28 March 2009


The subtitle of Brian Mathews’s new book is a bold new approach to communicating with students. And that is what this book is. First of all, there is Mathews’s job title—user experience librarian (at Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta). How much better is this than reference librarian, or technology whatever, or even outreach librarian? Georgia Tech obviously understands that the quality of your collection or building is irrelevant if the user experience isn’t good, because no one will use what you have.

Then there’s the dedication: “to college students around the world, who deserve better library experiences.” The foreword isn’t by a librarian, but by the vice president of distribution marketing for the InterContinental Hotels Group. He makes a thought-provoking statement: “I think of someone picking up Brian’s book in fifteen years, reading this foreword, and mistaking it for a user’s guide to some kind of museum of antiquities. Will anyone even be reading then…?”

Mathews’s has discovered that some students are not interested in using the university’s computers to search for information—preferring to search using their mobile phones or PDAs. But they couldn’t reach much of the library’s resources. “…students actually visited the library regularly but had no clue how to use it or about the full range of tools and services available to them. Entering this social sphere of students expanded my point of view. I was no longer bound behind the reference desk or limited by the classroom setting.” He went to the students and faculty and found out about their needs and ways of gathering information—what he calls “becoming ubiquitous.” (Check out his blog, The Ubiquitous Librarian.) This book is the result of his ubiquitousness.

He starts with a controversial statement, “Let’s be honest: libraries don’t need to advertise. Students will always be drawn to the library….” But as a place, not necessarily as a resource. But he isn’t trying to convince you to market the library, but to establish” an emotional and interactive connection with our users” to make the library “a premier campus destination, rather than just a place that students have to go.” What he’s really talking about is repositioning the library in its users’s minds. He rightly understands that “you’ll never change perceptions through countless committee meetings…. Video games, iPods, DVDs, and other gimmicks are also not the solution. No, the process begins when we stop pretending that we know what students want and instead genuinely attempt to understand their needs and preferences—and speak to them in their language.” HE IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!

The rest of the book follows the usual path of marketing books: Defining the user, student need states, the library as product, conducting marketing research, building relationships, developing brand strategies, promotional building blocks, designing messages, measuring the impact, putting it all together. But it is all focused on what Mathews calls “a social approach to marketing.” This is where the strength of the book lies.

Other features: an epilogue: Staging academic experiences and an afterword by a Georgia Tech student. Index. There is no bibliography, but references are included at the end of each chapter.

Bottom line: This doesn’t just apply to academic libraries. ALL libraries have to listen to their users—especially as the Gen Yers/Millennials and their successors come into the workplace. If you’re already a marketing expert and your library is full and loved and used, this is an optional purchase. But if you think you could serve your customers better, especially the younger ones, BUY THIS BOOK!

Bibliographic information:
Mathews, Brian, Marketing today’s academic library: a bold new approach to communicating with students, Chicago: ALA Editions, 2009, ISBN 978-0-8389-0984-3, US$48.00.

To order the book: http://www.alastore.ala.org/detail.aspx?ID=2596
Brian’s blog: http://theubiquitouslibrarian.typepad.com/

27 March 2009


Use CNN.com's Economy Tracker to see state-by-state unemployment rates (by sector), jobs lost, and foreclosures. Depressing, but interesting.

URL: http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2009/map.economy/index.html

16 March 2009


Where did the Library Journal Movers and Shakers go to library school? Or did they? Here’s the breakdown:

No library degree
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of North Carolina (3 at Chapel Hill, 1 at Greensboro)
University of Wisconsin (2 each at Madison and Milwaukee)
Indiana University (2 at Bloomington, 1 at IUPUI)
University of Washington, University of Pittsburgh
Clarion University
University of North Texas
University of Rhode Island
Rutgers University
University of South Carolina
Syracuse University
Arizona State University
University of British Columbia
Drexel University
Dominican University
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Hogeschool (Amsterdam)
Kent State University
Pratt Institute
San Jose State University
University of Tennessee at Knoxville

11 March 2009


Mick Jacobsen of the Skokie (Illinois) Public Library has a great post on Tame the Web.
The Importance of the Non-Techie or How I Learned to Stop Pulling Out My Hair and Love my Luddite gives three good hints for how to work with the staff member (or customer) who just isn't into technology.

1. Listen.
Never dismiss what your Luddite says. You may not see how it applies, but it surely does in their eyes. You might be introducing the wrong technology at that particular time or you may need to reexamine the technology. The Luddite may very well have thought of something you haven’t and it may not be as useful as you hope.
2. Don’t push too hard (if you can avoid it).
Sometimes all it takes is talking to them at the right time. Understand their schedule. Some people are ready to play at the start of the day, some after lunch, some while eating lunch, etc.
3. Respect.

Their concerns are not generated from hate of technology or lack of intelligence; it is because they don’t see the point. Show how you are personally using this new technology, how others are using it, and how they specifically could. Hypothetical situations just don’t seem to work.

As a side note it is probably better not call anybody a Luddite.

URL: http://tametheweb.com/2009/03/11/ttw-guest-post-love-thy-luddite/

10 March 2009


Think For The Customer .....The Future of Libraries
by John Stanley, John Stanley Associates, Kalamunda, Western Australia,

Libraries are no different to any other business as they face the challenges of 2009 and beyond. What worked in 2008 may not work in a changed market place. The consumer has changed their shopping habits and their buying habit, probably for good. This has real impact on the role of the library in the community.

In more difficult times the consumer relooks at the way they spend their money. As a result, small luxury items sales increase. Small indulgencies increase in popularity during tough economic times. Businesses that believe they do not have small indulgency items for sale often succumb to playing the sales game to generate sales on the High (Main) Street. The result is the consumer is being trained to accept the 70 percent off sales as a norm.

But, how does this affect Libraries?
In more difficult economic times, libraries come into their own again. People who have not walked into a library for many years are rediscovering, or discovering, libraries for the first time. The challenge is, are you marketing your library to attract the consumers who at times may find a library uncomfortable and forbidding?

I was recently intrigued to see a banner [in the photo above] over Balham Library in London ,UK promoting free reading in the library. This was a direct marketing campaign aimed at promoting the benefits of the library in the community when the consumer was thinking about how they could save money. This was especially relevant, as the local bookshop was offering an incentive for their consumers to get a discount if they returned the bookshop books back to the bookshop once their customers had read them.

Reading is recognised as a small indulgent luxury by more people during tough economic times. This is a marketing opportunity that can be used by the library service to increase patronage. The key is to observe how consumers think and adapt your library service to the new thinking process and at the same time, you need to make your library more consumer friendly to these new patrons.

By nature, a librarian, like many other industry experts, tends to think about the product first and then secondly think about how the consumer will react to their product. A classic example of this is laying a library out using the Dewey System; the Dewey System alone can deter many people from going into a library. The entrepreneurial thinker will think differently; they will put themselves in the customer’s shoes first and then arrange the product and signage system to help the consumer.

However, with new consumers looking for access to a wide range of reading material, they may choose to venture into libraries. That creates an opportunity for librarians to re-think the presentation of their “products” and offer new ideas on “merchandising.” Try the new ideas and then test them to see if they work and whether they are worth adopting in the library.

Libraries, in my view, will have a new role in the community over the next few years and will become a lot more relevant than they may have been perceived to be in recent past years. Libraries today have an opportunity to attract new consumers, and that means it is also a time to experiment with new ways of attracting new consumers. It is time to brainstorm with the team how you can present library products and services in a way that could attract more consumers to your library. The library industry is entering a new and exciting era and now is the time to grasp those opportunities and run with them.

John Stanley is a world-reknown library and retail consultant, speaker and author. John helps libraries: lay the library out with the consumer in mind to increase lend rate, create displays to maximise lend rate potential, and market their services to increase patron count.

URL: http://www.johnstanley.cc

BOOK REVIEW: Checklist of Library Building Design Considerations

Sannwald, William M., Checklist of Library Building Design Considerations, 5th ed., Chicago: ALA Editions, 2009, ISBN 978-0-8389-0978-2, US$55.00

The former head of the San Diego Public Library (now on the faculty at San Diego State University) has compiled a great list of checklists for building projects for (primarily public and academic) libraries.

Yes, it is all checklists, but they are very comprehensive. He starts with what to do before you build, including determining space needs, choosing an architect and contractor. Next he covers site selection, sustainable design, and exterior considerations (landscaping, parking, signage, even trash cans). There is a long section on interior organization: entrance, circulation and reference desks, media, meeting rooms, restrooms, workrooms, even a library store. An equally long section follows on compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Then come sections on media and technology, interior design and finishes (including furniture and lighting), materials handling and storage (shelving), building systems (heating, electrical, plumbing), safety and security, and maintenance. The last two sections deal with post-building issues such as moving, evaluation, and groundbreaking and dedication ceremonies.

There is no index, but it is not really needed since there is a very detailed table of contents. There is an extensive bibliography, but it contains only print materials and nothing by my building gurus Fred Schlipf and John Moorman.

This seems to be a very useful book to have on hand for any library building or remodeling project, for any type of library, small or large.

To order, go to http://www.alastore.ala.org/detail.aspx?ID=2492.

09 March 2009


All reports (over 6780, 127,000 pages) from the US Congressional Research Service are now available for free from WikiLeaks. The reports date back to 1990 and “are highly regarded as non-partisan, in-depth, and timely.” There are alphabetical and chronological lists, but no index. All are in pdf files.

They are supposed to be included in OpenCRS, but I didn’t find one I had found in the WikiLeaks list. Maybe they haven’t indexed them all yet.

WikiLeaks: http://mirror.wikileaks.morphium.info/wikileaks-crs-reports/
OpenCRS: http://opencrs.com

07 March 2009


Mary Ellen Bates has a great article in the March issue of Searcher magazine. It is all about how you can economize in these hard times without making your customers and your library suffer--too much.
It's available for free a
t http://www.infotoday.com/searcher/mar09/Bates.shtml. Everyone should read it and implement her suggestions.

05 March 2009


Sean P. Aune of Mashable has put together a list of resources for those working freelance on the Web. Not many relate to librarians, but may be good for your customers. If you do any freelance work, you should at least check out some of the Work Tools (especially time tracking and invoicing).

Also on the site are Adobe AIR applications and sections on job opportunities, freelance photography, and freelance programmers, web designers, and writers.

URL: http://mashable.com/2009/03/03/freelance/