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No More Excuses!

Are you marketing your library to your community effectively?  Why not?  Nancy Dowd, Project Lead, EBSCO Publishing; and Janie Hermann, Public Programming Librarian, Princeton Public Library addressed an overflow audience and said that there are no more excuses for not doing so!

Nancy Dowd (L), Jamie Hermann (R)

What does your library mean to your community?   What do people in your community think you are doing?  Are we getting all our knowledge out to the community?  In these difficult economic times, no library can afford not to prove its value.  We are not only educating our audience but are persuading them to use our services.  We are expected to market our libraries. Nancy discussed the steps to be undertaken in a marketing campaign:

The first thing to know is the needs of the community and who they are. Think in terms of market segments. Create conversations through social media, and listen to what your community wants. You can use that knowledge to develop your programs and services (the old way was to develop the services first, and then we wondered why people would not uses them). And don’t forget to go back over the program, evaluate it, and make necessary changes.

Jamie has developed many innovative marketing campaigns at the Princeton Public Library and makes heavy use of social media.  She noted that there is a large segment of the population that is difficult to reach and may not know very much about the library and its services.  For example, some Python programmers needed a place to meet and form a user group, so she offered them a room in the library, thus exposing many of the attendees to the library for the first time.

It is important to keep your focus local and connect with the community.  Jamie joined the Princeton LinkedIn group and was able to connect with many local business people who did not use the library.  She provided meeting space for a speed networking group, spoke at it, and marketed the library.  She also has embedded herself in Facebook groups for participatory marketing.  It is important to connect and be authentic, but still maintain the brand.  She has put a collection of photos of flyers for past events on a Flickr account, and it has proven to be very popular.  The Library as an Incubator Project has good suggestions for marketing children’s programs.

Electronic newsletters are still relevant as communication vehicles.  They have proven to be the library’s biggest marketing tool and have a wide readership in the community.

There are no more excuses–reach out and engage!


Data 101: Why Should I Start, Why Do I Care?

Data, of course, has been around for many years, but with new technologies and capabilities for manipulating it and analyzing it becoming available, it has become a topic of high current interest.

Abigail Goben

Abigail Goben, Reference Librarian at the Unviersity of Illinois–Chicago, gave a fascinating and informative look at the current hot topic of data and what librarians must do to become informed on this topic. Many researchers do not realize that the library can be a useful source for them.  In fact, at a recent AAAS meeting, Abigail heard people saying, “We need to go around the library.”  But data is becoming a significant aspect of many library jobs.  Abigail tracks library job advertisements that include a data component on her blog and has listed over 100 of them in the last 6 months.

The major things to be learned are the basics of data, software, and library components.  You need to know what good data looks like, how to analyze it statistically (with software packages such as SPSS, Mathematica, and even Excel).  The library components include metadata, ontologies, and data management plans.  Learn how to find, acquire, describe, and provide data access to users.

Here are three excellent resources to help you get started learning about data:

These are some introductory books on statistics.

These are some useful websites:

Finally, some people that data librarians should be listening to (note, many of them are not librarians!) and blogs they should be reading include:

  • @libskrat (Dorothea Salo) and @researchremix (Heather Piwowar)
  • FlowingData (what people are doing with data, working charts, etc.
  • KDnuggets (industry focused, list data science jobs not seen in libraries)
  • mathbabe (professor, puts things in context)
  • Retraction Watch (tracks retractions in major journals and comments on them–many retractions are data-related).



Going Boldly into the Present

Michael Edson, Director Web Strategy & New Media, Office of the CIO, Smithsonian Institution, delivered the keynote speech on the third day of Computers in Libraries. He began by telling the audience to “Go boldly into the present.” The present? Huh? Edson continued, “To talk about where we go from here, you have to think about where we are and where we’re going to. We’re no longer in a culture of continuity.”

When he began at the Smithsonian, Edson thought strategists were visionaries. He’s now concluded that strategy should be a physical tool, a shared story, that makes something happen. We’ve been galvanized over the past few years about how quickly things disappear. We need tools to think about new ideas. Innovation is an endurance race.

Snap out of the idea that strategy is about the broadcast idiom. He cited books written between 2002 and 2006 that recognize the importance of community. These ideas are absent from strategy workshops. You can build real strategies from the long tail, Joy’s law, cognitive surplus, network effects, and Moore’s law and mobile, and the recognition that every user is a hero. We’re not in a read culture, it’s a read/write world. We can build on these ideas, they’re not new anymore.

Big piece of what we think of as the distant future is here now. It presents us with a real, bankable opportunities. For example, the World War II Museum in New Orleans sees results of digitization as a reputation and revenue builder. Cheap platforms and successful examples are all around us in abundance.

What can we do differently to create value? How do we pivot? Edson described five patterns.

1. Extraterrestrial space auditor: Compare what organization says it does with what actually happens.

2. On ramps and loading docks: Innovation is likely to happen somewhere else, not inside walls of organization. How can we get ideas and volunteer labor into our organizations. Think expansively about what a platform is.

3. Edge to core: Innovation happens at the edges, but edge innovators need a commons

4. Focus on the mission: Have big, audacious goals

5. Place the bet. It’s all about execution.

Michael Edson

Michael Edson

Finally, ask yourself, what world am I living in? What impact does my country, my city, my organization want to have in that world? What should I do today? This is your job and society needs you to succeed at it. Think big, start small, and move fast. Go boldly into the present.









Scenes from the Exhibit Hall

As always, the CIL exhibit hall was very popular.  At the opening night reception, ITI authors were signing their books for attendees.  Free (yes, free!) “cybertours”, 15 minute presentations on various topics were well attended.  And of course, the vendors were happy to see the crowds in their booths!

ITI has a new booth design featuring its books

John Bryans, ITI's Publisher, visits with authors

ITI Book Authors

A typical exhibit hall cybertour