My CIL2012 Presentations

David Lee King posted the slides from some of his talks at Computers in Libraries last week and I figured I should probably do the same thing so here we go.

My first presentation was with Louise Alcorn and Christa Burns, I talked about Open Source Tools :

Next I was on a panel with fellow systems librarians (Marshall Breeding, Edward Iglesias and Lisa Carlucci Thomas) talking about the challenges we face as a systems librarian today. The real power of this session was the fact that we were all just talking with the audience, but we did put together some slides with questions/contact info that you can get on the InfoToday site.

Finally I gave a post conference workshop with Cheryl Peltier-Davis. My slides covered a few of the tools we were covering and she did an intro and a couple other tools.

Technorati Tags: ,

Ebook Trends: Info Pros Perspectives

Andy Woodworth was up first in the Ebook Trends talk. Andy’s talk was super fast and super awesome. I do hope that he shares his talk with us all so you can read that instead of my shortened summary.

Andy started by summing up his opinion of the current Ebook frontier as “Everything is amazing and no one is happy” He summed up all of the technology changes that have happened in our lifetime and that we take for granted.

What could possible be wrong with a product you don’t have to pay to print, don’t have to use gas to deliver and everyone from 4 to 400 can easily use?? Andy (appropriately) yelled the answer – EVERYTHING! Many publishers will not let libraries to lend they ebook content to start. It’s not that publishers don’t want library money, it’s that publishers do not trust our customers. While we try to uphold the policies of copyright, we can’t guarantee that our patrons will be honorable. The publisher things that they can then steal all of this content.

It all comes down to a problem with sharing! Not that we don’t share everything else everywhere else already. This is the horror that comes from breeding technology and culture together.

People are not waiting for libraries to solve the ebook lending problem – they’re coming up with their own ways to do it. We need to trust our users, we need to facilitate sharing. Every item that’s shared through your service is a book in a hand of someone who would otherwise be holding a competitors product.

Sarah Houghton was up next. Sarah started with some gratuitous cursing. Then we moved on to Sarah’s grandmother. She used to tell several lies to her grandchildren

  • Eat your crust it makes your hair curly
  • Only loose women get tattoos
  • Santa’s watching you

She had a tell whenever she lied – all the grandkids knew when she was lying because of the tells. Which brings us to some other lies that we’re being told:

Lies that library ebook vendors told you:

  • We’re broke:
    How many of you have indoor basketball courts in your library? Overdrive does.
  • 300% is as bad as it’s gonna get:
    It’s going to get worse before it gets better. It has to be so bad that the public starts to roar. If gas prices went up 300% there would be riots in the street
  • The publishers are forcing us to prevent you from owning these.
    Sarah has talked to the publishers – they actually don’t care.

There are lies that publishers tell us:

  • Libraries cost us money/steal our profits
  • Without digital rights management chaos will reign and no one will write anymore. (audience comment -we’re not doing it for the money)
  • Our business model has worked for hundreds of years and will work for hundreds more.
    It’s a failing business model.

We’re not without blame – lies we tell ourselves in libraries:

  • Everyone reads ebooks
    If you look at your circa stats you’re probably around 5-10%
  • We read our contracts and we negotiate hard
    “You don’t read your contract – most of you don’t.” Sarah says you need to learn to negotiate – take classes and learn legalese
  • Without ebooks our libraries will die
    We’re about communities and so much more than ebooks

Last up was Michael Porter (slides are on his site and slideshare). He started by asking us to think about what those before him said and what we all think. What used to make libraries work doesn’t make libraries work anymore. Michael feels that in the next 10 years the majority of content accessed in the library will be econtent not print materials. More and more people are using digital content already – we don’t buy as many CDs or DVDs anymore. I think that if we’re going to compete we have to find new solutions because what we have are broken.

“Libraries = Content + Community”

What we’re using now to facilitate the delivery of electronic content is broken. The current methods are very expensive, very inefficient and very unsustainable. We need something new and innovative.

Michael is here to represent a non profit (Library Renewal) made up of libraries who are trying to facilitate this change. He said it started with a question – what if we realized that we actually have control?

So Library Renewal is an organization that works on behalf of libraries to deal with the publishers. Right now we have vendors going in to secret meetings with the publishers to negotiate costs that benefit them – not us. And they are inviting libraries to come to Library Renewal and take back the control.

For the last 1.5 years they have been doing a lot of research at Library Renewal so they’ve been pretty quiet. They have been negotiating and building partnerships and developing solutions. At this point they are seeking funding to build the infrastructure.

The bottom line is that the system Library Renewal proposes will allow for more money for the rights holder and publishers and a huge savings for libraries.

Technorati Tags: ,

Capturing, Sharing and Acting on Ideas

Adam Shambaugh and Jill Luedke from Temple University gave the next talk I attended. They talked to us about the Capture and Idea project at Temple.

Adam introduced us to the term “Fuzzy Front End of Innovation” which means ideas in their infancy. This is the window of time before an idea becomes reality. Some of obstacles during this phase of innovation include:

  • Limited ‘buy in’
  • Ideas of ill-defined
  • Decisions are made on an adhoc basis

The Fuzzy Front End has three stages:

  1. Idea Generation
    Ideas can come from hunches, observations or even accidents. The importance here is to capture the ideas as they come about.
  2. Idea Screening
    This is when ideas of articulated to others in a public forum to allow others to evaluate the ideas
  3. Concept Development
    This is when ideas move from the abstract into reality. The idea ceases to be so fuzzy at this point.

Some tips for managing this stage of idea generation

  • Consider many possibilities for fuzzy ideas.
    Any idea a this this stage has the potential to be successful or unsuccessful. Don’t discount ideas at this stage.
  • Build an information system
    Establish a means of communication so that people can share their ideas with each other. This is a way to reduce resistance to change/innovation.
  • Attain internal cooperation and support
    This gives you a broader perspective on what innovation looks like and it reduces conflict. It leads to innovation that is smoother and less time consuming.

Up next was Jill to give us the practical way they’re using this in their library.

At Temple they were trying to improve the user experience at the library. They decided to star the ‘Capture an Idea Project’ as a way to gather ideas. They handed out an idea book to everyone where they could jot down their ideas for improving the library spaces.

One other way to gather and share ideas was the TU Experience Blog. They also had annual public services retreats where the staff could gather and capture and share and act on the ideas that were being shared.

One thing they learned was that even though the tech services people don’t sit out front in the library they had ideas to share so while they were invited to the first event, they were invited to the second. During the retreat they all put ideas up on boards and at the end of the day each person had 7 stars and they put their stars on the ideas they liked the most so that they could find the top 3 ideas and create an action plan to make those things happen.

One of these top ideas was to create a task force to “fix what’s broken”. This team was named the “Fix it team” and many of the staff actually volunteered to be on this task force. They were then able to create a mailing list for sharing things with the Fix It Team.

So .. why capture ideas?

#1 reason – so you don’t forget it! Mental notes don’t work, you need to capture the ideas and share them with others.

You also want to do this so that you can generate more ideas and allow them to percolate. You don’t have to know what to do with the idea, how to fix the problem, but by capturing it you can then come up with solutions.

What kind of things should we capture?

  • Problems you encounter
  • Behaviors you observe – especially those that are unexpected
  • Questions you have been asked repeatedly
  • Complaints you receive (there is a problem already in this case)
  • Cool stuff – this can be anything like if you see a cool display while out shopping

How to capture ideas?

  • Write it
  • Type it
  • Text it
  • Tweet it
  • Record it
  • Photograph it

Some tools to use to capture your ideas:

Keep your ideas separate from your to do list!

What did they learn at Temple?

  • Suggest various platforms for capturing ideas – not everyone likes using technology for this
  • Make capturing accessible – papers pinned up around the work area
  • Make sharing accessible – they have a blog, but not everyone knows how to use it
  • Give suggestions on what to capture – help to get people thinking about ideas
  • Give incentives – everyone has ideas, give them something for coming up with and sharing ideas
  • Be inclusive – make sure everyone is involved in capturing ideas! Don’t limit who can come in with ideas

The talk ended with the speakers asking us to answer a question about how we’re gathering idaes in our libraries using Poll Everywhere a tool I had never heard of before!

Technorati Tags: ,

7 Essential Elements to an Awesome Library Website

First up this morning was David Lee King sharing library website tips with us. I’m not working in this field so much anymore (web design) but I still wanted to see what cool tips David had for us all so here I am.

David started by blaming Ned Potter, author of The Library Marketing Toolkit ( for this presentation because Ned asked him for some tips for elements every website should have. It started David thinking and he went where we all go – hours, directions, etc. But that’s not we should all be thinking.

#1 Customers want something to read, watch and listen to when they visit the library

At least that’s what it’s like in our buildings, but not so much on our websites. An example is a blog post on your website that talks about a neat art exhibit at the library – writing/reading about it is not the real goal. We all have a link to our catalog, using the catalog is not the goal of the patrons – the goal is to read!

So some examples of giving patrons something to “do” on your library website is to include steaming videos, provide downloadable ebooks, and download free (or subscription) music.

Ebooks for example are perfect for your ‘digital branch’ or website. It’s not easy to download ebooks once in your physical building. They’re meant to be downloaded on mobile devices.

Another way to interact with patrons is to use social media and ask questions and promote discussion – an example from Topeka Shawnee was that they asked patrons what books kept them up late at night. You could also sign up for sites like GoodReads and LibraryThing and then embed a group’s activity right on your library website.

You could also do videos of book discussions or interviews and once again people can watch them on your website.

The Goal? These are all things that people can ‘do.’

#2 Customers have questions and ask at the library

We all answer questions in person when patrons come up to us. How about our digital branch? Do we make it friendly and easy to use?

Add an ‘Ask Now’ or ‘Ask a Librarian’ button that is big and colorful and easy to find. David pointed out a cool tool for this (and an open source one at that!) called Spark. You can use this to communicate with your patrons. For text messaging you can use Google Voice. These two tools are both free to use (but Spark does take some time to set up).

Another way for patrons to contact you is to allow for emailing questions

Arapahoe Library has a nice ask us page where they list all the ways to contact them including Twitter, Facebook, Email, Texting, etc.

The Goal? Answering questions!

#3 Customers need to know the normal stuff too

Patrons need to know things like your address and phone number. Don’t make your patrons dig for this!!

A footer is a common place for people to look for this info. Include hours, phone numbers, address, contact us link, etc. Also include on every page of the website a way to ask a librarian, get a library card, contact the library. These are the normal things people come to the library site to find.

When it comes to directions to your library site, make sure you get in your car and try out the directions you’re providing! David has worked in two libraries where this info on the website was actually wrong.

Make it easy to find frequently asked questions like circulation policies, fine policies, etc. And don’t make these PDFs filled with Library Jargon.

The Goal? Tell people the normal stuff!

#4 Library’s need actual staff

David asked how many of us hire volunteers to design our library buildings? People who just kind of think they know how to catalog to catalog your books? Why do that for your website?

Websites = Actual Work

Hire someone to do your website! Don’t just ask the most tech savvy person in your library and hope that it turns out right. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need an IT person, there are many content management systems such as WordPress and free themes you can get. This allows the staff to focus on the important stuff – updating the content!

Website = Real Staff

Include a staff directory on your website! Many libraries don’t include contact info for specific people at the library. It makes it really difficult to contact someone specific. At Topeka Shawnee they not only have a directory, but a photo of the staff member. So many libraries are about hiding the staff when it comes to the website. This is not good customer service!

Every blog author at David’s library also have an author bio page. There is a picture and short bio for each of them. They also include links to social networks for the blog authors which is a nice way to connect with the librarian in the digital world.

Shockingly at David’s library they want people to contact them!

The Goal? Staff the website

#5 Have Goals!

A lot of us strategic plans in our libraries, sometimes also a technology plan and other goals. Our websites need to be in these kinds of plans as well! There should be overlap between the library’s plan and the website plans. So if you have a collection development policy include things in there like writing blog posts about the new titles.

Keep statistics to see what tools are successful.

#6 Reach beyond your webbish boundaries

Go where people gather! Find out where you patrons are and then make sure you’re there. If a new one pops up – like Pinterest – do a pilot project. Ask patrons if they’re there and if they want the library to be there too. Topeka Library is on Pinterest now because their patrons asked them to be and they told their patrons to test it. They’re keeping stats and watching patrons usage to decide if it’s worth staying on there.

You can also turn these online gatherings in to in person gatherings like Tweetups or the PodCamp Topeka.

This is a way to meet your digital branch patrons.

The Goal? Be where people are.

#7 Be mobile friendly

A way to do this is use Boopsie to create a library mobile app.

You could create a mobile website using examples like this.

Make sure you brainstorm first though. Don’t just jump in to creating a mobile site. Think about how your patrons are going to want to quickly interact with the library website while on the go.

Also once you go live, ask for suggestions. What else do your patrons want to see on the mobile site or app? The whole point of providing this mobile site is for your patrons to use it!

The Goal? Be Mobile Friendly!


At the Disney Store there is a sign that says to visit the store online to get the full experience. Maybe we should do the same thing on our library websites. Use the website to provide the full library experience.

Technorati Tags: ,