When your Library Building Closes, your Library doesn’t Close

Library Closed signSo my library is closed today. We’re closed from May 1-5 to do a couple of tiny little projects, like:

  • RFID tag almost 500,000 items
  • Install 11 new self-check machines throughout the building
  • retrofit our automated material handler for RFID tags
  • Install new RFID security gates
  • Remove a bunch of DVDs and CDs from lockboxes (and get rid of the lockboxes)
  • Oh, and put in some new carpet too, while we’re at it!

To get all this done, we’re using our staff (because they are awesome), and we needed to “close the library.” But here’s the deal: our building is (mostly) closed, but the library? Not so much. Here’s what I mean:

  • First off, the whole building isn’t closed. You can still use some of our meeting rooms, visit the art gallery, the cafe, or our bookstore.
  • Telephone and chat reference is still open.
  • The digital branch is open – our website, our library catalog, our social media channels are still running.
  • Databases? They’re still available.
  • Ebooks? Yep – still available.
  • Bookmobiles? Still running.
  • Our outreach vehicles? Still going strong.
  • WIFI in the building? Still available.
  • Computers at local community centers (run by the library) are still available.
  • Holds? Still available on bookmobiles and through our book locker in one of the community centers.
  • … and probably some other stuff that I missed.

This actually made signage difficult for us! Some of our signs around the building say “library closed.” And some of them say “library closed, but …” You can see more of our signs here.

So – is the library closed because we closed a building? Nope. Today’s library is much larger than the building.

 

Social Capital in Action

Consider the social capital of networksAwhile back, Joyce Valenza, an assistant professor at Rutgers University (she blogs here and tweets here), asked me and a bunch of others to contribute content on the importance for a librarian to develop “social capital.” Joyce defined “social capital” this way:

How, through your blogs, reviews, tweets, webinars, have you developed friendships with authors and experts and other librarians that you’ve been able to leverage in less-than intangible ways? How has sharing a lot changed your position in your community, or, perhaps, led to speaking gigs and requests to publish? How do you digitally mentor and in what ways do you experience a return on those kind investments? How do you serve as a network bridge? How do you build and nurture ties weak and strong? How has the digital building of social capital benefited you either personally and professionally? (from Joyce’s email to me).

Here’s how Wikipedia defines Social Capital:

… social capital is the expected collective or economic benefits derived from the preferential treatment and cooperation between individuals and groups. Although different social sciences emphasize different aspects of social capital, they tend to share the core idea “that social networks have value”.

Interesting concept, huh?

Here’s what I sent back to Joyce as my response:

Check out this video of mine on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wj0B2RzuyZE – it’s not actually the video that’s important, but the comments. One in particular that happened recently. Melissa Saubers left a comment, inviting me (and my coworking/makerspace group in Topeka) to a conference in the Kansas City area (a cool-sounding co-working conference. Wish I could go!). She’s a coworking space owner in the KC area.

There are a couple of important social capital concepts here:

  • The invite, and that particular conference, is potentially really valuable to Topeka. We are creating a combined coworking/makerspace organization, and the library is playing a part in the developmental stages (along with 4-5 other non-profits/colleges in the area).
  • I’ve never met Melissa. I’d guess she ran across my video on KC-area makerspaces, is possibly helping to organize the KC event, and sent the invite via a comment because she thought it might be helpful to us.
  • The invite would have never happened if I didn’t already have social capital. I’m online, I’m already creating a variety of content and participating in professional-focused conversations. Because of that, and because I made a video with “social wings,” I received valuable info that can help my whole community.

My point? You can’t ignore social media. You can’t “have an account” but not use it much, or just be your “weekend self” and expect to make business connections. But if you actively participate on a variety of social media channels, and include at least a mix of business and personal, then … you just might be able to help your career, your library, and possibly even your community.

Image by Howard Lake

Interview about Tech Trends at Computers in Libraries

I’m at the annual Computers in Libraries conference this week. On Monday, Joe Murphy interviewed me and created a video of the interview.

In the interview, I talk about technology trends for libraries, which I taught at a preconference workshop on Sunday. I’ll make sure to post my slides for that and my other two talks soon, and will post them here.

The video interview is embedded in this post – I’d love for you to watch it, and tell me what you think!

PR 101: Don’t Make Major Announcements on April Fools Day

innovative and Polaris Announce stuff on April Fool's DayDon’t make major announcements on April Fools Day … or your customers might just think you’re a fool.

So, apparently Innovative Interfaces acquired Polaris Library Systems – two major ILS vendors (and yes, Polaris is my library’s ILS vendor).

When did they decide to announce this? On April 1, better known as April Fools Day. The day when companies large and small … make up stupid stuff on purpose. Just to be funny.

Many of us “online types” know that Google does this every year (this year’s Shelfie was pretty funny). Other companies do this with varying levels of success.

So when a major announcement from your ILS vendor springs up from out of the blue on April Fools Day? It makes you think twice, to say the least. That’s certainly what happened over at ALA Think Tank (a Facebook Group for librarians) – much discussion – none of it about the actual merger.

I tweeted about it, and Polaris answered:

So – Polaris and Innovative Interfaces:

  • I get that you have to announce it. It’s probably a legal thing.
  • But – the purchase happened on March 31. That’s when you should have announced it.
  • If you really HAD to announce it on April 1, you should have mentioned that at the start of your press release (which they did finally add sometime late afternoon yesterday).
  • The email I received should have gone out on March 31 – not April 1.
  • That’s besides the whole “talk to your customers” thing. I’m lookin’ at YOU, Polaris (who tried to sell us an early release beta version of their new LEAP software. No way now – not until the dust settles with the merger).

I’m pretty sure you guys both have some PR types on staff – use them next time, please?

Ideas from Platform – the wrap-up

My last three posts have been about Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Great book! Go read it.

There were a TON of great ideas on how to build a platform in the book – well worthy of reading, digesting, then figuring out how to adapt those ideas into an organizational, library setting. It can be done!

Here’s what I wrote about:

  1. Building a Wall of Fame
  2. Content is Not About You. Ever.
  3. Is Privacy Really Dead?

Have you read the book? I’ve love to hear what you found interesting. Please share!

Image from Michael Hyatt’s website