Use the Front Door

A front door in Delft

If your library’s like mine, you have staff-only ways to access library stuff … things like employee parking, a staff-only entrance, a back-end way to access the library catalog, etc. Whenever I put a book on hold, I get it delivered via inter-office mail.

I never have to use the library like a patron if I don’t want to!

My question – is this a good thing?

Try using your library like a patron. Is it easy or hard? Is there something that frustrates you about the whole process? It’s probably doing the same thing to your patrons.

Here’s a thought – maybe we should create a “Work Like a Patron” week, where we only use the library like our customers do – use your library’s wifi (bonus points for using a Public PC), search using the patron version of your catalog, maybe even sit at those lovely desks in the library. Or hang out in a cafe, accessing all work- and library-related stuff from outside of the building. Use the front door, and see the library through your patrons’ eyes.

This works for the IT department, too. Use library employee tools like … library employees, rather than like IT dudes and dudettes. Is it hard? If so … it’s probably hard for the rest of the library, too. Make it work for everyone!

If it works wonderfully, great! If not, maybe you have some things to improve.

Answer these Questions

I recently read What do You Want People to See over on the Social Rabbit blog. Good read … and it made me think a bit.

The article discusses setting some goals for your social media sites by answering some questions – questions like this:

  • What are you using social media in your business for?
  • what impression about your business do you want to leave people with?

Not bad questions to answer at all. For example, think about your organization’s Facebook Page (assuming you have one). What are you using that for? Have any idea?

How about the second question – what impression do you want to leave people with who visit your organization’s Facebook Page? Answering this question might change the way you post status updates, or what types of pictures you add to the page, for example.

Pondering those questions made me think about our organization websites. Shouldn’t we answer those types of questions in relation to our websites too? I think so.

Take a peek at a page on your website – any page will do. Then answer these questions:

  • what should your audience be looking at while on this page?
  • where are you pointing your audience? What actions should they take here?
  • What should they do next?

Answering these questions will start you down the path of setting some goals for major sections of your website. Not a bad thing to have at all :-)

Pic by Alexander Henning Drachmann

New Presentation: Creating Community Experience Using Mostly Free Stuff and Staff

Here’s the Slideshare version of a presentation I did for Proquest at the ALA MidWinter 2011 meeting. It was a fun presentation to do – I was experimenting with creating recurring themes throughout the presentation, and working on my transitions.

I think it worked well. Enjoy!

Answer these Questions for your Website

We’re in the midst of a website redesign for our library. As we start looking at content, links, buttons, headings, etc – stuff like that – you know what we’re thinking?

We’re thinking this: does this link/content/heading/etc answer these questions for our customers?

  • What can I do here?
  • What can I do next?
  • Why should I care?

Answering these are really hard! Think about it for a sec – take a pretty normal link, like the library web designer’s favorite – “Library Databases.” Answering that “what can I do here” question certainly gets into how you label that section of your website (’cause we all know that “Library Databases” means nothing). Perhaps something like “Find articles” or “do some research” might work better?

Or think about a blog post – answering the “what can I do next” question can be as easy as linking to a set of related articles, topics, or even related books at the end of the post. I do this on my blog – when you’re reading it on the actual website, when you finish reading the article, you’ll see a list of related blog posts I wrote. What’s this get you? Website visitors staying on your site for longer amounts of time. More clicks. Hopefully, more conversions – more people clicking “attend this event” or checking out a book, etc.

“Why should I care” is a favorite one of our library director, and it’s probably the hardest of the three questions to answer. One way to do this is in the content itself. So your first couple of questions get the customer to your content … and then your content itself will need to answer that “why should I care” thing.

The answer could be any number of things, ranging from “because you can borrow it for free” to “because you’re a small business owner, and these resources will help you be profitable.” See where I’m going with this? Another way to say “why should I care” is to ask “what’s in it for me” or “why is this interesting?” Give them that reason.

Give your customers a reason to stay on your site by having great content AND by actually telling them why they might want to stay. Do that, and my guess is that … they actually WILL stay on your site – your digital banch – longer, doing more things.

Could be a good thing!

pic by Marco Bellucci

Day 1 at Internet Librarian 2010

I’m at Internet Librarian 2010 in Monterey, CA – wonderful conference full of librarian techie joy. Here are some of the highlights I picked up yesterday:

The keynote presentation was: Why Libraries Have a Future: Adding Value to your Community, presented by Patricia Martin, CEO Litlamp Communications & Author, Renaissance Generation: The Rise of the CUltural Consumer and What it Means to Your Business

Her book = what it looks like right before a renaissance.

Here’s what she means by that:

as soon as something is deemed less relevant, it starts getting shed… her goal is to help us figure out how to still be relevant (so libraries don’t get shed)

Interesting aside – capitalism is based on conformity (ie., 9 billion people eating the same hamburger)

Cool idea – Irene Au at Google – created a team that looked around the org, and proposes improvements to the user experience at parts of google. This can work for a library!

She asked users what the minimal user experience should be, then works to get those integrated.

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Managing Your Library’s Online Presence

Jennifer Koerber, Boston Public Library

think about voice. Be consistent in your voice online. use a styleguide with a team of authors.

pre-load some preferred tags, so when busy authors are ready to tag … they can pick some “good” ones.

fonts can give you a voice

banners – you can add these to websites, youtube, separate blogs, etc – it is a visual way to pull everything together visually

Logos – easy way to anchor your sites and services

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SuHui Ho – University of California

Managing today’s e-Library

it takes a village to build, staff, and manage an e-library.

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Colleen Brazil -Sno-Isle Libraries

Used Overdrive as example – said we should always continue the conversation about when patrons have a bad experience with a product we use – keep the dialogue open, communicate with vendor and patrons