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David Lee King

Developing an Online First Mentality, Part Two: In the Library?



In my last post, I introduced the idea of an online first mentality, and gave examples of how modern businesses use this idea.

OK. That makes sense for those guys. But what about a library? Can Online First work there?

I think so. Not in the news organization, “publish online first” way, but more like the restaurant business, “here’s the rest of the story” way.

How, exactly?

Make sure that whatever you do has an online component, and that that component is created at the same time as the physical service or tool or area. Here are some examples:

Storytime. If you are creating a storytime program (or already have one), also develop some online storytime videos, uploaded to Youtube. This serves a few purposes:

  • It gives you storytimes for your digital branch.
  • It provides storytimes for your community that can be played any time – before the library is open and between programs, for starters.
  • It showcases the storyteller and the service. If a school or daycare wants to know what you do, you can easily provide a link to the video, so they can “try before they buy.”

Reference. Only so many people can line up at the reference desk. And that’s not really where most questions begin. That’s why many libraries also offer chat, text, email, and telephone reference services. You might also think about offering similar services in your social media channels (i.e., Facebook or Twitter). Easy to set up, and most of you have one or more of these services. Now do some targeted promotion of those services, and see what happens.

Your catalog. You have already adopted an online first mentality with the catalog (though you probably haven’t thought about it that way yet). The only way to access your library catalog … and your whole collection of stuff … is through your online catalog. In-person shelf browsing is fun, but it never leads to the whole collection, because a bunch of your stuff is checked out. Want access to everything the library owns? You have to go online to do that.

Ebooks. Another no-brainer. The only way to access that collection is … online.

Events, programs, classes. Let’s say you’re planning an author talk at the library. The actual event is an in-person thing. Why not also create a short video interview that can live on after the event? It showcases what you do and offers your community an extra glimpse at the author, too. We did this with Jim Richardson, a National Geographic photographer – it’s one of our most popular Youtube videos.

Can an online first mentality work in a library setting? I think so, and I think at the least, we should have a representation of all we do online … which is exactly what I’ll talk about in my next post!

Photo by Penn State

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jennifer Ruthenberg

    I agree this is definitely the way of the future. I love the idea of sharing the storytime online, and I think the “try before you buy” will definitely work with daycares, school groups etc.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    Thanks, Jennifer!

  • Matt Weaver

    I love the approach discussed here, but there is one sticky thing about storytime videos: do not show someone reading the entire book, due to copyright concerns. I just attended a copyright workshop and the example of recording an entire story time was discussed, and strongly discouraged by the speaker (a lawyer, and librarian). If you presented the video like a commercial, featuring different storytellers read bits of different books, that would probably be okay.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    Agreed – don’t break the law! There are ways to do it legally, including: get permission from the author/publisher; do a snippet, as you suggest; use an out of copyright story – think fairytales/classics here; or create your own.