Tell your Customers that you have Ebooks

ebookRecently, the Pew Internet & American Life folks released this about ebook lending at public libraries. It’s part of their Libraries, patrons, and E-books report.

Here’s the pull-out quote: “Most Americans are unaware of e-book lending at their local public library.” Then it goes on to the stats: 76% of public libraries lend ebooks … and most Americans really don’t know if their library has them.

I know. There’s a lot in the current ebook/publisher/distributor landscape that you can’t really change at the moment. Yes, yes, together we can and probably will create some ebook changes.

But for now, your single library can’t change the price of an ebook to a fairer price; you can’t get 27 checkouts from HarperCollins books; and you can’t call up Penguin and beg them to sell you ebooks, even though they don’t sell to libraries … and have them cave in and make an exception in your case (well, unless you happen to be a large NYC library, perhaps).

But there is one thing … One Thing! One thing that you CAN do, and we apparently AREN’T DOING IT. And that’s actually telling people that you have ebooks that can be checked out. What’s up with that?

Guys, this is simple stuff … and putting up a link to Overdrive on your website does not count.

What can you do to tell your customers that your library has ebooks? Here are some starter ideas:

  • link on your website
  • big, bold ad on the main page of your site, above the fold
  • a large sign in your library
  • a couple of large signs in your library
  • a billboard on a major road in town
  • mention it in your events newsletter
  • mention it in your enewsletter … with a link
  • mention it in Twitter and Facebook. More than once.
  • Send out a press release
  • Get an interview in the newspaper, at local radio stations, and on the local TV news station.

Then rinse and repeat. You generally have to tell people more than once to make it “stick.”

So – those are some starter ideas. How about you? How have you successfully told your customers that you do, in fact, have ebooks? let’s share, and turn this silly pew statistic – this horribly pathetic Pew statistic – around.

photo by Nikkorsnapper

How to grow your audience and market your podcast #Blogworld

blogworldPresenters: Cliff Ravenscraft (Podcast Answer Man), Father Roderick

26 things that will help!

1. There is power when your show has a narrow niche focus. The more focused on a niche you can be, the better. It will actually help you find a larger audience.

2. Only podcast about things for which you are passionate about.

3. Before you record your first episode, you should know why you are podcasting in the first place. Have a mission/purpose for your show. ANd – is a podcast the best medium for your message?

4. Become crystal clear on exactly who your target audience is! Imagine your occupation was that of a bounty hunter.

5. Build it and they will come does not, often, work in podcasting! Creating an amazing show is about 30% of the equation. The other 70% is marketing and relationship building. Go read the book “How to win friends and influence people.” Actually schedule time to promote your podcast, answer emails, etc.

6. You should submit your podcast directories like iTunes, Zune, Blackberry, and Stitcher Radio. Customize and brand those sites if you can. tweetadder.com – Cliff used this to follow 500 people a day that were interested in the topic his podcast focused on. You can do this manually too – just follow people that talk about the same things you are interested in. Cliff has some helpful info/submission tools on his podcast website.

7. Content is king! Create high value content that people can’t live without. It’s an added bonus if your content is so great that they are compelled to share it with others.

8. Entertainment goes a long way. Don’t be boring! Make your enthusiasm show through your voice.

9. Keep it positive. The world is seeking hope and encouragement. Give it to them! Sell hope – this keeps people coming back.

10. Be enthusiastic! Don’t do it more than what is natural for you though.

11. skipped this one

12. Audio quality is queen! Remember that there are times when the queen will trump the king! Many people will not listen to your great content if your audio quality is not that great. Both said don’t use USB mics of any type. Better to get a real mic, a mixer, etc and sound professional.

13. Build relationships with your audience! Learn the first name, last name, and a minimum of at least one other personal fact about as many of the people who download your show as possible. Wow.

14. Include the voice of your audience in your show.

15. Thank members of your community publicly, both in your show and in your online efforts. Give praise! DOn’t just focus on yourself.

16. Establish and build meaningful relationships with other content creators in your niche/industry.

17. Create keyword rich titles, show notes, etc for your podcast. And all that other SEO junk.

18. Make yourself newsworthy! (http://podcastanswerman.com/newsworthy)

19. Interview others in your show.

20 – 26. Went over time, so I didn’t catch these. Either way, these were all great suggestions!

Communicating with Our Customers

new catalog signageDuring my library’s ILS (library catalog) migration project, we wanted to make sure our customers knew about it. It’s not usually a good thing to have your customers show up the day after we go live, thinking “what in the world happened here?”

Communicating with 170,000 people is no easy task! Here’s what we did:

Signs in the building: We had signs everywhere in the building (check out my Flickr set to see some of our signs), including:

  • huge banner in our entryway
  • images pointing out the new catalog was coming on our digital signs
  • small stand-up signs on tables and at the service desks
  • signs on all the catalog-only computers
  • a HUGE sign at the circulation desk

digital branch signageSigns on our digital branch: if you visited our website in the past month, you knew about our ILS migration! We used one of our big ads on the main page of our website to point to an article and video about the change. People actually read the article (judging by our Google Analytics numbers) and we received 38 comments on the article (some from me, answering questions).

We actually used that article and the big front-page ad as a countdown of sorts, too. Every day, we updated the ad (i.e., 3,2,1, it’s here! type stuff) and updated the article with a “tip of the day” for the new catalog.

Social Media: We shared about the project widely via social media. For us, that meant pointing to the article and answering questions about the project using Twitter and Facebook. We also made a video about the project, and dumped it into Youtube and on our website.

Traditional Media: we have a good relationship with local media, so we were able to tell customers about the new library catalog via a local TV station (they do a “Library Tuesdays” segment during their 4pm news show) and through an article in our local newspaper.

And now, the big question – did all that communication work? I think so. While I’m sure there are people showing up at the library or at our website, thinking “what the heck? Why does this look different all of the sudden?” I also know that customers knew about our project. Why? Because they told us. I had more than one person come up to me, find out I worked at the library, and said “how’s that new library catalog project coming along? We love the library!” Other staff told me they had a similar experience.

That says to me that our customers, for the most part, got the message. So – mischief managed!

Have you ever had to communicate with a large group of customers about a project? Did you do something I didn’t list? Let me know in the comments!

The Creative Group

Creative Group
The Creative Group

In my last blog post, I mentioned my library’s Creative Group. What is that, exactly?

My library decided that Public Relations and the web team did a lot of similar things, and needed to work together. PR routinely creates print ads, newsletters, posters, banners, and PR campaigns. The web team does much the same thing, just online. Why not collaborate up-front, so the message online and in-print is the same?

And hey – while we’re at it … both teams are highly creative. What’s not to like about schmushing two creative teams together into the same physical space, to see what happens?

So we stuck both teams into the same work space. We also started holding regular weekly meetings. So every week, our three PR staff, two web developers, me, our Programs Supervisor, our Digital Content Librarian (new position that’s part of Public Services), the Deputy Director, and sometimes our library director meet. Anyone else in the library is invited, too.

What do we do? We talk about projects. Last week, we talked about our Personalized Reading List service – we’re reworking the form and the page the form lives on. The staffer in charge of that service and the Public Services Manager came for that part of the meeting. We also talked about creating some database widgets (did you know database vendors like Gale and EbscoHost have widgets now? Who knew?), guest posts for book reviews, and a new blog we’re creating.

So what do you think? Is it helpful for PR and the Web team to meet regularly? It’s sure been helpful for us!

And – boring pic by me, using my Instagr.am account. Follow me at davidleeking on instagr.am if you’re interested!

Why Just This Week?

Yay! It’s National Library Week! It’s the week libraries remind their patrons they should love a librarian. We make buttons. We remind people that a community thrives when they have a good library. We ask people to tell us their stories. We bake cakes.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with National Library Week. It gets press. It gets us librarians organized a bit for at least one week during the year. And it can be a lot of fun, too.

But I get a little miffed during this week. Some libraries pour a lot of money and planning and time and festivities into a week … that no one else really cares about. It’s just a made-up week sponsored by ALA. Sorta like National Health IT Week (ooh! That one’s coming up on September 12-16, 2011. Be there or be square!).

As I was writing this post, I received a canned email from Michael dowling, Director, Chapter Relations Office at ALA, that starts like this: “Thank you for supporting your state’s libraries during National Library Week, the perfect week to let your state legislators and governor know how important libraries are to you!”

Why is this week the perfect week? Why don’t we do this stuff the OTHER 51 weeks of the year?

What would happen if we very actively pushed the idea of libraries, of loving your librarian, of reminding our community that libraries thrive with a good library (and then backing up that claim with proof) ALL YEAR LONG?

Something to think about…

pic by vanhookc