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Archive | IL2012


Cybertours, short tutorials in the exhibit hall, were very popular and often attracted standing room only crowds.  Topics included Smart Investing @ the Library, Creative Visualizations of Library Data, Free and Easy to Use Web 2.0 Resources, Marketing Your Library With QR Codes, and Tips For Improving Web Page Design.

Here is Greg Notess presenting the first Cybertour on Tools For Teaching.

Greg Notess giving a Cybertour on Tools For Teaching



Marketing on the Edge


Ben Bizzle and Melloney Dunlap

Ben Bizzle and Melloney Dunlap from the Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library in Jonesboro, AR showed how they have developed innovative and aggressive marketing programs, which has been a process that has been developing over the last few years.

Your website is your virtual presence and reflects the impression you want to give people.  This was the library’s first website.


You need to be able to justify what you are doing, so the staff told the board that they wanted to be perceived as an information gateway or portal.  Some of the metrics needed to be changed–counting people coming through the door is not necessarily indicative.  One of the biggest challenges libraries face is barriers to entry.  They set up a goal of reaching any information on the website with 3 clicks or less.  Here is the website they designed to bring the library into peoples’ homes.

To appeal to people age 16 to 40, a video series of marketing messages for a fictional library was created:

The videos were a great success; library users and staff often ask if they can be in the them.

The next stage was to go mobile.  Why would somebody reach into their pocket and access the library?  They want to know the address, hours, etc., and then look at the collection.  An app called the “Pocket Library–Your Library, Everywhere You Are”, was developed.  People liked having that access.

All this marketing made the library realize they needed a PR and arts department.  They used interns from the local college, but they finish their studies and move on, which meant there was no stability or permanence in their branding.  So they hired Melloney Dunlap, an intern, when she finished her education.  She developed a new logo as a brand which is used on everything.

It is important to design with less to create effective promotional material.  Here are some guidelines.

If you don’t have a graphic designer, there are lots of tutorials, stock images, and fonts as well as programs available on the Internet.  Check out TechSoup for free or low cost programs especially for libraries.

The library leased some billboards in town and signed 6-month contracts.  Sometimes the ads stayed up longer because the billboard company would rather have something on the billboard than nothing.  A creative team was created to develop some humorous messages for billboards.  Here are some of them.  One of them went viral and made the front page of sites like Reddit and SomethingAwful.

Besides billboards, Facebook covers, and e-cards were also designed.  Posters for events were distributed around town and put up in store windows.  This opened new markets to the library.  In the current election season, a library sign among all the campaign signs drew lots of attention.

Here are some of the results of the marketing campaign.


The results show that the library is getting attention in the community.  Some of the philosophies of the marketing campaign are these:

We want people to start thinking about the library.  They will decide for themselves what is useful.  People want to be entertained and don’t want to see the library as a boring place.  Word of mouth is the best advertising, but you must stimulate that word.  You can change things in your community if you are willing to take a risk.  Don’t be afraid to fail; pick up and go forward.


Library Makerspaces

We are no longer simply consumers of information–we have become creators.  Library users create information every day; how can we incorporate that into our services? Technology has changed the way we interact with each other and our environments.  We need to expand our definition of literacy to incorporate these changes and support a read-write culture as opposed to read-only.  The Fayetteville, NY Public Library (FPL) has launched some makerspace activities.  Sue Considine, Executive Director, and Lauren Britton, Transliteracy Development Director, described some of their activities in this area.

Moe Hosseini-Ara (moderator) and Sue Considine. Not shown: Lauren Britton (she attended virtually via Skype)

Makerspaces developed out a do-it-yourself (DIY) culture and are areas where people can share technology and create things.  A new book, Makers, by Chris Anderson describes makerspaces, which give people tools to create, hack, and remake their world for the better.  What could happen if librarians could facilitate bringing their creations to light?

Why would a library get involved in makerspaces?  They give everyone an opportunity to view the world differently.  We can provide a platform where people can collaborate, (this is different from education).  Community members are at the heart of makerspaces; the library facilitates the process by providing access, training, and permission.  Experts in the community can be recruited to help people.

It is important that culture is fluid enough to support disruptive changes.  We are in a culture of innovation, where risk taking is encouraged, ambiguity is acceptable, and failure is expected.  We need to stop proving our relevancy and just be relevant.

Take risks on behalf of the community.  Staff support and enthusiasm for this new environment is necessary.  They must not feel that this is “just one more thing I have to learn”.  Innovative librarians understand that their ideas of a library’s role need to be flexible.

Barriers to innovation are:

  • Funding.  Why would it be appropriate to develop new services in a time of diminished resources?  We need to figure out what we should stop doing to get funding for new ventures. There is often support in the community for things to improve the library.
  • Decision makers.  You must understand the agendas of your board and know the issues they are pushing, and then align your sales pitch to their agenda.
  • Space.  A common misconception is maker activities require lots of space.  They can be located in a relatively small space, and they can even be made portable and  brought to where people are.
  • Safety/liability.  This is an administrative issue.  All of us work with insurance vendors. Work with the experts and don’t be fearful of this.  Provide hands-on training on how to use the equipment.

Here are some tools and technologies that you can use.

Many free online resources will supply program ideas.  Here are some.


Joe Murphy

FPL is Joe Murphy’s local library.  Murphy, Tehnology Trendspotter, LibraryFuture, noticed how people began talking about the library after the makerspace program began, showing that it was well received by the community and indicating that the next stage in the evolving role of libraries is a shift toward creation.  3D printing is an appropriate technology to put in libraries. It can be reactive to time-sensitive hardware need, and we can solve problems with it or produce products we need.  Thus, the power of the consumer can be expanded.  The library can play a role in this by providing the enabling technology.


Transforming the Library Empire–Possible?

Steve Coffman

Wednesday’s keynote session featured Steve Coffman, VP, Library Support Services, LSSI; and Roy Tennant, Sr. Program Officer, Research, OCLC, reviewing some of the history of librarianship and speculating on where we are going.  Coffman is the author of a widely read article in Searcher entitled, “The Decline and Fall of the Library Empire.”  He noted that libraries are at a crossroads, and they have been for about 50 years.  We had an opportunity to play a significant role in the digital era. Library 2.0 did not work out because libraries do not have the critical mass of users that companies like Amazon do.

Many of our roles have been superseded by the appearance of new technologies.  For example, web interfaces for databases have changed or eliminated the role of professional searchers.  Public access computers have done the same thing; people are now accessing information on their Smartphones or tablets.  E-books are also eliminating the library.

The digital library we all dreamed of is here.  We helped to make it, but it is not ours.  Books are available through Google, Amazon, and Apple.  Searching can be done on Google and the Web.  Library 2.0 functions are available on GoodReads, LibraryThing, and many others.  And the Smartphone, Kindle, and iPad are providing access to it all.

So where do we go from here?  We need to transform the roles we played in the library into valuable services we can offer our communities when they no longer need our books; for example, maker spaces, community convenors, gadget gurus, or publishers.  In the Atlas of New Librarianship, David Lankes said that we can “help improve society by facilitating the creation of knowledge in our communities.”

We are no longer associated with books.  Librarianship has become a function.  But our libraries are still associated with books and buildings.  If that is removed, we become just one more face in a huge crowd of skilled people.  What makes a library unique?  What value do we add?  Why would people go to the library rather than Amazon, Apple, or other service providers?  The contribution we have is associated with the materials we work with, so instead of running away from what makes unique, let’s focus on it–books, especially print books.  Studies constantly reveal that the first thing people think of when they think of the library is books.  There are 2 billion books in libraries in the US, 20,000 buildings to house them, and 1.6 billion people walking through the doors to get them (and this number continues to grow).  In 2011, 347,000 titles are published by traditional publishers.  Books are still a major going concern, and there is no reason to count print out yet.  The uptake of e-books is 50% of what it was last year.  The longer people have their e-readers, the more they read in print.  Books are an antidote to the frantic elements of an overly digital life.  Coffman predicts a backlash against constantly being online.

If we are going to focus on books, we must stop apologizing for them.  Enter “more than just books” into Google and see how many library sites come up.  We must focus on our resources: budget, staff, programs.  We need to fix our inefficient distribution system.  The average public library only spends 12 cents/budget $ on content.  The rest is spent on staff, buildings, etc.  New technologies make it possible to improve that balance sheet.  Why are we still paying for catalog records?  Amazon pays nothing for them because they get them from the publishers.  Why can’t we ship ILL books directly to the readers and then have them return them to the library?  We need to take advantage of similar new opportunities, such as adding book sales to library services.

Can the empire be transformed?  Yes it can, but the real question is who is going to do it.

If we are not up to these tasks, others will do them for us.

Roy Tennant

Roy Tennant pointed to another Searcher article entitled “The World’s Largest Library”.  W face many challenges and opportunities in our fast changing world.  Do we have what it takes to make a difference?  YES we do!  Tennant believes in us!  We need to look at where we have come from to be able to see where we are going in the future.

One advantage we have is our flexibility.  We were one of the fastest to get on the Internet.  It was not that long ago that we were using 300 baud modems to access online searching systems.  Then Mosaic browsers changed our access.  Now we can stream records from a large database.  We are able to adapt to new technologies and are willing to throw away old ones.

We have the following advantages:

  • We have collaboration, beginning with catalog records.  Collaboration is how nonprofits prosper.
  • Our gender matters.  We are overwhelmingly female.  This is significant because women tend to collaborate better than men.
  • Our principles.  We believe in making sure that everyone has access to information, not just the people who have money to buy books.  We should be able to read whatever we want.  We have a right to privacy, and we believe everyone has a right to it.  Showing people how to control their own privacy is important.  Public service is a deep principle that we bring to our work.
  • Our people.  We bring the best people to this profession.  We have all fallen into it and love it.  We therefore want to be here and are all very diverse.  People are our greatest asset.
  • Imaginations help us find new ways to provide services.  See Patrick Sweeney’s “The Story Sailboat“.  He leaves books in public places for people to find.  Libraries are experimenting with maker spaces.  Failure at various things is not reason not to succeed.
  • Engagement.  The R Squared conference (risk and reward) was to help librarians take risks and engage with our communities.  We are engaged in things not only among ourselves but out in our communities.  The ALA Think Tank is a group that make things happen.