Recent Events

Community Engagement Info Blitz

Community Info  Blitz Panel

(L-R) Ryan Hess, Rebecca Cooling-Mallard, Patrick Sweeney, Willie Miller, Zoe Chao. Donna Scheeder, Moderator (standing)


This panel, moderated by Donna Scheeder from the Congressional Research Service, was entitled “Community Engagement Info Blitz” and was in a more serious vein that Tuesday evening sessions at previous IL conference. Each of the panelists gave a short presentation on innovations at their library, which was followed by audience reactions.

Patrick Sweeney, Branch Manager, San Mateo County Library, began by describing The Story Sailboat, a library and literacy advocacy project which takes discarded books from the San Francisco Public Library to various communities by boat around San Francisco Bay.  Other than being enjoyable for Patrick and his colleagues, there was little impact from the project, no tangible goals, and no followup so it was considered a failure.  Patrick also founded everylibrary, the only national political action committee (PAC) for libraries. This project had high impact, tangible goals, measurable results, and clear followup, so it was a success. Everylibrary supports campaigns for funding on behalf of libraries and in the last 6 months, it has raised $8.7 million for libraries. Lessons learned and things that can be done:

  1. You are a library’s best advocate.  People do not vote for buildings or books; they vote for you.  So create a message.  We do not have a clear message now.
  2. Manage your message.  Teach it to your staff.  Get people back to your mission statement.  Use your message to build a coalition of ravenous supporters.
  3. Keep people engaged online.  Email is still very effective; direct mail is not.  Use an email platform to send messages every week to all your users.
  4. If you want to be a good librarian, you must get out of the library!  Go out into the community and talk to people.  Do canvassing: door to door library signups and get email addresses.  You can also do phone banking or send texts (especially to teens) about what is going on in the library.
  5. Celebrate libraries and librarianship in the community by having a party.  Have a letter writing party to send letters to Senators asking for their support of the library.
  6. Advertise in paid media.


Gaming the Library
Willie Miller, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis

A game was developed to allow staff to farm out some of the things that would be done on a library tour.  Digital natives like instant gratification.  The game was called The Missing Project and is a 3-week long video series.  Students follow along with a character whose iPad is missing.  It is an online scavenger hunt.  Finding the clues brings you to the next segment.  25 people got to the last video.  One of them won the iPad in a drawing.

Student developers were given a list of things to be included in a video.  350 people went to the first game.


Leveraging Library Techknowledgie
Ryan Hess and Rebecca Cooling, DePaul University Library

A typical emerging service model bridges the gap between user needs and the technology that supports those needs.  We have a digital scholarship crisis: the world is flat but information is still a mountain.  Victims of this are researchers, alumni, faculty, students, and enthusiasts.  They are not thinking about information like librarians do. They don’t think about preservation and don’t manage the content.

A case study used letters from the Vatican archives at a university in Ireland.  When the Irish government went broke they lost the funding for their server.  Librarians know how to ask for requirements and how to gather them.  They have experience with CMS, metadata expertise, digital collection expertise.

DePaul stepped in to rescue the collection. Project requirements:  stable server, low cost, non-technical CMS, preservation, interoperability, standardized metadata, findability and SEO.  The platform chosen was Omeka which is designed with non-IT specialists in mind.  Omeka is a WordPress-like system with these features:

Omeka Features

Omeka Features

The data were restructured from the original spreadsheet into valid metadata.  It was encoded using HTML character encoding and put into a CSV file which could be imported into Omeka.  Researchers’ unique fields were mapped to Dublin Core fields.

Best practices for working with non-technical people include communication, relevance of librarians, understanding client expectations up front, and dealing with technological baggage:  People don’t understand what goes on behind the scenes in these systems, which provides opportunities for libraries to educate people about metadata.


Where’s the Duck Pond? Looking into UNM Map Search
Zoe Chao, Metadata Librarian, University of New Mexico

Zoe redesigned the web search interface for the campus map.  It was a cooperative project between the library and campus IT.  The original map site was organized by building number but not by name, which was useless.  Google Map code was used to redesign the map.  Libraries were marked on the map, but people still couldn’t see them.

Reasons for failed searches:  new buildings, misspellings, no exact match in the metadata.  Even though they had autocomplete in the system, searches still failed. People did not read the suggestions because they are in a hurry! If it is not in the metadata, you cannot find it.  Exact match doesn’t work well because people can’t spell.  You must take time to put in all the details.

Version 2 of the map search is being developed; here are some of the enhancements under consideration:

Version 2 enhancements

Version 2 enhancements



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