I’ve been thinking about the whole “mobile first” strategy for websites, which makes a lot of sense. That’s the idea that, when designing a website, you make it work on mobile devices first.
Why does it make sense? These days, many of your customers are carrying a web browser around with them, on their smartphone or tablet. If they aren’t, they will be soon. So it makes a lot of sense to design a website to work on mobile browsers.
As I’ve been thinking and reading about Mobile First strategy, I’ve come across another idea that works in a library setting, too – the idea of creating an “online first” strategy.
What is Online First?
Online First is the idea that everything your organization does should have an online component first – before the in-person or physical component. Or at the least, the online parts should be as important as the in-person component.
Oh yeah – like that’ll work, David.
This concept actually makes a lot of sense for many businesses. Some examples:
- Journalism. Many news organizations have, indeed, switched to an online first model for news reporting. New stories are immediately published online and distributed by websites and social media. Then the news organization publishes the best or most interesting stories into their print or broadcast versions. More on that here.
- Retail businesses. Where will you find, say, the whole product line from the Disney Store? In their physical store? Nope. their full product catalog can be found online. Plus, in the online store, you’ll find product reviews, ratings, etc. In the physical store, you just find (maybe) the product on the shelf. I wrote about this (sorta) back in 2009.
- Restaurants. Ok, you can’t drink an online cup of coffee or eat an online hamburger. But you CAN read all about the the food you’re planning to purchase online – nutritional info for the hamburger, or the origin and background and tasting description of the coffee beans. Want that “secret” In-N-Out Burger menu? It can be found online.
- Customer service. Sometimes, you need to talk to a person about a product – how to assemble it, how to return it, or a billing issue. Does that always have to be a “physically in-person” interaction? No, and actually that’s sometimes impossible at the physical store. Why? Because the physical store closes at 9pm, but you might need that answer at 2am! Online, you can possibly talk to a person via chat. If not that, it’s very possible to still watch an assembly video, download instructions, or read some detailed information on a support page.
So that’s the idea, anyway. In my next post, I’ll give some thoughts to how this idea might work in a library setting.
Photo by the European Parliament
Every once in awhile, someone asks me how my library manages our social media channels. Here’s how we do it:
We create teams of staff for our social media sites. So for example, we have a Facebook Posting Team (with a team leader). For that team, we create some goals and define who our main customers are (the largest percentage of our Facebook users are females ages 25-45, so we focus on that group the most).
Goals might include: number of posts per day, how many friends we want to reach, being an active presence in the local Facebook community, etc.
Then we created three content areas to focus on in Facebook:
- Reader’s advisory (we post about books, characters, authors, etc)
- Current news and pop culture, both national and local
- The normal library stuff (events, library news, etc)
Next, we assign days and times for our team. So I might get Wednesday afternoons, and be assigned to post about current events. Whoever is “on” for that time slot will also answer questions, etc. as they appear.
That’s basically it! We have done that so far with Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and it seems to be working pretty well for us.
Want to create a social media team? Here’s how I’d do it:
- Gather your team. Make sure to include public services staff. They already interact with customers, so it makes sense. This can be a team of 2-3 or more (depends on the size of your library). Also figure out who is the team leader.
- Create some goals. Why do you want to use social media? What do you want to do with it? How do you want to connect to customers using it? What should the end result look like? Answer those types of questions.
- Create 2-4 broad content areas to focus on. Figure out 2-4 broad areas you want to post about, and how often you want to post. That really helps focus your library’s message. These should be based on the goals you created earlier.
- Pick the best tools that will help meet those goals. This will most likely include Facebook (about 60% of your community is probably using it). It might also include tools like Twitter or Instagram.
- Create a posting schedule … and start posting!
How do you run social media at your library? I’d love to know!
Photo by Melanie Holtsman
We’ve been busy at my library! Our huge RFID/Self-check/Carpeting project is pretty much done – yippie!
How did we connect with our community while our building was closed? Through media: local news media and social media channels.
Here are some of the mentions we received in the local news media:
We have a great relationship with local media, so it’s really pretty easy for us to get mentioned in the news (way to go, marketing dept!). Since we were closed for 5 days while we tagged all our materials, it was nice to be able to share that through local traditional media outlets.
We also used our own social media channels to share what was going on through those five days. Here’s one of our videos showing our first customer using our new checkout kiosks:
We made four more videos:
These videos were uploaded to Youtube, and then shared out via Twitter and Facebook. We also created some Vine videos and took some quick “in the moment” pictures that went to Twitter.
Now, our customers are sharing their experience with our new checkout kiosks. The image in this blog post shows two of our customers who took pretty much the same photo, then shared the photos on Twitter (with slightly different viewpoints).
- We’re done – whew!
- Gotta have those media connections – both local and social – in place BEFORE your big project. If you don’t have that already, start working on it NOW.
I use a Macbook Pro at home and when I travel to speaking engagements. Once in awhile, when the library’s IT person discovers I use a Mac, he/she says “make sure you bring your vga adapter.” And I always do.
Recently when that happened, it made me think – sometimes libraries aren’t all that friendly to Mac users. Do you:
- Allow Macs to plug into your LCD projectors in your meeting rooms? Or any “non-library-approved” computer, for that matter (some libraries don’t).
- Provide help to Mac users when they plug into LCD projectors and something doesn’t work? (my library used to have a disclaimer for that).
- Provide a handful of $30 VGA to Mac adapters in case the speaker forgets to bring one? My library does now.
- How about public wifi – do you have general connection instructions that work for a variety of devices (i.e., Mac, PC, tablets, mobile devices, etc), or just for PC users?
And if not … why? Make sure your library is device agnostic and device friendly, at least for the public.
Image by raneko
So 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.