People are Human, Brands (and Organizations) not so much

I recently read this post, Why your nonprofit needs a personality and NOT a brand, on John Haydon’s blog. Here’s a snippet:

“Most of the people you connect with on Facebook and Twitter are your friends. They’re people. They have personality.

And I bet that you spend 95% of your time connecting with people – not companies. And even when you do connect with a company, your best experiences are defined by the people who work at that company (think Zappos).”

Reading that made me think – how does my library work on giving our organization “personality?” How are we, as a system, acting more like people rather than an organization?

Hard question, huh?

Here’s what we’re doing (off the top of my head). What can you add to this list?

  • Blog-based content focused on our collection and events. Our content creators’ personalities shine through in their writing.
  • we include pictures and full names for every blog post. Same with our public-facing staff directory. This allows our customers to connect with actual people. And it works – I get emails and phone calls from customers wanting to talk to the “techie dude” every week.
  • We send staff out in the community. We do this through our bookmobiles and other vehicle-based delivery, through offsite programs and events, and through our speakers’ bureau. Again, this gives a face to the library.
  • We have an Ask Now button pretty much everywhere on our website and catalog that connects to IM chat reference.
  • We use multimedia – pictures of events, videos, etc. Visual ways to introduce staff to customers, and to make our library more personal to customers.
  • We share what us librarians are reading, using Goodreads and LibraryThing widgets (think staff picks – see examples here and here).
  • And of course, we’re using social media – Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc.

So – that’s some of the things we’re doing to create a Face2Face connection with our customers.

What would you add? What’s your library doing? Please share!

photo of smiling people by Bigstock

High Plains Library District Staff Day Presentations

Yesterday, I hung out with the staff of the High Plains Library District in Greeley, CO. They are a very dynamic, energetic bunch!

I gave two presentations while there – here are the embeddable versions of them:

and

Enjoy!

Content Creation, Media Labs, and Hackerspaces

Skokie Public Library's Digital Media Lab

I’ve been thinking about content creation and libraries lately. Right now, we collect content – hence our shelves of stuff. Yes, we do many other things too. But if you look at our buildings, they have been, by and large, designed for collections of stuff – for collecting content.

Some libraries are changing that focus (or at least adding on to it) by enabling customers to create their own content in a variety of ways … and it’s pretty interesting stuff!

I’ll lump what I’m seeing into three loose categories:

  • Digital Media Labs
  • Hackerspaces
  • Coworking spaces

Digital Media Labs: These spaces have content creation tools that allow customers to create and share video, music, photography, and design projects. Customers have access to computers with editing software, cameras, camcorders, microphones, and musical keyboards.

The best examples I’ve seen of this so far are Skokie Public Library’s Digital Media Lab and Chicago Public Library’s YouMedia project. Skokie’s lab has a greenscreen wall for video projects; Youmedia includes a small recording studio space.

Hackerspaces: “A hackerspace … is a location where people with common interests, often in computers, technology, science, or digital or electronic art (but also in many other realms) can meet, socialise and/or collaborate … hackers can come together to share resources and knowledge to build and make things” (from Wikipedia).

Basically, hackerspaces tend to be public spaces with tools – 3D printers, drill presses, etc. And people make stuff there. Who’s doing this? Well, Allen County Public Library and Fayetteville Free Library are, for starters.

Coworking Spaces: Coworking is a pretty simple concept. Independent workers, freelancers, small business owners, etc. gather in a shared space to share ideas, team up on projects, and get some work done in a more social setting. It’s an alternative to meeting at home or a local coffee shop.

Libraries have unofficially done this for years (how many of you have heard of a patron who runs his/her business from the library? I’ll bet some of you have). But some libraries are going a step or two further by embedding librarians in these spaces, or even offering coworking spaces as part of their services. Meg Knodl, a librarian at Hennepin County Library, is doing this – here’s an article on what Meg is doing. Helsinki City Library has created some coworking spaces – read more about it here.

For more info, check out these articles:

Question – is your library doing something like this? If so, let me know in the comments!

Photo by Skokie Public Library

Internet Librarian 2011, Day 2: Designing for Optimal UX

Nate Hill, Web Librarian, San Jose Public Library

Chris Noll, Noll & Tam Architects

Slide on the screen:

Because of the Internet, access to:
Books and other documents have gone from Read to Read/Write
Photo and video output has gone from View to View/Edit
Music and other audio has gone from Listen to Listen/Remix

Nate is introducing the topic of libraries starting to support content creation, and the models behind that.

Chris:

Contra Costa has used vending machines in shopping malls, etc. Washington County is using reserve boxes.

Boston Chinatown Storefront Library – community driven library

Houston – small small branch…

DC – Kiosk branches…

Greenbridge Library – took a community center, and developed part of it into a library

Idea Stores in London. Mix up libraries, cafes, etc.

Morgan Hill Library – self checkout, check in, self help holds, etc – very self-driven

Nate:

talking about the Digital Public Library or America project and their beta sprint. Realized we will still need physical spaces to create digital content.

LibraryLab idea:

broken into modules like audio and video creation, scanning, collaboration, etc

Chris: talking about creating furniture for these creative types of spaces …

Give people access to tools. Some libraries check out tools or musical instruments. Why not video cameras, microphones, etc?

Why not have design tools – desktop publishing, CAD/CAM tools, 3D printers, etc? The library could support these things.

They want this project to happen … but need funding, etc.

Turning Strangers into Friends

The Thank You Economy

I just read The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk. Good read. Here’s an interesting thought I got out of it that relates to libraries.

On page 53, he writes about Nielson conducting a study on what drives consumer trust. 70% of people said they turn to family and friends for advice when making purchasing decisions.

Then Gary says this: “The ROI of your relationship with your mother is going to be much higher than that of the one you have with a good friend. Both, however, are more valuable than the one you have with an acquaintance, which trumps the relationship you have with a stranger. Without social media, you and your customer are relegated to strangers; with it, depending on your efforts, you can potentially upgrade your relationship to that of casual acquaintances, and even, in time, to friends. The power of that relationship can go so far as to convert a casual browser into a committed buyer, or a buyer into an advocate.” (pg 54-55).

This idea of turning strangers into friends works great in libraries, too. The goal is simply this – become casual acquaintances, or even friends, with our customers. We have done that for years in our buildings – I’d say that’s business as usual.

Online? We can do the same thing by using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook. Start friending people in your community. Your customers. That’s how you start turning strangers into friends … and into customers of your library.

Here’s what Gary did – he created Twitter alerts for wine words like Merlot. When someone had a question about that term, he answered it … and started growing a reputation about actually knowing something about wine.

We know stuff too – we are librarians, after all! Use a tool like Twitter. Do a zip code search for your local area or a town search … then add some words to that search, like book, reading, etc. Or business terms … or whatever the hot issues in your town happen to be.

Then start answering questions or making comments as they seem relevant. Point to your stuff, like the book that answers it, when it makes sense. Be helpful … like you already are in your building.

It’s a way to get out in the community without actually leaving the air conditioning!

Pic by Steven Rosenbaum