This Year’s Annual Report

Why can’t annual reports be cool? Or at least interesting enough to actually read, watch, etc?

That’s what my library tries to do with ours, anyway. For the last two years, our annual report has been video-only. This year, we improved upon that a bit, and did three things:

Here’s our 2011 annual report, for those interested.

Why do this?

We have to create some type of annual report each year. And honestly … people mostly DON’T look at these. Sure, you can mail them to everyone. Print them out and place them in strategic locations in the library. Send them to parter organizations in your community.

But read them? Maybe some people will give it a cursory glance … and them toss it into the trash, like a greeting card.

With our video? There’s enough eye candy there for people to watch, and maybe learn something more about their library, and what their tax dollars are actually going to.

That’s the idea, anyway!

 

How People Use Smartphones

My library’s Web Developer, Nathan Pauley, emailed this infographic to me, and it’s really cool! They studied smartphone use (or more accurately, it looks like they studied web and app use on smartphones, since they excluded email, sms messages, and voice calls from their infographic).

I’ve not clicked through to pay for the whole study, but this single page provides plenty of food for fodder:

  • 68% of smartphone use happens at home.
  • Love the different labels for stuff people do on their smartphones, like self-expression.

Two weird things:

  1. Self-expression – I guess this is where you’d put content creation? Posting to Tumblr or Instagram, for example? How do they tell the difference between a Facebook post that’s self-expression (writing a haiku, for example) vs a Facebook post that’s socializing?
  2. Socializing – why didn’t they just include email, sms messages, and normal voice phone stuff here?

Either way, take a peek, access the study (if it’s not too much – I haven’t clicked through), and give it some thought.

Commit, Already

I attended a vendor presentation last week, and one of the reps said something very interesting about getting a library to 100% self-check. Here’s what he said:

“100% self-check is really easy to get to. You just eliminate any other way. It’s not rocket science.”

For self check and libraries, I know of more than one library “working towards” 90% self check, or they have a goal of a certain percentage. Or they just continue to offer both, with no real goal to stop either of them.

Some questions for you, if you’re in this boat – how much do you want to reach that goal? Is it really a goal? If so, do you know WHY it’s a goal? Is it what your customers want, or does it work better for the organization (not necessarily a bad thing). Is something holding you back? And if so … why?

Obviously, this works with more than just self checkout!

Are you trying to make a change, but you still really have the old way AND the new way still fully functioning? Maybe it’s time to set a deadline for the old process to go away. Maybe you need to rethink the project, ask customers about it, or ask staff how to improve it.

Maybe you simply need to commit, and take that next step.

Pic by Richard Masoner

Helpdesk Ticket Tracking Software – what are your options?

IT helpdesk ticket tracking software – my library uses it. Right now, we use Track-It by BMC. But it’s clunky, hard to use, and isn’t quite meeting our needs anymore. So it’s time to start exploring our options!

Guess what? There are a TON of options out there. But first, what would we want in an IT helpdesk software package? Here are some features you should think about:

  • incident management – basic “track that IT problem” function
  • Searchable knowledgebase – document the fixes and answers … and create a powerful database of “what to do when”
  • Reporting – for managers like me. You need to keep track of # of tickets, # of closed tickets, # of still-open tickets, who worked on the problem, who had the problem (for potential follow-up with training if needed), etc.
  • Windows software, server-based, or web/cloud based?
  • Other functions that might be useful, depending on your setup, include LDAP/Active Directory integration, asset and contract management, email integration, and scheduling.

These hosted services seem to be all the rage right now, and I have to admit – they look pretty good (at least, compared to what we currently have in place):

I also recently asked for recommendations, and what other organizations are currently using, via Twitter and Facebook. Here’s what some of you mentioned:

So there’s a good list to get you started. Anyone have experience with any of these? Like or dislike them? Sound off in the comments!

pic by michaeljzealot

Four Mobile Options for Libraries

I just read Your 4 Mobile Options by Paul Boag. Good stuff! In the article, Paul suggests that there are basically four options when it comes to having a mobile presence (taken from Paul’s article – you should go read the whole thing!):

  1. Responsive website: A responsive website is one that adapts to whatever device it is being viewed on. Whether that is a desktop computer, tablet or mobile device, the same website will display the same content using a visual design most suited to that device.
  2. Native application: Native apps are applications that run physically on the mobile device and are coded specifically for the operating system of that device. These are the applications you typically find in either the Google Play or iOS App Store.
  3. Web application: A web application shares characteristics with both a native application and a responsive website. As with a responsive website a web application is built using HTML, CSS and Javascript and lives entirely online.
  4. Hybrid application: A hybrid application is essentially a native application built with HTML, CSS and Javascript. By building it with web technology it is quicker to develop and easier to publish to multiple platforms (e.g. iOS or Android). The downsides are that performance tends not to be as good and they lack the design style of each platform.

Which one of these options should libraries use? Paul says this as a general rule of thumb: “A good starting point is to ask whether users are primarily completing a task or accessing information.”

I’d agree – that’s a good starting point. I’d go a bit farther, and say this – figure out what your mobile users are doing, and how they do it, and more importantly – WHAT they want to do. Then figure out the right flavor of mobile accessibility that best meets those needs. Also, figure out what you can do. For example, when my library was still on Horizon for our library catalog, we chose Boopsie because they could create a mobile version of our catalog (something our vendor hadn’t yet figured out). So we went with an app-driven mobile catalog.

We’re on Polaris now, and it comes with a web-based catalog that works great. Will we stay with our Boopsie app? Not necessarily, since the mobile version of Polaris works well. More on that later this year!

One other thing – if you haven’t yet started to think about the mobile web … why not? Pick something – anything – and start. Your smartphone-loving public is waiting!

Pic of Paul Boag from boagworld.com