Future Proofing Your Library – Webinar

George Needham presented on future-proofing your library a few days ago – and I’m just now getting around to really thinking about it. I have,  however, made reference to the webinar and the concepts presented therein in a couple of meetings I’ve had since it happened (on the 12th of March), so I’ve had a bit of a chance to consider the ideas, just no chance to sit down and write about them.

George started off the webinar with the assumptions that we make that are not necessarily correct. The first one, that libraries are the “go to” place for info has never really been true – he pointed out that libraries and librarians were not the first place people in the ’40’s went to look for information either, so this has not really been the case – ever. Another assumption people make is that libraries aren’t just about books any more – this is only true if you mean “printed” books. He said we should be embracing new formats (ebooks, audiobooks, video on demand, etc.) and emphasize the abundance of materials we *do* have. He made a point of saying that whining about budget cuts makes you look like a loser – emphasize what you do have and get people excited about that – they’ll want to help you get more, in that case! The other assumptions he mentioned were that people wouldn’t find the “good stuff” on their own (we need to simplify navigation, improve findability and embed services to help them find the good stuff on their own), yorbalindabookbuzzthat people value confidentiality (they do – but maybe not to the extent that we assume; he showed the Yorba Linda book buzz widget and talked about evidence-based planning and decision making – something that needs data about patrons to work – and being confidential, but not anonymous) and that we need to “educate these people” (“if only they knew how we did things”… we should be concentrating on relationships, not transactions). One thing that he mentioned while talking about this assumption was the fact that libraries need to know where their community is going and align with that communities hopes and dreams, which reminded me of Richard Harwood’s talk at the Lyrasis yearly meeting, which was all about getting community involvement in organizations by making organizations part of the community conversation.

The second part of the talk involved how libraries can add value in a world of open information. First, we can help to get people started – become reading evangelists and create information neighborhoods in your library. Next we can get people “unstuck” – end policies that create barriers to information and make everyone in the library responsible for “customer service” so that everyone can help a patron who is stuck and needs something from us. Finally, he suggested that we need to keep people interested by refreshing our content (displays, signage, websites) frequently, by joining in with the community’s conversations by being local rather than generic – any library can highlight NYT bestsellers, but only Topeka’s library has a book written by patrons in their stacks – and highlight unique local content – historical or artistic content created by your patrons should be prominently displayed!

Some of these concepts (like the “information neighborhoods”) are a bit fuzzy in my brain after a couple of weeks between listening and writing, but the basic concept – that libraries need to be part of their community if they want to survive – is still very much in my head. This was just one of the online training sessions I attended recently – more to come soon!


Circulating Electronics

Evolution of Readers

Evolution of Readers Creative Commons License John Blyberg via Compfight

The last session (for me, there are more coming, but I’m all webinared out for the day) was on Circulating Electronic devices. What I found most interesting was that they circulated 43 devices, only some of which were eReaders. They had GPS units and MP3 players and a flip camera and laptops, too. Lots of different stuff. They started the program in 2008 with just one eReader for staff, added laptops and got into the Sony Library program in 2009, joined the ACDC in CO to get access to eMaterials and they’ve had 940+ checkouts since 2008 for an average of 22 checkouts per item. Karen started off with the good parts:

  • Patrons get to try out different devices
  • “Meat Case” of gadgets (set up like grocer’s meat case) help to promote the program and let patrons know what is available
  • Promotions include:
    • Donuts and Downloads – come see the download station and have a donut
    • Digital Storytimes – used Talking Yeti app during story time book about Yeti
    • BookMarks Book Group – put books to be discussed on readers, increase number of books available
  • 6 is the magic number. Buy a book once, put it on 6 devices.

The bad parts:

  • Staff training – staff were scared, but every staff member was required to take a device home for at least one night
  • ADE – Adobe Digital Editions – required for all non-Kindle devices/services, not so easy to use – tips for using ADE: Delete completely when the device comes back, connect the device to the computer *before* starting to browse for a book, since only 6 devices per account, patrons need to use their own unless you have less than 6 devices circulating
  • Devices designed for single use – logout of social media, email, etc. is hard
  • Return *everything* with the device – they used a card to document what went out, some cords come in two pieces, so that card showed that, for example

The Ugly:

  • Things come back gross and dirty, have a cleaning process
  • can be expensive – they used Tech Soup to get low-cost hardware to begin
  • people get attached to devices after a while – 1 week checkout, no renewals allowed

Overall – a good program, staff are now comfortable with a number of devices and are providing service to their patrons on a high level. Some of the questions that came in include – how do you deal with devices getting messed up? For readers, they can reset to factory default, for laptops they use clean slate and smartshield to keep people from changing laptop settings. How much time do they spend cleaning devices each week? 10 hours split between 2 staff.

Final tips – if you download an app (such as Kindle) to a tablet, that counts as one of the 6 devices allowed per book. Once you’ve purchased a book, immediately remove your credit card from the device unless you really want patrons to do your collection development for you… 😉

This was an excellent end to my day and a great overview of a successful program. The archives of the Big Talk from Small Libraries will be available soon, so you can see the presentations yourself, if you’d like!

Lightning Rounds

~ Fun EZ Photography ~

Stuart Williams via Compfight

In the Lightning Rounds section of the day, there were 5 10 minute presentations given. In Reaching New Readers Through Writing (Amy Marshall), Amy talked about NaNoWriMo and Student Publishing (for kids) as being a good way to get writing groups started in your library. The resources she offered for writing groups included:

In Manor Ink (Peggy Johansen), Peggy talked about a youth-produced monthly newspaper that sprung up as a collaboration between the library, the Community Reporting Alliance and local folks when the local newspaper and the high school newspaper both shut down. They have weekly meetings where 3-5 adults attend as mentors, but the newspaper is produced by the youth. They support themselves through ads, donations and through sales of the paper itself.

In Yoga @ The Library (Rossella Tesch), Rossella talked a bit about Yoga itself and then about the program that they do at the Chadron public library. It started as a way to entertain adults while their kids hung out at the Summer Reading Program events in 2004, but was so popular that they continued doing it. They do provide some equipment, but some people bring their own and they have a supporting collection of Yoga books and DVDs for those who want more information.

In Kitchen Creations at the Library (Lee Schauer), the focus was on food-based programs. They started with a breadmaking program that proved to be fairly popular (12 participants) and continued with other “how-to” programs, including cookies and wine making and a very popular bagel making program. They are branching out now into a documentary discussion group where they talk about food-based documentaries (starting with Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead) after watching them. Now they are starting a “grow your own pizza” program, which includes gardening as well as cooking skills. Lee pointed out that the book they are using to guide this program was on the library’s Amazon wishlist and that an anonymous donor bought it (and nearly $1000 worth of other items) for them. Another perk of the program is the fact that they now have a pasta making machine (for their homemade pasta program) that they can check out to cooks in their area.

Unfortunately, the Destination Library on a Dime had audio trouble about half way through – we did get some good pictures of before and after rearranging the library and heard about how the new look of the library improved the number of people who used it (including a strong recommendation to purchase comfy chairs for folks to hang out in).

Facebook and Blogging for Small Libraries

2 presenters for this session – we started with a discussion of Facebook and how the Lake Preston Public Library uses it. She (Pam Wilson) mentioned that libraries need 30 likes in order to the Insights (statistics) and custom URL features to work for their library’s page. She talked about the Insights stats, taking us on a tour of the Insights dashboard, and talked about the right way to set up a Facebook Page (as opposed to a profile). During the question period, several issues came up, including the issue of copyright for the book jackets that they were posting. Michael Sauers, one of the hosts for this conference, suggested taking a picture of the book that you own and posting that if you want to be 100% sure, but most of the time it’s not an issue. Pam said that they don’t have an ad budget, so they don’t use the paid ads service, but she thought it could be useful for larger libraries with marketing budgets. She also said that this was pretty much the only “web page” for the library – they focus their efforts on FB, posting a couple of times a day to make it fresh and interesting.

For the blogging part of the session, Miranda spoke about the Platte Public Library’s blog. She started with a rundown of what the library posts – and what they want to start posting in order to become more of a community resource (interviews and features with business leaders and organizations). She then went on to discuss the “best practices” that she’s come up with for blog posts:

  • Post between Tues and Friday, 10-2pm (your time zone)
  • begin by posting weekly, autoposting is optional (but available if necessary)
  • build up to posting daily
  • invite readers to comment on your posts
  • reply to comments made
  • include widgets to allow your readers to share your posts via social media
  • reblog (using WordPress Reader is easy if you are using the WordPress.com hosting service)
  • build a network (using reblogs, guest posts, and hyperlinks to other blogs)

The more social stuff you post, the more reach you have! Michael pointed out that FB posts aren’t Google-able, for the most part, so a blog (or other public web service) is really necessary if you want people to find your content on a search engine.


I’m gonna make you famous…

s-h Mem LibThis session began with an explanation of the title – the phrase “I’m gonna make you famous” came from the film Young Guns. In it, Emilio Estevez, playing Billy the Kid, utters those words every time he shoots someone. Bob Barringer, of the Shultz-Holmes Memorial Library in Michigan used those words to get people to participate in the Blissfield Reads project. This project consisted of Bob going around to the library and the local businesses to get them to read a line or two from poems or short (very short) stories while being recorded. The resulting recordings are posted to the library’s Facebook page and are used to promote literature and other events at the library.

Bob talked about the way he ran the program – from preparation to the actual filming to the editing process. He gave us some tips on how to do things in the easiest way – tips that he learned the hard way, apparently! One of the ideas I really liked was that he had every reader sign the cue cards he created – they read the lines from the paper, then signed it. When the video went live, he printed out stills of the readers, attached them to the autographed cue cards and posted them in the library so that patrons could see what their neighbors were doing.

He gave some great resources for texts (Project Gutenberg, Google Books, Poetry.com) and for Creative Commons music (he uses Kevin MacLeod’s incomptech.com pretty much exclusively) and he mentioned that he uses Windows Movie Maker (free online) for editing software.

There were some excellent ideas and resources for any library that would like to emulate the success of Bob’s Blissfield Reads program!

Big Talk for Small Libraries Conference

Today, I’m virtually attending the Big Talk from Small Libraries conference, put on by the fine folks at the Nebraska State Library. The first session of the day was:

I’m Gonna Make You Famous: Raising Awareness and Building Community on a Three-Inch Screen
Bob Barringer,  The Schultz-Holmes Memorial Library (MI)

The next session I’ll be attending is:

Making the Most of Facebook and Blogging: How to Use Social Media Effectively in a Small Library
Pam Wilson, Librarian, Dorothee Pike Memorial Library (SD)
Miranda Brumbaugh, Librarian, Platte Public Library (SD)

and then I’ll be eating and watching the Lightning Round presentations, after which I will attend:

Circulating Electronics: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly
Karen Lemke & Elizabeth von Tauffkirchen,  Pine River Library (CO)

I’ll post my notes and thoughts from each of these as I go throughout the day.

As for the first 15 minutes of the conference – a nice introduction to a relevant association – ASRL – with lots of information about the association, the yearly conference they put on and the fine folks that make it work.