« January 2009 | Main | March 2009 »

February 26, 2009

Marketing to the Irrational People Who Don't Use Your Library

It doesn’t make any sense to avoid using a library. You know that and I know that. Every library offers resources that are already paid for that can make a person’s life better, their decisions wiser, and their free time more enjoyably spent. So, why then aren’t libraries used by every rational person? Seth Godin, a marketing consultant and author, thinks it’s because customers are irrational. You can tell them all about how your library will save them money and time and you can go into great detail about the benefits you offer – but customers on the whole don’t care about that. What they care about is what their friends and family think, or the hassle of going out of their way to get a library card, or the embarrassment of not knowing how to find a book. Relatively little things. Relatively irrational things when compared to all the tangible benefits libraries offer, but things that deter new library users nonetheless – which means that we might need to be more irrational when reaching out to new patrons or students or clients. We might need to change the focus from what our library offers, to what our potential customers want.

So what’s the best way to tell potential customers that your library has an easy way to find books, or a hassle-free library card application process, or that their friends and family are already using the library? Well, when you’re pondering that question, it might be helpful to hear actual stories about different marketing tools from businesses that have used them. The feedback contained in Marketing Sherpa’s 2009 Marketing Wisdom report can help you identify outreach pitfalls to avoid and opportunities to engage. What are proven ways to reach customers by email? What 2.0 tools have garnered marketing success for businesses? How can search engine marketing, mobile marketing, and web design increase customer involvement? You’ll find insight into these topics and more with the Marketing Sherpa report.

Humans are not logic-machines. We’re often motivated by insecurity, or whimsy, or our peers rather than the cold, hard facts. Marketers use this to their advantage, and so, too, can libraries.

February 25, 2009

EBSCOhost Resources Hands-on Training!

Minitex is pleased to offer hands-on training in the U of MN's Wilson Library on March 10th and 11th.  In this training session, Kathy Kiely of EBSCO will demonstrate the current features and functionality of EBSCOhost through the ELM databases. This session will also cover how to set up personal and multiple folders for long-term storage of search results, setting up journal alerts and search alerts, and techniques for advanced searching using limiters, search history, and field codes. Persistent links, cited references, and subject searching will also be discussed. In addition, new features in the databases will be demonstrated. For more information or to register please click here.

February 24, 2009

Mobile Web 2009 = Desktop Web 1998

From useit.com:

Mobile Web 2009 = Desktop Web 1998

Mobile phone users struggle mightily to use Web sites, even on high-end devices. To solve the problems, Web sites should provide special mobile versions.

Usability test participants recently attempted to use Web sites on their mobile phones. What a cringeworthy experience—for both users and researchers. In terms of the user experience quality, it was like stepping into a time machine for a quick trip back to 1998. The similarities were numerous:

  • Abysmal success rates. Users fail more often than they succeed when using their mobiles to perform tasks.

  • Download times dominate the user experience. Most pages take far too long to load.

  • Scrolling causes major usability problems.

  • Bloated pages hurt users. Users are frequently stumped by big images or long pages that bury the items they want to see.

  • Unfamiliarity with a browser's user interface limits the user's options.

  • JavaScript crashes and problems with advanced media types, such as video.

  • Reluctance to use Web sites on the mobile for many tasks, especially true of shopping. According to participants, m-commerce has a dark future unless sites improve and earn users' trust.

  • Old-media design. Sites are designed as desktop Web sites, and that's the wrong media form for mobile use.

Testing found three distinct classes of mobile user experience, which are mainly defined by screen size:

  • Regular cellphones with a tiny screen. These devices account for the vast majority of the market (at least 85 percent in some statistics).

  • Smartphones, in a range of form factors, typically with a mid-sized screen and a full A-Z keypad.

  • Full-screen phones (mainly the iPhone) with a nearly device-sized touchscreen and a true GUI driven by direct manipulation and touch gestures.

For the best user performance, different Web sites should be designed for each mobile device class—the smaller the screen, the fewer features and the more scaled back your design. The very best option is to go beyond browsing and offer a specialized downloadable mobile application for the most devoted users. In practice, however, only the biggest and richest sites can afford all this extra work on top of their desktop-optimized Web sites.

Disruptive Innovation: A Conversation With Clayton M. Christensen and Michael B. Horn

From Education Week:

Live Online Chat:

Disruptive Innovation: A Conversation With Clayton M. Christensen and Michael B. Horn
When: Wednesday, February 25, 12-1:30 p.m. Eastern time
Where: http://www.edweek-chat.org

Click here to submit questions in advance.

Sponsored by:

An idea that was once on the margins of the national education debate—that schools should customize learning to better meet the needs of individual students—has moved far closer to the mainstream. Today, some leading scholars see fundamental changes starting to take root, in part because of new avenues of customization made possible by digital technology. Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, a recent book co-authored by best-selling business expert Clayton M. Christensen, has touched a nerve by predicting that within a decade, half of all courses at the high school level will be delivered online.

Join us for an exclusive online discussion with Mr. Christensen and his co-author, Michael B. Horn. They argue that each student needs a customized learning approach to maximize his or her potential because people learn differently from one another. When a teaching approach is better aligned with a student’s aptitudes, they believe, understanding will come more easily and the student will be more motivated in school.

Related Stories:

About the Guests:

Clayton M. Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, is the author or coauthor of several books, including The Innovator’s Dilemma and The Innovator’s Solution.

Michael B. Horn is co-founder and the executive director of the Innosight Institute, a nonprofit think tank whose mission is to apply Mr. Christensen’s theories of disruptive innovation to solve social problems.

This chat will be moderated by Kevin Bushweller, Executive Editor of Education Week’s Digital Directions.

February 23, 2009

New Online Art Catalog

NYARC, New York Art Resources Consortium, have created Arcade, http://arcade.nyarc.org/. Arcade unites the collections of the Frick Art Reference Library and the libraries of the Brooklyn Museum and The Museum of Modern Art.

From NYPress:

The catalog includes a wide range of content, ranging from art and cultural history and spanning the spectrum from ancient Egypt to contemporary art. Searchable mediums include exhibition and art collection catalogs, monographs, periodicals, rare books, photograph collections, artist and vertical files, auction sale catalogs, artists' books, archival materials, digital resources and specialized databases.

Related content
William F. Buckley, Jr. on Hillary, McCarthy & God (With Guest Interviewer Peggy Noonan)Staying AliveImperfect StrangersStrapped Scribes' SummitPlaying With DesireOPANA: A BRIEF HISTORYRelated to:
nypressnew yorkarcadeartfrickbrooklyn museummoma"Arcade facilitates discovery of our collections in new ways and allows collective development of ever more useful access and services," notes Anne L. Poulet, Director of The Frick Collection. This new catalog search capability is expected to facilitate more research through the museums.

February 22, 2009

Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia

From Joyce Antler, Jewish Women's Archive Advisory Committee Chair

On March 1, 2009, the Jewish Women's Archive will launch the free, online version of Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia, edited by Professors Paula Hyman of Yale University and Dalia Ofer of Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Previously available only on CD-ROM, the Encyclopedia is the first comprehensive source on the history of Jewish women and includes more than 1,700 biographies, 300 thematic essays, and 1,400 photographs and illustrations. The Encyclopedia nearly doubles the content available on http://jwa.org/encyclopedia and gives Internet users all over the world free and easy access to a wealth of information.

To keep the Encyclopedia current, we hope to add new entries from time to time and to update published pieces as necessary.

Targeting the Ages: Programming that Hits the Mark

MINITEX is pleased to announce that availability of the Soaring to Excellence 2009 teleconference, "Targeting the Ages: Programming that Hits the Mark."

The following streaming video link is available for teleconference. It will be active for approximately 30 days after the broadcast.


Don't miss out on this great professional development and enrichment opportunity!

Program Overview
Targeting the Ages: Programming that Hits the Mark

A. A Primer for Programming

1. Identifying Your Patrons' Needs
2. Planning for Successful Implementation
3. Adaptation is Key
4. Common Pitfalls

B. Programming for Youth

1. Common Needs of Audience
2. Examples of Innovative Programs

C. Programming for Adults

1. Common Needs of Audience
2. Examples of Innovative Programs

D. Programming for Seniors

1. Common Needs of Audience
2. Examples of Innovative Programs

E. Question and Answer Session

February 17, 2009

Mosio's Text a Librarian

Mosio is offering informational webinar sessions on their Text a Librarian product. Interested? Check out their sign up page here.

Text a Librarian is a very simple to understand product. Anyone that has ever used text messaging for any purpose will be able to figure out how this works. Patrons are able to ask questions via text to your Ask a Librarian service. The librarian end is all web-based. Librarians receive in requests and respond via the secure Text a Librarian account where there are also able to manage questions and perform other simple admin functions.

If you've been thinking about adding a texting option to your suite of tools/access points for your Ask a Librarian service you will definitely want to learn more about this product.

NYTimes Article: In Web Age, Library Job Gets Update

If you haven't seen it, there is a great article in the NYTimes Future of Reading Series called, "In Web Age, Library Job Gets Update."  The article is about what one school librarian in Brooklyn has been doing to promote and teach information literacy to her students.  To read the article click here.

February 16, 2009

Libraries in the News: StarTribune and Pioneer Press

More write ups about how library usage is up during tough times. This time, two great articles in StarTribune and Pioneer Press from Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009.

In the StarTribune article, Users aren't the only ones looking to save at libraries, talks about library services overall are up and people finding the need greater than ever to not only take advantage of the library resources such as books and videos but also computer use and technology classes. People fear budget cuts will take away many of these resources that people depend on. Also note the +25 comments of StarTribune readers about their thoughts on budget cuts and the place of the library.

In the Pioneer Press, Melanie Huggins, Director of St. Paul Public Libraries, writes a descriptive editorial about the ways libraries need to be thinking of positioning itself for the next few years. She talks about the library as value to the community and what that is worth. Being the place for learning and development, libraries need to tap into the demands currently facing the community at large: Help people find, get and create jobs, get kids ready to learn, and make sure youth are successful in school. Very well put.

There is a swell of talk around the need for libraries in these tough times and it's great to continuously find new articles from newspapers across the country as well as in our own State hearing about how libraries and librarians are meeting the needs and demands of their communities.

On another note, ALA is announcing Woman's Day magazine contest. Write stories to promote libraries and get published in Woman's Day. Another great media tool to promote library usage and resources!

February 13, 2009

Reference Backgrounders Galore

Here’s one for your reference bookmarks: Times Topics, from the New York Times. The site is organized by topic – there are 14,000 of them covered – and provides prepared background reports (on many topics) and archived news stories (on all). Topics range from economic stimulus to global warming; from the peanut butter recall to Hamas; and far beyond. If all of that seems too heavy for a Friday, don’t worry, there’s something for everyone, including Neil Diamond fans.

(Found via FMI)

February 12, 2009

Have You Seen this Citation Tool?

Many library databases (including a number of the ELM databases) help students and researchers create source citations to be included in their project or report bibliographies. For those that don’t, and for other types of research sources, from books to periodicals to multimedia, consider KnightCite. This excellent interactive tool from the Hekman Library of Calvin College takes basic information on each source and formats citations according to MLA, APA, or Chicago citation styles. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. Your students just might thank you.

February 5, 2009

PennSound - Poetry You Can Download

While researching for a poem by Elizabeth Alexander, I learned of a terrific web resource created by collaborative entities at the University of Pennsylvania.

"PennSound (http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound), launched January 1, 2005, is a Web-based archive for noncommercial distribution of the largest collection of poetry sound files on the Internet. PennSound offers a large variety of digital recordings of poems..." (http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/news/press-release-launch.php)

PennSound is sponsored by Penn's Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing and co-directed by Al Filreis, English professor and director of Penn's Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, and Charles Bernstein, Penn English professor.

"The poetry sound files are retrievable both from a library catalog by authors' names and via Web search engines. PennSound combines aspects of a library archive and a Web music-download site. Basic bibliographic information is incorporated in each file so that a user downloads not only the sound but also key facts about the recording, including author, title, place and date of the recording, series, as well as copyright information." (http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/news/press-release-launch.php)

Give it a spin!

February 4, 2009

Your Students' New Favorite Online Learning Tool

An article from Technology Horizons in Education Journal, called “Top 10 Web 2.0 Tools for Young Learners” lists some intriguing free and cheap technology tools to help the young folks among us get their learn on. I bet school and youth services librarians are already getting some good mileage out of tools like these.

One online learning site that I’ve been intrigued with, but never used, is called Cramberry (review from Read Write Web). You can use it to make free online flash cards for studying and can then access those cards from anywhere you’ve got an Internet connection. 
What are some favorite online learning aids of the young people in your life/worklife?

February 3, 2009

Let's Fix Virtual Reference

There is a great article in Library Journal from Eric Zino of Palinet, Let's Fix Virtual Reference. Eric talks about the difficulties he has had personally with virtual reference services as a customer, not having the reference interview and receiving google-like answers. Our jobs as reference librarians, as Eric states, is to provide customer service, spend time with the patron. That seems to go against the thought that patrons want immediate results. I think a lot of the time we feel hurried and rushed to provide an answer to a patron that we end up giving a response that may be just adequate or good enough at best. I've seen this, myself (and felt it a lot of times as well), in doing quality control of transcripts. I'll be making note of Eric's article not ony the next time I'm in a chat session but also in training sessions. Finally, I think he brings up a great point to try our own VR services as a customer - not as a librarian testing the water, but as an actually customer in need of information. Putting ourselves in our patrons' feet will help us see a broader picture of our VR service and understand a little better of the needs of our patrons.

February 2, 2009

Let's Talk About the Catalog

When you talk to your non-library friends about libraries, is there one thing that seems to come up again and again? It’s the catalog, isn’t it? My friends always joke about the Dewey Decimal system; it’s like comic gold. And it makes me think that when most non-library people think about libraries, they think about library catalogs. So what do you think about your library’s catalog?

A recent survey (“Perceptions 2008: an International Survey of Library Automation”) looks at librarians’ satisfaction levels with library catalog systems, and provides insight into different vendors. Is your library automation system mentioned? Do you agree with the general drift of the feedback?

I think we can all agree that improvements can always be made in how our catalogs work. So, going forward, what are some things that can be done to make library catalogs easier for our patrons to use?

How about making them mobile? Worldcat just released a pilot service to do just that: WorldCat Mobile. Patrons can use the service to search through library holdings from a mobile phone. Will they? I don’t know, but I think it’s important for WorldCat to be there, and representing our catalogs, if they try.

How about getting catalog results mixed into Google results? We know patrons go there with questions. But getting catalog records into Google results might not be so easy. Most catalog automation software is unable to get book-level data crawled by search engines. And WorldCat.org - as the centralized, standardized catalog - doesn’t want to de-centralize library catalogs by allowing search engines into its database. There are several user-created catalogs that attempt to get library catalog records available online, such as LibraryThing and the Open Library, but their records aren’t tied to your local branch holdings.    

One of the stand-out benefits of the LibraryThing site is its Amazon-like ability to recommend books based on a user’s personal favorites. Wouldn’t it be nice if your library’s catalog could do that for people signed into their account? To learn more about how recommendation systems work, see this introductory post, “A Guide to Recommender Systems,” from the Read Write Web blog.

I bet my non-library friends would be surprised to learn that library catalogs can’t be searched with Google and don’t include automatic reading recommendations. These types of functions are pretty standard for the rest of the web. Is it okay that they aren’t possible in our catalogs? What else do you wish your catalog was capable of?