and Koios approached Oldham libraries with an offer of a free pilot, to explore the potential of setting up a Google Ad Grant campaign for a UK library. Working with Delph Community Association, one of Oldham’s community-run branches, we were able to successfully apply for and secure an Ad Grant. 

Koios started running a Google Ads program for Oldham Library in July 2021, with major campaigns for YouTube and the library’s online catalog. A view of January 2022 shows a healthy account, which attracted over over 8,000 new visitors in 30 days, an in-kind value from Google of $9,942 (of $10,000 available monthly). Most of these new visitors were brought to the library’s online catalog, a resource which is normally invisible to regular online searches.

Koios 30-day performance dashboard, showing 8,175 clicks with in-kind value of $9,942

Bringing in New People  

Koios’ deployment of the Google Ad Grant brought 6,000 new visitors to Oldham Library’s website in the space of one month. Koios also used the Ad Grant to promote the library’s YouTube channel, which was extremely successful. The campaign started in July, 2021, and volume increased dramatically, with January 2022 impressions (number of views for the library’s YouTube ad) up 500%.

Online search is open to anyone with access to a smartphone or computer, so the people Koios bring to the library represent a broad range of communities. Demographics show a tilt toward younger people – for which YouTube clicks can take responsibility. 

Most of the people who were brought to Oldham Library’s website through this pilot were those who would not usually think of their library or know what resources it has. Through Koios, the library was able to reach a new, younger and more diverse group of users and let them know that they have what they were looking for.

Proof of Concept 

The library’s Koios-managed account generated thousands of clicks on ads, introducing new visitors to the library and its resources. 

Libraries have hundreds of thousands of individual resources that people searching online are interested in – if they can find them. Koios makes those resources visible, and reintroduces people to their own public library.

‘We are grateful to Oldham Libraries for participating in this pilot, which showed that a UK library can successfully apply for and secure an Ad Grant via associated non-profit bodies. Koios were able to help make the Ad Grant work grant work very effectively – spending nearly the full $10,000 per month that Google allocates to grantees. Our experience with Oldham proved that working with Koios can create a significant increase in discovery and visibility of library resources and programming. This in turn should help drive usage and so protect library budgets and jobs.’

Peter Velikonja of Koios

‘For libraries to survive and thrive, people have to be made aware that they exist. We wanted to show that a Google Ad Grant is a great way to reach beyond the library’s existing patron base to attract a younger, more diverse demographic. Google is where we start searching for the things we want, so it makes sense to put the library there. And we showed we can do that.’

Barney Allan of DCA London

With Koios free 60-day trial, we’ll set up and manage your Ad Grant for the trial period — and the Ad Grant is yours to keep should you decide to manage it on your own.  

Already have a Google Ad Grant? Let us do a free review with recommendations to improve performance. 

Get in touch today – 

Set up your demo call here for anytime, or meet us at PLA (booth #847).

You can also email us directly if you have any questions.

DCA’s got a thing for libraries; we think they’re great and we want them to do well. But many people outside libraryland have little idea that libraries even exist, let alone the bounteous free space, content and resources they offer. 
It bothers us that libraries are so underappreciated and underused. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to find partners that have either great content that people want to look at or great services that support library marketing. Next week we’ll be at PLA talking with librarians about and Koios, because they do both things to help libraries do better. Please join us at booth #847.

PS This ad was created by our friend Doug Kessler, one of the world’s most magic marketers. Doug is also a staunch supporter of CLEAR, the charity that provides translation services to refugees. Please join us in supporting CLEAR in their vital work at a critical time.

We’re excited to announce our new partnership with Koios on US sales. DCA represents a number of publishers in international markets, including Koios, now we have the opportunity to work with Koios in North America alongside our other key client the Financial Times’

Whether it’s offering compelling digital content, sharing marketplace insights, or leveraging powerful marketing tools to make a library stand out, the Koios mission is aligned with our own: helping public libraries to thrive. 

Koios allows libraries to reach new audiences – those searching the internet for information or resources, who don’t already know their library has what they need. Koios helps libraries apply for, win and manage a Google Ad Grant to promote their resources. This allows libraries to attract users from diverse demographics and varied backgrounds, enabling them to promote their resources and programming to underserved communities.

Libraries have a wealth of online resources but often struggle to make people aware of them. With Koios, you can bring new people directly to your best resources – and get more usage and a better return on investment on costly subscriptions.

We’ll be exhibiting at PLA in Portland later this month. We’re giving away free tea and a 60-day no-obligation Koios trial; we’ll set up and manage your Ad Grant for the trial period — and the Ad Grant is yours to keep should you decide to manage it on your own.  If you already have a Google Ad Grant we’re offering a free review to improve performance. 

Get in touch today – 

Set up your demo callhere for anytime, or meet us at PLA (booth #847).

You can also email us directly if you have any questions.

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