Sign the Petition at ebooksforlibraries.com!

Ebooks in libraries got you down? Feel like you can’t do anything about it, or that you don’t have a voice? My library wants to help!

We have created a petition website – ebooksforlibraries.com. Visit the website, watch the video (also embedded in this post), and more importantly – fill out the petition today!

What’s going on? Pretty simple:

  • Libraries are having trouble getting ebooks from the largest publishing companies. These publishers are adding restrictions and price increases, or simply not selling ebooks to libraries at all.
  • This means that library customers can get a print copy of a book from a library, but can’t get that same book in an ebook format. And that’s just weird.
  • Goal – we need 10,000 e-signatures from readers.
  • Once we hit that magic number, we plan to mail the completed petitions to each of the big six publishers. Why? We want to communicate directly with publishers through this petition process, with the intent of establishing formal and consistent communication between publishers and readers.

One other thing – you can help!

  • Fill out the petition!
  • Share the petition – on your website, in Facebook, in Twitter, etc.
  • Point to the petition in your buildings – put up signs, mention it in your library’s newsletter, etc.

Why do this? Our ultimate goal is to get books, in all formats, to our readers. This helps authors, publishers, libraries … and most importantly, our readers.

Social Media as Place

My last post about those billboards reminded me about the difference between a library’s normal forms of content (books, DVDs, music CDs, etc) and social media.

What’s that difference?

  • Content – a book, a video, etc – is something you DO. You read a book, you watch a movie.
  • Social Media is a place you visit in order to DO. You visit Facebook in order to share something with your mom.

Think of social media as a crowded room in a pretty social setting. A bar, a party, hanging out with friends, etc. You go there to talk, to share, to listen. It’s a place you visit so that you can do something.

There are a couple of cool intersections though. Things like this:

  • Go to Twitter (a place) to talk (something to do) about a book that everyone’s reading (content).
  • Visiting the library (a place) to use the computer to access Facebook to reconnect with a friend (something to do).

So librarians … use your mad powers of social media to connect with your customers to talk about your content. Then see what happens.

image by Bigstock

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

Youtube – The First 15 Seconds

old fashioned timerWhat’s important in your Youtube videos? The first 15 seconds. According to Youtube’s Creator Playbook, you have 10-15 seconds to hook your viewer into watching the rest of your video. It’s extremely easy to click away from a video – just click and you’re gone. Especially if you’re watching in Youtube, since they have that Related Videos sidebar with other interesting-looking videos … click!

So those first few seconds need to be the best part of your video to keep people watching!

What do many of us do with those first 15 seconds?

  • a slow fade-in
  • cheesy music
  • attempt a flashy branded intro, titles, etc
  • or if it’s a screencast, we start right in with our computer screen – exciting stuff, huh?

Instead, here’s what Youtube says we should do:

  • Get to the point immediately – put your most compelling content first!
  • Quick teaser or summary of what’s going to be in the video, done by the person in the video. You can also welcome/greet the audience or ask a question/spark the viewer’s curiosity. Think inverted pyramid writing style, but for video.
  • branding, packaging, intros, … not as important, especially up-front. Let the content come first.
  • Intros should be minimal and short – 5 seconds is an optimal length

The goal? Make sure your viewers know what they’re watching. If they don’t know in 10-15 seconds … click – they’re gone.

Pic of hourglass from Bigstock

Improve your Copywriting!

Smashing magazine logoWant to improve the writing on your library’s website? Check out Five Copywriting Errors That Can Ruin A Company’s Website by Smashing Magazine.

here are their five copywriting errors:

  1. Writing inwardly
  2. Burying the lead
  3. Mediocre meta material
  4. Saying too much
  5. Weak or no Calls to Action

Good stuff – go read it, then work on improving those copywriting skills!