Tag Archives: public libraries

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!

Time To Get Your Garden On…

It’s mid-February, and you know what that means.  Almost Spring.  Which means almost gardening time.  And if you’ve been reading my last few posts, you know I’m getting all wound up about libraries as sources of food education.

So, over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to give you a crash course in preparing a food garden and library programs related to it.  Whether you’re an urban library surrounded by concrete or a rural library with abundant agricultural resources, I think you’ll find information that can help you out!

We’ll go over different types of gardens, organizations that can help you out, grants that are available, programs you can run and more!

Library Loyalty Programs – Worth Trying?

I was recently reading about Belly – an online service that helps small and medium sized businesses build customer loyalty programs.  There is a great article on Read, Write, Web about the services offered by Belly.

Are loyalty programs worth considering for libraries?  If so, what would the rewards be for library loyalty?  It may sound slightly far-fetched, but it’s something that we may need to consider.  What do you think?

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!

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!

We Surf the Internet, We Live (and Thrive!) in Libraries

Here is a great blog post summarizing the new ad campaign being run.  I’m not entirely sure who is behind it – magazines, magazine advertisers, but it’s pretty amazing:

http://beenerm.wordpress.com/2010/04/28/we-surf-the-internet-we-swim-in-magazines-2/

Here is the text of the magazine ad (you can see the actual ad by checking the above link):

The Internet is exhilarating.  Magazines are enveloping.  The internet grabs you.  Magazines embrace you.  The Internet is impulsive.  Magazines are immersive.  And both media are growing.

Barely noticed amidst the thunderous Internet clamor is the simple fact that magazine readership has risen over the past five years.  Even in the age of the Internet, even among the groups one would assume are most singularly hooked on digital media, the appeal of magazines is growing.

Think of it this way: during the 12-year life of Google, magazine readership actually increased 11 percent.

What it proves, once again, is that a new medium doesn’t necessarily displace an existing one.  Just as movies didn’t kill radio.  Just as TV didn’t kill movies.  An established medium can continue to flourish so long as it continues to offer a unique experience.  And, as reader loyalty and growth demonstrate, magazines do.

Which is why people aren’t giving up swimming, just because they also enjoy surfing.

Librarians – if we were to come up with an ad campaign somewhat like this, what would we say?  What makes us better, different, improved compared to competition or supposed competition?  Our ad campaign would mention that library card sign ups have gone up as high as 20% in some regions of the country. 

The best line of all: ” An established medium can continue to flourish so long as it continues to offer a unique experience.”  How have magazines continued to create a unique experience?  By building strong web presences in addition to print.  By linking web content and print content. 

Even up until last year, many major magazines were failing.  And now they’ve taken this positive spin and made a statement that says “We are here, we are not leaving, we’re getting back on our feet.”

What should/would/could we say?  Talk to me!  I want to hear our new ad campaign for libraries!

Real Live Librarian Interview!!!

It’s time for…a real live librarian interview!!!!  Where I do a brief interview with a real live librarian doing interesting stuff!  Yaaaaay!

This interview is with Holly Hibner, Adult Services Coordinator at the Plymouth District Library in Plymouth, Michigan.  Holly is co-author of the blog Awful Library Books (with the very awesome Mary Kelly), has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live and is the co-author of a collection development book due out this summer (with Mary Kelly!).  She’s also been a library unconference coordinator with yours truly and is a big fan of all things beer.

The Best…answers by Holly Hibner…


Best…blog/publication related to the profession (other than your own…)

I love Michael Stephens’ Tame the Web blog.  http://tametheweb.com It combines everything I love about libraries and technology in a very practical delivery.


Best…conference to attend if you can only afford to go to one this year…
I went to the PLA conference for the first time ever this year.  Wow – it was awesome!  Everything was so relevant, and the speakers were dynamic.

Best…awful library book…

I have to be loyal to my boyfriend Dee Snider, so I’ll go with Dee Snider’s Teenage Survival Guide.  Just kidding, I’ve never actually met Dee Snider.  It’s always fun to show the world that librarians are far from boring people, though, and I do listen to some heavy metal music.  If we could upgrade to “David Draiman’s Teenage Survival Guide,” I’d buy it. (Until Disturbed becomes outdated, and then we upgrade again.  You get the idea.)

Best…beer (okay, you can name more than one…)
Thank goodness!  I mean, to name just one?  I have a favorite style: Belgian.  Well, that’s really a combination of styles.  Triples, for example.  My favorite triple is La Fin Du Monde.  I love a good amber ale, too.  Bell’s Amber is excellent.  Arbor Brewing Company, a local favorite, makes a fantastic altbier called Olde Number 22.


Best…project you’re currently working on (or completed recently)

I made a very impressive, if I do say so myself, Adult Services training manual.  I went to a PLA session about retaining institutional knowledge, so I’m on a mission to formalize some of the things that long-time employees “just know” – but many of us don’t.  We need to track why things are the way they are and how they got that way so that we can continue to expand and improve on them – without repeating mistakes of the past.  It worries me when only one staff person knows how to do something.  You need a “firey crash scenario!”  That’s a morbid way to put it, but if they leave the institution for any reason, what knowledge will leave with them?  The manual will eventually end up in wiki format (probably) so it can be updated and used freely and easily by all staff members.