Thursday, November 19, 2009

Say What?

If you were accidentally kidnapped and taken to the planet Marshmallow because of an evil scheme to take over the world devised by a talking starfish and asked to shave your head, dance the macarena, and then recite the Pledge of Allegiance in pig Latin while competing in Dance Dance Revolution to a song by Miley Cyrus that was written by a guy whose mom was in love with Kirk Cameron in the 80s and whose best friend won an Oscar for best make-up artist, would you want Coke or Pepsi to drink?

Um, did you get that?

Probably not. And this is the confusion our patrons feel when we use library lingo. Being a non-librarian, I often smile at my co-workers and say, "Um, I have no idea what you just said." They appreciate that I represent the average patron, so they take the time to explain - after they tease me.

Databases, cataloging, circ desks, marc tags, OPAC, bibliographic records, and holds. Ouch!!! That makes my brain hurt. I'm not afraid to ask for clarification, but what if our patrons are intimidated or afraid to ask?

Our library is a service to our community. To get our patrons more engaged in their library, let's avoid requiring them to see things in librarian terms, but rather shape our lingo to their understanding.

See how any times today you can catch yourself or your co-workers using library lingo.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Librarian's 2.0 Manifesto

Becky Arenivar, Programming Specialist at Prescott Public Library, sent me a link to an inspiring article that I simply had to share. Laura Cohen wrote this three years ago before retiring, but the content remains relevant and rings true.

A Librarian's 2.0 Manifesto
  • I will recognize that the universe of information culture is changing fast and that libraries need to respond positively to these changes to provide resources and services that users need and want.
  • I will educate myself about the information culture of my users and look for ways to incorporate what I learn into library services.
  • I will not be defensive about my library, but will look clearly at its situation and make an honest assessment about what can be accomplished.
  • I will become an active participant in moving my library forward.
  • I will recognize that libraries change slowly, and will work with my colleagues to expedite our responsiveness to change.
  • I will be courageous about proposing new services and new ways of providing services, even though some of my colleagues will be resistant.
  • I will enjoy the excitement and fun of positive change and will convey this to colleagues and users.
  • I will let go of previous practices if there is a better way to do things now, even if these practices once seemed so great.
  • I will take an experimental approach to change and be willing to make mistakes.
  • I will not wait until something is perfect before I release it, and I'll modify it based on user feedback.
  • I will not fear Google or related services, but rather will take advantage of these services to benefit users while also providing excellent library services that users need.
  • I will avoid requiring users to see things in librarians' terms but rather will shape services to reflect users' preferences and expectations.
  • I will be willing to go where users are, both online and in physical spaces, to practice my profession.
  • I will create open Web sites that allow users to join with librarians to contribute content in order to enhance their learning experience and provide assistance to their peers.
  • I will lobby for an open catalog that provides personalized, interactive features that users expect in online information environments.
  • I will encourage my library's administration to blog.
  • I will validate, through my actions, librarians' vital and relevant professional role in any type of information culture that evolves.
Special thanks to Laura Cohen.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Social Media Marketing Can't Help Us

Nope, social media marketing can't help us:
  • if we avoid it and say, "but this is the way we've always done things." Municipalities have always balanced budgets by cutting services. Do we like that? Or are there other options?
  • if we don't use it.
  • if we refuse to ask our patrons and customers how they would like to get information about programs and services.
  • if we don't realize that 90% of teens do not open e-mail - they text or use social media.
  • if we don't give our patrons and customers an online community to advocate for us.
  • if we allow ourselves to get overwhelmed.
  • if we don't ask for help.
  • if we don't experiment and try new things.
Budgets are being cut and we need to increasingly depend on whatever free venues are available to us. Next to word-of-mouth advertising, social media marketing is arguably the best free venue. Start out small. Create a profile for yourself on LinkedIn or create a Facebook page for yourself or sign up for a Twitter account. These three are keys for us right now. Don't spend a lot of time on it, but take a look for now.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Patron Workshops

Are your patrons interested in social media? They are powerful tools that can keep us connected with long-distance friends and relatives, networked in professional circles, up-to-date on our favorite celebrity news, and so much more.

If your patrons are interested, contact me about doing a one-hour workshop on:
• Social Media 101
• LinkedIn for Job Searchers
• LinkedIn for Employers
• Facebook for Beginners
• Twitter Basics

The goal is to get attendees comfortable using these tools and confident in navigating this online experience.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Do They Know?

As IFLS public libraries, we know we offer over 1.5 million items available for check out including books, audiobooks, music, and movies. We know we offer excellent job resources. We know we offer unique children's activities. We know we offer video gaming events and equipment. We know we offer access to cutting-edge research and reference programs available from anywhere with a library card. We know we offer wi-fi and computers. We know we offer stimulating book clubs.

But, do they know? Do our patrons REALLY know all of what we have to offer?

With some of our rural libraries having a budget of less than $50,000 (and that includes the director's salary), how do we effectively get the word out so our patrons and communities can take advantage of these programs?
  • Create (or have IFLS create) exciting posters to distribute around the community.
  • Save a promo as the wallpaper on library computers.
  • Post it on your web site.
  • Announce it on your Facebook Fan Page.
  • Have a library staff member make an announcement at the beginning of book clubs and other library events.
  • Send out a tweet.
  • Speak at local civic groups.
  • Get involved in your local Chamber.
  • Coordinate with a local school or college to make a promotion available as an extra credit or service learning project.
  • Inspire the Friends Group to get out the word.
With limited time and resources, we may not be able to do all of these, but how about we try a couple for starters?