What’s the Most Visited Part of your Library?

Do you adequately staff the busiest parts of your library? For example, if you have a busy reference desk, you probably make sure there are staff to meet demand.

If your circulation desk gets busy in the afternoons, you probably put another person there to help.

But what if your digital branch is the busiest part of your library? What then?

Here’s what I mean. Take a peek at some annual stats from my library:

  • Door count: 797,478 people
  • Meeting room use: 137,882 people
  • Library program attendance: 76,043 attendees
  • Art Gallery visitors: 25,231 visitors
  • Reference questions: 271,315 questions asked

How about website visits? We had 1,113,146 total visits to the website in 2014. The only larger number is is our circulation count (2,300,865 items).

The busiest part of my library is our digital branch – our website. More visits than meeting room attendance. More visits than library classes and events. More visits than our art gallery.

More visits than our physical building.

I’ll guess your library is similar. So how do we staff for this? I know, I know. Website visits are different than a person visiting the building. Building visitors will most likely stay longer, will need furniture to use, will step on carpet that needs cleaning, and will use computers that need to be maintained. While a digital branch visit might only last for two minutes.

Still … do you see a potential disparity here?

So I’ll ask my question again: Do you adequately staff the busiest parts of your library?

Image by Mervyn Chua

Your Digital Branch has Unique Content

Did you know that Emerald Group Publishing has a Special Features part of their website? They have some really useful articles there … one of them being an article from me!

I just posted this – Your Digital Branch has Unique Content. What do I talk about? What the title says – the fact that your library’s website – your digital branch – has some very unique content. Think ebooks, or the full catalog vs browsing the shelves for stuff not checked out.

And some other ideas too. Go read it!

How Engaging is Your Website?

I just read Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries, by the Aspen Institute.

On page 15, they talked about the library as place. I was struck by this:

The library as it exists within virtual space must be considered as a wholly independent but highly integrated experience; that is, the library’s virtual presence must be as engaging as its physical space and fully serve the library’s mission built around equitable access, learning and civic development.

Wow. Did you catch that? ” … as engaging as its physical space…” and “fully serve the library’s mission …”

Are we there yet? Look around your building, your service points, your programs. Your most popular stuff. Then look at your digital spaces.

Are we there yet? I don’t think so.

Pic by Quinn Dombrowski

Nice Chicago Tribune article about Using the Digital Library

I was recently interviewed by Greg Karp at the Chicago Tribune about digital libraries – ebooks, streaming videos, downloadable music, websites, etc.

Karp’s angle with the story is that a modern library can save people money. Why buy when you can borrow?

It’s an interesting read, and could have a couple of uses for you:

  • Different marketing angle (saving money, using free stuff, etc)
  • Showcasing the different types of offerings at a modern library (3D printers, ebooks, downloadable music, and … cakepans!)

Best part of the article? At the end, Karp mentions the value of librarians:

Perhaps the most valuable resource in any library is a librarian, who can help you find what you need. Nowadays, you might get that help electronically, via email, chat, text message and, increasingly, social media, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Anyway – enjoy!

Logo from the Chicago Tribune

Using Business Cards to Promote econtent

My library has a bunch of econtent – services like Freegal, OneClick Digital, Hoopla, OverDrive, Zinio, Treehouse, and Mango Languages.

Each of these tools point to real content – movies, music, books, magazines, and classes – but they live on the digital branch.

Our marketing department created a fun way to promote these econtent services by using business cards.

Each card has a word and an image on the front, and a brief description and a URL to the service on the back of the card.

We are using these cards to promote a bunch of services:

  • Music – promotes Freegal
  • Audiobooks – promotes OneClick Digital
  • Video – promotes Hoopla
  • Ebooks – promotes Overdrive
  • Language – promotes Mango
  • Magazines – promotes Zinio
  • Design & Program – promotes Treehouse

The idea? Place these cards around the building, hand them out at events, etc. Basically – give them to customers, so customers know about all this cool content we have. It’s one way of getting content that lives on the digital branch “out of the building.”

You can see the other cards we created over on my Flickr account.

Update: And here’s the back of the Music card, as an example of the info we provide.