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July 29, 2009

Federal Reserve Book Offers Economic Insight despite Drab Color

The Federal Reserve's Beige Book is published eight times per year and offers very current economic insight gathered from banks, businesses, and market analysts from across the country. Use the Beige Book to learn how an industry is operating in a specific area of the country, or to learn about trends in consumer spending, employment, and prices. The much-awaited new issue is released today, and many hope it will offer confirmation that our faltering economy is stabilizing.

July 23, 2009

InfoQuest Goes Live

The first collaborative text messaging reference service went live Monday, July 20. There are over 35 libraries of many types participating, each providing about 2 hours per week monitoiring the service. The pilot project runs through December 31, 2009 with no cost to members. The project is still looking for more members to participate. They hope to continue this as a full-fledged program starting January 2010.

If you would like to join, please contact Lori Bell at Alliance Library System at lbell@alliancelibrarysystem.com. You will be sent some informational documents and an agreement form to fill out with library information and your preferred coverage hours. If you
would like to join the project communications group, go to http://groups.google.com/group/InfoQuest. Even if you don't become a member of the project you can still keep up with events, issues, and communications via the google groups by requesting access to the group.

July 16, 2009

June Issue of Reference Notes is on the Web!

And actually has been for quite some time. Sorry! Forgot to post it here before heading to the ALA annual conference.

In the June issue of Reference Notes, you'll find:

- A new catalog option from OCLC
- An update on new AskMN member libraries
- A note about a former Minnesota librarian turned ASCLA RUSA executive director
- An innovative tool to pre-limit catalog searches
- Examples of information literacy and college readiness programs across the P-20 spectrum
- Guidance in creating DIY maps
- Yahoo!Pipes in 2.0 minutes
- A re-cap of the MN Digital Library annual meeting
- A call for applications for digitization projects through the MN Digital Library
- A story about new literacy skills and the Scratch software
- A recorded conversation between five MN library directors about dealing with budget shortfalls, and...
- A model for successful customer service from online shoe retailer Zappos.

Find the June issue, along with past issues, at: http://minitex.umn.edu/publications/refnotes/

Text a Librarian @ Cornell University Library

Virginia Cole from Cornell spoke at the QuestionPoint User Group meeting on Sunday, July 12 at ALA. These are notes from her talk:

-using Mosio product
-'beta' project started in January, 2009 - wanted to point out that they are just testing the waters
-web-based account via start.textalibrarian.com
-worked with Mosio to make sure cell-phone is stripted in transcript
-indicators for 'new', 'working on', 'closed', and 'repeat customer' for librarians
-replies/answers chunked out based on # of characters
-can preview response to see how many text replies a response will take, can modify if need be before sending
-can add comments to replies
-their website says: "Text us anytime and we will respond between..."
-get notification via email or IM if you want - customization per individual librarian acct
-auto responders
-roll out - small advertisement for controlled traffic
-at first not getting texts - noticed a tech problem - several rounds of troubleshooting
-questions coming into queue - each librarian has own login and can set own notification
-concerned about time lag - but no issues with that (between time question asked and time response sent - usually within 24 hrs, except weekends)
-Fall - will integrate with other online reference options for librarians to monitor (moving out of 'beta')
-not finding a lot of research related questions so far
-Altarama can give you an institution-specific # for txt contact - may cost extra - Mosio can too - again, may cost extra
-Mosio has a text-to-speak option

July 11, 2009

ALA Program - Virtual Reference Discussion Group

Sat. July 11

Opening presentation by Julie Strange, Coordinator Maryland AskUs Now

using Twitter and Facebook/MySpace - for different reasons/purposes

using twitter because staff page was running off Front Page (not easy to work with) - wanted a way to update staff page frequently with questions being asked by patrons from chat service - moved to twitter feed

-not promoting but to use the feed it has to be public - people started seeing the posts and began replying/answering them via twitter
-also post customer comments (from feedback forms)

-following others because they wanted to open up the direct messaging
-they're opening up communication/starting relationship
-use search feature in twitter to find what people are saying about your library - gives you an opportunity to insert yourself in the communication - being proactive

-proactive reference - putting answers to (anticipated) questions people may want to know about and adding - jumping the gun
ex. for Thanksgiving Day - add to page "How do you create a vegetarian Thanksgiving?"

Q: Have you had any issues with privacy?
A: No, we haven't had anyone objecting or complaints. We just decided to do this and put it out there.
AskCO (also on twitter) has statement on their website: "We reserve the right..."
Managing the social network sites:
-3 people work on them - it was starting to get to be too much for one person so Julie asked for volunteers from participating libraries for help
-one person solely works on MySpace
-her and another person work on updating Facebook and Twitter

looking at saving more time by repackaging content from one point - drupal. staff page is moving to drupal platform which will allow management and updates from one location to go out to all points: twitter, facebook, myspace, staff page, portal

they're finding us through statewide portal but also through serendipity - no promotion

ALA Program - Best Practices in Virtual Reference

Sat. July 11

VR Best Practices

Lynn Conaway-Sillipigni; Marie Radford
Seeking Synchronicity Research Project

Focus: Online & Telephone Surveys

VRS Users: What's Hot
Word of Mouth
Of the NetGen's 100% said they would recommend it to their friends
48% said they already have

Give Me the Facts
-answer the question

Be On Target
-be quick
-be convenient!!!
Know Your Stuff - they value subject matter, willing to wait for a subject specialist
Low tolerance for inaccurate information

Be Personable
-be friendly
-if you can't find the info offer to get back with them, follow up is ok and appreciated

What's Not (Hot)
Negative Closure

Did you already check the catalog? - found that users will abruptly end if asked this question. Need to ask in a different way - Where have you already checked?

Grumpy Librarians
-librarians seeming unconcerned and not willing to continue the conversation, had the feeling the librarian was ignoring me

-be politely, friendly and engage with patrons

VRS Staff/Librarians: What's Hot
Leveraging Complex & Specialized Knowledge
-with vr we are able to better leverage our knowledge and delegate (follow ups)

Information access to remote users
-many librarians find it easier to instruct via this method, many users find face-to-face instruction better
-if the user wants to know where/how you found something then that is the teachable moment

Positive Feedback
-many times we are looking for the user to give us something back

Tell Me More
-users are willing to engage in extra conversation of research

Morphing Modes
-using vr as the starting point and morphing into other modes such as email or phone or face-to-face
-going the extra step to make them a satisfied customer

What's Not (Hot)
Convoluted or Confusing Questions
-not able to meet the patron's exact need
-it's ok to say this might take a little more time to find...
-let them know if the question needs subject expert

Imposed Queries

Co-Browsing & Other Pesky Software
Co-browsing doesn't work, can make the interaction frustrating and difficult to help patron

Grumpy Users
-try to depersonalize, if you think of it as the person already upset before coming it can help

Unrealistic Expectations
-users have different expectations than what we can deliver
-millenials trust online more than print (sometimes)

Disappearing Users
-why did they go away?

What we learned
Vrs users want:
-access to electronic resources
vrs librarians want:
-clear questions
-query clarification
-positive user attitude
-resolved interactions

What we can do
-convenient authoritative, reliable services
-accurate information
-positive attitude

-slides on the seeking synchronicity website

Natalie Tagge - IL AskAway Coordinator - What do you do when you lose funding?

In the beginning... there was a grant
What happens when the grant money goes away?
-IL does not have statewide access anymore.
-have done a consortial purchase to make it cheaper for libraries to continue
-as of July 1, 2009, Natalie is no longer the coordinator, no coordinator

what are the basics?
Quality and Sustainability

Quality of the service - you need to have people coming back

-core group of over 200 libraries
-support of IL State Library
-statewide vr advisory board

-still have the support of IL State Library, just no funding
-vr advisory board now meeting when necessary instead of once monthly
-moved to a more participatory web presence - now using webjunction:
http://www.askawayillinois.info/ > http://il.webjunction.org/863

Quality = Training
Librarians need varying levels of training
-trying to make the training as accessible as possible
-in-person training is really helpful, especially with newbies
-now they are doing it online and it's more like a radio show

-make sure to train on the basics

Define your basics
-policy page/link up on website (access via local libraries website)
-answer a chat question
-ask them if they need more information
-use the person's name
Follow Up
-answer follow up questions

AskAway basic training
-IL State Library Wimba room
-chat practice queue
-screencast (Jing)
(free resources)

Extras: AskAway IL, AskAway WI, and AskMN monthly best practices sessions - helpful for librarians to network, communicate, guest speakers

Other Challenges
Growth & Support

Who is there to market the service? word of mouth still works on both end

Support is an issue for technical support but QP is/will be picking up the slack

Statewide service effect on question quantity
Jan '08 - May '08: 12,872 questions
Jan '09 - May '08 11, 500
Anticapated a bigger decrease but only had a 9% decrease.
Why not more?
Zipcode on form wasn't required before but now they need to put in actual zipcode to be routed to a participating library.
No statewide marketing - when the service worked, it worked on a local library level. They weren't/aren't thinking about a state library but were/are thinking of their local or school librarian.
-it would have been a harder transition if their service wasn't so local based.

Q & A time:
Q: What are good characteristics to look for in picking/training librarians for vr service?
A: The same characteristics that you would look for for a desk ref librarian. Someone that has a good report. Be yourself online, relax into it. We have found 2 huge items that boost accuracy: clarify the question and ask if you have answered their question
-our research has found that time constraints aren't as bad as librarians think, just stay in touch with patrons

Q: Are library schools addressing this?
A: Yes, some library schools do, some have, like, reference part 2 dealing with chat. There is a library school partnership with QP using it in the classroom (missed the school)

Q: Do you have any sense of how many consortia are looking in next five years for funding.
A: Some states are facing grants ending or have already ended.
Q: What should consortia do to prepare?
A: You need to have a lot of meetings to map things out, be aggressive to get names of people responsible for advocating, continue fighting for funding, continued support

Q: ?
A: (NT) We had a pricing model for first three years, managed price for libraries. Built into culture that this is going to cost you to participate. Grant subsidized, for the most part, after first near. If you have folks pay something for it, it has more value and they want to support it more. We started planning the fiscal budget more than a year before it ended to make sure libraries could adjust to it.

Q: About the abrupt disconnect - do you like it's because the user has realized they need to put some effort in the answer? Do you have any info/study about why the disconnect?
A: There is someone working on this. Finding when asked "Have you already tried 'X'?" they leave. Beyond that, don't know, could be their battery died, they had to leave. When you push out a page to them they think that's the answer and then they're gone, tell them you're searching and wait for the best page! - This is counter to what most librarians have been doing. The question "What have you already done?" can evoke guilt and shame.

(NT) I use the skills I had from when I was a waitress more for vr service than I do over what I learned in library school.

Q: Users said they were willing to wait for a specific answer - what did you mean by that? Timeframe.
A: People are will to wait, as far as timeframe, it's situational. We have also have seen with email, I can email that info to you tomorrow will that be ok? Users are ok with that. We still think that if we don't get them something in the next 5 minutes they won't wait. They will, just be up front about type of question, when you're getting back (15 minutes or 1 day or longer).

Procedural questions, when trying to answer a procedural question for a library other than your own take the longest time.

Q: Is giving them a phone number for follow up/referral ok?
A: It's situational. If they can connect with a live person that's friendly, or you call them is helpful. It also goes both ways - would it work for you if you can call?

ALA Conference - OCLC Symposium

The theme this time was Leadership Beyond the Recession. I had the same thought during the session as I did before going in - "Is this really something for me?" I didn't feel as though it was directed to me or relating to my job. However, the OCLC Symposium has always done a good job of giving me things to ponder. This was no exception. The keynote speaker, Joseph Michelli a corporate speaker, talked about "branding the experience", "creating a functional as well as emotional bond with the customer" and "driving the experience from the inside out". This all seemed very over my hand and felt as though this should have been directed to higher ups rather than me. However, as I was walking back to my hotel room after the Symposium I started thinking "How can I apply these principles to my own position? With the people I work with, come in contact with, are my customers? Maybe it doesn't need to start from the top down, but can start at my level and spread out from there?" I can do what I can but it will only go so far if there isn't support within the system I work to make it permanent. I'm still muddling over those principles and will do so again when I'm back in the office communicating with my colleagues.

As usual, the notes from the session are somewhat 'raw' and probably have plenty of grammatical errors in them. Please read beyond them :)

July 10
OCLC Symposium
Leadership beyond the recession

Intro by Cathy De Rosa, OCLC Global Vice President of Marketing

-Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it.

-will be talking about experienced leadership, important for foging ahead

-The User Environment
-The future
-Housing values
-Library funding

-The future
-The need for services that libraries provide will grow
-Library staff will continue to create new beginnings
-Libraries will continue to transform lives

The Opportunity
-Users and patrons are taking a breath - reevaluating their activites, their budgets, even their core beliefs
-Personal and civic budgets are being stretched. People are therefore reevaluating their activies, budgets, and beliefs
-People have moved from a trade-up mentality to a trade-off mindset. The majority ofpoeple have already made behavioral changes to cope with eceonomic factors, including visiting the libraries

-The future can't be simple "more of the same"

Keynote speaker Joseph A Michelli, author of The Starbucks Experiencde: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary

Connecting through Transformative Experiences

Driving Change
(talking about regression: last skill mastered, first skill out)
Drving Support/Sustainability
(ex. Starbucks: creating profits - they live on this, it's what they focus on)
Libraries sustainability comes from positive user experiences
Talking about Pike Place Experience ex,
-business failing, owner doesn't know what to do, going bankrupt, brings in consultants
-listen to users/front end
-listening to all sides
-one employee said, "let's be world famous"
-bottome line, treat everyone like they are special, world famous
-create an experience where you treat people like they are world famous
-they understand their base/their product
-treating people like they are world famous isn't what libraries should do, but we should understand our base and our place, listen to our stories and understand our people

-find out what is relevant to them, something that tells people how the experience will go

another ex. - Ritz-Carlton: "Create the home of a loving parent" - create an experience based on user needs/wants for product
-everything that guides this notion is based off of this experience
-they put in process all the things needed (for their employees) to deliver the experience of creating the home of a loving parent
Starbucks: "Create the third place - the living room of the community."

The Library Brand Experience:
"From a place of purposeful information... to a place of personal and community transformation?"
You say how it's going to be and how people are going to feel and they you deliever it through all contact points with your users.

What we know from consumer behavior
"Even in difficult times 50% of consumers will pay more for a better experience (2009, Harris Interactive)
50% of customers leave businesses because of bad experiences (Accenture)
Companies... successful in creating both functional and emotional bonding with customers has a better chance of success

-need to focus on transformational value (purpose)

Transformative Drivers
-helps create who you are
-makes you feel good about yourself
-allows you to appreciate the beauty of life
-you come away felling you really learned something
-fills you with hope and optimism
-empowers you
-helps you seek the truth
-serves a serious purpose

-helping patrons guide the transformation outside the library
Leading it on the Inside
Are we driving the experience for our library staff so they can bring it to the patron (deliver to the patron)
-Connecting the experience to employees:
Selection > Orientation > Day 21 (check-in, regroup) > Day 365 (celebrate your birth) - this works at the Ritz-Carlton, but it wouldn't necessarily work in a library

User Experience in a Production Only Model:
-Users often feel confused or "stupid"
(Sometimes we don't even know how we set up an experience from the patrons-side to know how they should feel)
-What can we do to make it easier for the user?
-What is the transformational "yes!" libraries can create?

Loyalty and Engagement CE-11 - The Rational
-Overall, how satisfied are you with...?
-How likely are you to use again....?

What would it take to have someone in your community say, this library is SO for me that I'm willing to fund it? To get more on board, to get a whole community on board?

I can't imagine a world without a library because....
Information < Transformational
Institution < Infrastructure
Nice < Necessary
Past < Future
Altruism < ROI

Making it Unique, Personal, and Memorable
In business, not every customer is equal, they can/are rated differently
We have funders and non-funders. We can't treat the non-funder differently.
Creating Different Transformational Experiences

Is your brand pomise experiential? Does it reflect transformation, infrastructure, necessity, the future, and ROI?

Have you created staff, user, politician, academic leadership, and community exoeriences?

What can you do to effect product quality, effect execution on user centric delivery and elevate caring to a lofty level of service professionalism?

JM defines service as: A flawless product, delievered exactly as a member wants, in an environment of caring.

- break -
Discussion forum with:

Joseph Michelli
Steven Bell, Associate U. Librarian at Temple University
Charles Brown, Director of Libraries, Public LIbrariy of Charlotte and Mechlenburg County
Ed Rivenburgh, Director of College Libraries at the State University of New York at Geneseo

Q for Charles:
Can you talk a little bit about what you are doing in your community to create unique experiences?
CB: I found that in most libraries there is still a culture of hierarchy and culture of change. We worked to change our library to a matriarchy. We changed the public service model to create new and unique experiences. Changed service model, Library for Youth, Imagine That, serves all youth. Opened in 2005 and has served over 1 mil. since then.

ER: Do we even know what we're doing? There are only 2 places you should be on campus, in class or in library. We have tried to make it clear to staff to make sure they're at least in the library.

SB; I learned about the Wow! Experience by reading books like the Fish Fly Pikie's Place Market book, and others, and figured they wouldn't work that well for our library but tried to set path for totality (even has to work at all the touch points: signage, copiers, catalog, circ desk), the meaning (creating achievement for people, hope), relationships (create meaning through relationships. Put together the totality, meaning and relationships and we will be different from other information provider because no other information provider delivers meaning.

Q: Dealing with unions, change, budgets.

ER: We can't do it alone, administration has to support it/ius. We can't do it alone. We're almost trying to overcome the negativity of the unions that they bring in. We've had some interesting situations like hiring, we want to hire the best we can. We have to be careful of who we select. Sometimes we can't always get the person we want.

Q: JM, how does this happen at the Ritz-Carlton?

JM: They say : We're going to make it compelling for you to participate with us that unions aren't going to want to mess with it. They work around it by elevating the culture.

ER: Even in terms of professional development. You can create a lot of opportunities for your staff that you can't normally do with unions. We are getting these dictums coming down from state or regents or admin or whoever, saying we can't spend money on travel or professional development. We have got to figure out ways around that, especially for younger staff.
SB: We have rules, we have to get around these rules-based mentalities to make our staff have empowerment to do things better for patrons.

JM: Starbucks certainly has rules, there are only 5 guidelines and those guides are rules-free.

ER: You do need to trust that staff are going to handle those situations.

CB: It's for our library to become the best public library in the US by 2010. Staff are behind this. We go out and seek conversations with staff to come up with ideas. They feel this is very powerful. Frank Blairs, my colleague, has done a great job of harnessing 2.0 technology to create that as well. It gets people involved, issues/ideas just bubble up these ways and it's very not that expensive.

Q: I'm head of public services for a medium sized academic library. I get to hire and train all new staff when students leave. We are doing a lot of cross-training. I would like to head how I could go about creating that brand with our student workers.

SB: Talk to student workers about what they would like to see. What business are we in and what are our core values? Understand that awareness and build from there.

CB: We know from our surveys it's frustrating for the public to have all these separate service desks. That is something we are working toward and pusing out later this year, cross-training/central service desk(s). We see some resistance but this is where we are moving. I think we can really serve our client base much better.

ER: I would actively encourage you to have a one-stop service center. Patrons don't want to be bounced around. One service point where are points can happen. All types of activity. It's because of cross-training that we can do this. It has really worked out very well. Now we are thinking about bringing the reference desk over to that area as well and not have a separate ref desk.

JM: Book, the Dream Manager, what is your dream? What can make you one step closer to that? Then I use that to look at it for the library. How can the library develop staff/patrons/community. That will bring them on board. You will not get the kind of passion from them if you go about it without having see this as part of their dream.

ER: If you're going to have a survey for staff don't ask questions that directly relate to their work, ask them questions about situations and how they would deal with them.

Q: One of the things that many of us working in libraries don't realize how intimidating it can be walking into a library. Having to walk up to a desk to ask a question can be very hard. Make them realize that you are as human as they are and make connection.

JM: Engage with people, change in focus on very liniar approach

CB: If we can have greeters like they do at Wal-mart that can make a really big difference.

ER: Every connection we have with another person, we either come off as delighting or disappointing. Everything about the physical library screams out our values. We are use to it. But what does it look like for the user?

SB: We just had a survey, people weren't saying I had a great experience at the ref desk but they are saying I had a great experience with Christina or David... They don't see the service but they see the person.

Q: We have a brand new circ desk that looks like a counter at Starbucks. It's kind of cool. We are still talking about condensing and combining the ref desk. That may not be the place to look at. We are focusing on getting rid of the circ desk and make it look like self serve check out lanes like at a grocery store. The purpose of the circ desk is to check out your material and get out of the library. Ref staff are seen as on a pedestool. We need to come down and be less formal.

ER: I disagree that the purpose of the circ. Desk is to simply move objects back and forth. You have people who see that it is my job to transact this book and nothing else and that's exactly what they do. How do we get all staff to take extra steps to see all aspects of circ desk.

JM: The circ desk can be defined as the Fond Farewell. You define it. You might do it for engagement. As long as people know that they are getting another relationship piece out of it, that's good.

CB: I like Joseph's point of making it a Fond Farewell and having a greeting too. I was staying at a New York hotel. I had an automated check-in, check-out. I was never greeted or acknowledged. The price was right but I'll never stay at that hotel again. We need to keep looking for places for relationships. As a customer, I do like to be acknowledged.

Q: Can you talk about other ways to capture customer service/loyalty?

JM: Knowing the volume and traffic is one veribal, you can have all the traffic in the world and it may not be relevant. What is your contribution? Define your value, communicate it. Get in the loop of funding that affects you. Tell them that you're not just holding books.

SB: We have all these inputs and outputs which are great but they probably won't get us any closer to the patron experience. Asking the question do you interact with the library because you have to or because you want to? The more we have to's the closer we are getting to adding value.

Q: Our language has to change. This is not the library - they need to see it as MY library. Librarians shouldn't see this as their theifdom but as part of the community. I always say to students, this is your library, what are we doing right for you and what do you want to get from it.

Q: One of the things that JM put in his talk is stories as currency. Panel discuss:

SB: Quick story is people are starting to put more value on stuff and less stuff is going in landfills. Poeople are holding on to things more. Start small.

CB: We worked with staff to avoid layoffs. They felt positive that admin elicited their support to help through budget. We are going to continue through this hard time to advance. There can be positive experiences.

ER: If you are focusing on the outcomes, they are directly related to our staff members and how we treat them.

JM: All business is personal. Libraries have a huge advantage over this. As good as Amazon.com is they can't win against libraries and people wanting to have human experiences that are memorable and transformational.

July 1, 2009

New Statewide Databases Now Available!

July 1st is here, and never have we been so excited about the beginning of a fiscal year. As of today, all 45 ELM databases are now available to be linked to directly by Minnesota library institutions. For links and instructions on how to set them up on your website, see: http://www.minitex.umn.edu/elm/access.aspx. These databases will be organized into the ELM portal at elm4you.org as soon as possible.

In the meantime, consider signing up for an intro to "What's New in ELM?" on our upcoming training sessions page.

Happy database searching!