iPads for the Tweens

We have an iPad pilot project going on at our library right now. If it goes well, we might expand the project – more iPads, more areas, etc.

But for now, here’s what we’re doing:

  • We have two iPads out in our kid’s area – specifically in our Tweens area (kids ages 9-12)
  • Somewhere, we found some huge, spongy iPad cases
  • Each iPad has some games, art apps, and other age-appropriate apps
  • They are chained to a table so they don’t walk off

And they seem to be pretty popular!

[GARD align=”right”] The project is going well so far. We started off with some pretty normal black sleeve/cases – those didn’t last long, hence the huge, thick, spongy cases. There’s no power connected to them, so we have to recharge them every day. And I think we’ve had some problems keeping customers out of settings, etc. Sure, you can set up a password for some things – but that won’t keep people out of all the settings on an iPad.

Otherwise – it’s going well, and we’ll assess it and either grow the project or kill it, depending on feedback.

What’s your library doing with iPads or tablets? I’m curious!

Website Redesign Time!

My library is in the beginning stages of another website redesign. Our beginning thoughts were simply that we wanted to move to a responsive site design, to help out our mobile website visitors (hitting 20% and growing).

Then we realized all that back-end re-coding work pretty much meant a complete redesign. And there are some other things we want to address and improve, so doing a redesign makes sense.

I thought I might post once in awhile about the redesign process. Could be interesting…

What have we done so far?

  • I met with a group of customers, and asked them what they wanted in a website (see the image in this post for the notes on that session – here’s the Flickr link to it)
  • held some meetings with our Creative Group and our web team
  • created some early, rough draft mockups of the site – a main page, a blog post, and a mobile version of the main page.

Today, we kicked off a series of staff brainstorming meetings. In these meetings, I introduce the concept of responsive design, give some reasons why we are redesigning, and show off our mockups. Then, we brainstorm on these questions:

  • What do you like about the current website?
  • Where do customers get stuck when using the website?
  • What’s missing on our website?
  • What do you think can be improved?

Once these meetings are done, the next step will be to summarize the brainstorming sessions, and present that to our leadership team. Assuming that goes fine, then the website coding starts in earnest.

Should be a fun time!

Still Talking about Old Technology?

I’m guessing that your organization is still talking about how to implement old technology. You are holding meetings, creating working groups, forming committees. All based around implementing something that still seems new to you, but in reality is pretty darn old!

“Old technology? No way!” you say. Wanna bet? Here’s a short list of technology that gets discussed in libraries right now, with origin/founding/first appeared dates (yay for Wikipedia!):

  • Twitter – 7 years old (founded 2006)
  • Facebook – 9 years old (founded 2004)
  • ebooks – 42 years old (we’ll say 1971, though prototypes and patents go all the way back to the 1940s!)
  • ebook readers – 15 years old (1998, probably earlier)
  • QR Codes – 19 years old (created in 1994)
  • PC with OS’s newer than XP – 7 years old (Vista came out in 2006, though no one actually used it)
  • Apple Mac – 29 years old (Came out in 1984. I’ll guess many people remember the commercial, but haven’t actually used one)
  • Cell phones – 40 years old (First call made in 1973)
  • smart phones – 12 years old (started appearing in 2001)
  • text messaging – 21 years old (created in 1992)
  • IM/Chat messaging – 25 years old (IRC appeared in 1988)
  • wifi – 25 years old (appeared in 1988)
  • RFID – 30 years old (first patent in 1983)
  • Youtube – 8 years old (founded in 2005)
  • mp3 files for music – 19 years old (appeared in 1994)
  • digital media labs – 93 years old (ok, this one’s really hard to date. DMLs are really just small recording studios, which have been around in one form or another since at least the 1920s)
  • hackerspaces – 47 years old (This is another hard one to date. The Chaos Computer Club, an early hackerspace, was founded in 1981. But I think you could put the Homebrew Computer Club in this list, started in 1975, which helped spawn Apple. And my dad and my uncle Bob have had workshops in their basements with all sorts of crazy machinery since I’ve been alive. So I’m dating these at 47 years old :-)
  • Cloud computing – 63 years old (There have been mainframes/dumb terminals since the 1950s, which could be argued to be early cloud-based computing)
  • 3D Printing – 29 years old (the first working 3d printer appeared in 1984)

So I ask again – are you talking about old technology … like it’s new technology? Do you have staff who can’t use ebooks, are wary of smartphones or text messaging reference, or look at you crazy when you introduce the concept of a hackerspace to them? Is your library/city/governing board still wary of new-fangled social media tools like Facebook or Cloud computing?

Makes you think, doesn’t it!

Steampunk mobile phone pic by Urban Don

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

Five Tips to Reshape your Social Media Plan in 2013


[This is an article I wrote for my book, Face2Face – I thought it would make a great post here, too – enjoy! DLK]

Social media has been around for over ten years. My guess is that by now, your organization is probably involved in some way with social media. Maybe you have created a Twitter or Facebook account. Maybe you even have some friends and fans on those accounts, and you share things with them when you have time.

Let’s rework this in 2013. Social media is now mainstream, and your customers are using it to connect. They connect easily to each other, and since the tool is the same, they’ll find it easy to connect to your organization, too… if you make a few easy-to-do adjustments in your approach to business-facing social media.

Here are five simple adjustments you can make to kick-start your organization’s social media efforts in 2013:

1. Focus on Conversations

First off, let’s focus on conversations. Many organizations and businesses have been using social media status updates as a broadcasting tool. They send out notices of events, sales, or coupons. Possibly, they have used social media as an easy outlet to send out press releases and important corporate announcements.

My new book - Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer ConnectionsGuess what? If your organization focuses primarily on sending out corporate communications, your customers will tune out your organization and unfriend you in a heartbeat. In 2013, instead of using social media as a one-way broadcast tool, work on starting and continuing conversations with your customers.

This will require your organization to do three important things: 1. Listen before you speak. Set up some listening tools (Google alerts and Twitter search alerts are good places to start) to see what your customers are saying about you; 2. Respond, using colloquial, conversational language. This will feel weird if you’re used to more formal marketing-speak. Make it feel like you’re talking to a work colleague at the water cooler – do this, and people will start talking to you. And 3 – figure out what types of conversations YOU want to start. Do some brainstorming on the conversations your organization needs to hear in 2013, and start those conversations.

2. Focus on the Visual

For the most part, many businesses and organizations have been posting text-heavy status updates in their social media accounts. That makes sense in text-based Twitter, but not so much in Facebook. In fact, Facebook best practices show that when you do one simple thing – add a photo or a video to your post – engagement increases by 100% or more.

So get those cameras out of your pockets (yes, that iPhone or Android smartphone makes a great point-and-shoot camera), and start taking photos around the office, the warehouse, or the store. Maybe think about the three most important things that your customers should know about your organization, take photos of that, then share those photos with customers.

3. Focus on Video

That smartphone I just mentioned in #2 is also HD quality video recorder, and we can put it to good use! There’s a reason YouTube is so popular right now – people love watching short videos. Studies show that people engage more with video posts than with text-only posts.

Here’s my guess – most likely, you haven’t made many videos for your organization. If you have created some videos, it probably resembled a TV commercial. That’s not what your customers want to watch. Instead, get to the point immediately – YouTube suggests that the first 15 seconds are critical to connect with viewers. So don’t waste those seconds with titles, fade-ins, and credits.

Just start sharing your main points. Then post that video to two places – YouTube and Facebook. Use YouTube to share in most places, and use the Facebook upload to share with your Facebook page fans. Facebook’s algorithm favors videos uploaded to Facebook, so those will get seen more than a shared YouTube video.

4. Focus on Next Steps

Many times organizations post information to their social media accounts, but don’t include anything for customers to do. They don’t include a next step. Let’s change that in 2013. Make sure that everything you do includes some type of “ask.” That ask can be as simple as asking customers to “friend or fan” a Facebook Page, or the ask might be to click a link that takes them to a new product or a buy-it-now page.

More people will click if you actually ask them to click. Because of this, make sure to provide customers with some next steps, and actually invite them to take that next step. Do that, and your organization will be one step closer to continued engagement with customers.

5. Focus on your Customers!

Finally, most businesses and organizations, believe it or not, don’t actually focus on their customers! Instead, they focus on their stuff, on their showroom floor, or on their sales staff. In 2013, let’s focus on our customers. Engage them in conversation. Ask them if they like what they’re seeing. Ask them to take next steps, and invite them into your organization.

Follow these five simple reshaping steps, and you will be well on your way to having a great 2013 with social media, and with some really engaged customers, too.

pic by Tintin44