Category Archives: customer service

If all else fails…

you can promote that your library has a public restroom.  I mean, there are worse things to be known for.  So, y’know, if other awesome aspects of your library (free entertainment! charming staff!  untold treasure troves of knowledge!) don’t boost the door count, consider listing your library’s restrooms!

Check out Sit or Squat.  They even have an app!  Yes!  There is an app for that!

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Little bits of interesting…

Here’s a quick summary of some neat things from the web – all with potential library applications!

Tweet Seats – Theaters are reserving seats towards the back of venues and encourage those sitting in those seats to live tweet during performances.  Totally worth trying at your next large event!  Check out the article!

Google+ Hangouts – A great opportunity to host community meetings or book clubs.  This article provides the top three reasons to use this Google+ feature.

PressBooks – PressBooks is a platform that gives you or your library users an easy-to-use digital publication solution.  When we talk about empowering content creation in our libraries, these are the tools we need to look at!

Turn young patrons in to coders – Thomas Suarez is a 12-year-old coder who spoke at TEDxManhattanBeach.  He touches on an interesting and cool idea for schools that applies for libraries too – download the Apple app development pack and start teaching kids to code!

Paper.li is Love.ly

I was testing out Paper.li in an experiment for work. I wanted to see what it did and how it worked.  Subject experts, take note.  By typing in some key words or selecting particular folks in the social media world (twitter, Facebook and RSS feeds) you can put information on a number of topics in to your own digital newspaper.  From there, you can curate as needed, send it on to students or post it to your webpage.

You’ve probably gotten a newsletter/news round-up via some organization (I’ve gotten two so far) but try it for yourself.  It’s easy to set up and it’s free.

Here’s my quick test of it with key words “libraries” and “librarians”.  http://paper.li/f-1316119848

Open Data and the Role of Librarians

In the June issue of Wired Magazine there was a brief piece about governmental open data initiatives.  In it, writer Jesse Lichtenstein brings up the crucial point that getting lots of data out on the web and available to the masses is great and all, but the people who might be most empowered by the trends and information that could be gleaned are the those least likely to have the skills, resources or knowledge to extract what might help them fight for their cause.

And isn’t this where libraries come in?  Isn’t this the type of role we should be taking on?  I’m certain that there are some libraries doing this – providing Internet access to help communities get this data, then teaching them how to sort, slice, dice and come to conclusions based on what they find and discover. Libraries can be the liason and interpreters of this data – or teach the “language” of data/data analysis to library patrons.

There are some other arguments surrounding the article – but I’m trying to focus on the one aspect I see as being most significant to our profession – helping communities harness open data is a role libraries should consider more heavily when they are looking at ways they can stay relevant.

If your library is doing this, please tell me about it, I’d like to learn more!

Ya gotta have standards, y’know?

Today my friend Sara tweeted this from the Michigan Library Association Annual Conference:

And I was like “YES – standardized practices!”  Except I said it to myself in my head, not outloud.  I talk to myself a lot at work and people look at me weird.

BTW – Sara is funny, charming, intelligent and an amazing librarian and I highly recommend you follow her @sarabethw

Anyways, this made me think back to an interesting conversation I had with Christie Brandau, the now-retired state librarian of Kansas.  It wasn’t about business reference standards, but overall service standards.  But it got me thinking about this conversation: I was interveiwing her over a year ago about best practices for library service in rural areas.  And the way the state of Kansas approached service standardization was really fantastic.  They didn’t say “Every library will have at least ten computers” or “Every library will have 150 parking spaces” because really, that’s not practical.  In Kansas, the gap between tiny libraries and huge libraries borders on hyperbole – the difference in library types is significant.  There are libraries that serve 2000 people spread over a 700 square mile area.  And there are urban libraries that serve people a very dense population center with multiple branches.  All extremely valuable, but all reaching out to patrons in different and unique ways.

So, the librarians in Kansas started with criteria like the following (and these are not exact, so don’t quote me, kids…)

  • A library patron in the state of Kansas should not have to wait longer than ten minutes to access a computer
  • A library patron in the state of Kansas should be able to easily access a bathroom. 
  • A library patron in the state of Kansas should be able to find a parking space within reasonable distance from their library.

So, easy access to a bathroom.  That sounds silly, right?  Okay, but think of all your patrons.  Do you have a bathroom that’s easily accessed by a five year old?  What about a bathroom that’s easily accessed by the elderly?  The handicapped?  A mom or dad with four kids in tow?  Ohhhh…it’s not so easy now, is it?  Hint – if the door is really heavy and hard to open, it’s not easily accessible.  If the toilet is very high up or doesn’t have a child-size toilet seat adapter (and they do exist) it’s not accessible.

The thing I like about this is that the standards expand and contract based on the library being discussed.  Forcing a library to have ten computers because that’s the state standard is silly if the library only sees 150 patrons a day and 125 of them are just in for reading materials. 

Thanks for the reminder about that conversation Sarah.  I love your business reference standards concept.  Maybe elements of the above service model can somehow be applied?  I don’t know…just thinking out loud!

Facebook Support Centers: A next gen library service?

There was a great article on Mashable today about the top 5 emerging brand trends on Facebook.

http://mashable.com/2010/09/28/brand-trends-on-facebook/

I could see how all could have a role in libraries, but the Support Centers were interesting to me.  Could these be a way to field patron reference questions via Facebook?  Interesting to consider and think about.

Social Media and the Retail World

I read this white paper today and wanted to share.  The white paper, written by BrandSwag, discusses various phone apps and social media tools that can be used in retail environments.  Libraries do have similarities to retail environments, whether we want to admit it or not and by keeping tabs on trends in the retail environment, we can help our profession.

http://kylelacy.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/socialmediawhitepaper.pdf

1) Some of this stuff applies to libraries, some of it doesn’t.  If anything, the white paper provides a great description of location based social networking options like Foursquare and Gowalla.

2) Even if you don’t really care, you might want to read it anyways because patrons are asking about this stuff.

Have a good weekend, folks!