NOTES: Strategy for Blogging and Social Networking

These are my notes from Strategy for Blogging and Social Networking, part of the Carterette Series Webinars (archived here / additional materials here), presented by Casey Long of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA, and Sarah Steiner of Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA.

  • Libraries need a plan for social media. If you don’t have a plan or buy-in from your staff and the organization, the patrons will not come.
  • Don’t just do it because everyone else is doing it. Be invested or don’t do it.
  • You can get started by blogging and having the blog content feed into Facebook & Twitter. Not a best practice, but it’s a way to get started. Better to use the strengths of each platform to push your message in a unique way.
  • Setting up a plan for your social media:
  • Consider Your Audience:
  • It’s important to speak to people in your community, in your library, find out how they want to interact with you.
  • Use focus groups (if you have funds, bribe with pizza! mmm… pizza) to determine how the community wants to interact.
  • Use small surveys or Census data.
  • Develop content to give people something to react to, more concrete.
  • Set Content Areas:
  • What do users of the library want to know?
  • What kind of content does the library have to offer?
  • What does the library want to communicate?
  • Content suggestions: interviews with users, reposts / retweets of relevant materials from patrons, highlighted materials, service launches
  • Use social media to create a community. Don’t just push content; work with your community to create content.
  • It’s vital to use a tagging system on your blogs.
  • Choose a Target Audience:
  • Show particular populations that they are valuable to you and you want to engage with them.
  • If you don’t put any time into posting things, no one’s going to come to your site.
  • Spread out the work among staff, and it doesn’t end up being too much work for any one person.
  • Assign posts to staff to write based on their own interests / strengths.
  • Have specific staff assigned to watching Facebook / Twitter streams.
  • Assess Your Success:
  • 1. Incorporate a cycle of assessment.
  • 2. Review data.
  • 3. Ask patrons.
  • Use Google Analytics to track your traffic.
  • Social media strategy best practices:
  • 1. Be honest about your time / ability
  • 2. Don’t try to do everything at once
  • 3. Be human
  • 4. Give the process time
  • 5. Use the platform that’s right for your library
  • 6. Don’t feel like you have to be everywhere,
  • 7. Set metrics for success
  • 8. Assign responsibility
  • 9. Create community / involve your users
  • 10. Try different things
  • 11. Don’t fear the reaper – if it’s not working, adjust your approach or abandon it.

NOTES: What is a Benefit Statement?

These are my notes from Pattern Research’s webinar I Cured a Cold, Passed My Test & Got a Great Job: What is a Benefit Statement & How Can It Help Your Library’s Customers Succeed? by Pat Wagner and Tim Sullard (archived here / handouts here).

  • Benefit Statements work, help attract support from community.
  • Rule #1: Our actions speak louder than our slogans.
  • Rule #2 We are all too close to our own stuff. You’re too close to your own work to write about it objectively. GET HELP.
  • Rule #3 Our best partners are our library’s customers.  Let your library customers do 75% of the work on improving library. Get their input into strategic planning, services, etc.
  • Rule #4 Write like a reporter.
  • The more we can share our successes, the more people will appreciate us.
  • How we define our worlds will show how customers want to use their library:
    • Age: +/- 20 years – one generation / different generations have different goals and priorities
    • Socioeconomic status – generally, there is a big difference in salary and education between library staff and customers.
    • Proximity & attention: who do you hang with?
  • Who Are YOU Thinking About?
    • What YOU want: More people to say “thank you” to me.
    • Think about customers not yourself.
  • Who Are THEY Thinking About?
    • What THEY want: a pleasant place to hide out, THEY keep their jobs, THEY find & read books
  • Education leads customers to life successes.
  • Have customers in the room when you’re writing benefit statements so that you don’t get bogged down in library-ese language.
  • Write Benefit Statements from the library customer’s point of view & use first person, what I CAN or HAVE accomplished.
  • What Works:
    • Use a graphic representation (cartoon, photo, painting, etc.)
    • “Show” that the library has changed people’s lives, don’t JUST “tell”.
    • Graphic can make reader smile and nod, connects to reader’s life, engaging, surprising, humorous, compels reader to action.
  • Get the person reading the statement to do something different b/c they were so taken by the example of what the library does.
  • Benefits Statement: What the library is already accomplishing. Strategic Plans are for future planning, what you WANT to do.
  • Gather input from customers all the time. “Yet” can be an important word. “Given our financial situation, we don’t know how to solve that problem YET. Do you have any ideas?”
  • The library is not more important than the people it serves.
  • Cathedral builder anecdote
  • Simplify your language: fewer, shorter, more succinct words.
  • It’s not about the cool things the library is doing; it’s the change in customers’ behaviors, how it’s changed their lives.
  • Keep it short. People unconsciously hold their breath while reading a sentence, so long sentences without commas will make them uncomfortable.
  • We love toys / gadgets for the sake of the toy, rather than for the purpose it can bring our customers.
  • Use concrete images, not abstract.
  • Typical Mistakes:
    • 1) Benign contempt for users. People who think they’re superior to others don’t write good Benefits Statements.
    • 2) Lack of respect for their expertise. People know their lives better than you do.
    • 3) Not taking the time to know customers (usually, we’re too busy). Need to find people interesting.
    • 4) Not continually inviting their input. It’s a librarian’s job to constantly gather customers’ input.
    • 5) Not allowing them to make decisions.
    • 6) Not aligning with their points of view.
  • Writing like a library user.
    • Focus strategic plan on users.
    • Connecting to larger community.
    • Selling the library’s relevance.
    • Demonstrating commonality.
    • Building trust & respect – treating users as equals.
    • Inspiring loyalty.
  • Acting like a user. Make customer-centered decisions:
    • strategic focus
    • staff behavior
    • create physical environments
    • resource allocation
  • Have the people making the decisions actually USED the library like a customer uses it?
  • Make physical environment friendly and welcoming.
  • Next Steps:
    • 1) Invite library users to help you
    • 2) Listen to what they have to say
    • 3) Make them important in the process
    • 4) Ask them to write for you
    • 5) Find out how the library benefits them, collect stories
    • 6) Practice, Practice, Practice
  • Use public domain art to demonstrate your themes. Flickr has lots of public domain & fair use art.
  • Use social media to gather input, when appropriate, but know your audience. Make it one piece of what you’re doing.

NOTES: Money Matters

These are my notes from Money Matters: Teaching Financial Literacy Skills, the GPLS Wednesday Webinar by Trudi Green and Teri Hanna (archived here / Powerpoint slides here).

(Thanks to Buffy Hamilton, whose tweets I shamelessly used to bolster my own notes.)

  • Money Matters: Because Your Future Matters
  • 33% of Americans carry credit card balances up to $10,000
  • Negative information stays on your credit for 7 years
  • FINRA Investor Education Foundation – FINRA Report: 1500 surveyed, half had trouble with regular expenses, no rainy day funds, non-bank borrowing
  • 52% – own financial knowledge is good, but many incur late fees and other expenses, fail to comparison shop, and cannot calculate interest.
  • Financial literacy is one of the competencies in the IMLS 21st Century Museum and Library Skills report.  IMLS report themes: financial, environmental and health literacy & global awareness
  • 54% of Americans pay their credit card balance in full each month
  • Georgia is 3rd in the nation in bankruptcies, 12% “Unbanked” (45% of those without a high school diploma)
  • Smart Investing @ Your Library – partnership w/ FINRA & ALA/RUSA, > $3m in grants, invitation only
  • OneAthens / Partners for a Prosperous Athens – community-wide forum, education key goal, better-educated workforce: more jobs & better-paid workers
  • Money Matters classes: community programs, 6 hours of basic financial instruction, “graduates” qualify for GED scholarships
  • Benefits of GED / diploma: increase earning power, more job opportunities, jobs with better benefits, financial security
  • Grant idea: partner with Athens-Clarke Literacy Council, library offers financial literacy classes, ACLC offers GED scholarships
  • Putting the grant together: Take Money Matters class; learn about finance, credit, banking, etc.; complete 6 classes; complete GED exam; get a job; earn good wages; manage money better because of Money Matters classes
  • Grant covers: salary, library materials, printing, publicity, LearningExpress
  • All consumers are legally entitles to receive a free copy of their credit reports annually from each of the 3 credit-reporting bureaus
  • In general, millionaires have money because they have made good, sound financial decisions, not because they inherited it.
  • Credit Card Act of 2009: new requirements phased in starting Aug 2009-2010.  Consumer protections: limited interest rate increases, right to opt out, limits on over-the-limit fee, subprime credit cards, protection of young consumers (limited credit to young adults, under 21), enhanced consumer disclosures (min. payments).
  • White House Fact Sheet: Reforms to Protect American Credit Card Holders
  • Credit card companies are required to disclose the consequences of only making the minimum payment each month.
  • Detailed disclosure on the new law
  • Comprehensive guide to the Credit CARD Act.
  • Morningstar: What New Credit Card Rules Mean for You.
  • What the new law means to you: higher upfront costs (annual fees), fewer “reward” cards, shorter grace periods, account closures & credit limit reductions (no advance notice required), no cap on interest rates, less accessibility for low income & bad credit
  • Credit Score Factors: 35% On-time payment, 30% capacity use, 15% length credit history, 10% types credit used, 10% past credit applications
  • FICO score – there are other scores available, but FICO is the gold standard
  • Course development: FINRA modules, Money Matters Advisory Board, GED pilot program
  • Grant allowed the library to put together a stronger financial literacy collection: the basics, retirement, mortgages, college, sophisticated investors, ValueLine & LearningExpress testing database
  • ACCL | Money Matters: Because Your Future Matters
  • Money Matters series: 6 one hour classes, GED scholarship opportunity, offered at GED program locations
  • Money Matters classes: managing your credit score, investing basics, investing II, Money Matters for Engaged & Newly Married Couples
  • Sustainability: establish the ongoing need for the program, evaluate to ensure needs are being met, determine cost to continue
  • Replicability: do your homework, start small, look for partners (credit union, local colleges), other grants

NOTES: Tech Tips

These are my notes from Tech Tips Training Series, the GPLS Wednesday Webinar by Karen Douglas (archived here).

GPLS Wednesday Webinar Series

  • Web 1.0 was about reading and learning.
  • Web 2.0 is about collaboration and making connections. Web 2.0 incites people of all ages to participate with emerging technologies!
  • “Tech Tips” are presentations for both staff and patrons at Athens-Clarke County Public Library.
  • How do you advertise your libraries programs?  PSAs to local radio stations, online calendar, library homepage announcements, signs in branches (always in the same place).
  • How often should you have library programs and when? Monthly / every other month / quarterly. During the day, during lunch, sometimes evenings.
  • What equipment will you need? A laptop or desktop computer, internet connection (wired is faster but wireless is okay), projector, screen, speakers connected to computer.
  • Who makes a good presenter?  Library staff, volunteers, board members, local college students, Friends of the Library, other professionals (esp. in technology fields).
  • “A screencast is a digital recording of computer screen output, alos known as a video screen capture, often containing audio narration.” – Wikipedia
  • How do you archive your presentations? Use Camtasia Studio to produce videos, upload to or YouTube, or burn to CDs to send to branches.
  • Can also use Audacity to capture audio.
  • Training videos are available online 24/7. Staff can enjoy this training at any time.
  • Camtasia will assist in burning to CD – their video player is included in the file, so you don’t need to worry about the trainee having Real Player or Windows Media Player, etc. already on their machine.
  • Sample screencast from Karen’s library, Athens-Clarke County Public Library
  • Free options for creating screencasts: CamStudio, Screencast-o-Matic, Jing, AviScreen
  • What do I need to create a video?
    Screencasting software
    Quiet room with no interruptions
    Presenter’s notes
    Internet connection
    Familiarity with the software
    Lots of patience
    Plenty of time for recording
    Ample time for editing
  • How can I get more ideas?
  • Create a survey for staff and patrons.
    Common Craft
    Library bloggers, such as David Lee King
  • Should you offer captions for the hearing impaired? Yes, if doing for an unknown audience. If you know your audience (staff, for instance) has no hearing impairment, it’s probably okay to leave them off.
  • Evaluations after presentations can get good information from participants.
  • Public library wants to provide good training for staff and public for the common good, not as a revenue-generator.
  • With Camtasia, you can convert a PowerPoint presentation to video. Not sure about the free tools.

NOTES: Free Learning

Wednesday Webinar Series

  • eLearning = Free Learning
  • “Vision is the art of seeing the invisible.” – Jonathan Swift
  • eLearning is not just about technology… it’s about people (Steve’s caveat: unless you’re training robots)
  • Three Blended Learning Components:
    1. Learning environment
    2. Instructional practices
    3. Media
  • Learning environment can be synchronous, asynchronous, or a blend of the two.
  • Synchronous learning is real time so gives you a chance to communicate (examples of synchronous media: live webinar, webconference, video streaming).  Synchronous learning is structured and requires a dedicated instructor.
  • Asynchronous is a self-paced course (examples of asynchronous media: course modules, screencasts, podcasts, video capture).  Asynchronous training typically has lower completion rates.  Use self-paced courses for teaching lower cognitive levels.
  • Many libraries don’t have the resources to have a staff member dedicated to training, esp. synchronous training.
  • This webinar was synchronous as it was happening, but it will be asynchronous when people view the archive.
  • It’s easy to get caught up in the bells & whistles in training products. Don’t get distracted by the bright shinies. Identify the behaviors you want your class to learn and concentrate on that rather than the shinies.
  • Eureka moments: wake up in the middle of the night with a fantastic new idea (and wife tells you “Shut up! No one cares!”).
  • A.D.D.I.E.: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation.  Most libraries don’t have staff or funds to do much analysis.
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy
  • You’ll get the most dollar value from asynchronous media, specifically course modules and screencasts.
  • eLearning Utility Belt (free resources): Screencast-o-matic, udutu, HyperCam Screen Recorder, Audacity
  • Jay generally uses commercial products but combines elements from some of these free resources.
  • “Making online courses can become like digital crack!”
  • Screencasts are good at capturing knowledge, combining text with video. Screencasts should be short, not for in-depth info (don’t try to answer “Why?” questions).  Use screencasts for “see and do” learning.
  • 10 Commandments of Screencasting:
    1. Discuss only one topic per screencast.
    2. Introduce topic within first 60 seconds.
    3. Keep it short.
    4. Include audio.
    5. Storyboard your screencast but do not script. It makes you sound better, especially if you make last minute changes to the presentation. Don’t sound like a robot (my caveat: unless you are one).
    6. Speak conversationally. Change your inflections and talk slowly and clearly.
    7. Demonstrate, explain, and repeat.
    8. Utilize special effects sparingly (if everything’s special, nothing is).
    9. Annotate when possible.
    10. Test your product before making it public.
  • Screencast example from GCPL, Jay’s library (and mine, too!)
  • When making a course, humanize it. Use humor and real world examples.
  • All you have to communicate is your computer screen. Use it to captivate your audience.
  • Work from a template so that all of your learning courses have a consistent look.
  • Start your course with a bang – it should be gangsta!
  • Design your classes with the end result in mind.
  • Resource packet

Library Day In The Life (Fuzzy-Headed Edition)

I don’t think God wants me to participate in the Library Day In The Life project.  Last time, I had the day off, and this time, I was fuzzy-headed and sick the whole day.  However, I still tweeted some notes throughout the day and this post is my attempt to organize and flush out my day’s activities.

My three year old daughter work up earlier than my alarm, as usual, so I was up earlier than intended, only to discover my stuffy-head that had kept me up half the night had led to a sore throat and wiped out all of my energy.  I decided I wasn’t too sick to go to work, so I got ready, got my daughter ready, dropped her at daycare and headed to the branch.

I arrived to find my branch manger was out sick, and since I’m the number two person, it came down to me to submit payroll.  Getting paid is always nice.

Got a nice email inviting me to participate in a TOP SEEKRIT work project, where knowing Drupal could be an asset. And that’s my cue to research Drupal on and off throughout the rest of the day.

Checked with my staff to be sure we had volunteers coming to man the Summer Reading Program table during out final two SRP events – a magician and a storyteller.

Did an hour on the Help Desk, where I signed up a few folks for library cards and discovered that we only had one Beverly Cleary book on the shelf (Summer Reading + RAMONA & BEEZUS movie = dearth of Cleary books on the shelves).

Weeded superceded copies of books, like GED study guides, travel guides, etc., including deleting the item record from the catalog.  I informed a local blogger about our online book sale, which is where all of these deleted items end up.

Another hour on the Help Desk. Signed up some more folks for library cards, assisted a woman in setting up the wireless printer driver so she could print from her laptop, and discovered that we have more material on beekeeping than I thought (for some reason, I was tickled by the LC Subject Heading: “Bee culture”).

Worked on staff schedules, projecting out through September.

Another hour on the desk, this time spent most of it shelving a bajillion customer holds.

Last hour at the branch I spent preparing for a few upcoming meetings.  I am on my library system’s Ethics Team, which is meeting this week, so I went over the agenda and made a few notes.  Also did some initial preparations for the TOP SEEKRIT project.  And then I have a presentation I’m giving next month relating to Twitter / Facebook / Foursquare initiatives that I wrote a little on.

So, even though I was fuzzy-headed the whole day, I still managed to get some stuff accomplished, and this day was a pretty good representation of what I do each and every day.

NOTES: The Social Library

These are my notes from The Social Library, the GPLS Wednesday Webinar by Cliff Landis.

  • Human beings are social creatures… world has gotten smaller thanks to our friend technology.
  • Pew: The Future of Social Relations
  • Why Dunbar’s Numbers is Irrelevant to Social Media
  • Horrified by Failbook
  • Pew Report on Millennials
  • “Your library is social by its very nature.”
  • Searching for my library on Twitter: lots of foursquare check-ins, plus one complaint that we close at 3pm on Fridays.
  • What are folks saying about your library? Sign up for Google Alerts.
  • Libraries need to be offering mobile services.
  • Books are our brand. Books are what people think of when they think of libraries.
  • Technology will be a big help in libraries overcoming the librarian stereotypes (shushing, passive, mean, etc).
  • The library is a social network of ideas.
  • Vendors have an iron grip on ideas.
  • Researchgate and Labconnect, social networks for scientists
  • Keep a close eye on your service quality.
  • Before you jump feetfirst in social media to broadcast info, use the social sphere to be sure your service is excellent (crowdsource).
  • Users want to see a new website everyday, catered to them: favorites, tags, comments. They want to interact.
  • A tiny bit of information is better than no information.
  • Use online survey tools to assess your users (I wish Survey Monkey had a different name; makes me feel silly whenever I talk about it. Oo Oo Ee Ee!!)
  • Meet both your users’ wants and needs.
  • As soon as you can, make sure you have a mobile accessible website.
  • Mobile emulator
  • Creative Mobile Solutions
  • Giving users more options is not a bad thing.
  • Foursquare and Libraries – Anything There?
  • Foursquare and Libraries – Definitely Something There!
  • Mayor of the Library


I’m a librarian because my wife told me to.

Now, this is not the way my career started. In fact, my love of books had originally led me to a career in the bookstore business, where I was able to satiate some of my OCD-tendencies (don’t all librarians have a touch of OCD?) with shelving, straightening and organizing materials. The organization system was no Dewey and certainly no LC, but it was a start. I also got to interact with the general public, connecting them with the information and goods for which they were searching. A few years into my bookstore career path, I met my wife while we were working at the same store in Florida (according to her, you can find anything in a bookstore… even a husband), and while this “acquisition” filled one void in my life, my career felt uninspired, despite the positive aspects of the work. I moved up to supervisory positions but without any real drive. Something was missing.

One day, after we’d moved to Atlanta, my wife forwarded me an email from her graduate school about an opening at the library on campus. I applied and got the job. I loved working in the library, and it felt like I was heading in the right direction in my career. I completed library school while continuing to work at the library full-time. Unlike in the bookstore, I felt pride in my progress from a position in the stacks to a position that allowed me to work in both the reference and serials acquisitions departments. I got to work hands-on with information in a more detailed way, both in depth and organizationally. My community was a wealth of students, faculty, and staff, and I relished serving them one-on-one at the reference desk and behind the scenes in Acquisitions. The reference work in particular was instructional – the whole “teach them to fish” analogy – rather than simply gathering and passing on information to a customer in need.

However, once the time came to find a professional position, I hit that same wall many library school graduates do: there weren’t nearly as many jobs as they “promised” when I was in school. This is especially an issue in academic libraries, where I was determined to work. My wife insisted I should look into public libraries, but I resisted. Why was I so determined to remain in academic libraries? Because I loved the job I had so much that I wanted to work at an institution like that forever. So instead of waiting to find the right library job for me, I took a job that, in retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have. It was an attractive job at an up-and-coming private college with grand promises of the future. After 18 months in the position, the administration and I could not come to agreement on how to serve the student population, and I lost my job.

At this point, I found myself adrift, wondering if I’d made the right career choice. I took a day to let myself wallow in self-pity then picked myself up, dusted myself off, and moved headlong back into the job-seeking business. I soon found myself applying for any job that I seemed vaguely qualified for: archiving video footage for television stations, reference work at community colleges, cataloging at universities far away from home, and what seemed oddest to me at the time, working at the local public library. Soon after, I scheduled an interview at the public library, and at some point before my interview, it hit me. The public library was the perfect intersection for my interests, allowing me to take the things I loved from bookstores and combine them with the things I loved from academic libraries. I could have that one-on-one time with the general public, helping people who don’t necessarily know how to find what they want and need and combine it with the more in-depth information available in the library’s collections. I could feel like I was contributing to my community while at the same time instructing patrons on how to find further information on their own.

I got the job and am the happiest I’ve been as an employee since I got to take home free pizzas while working at Pizza Hut.

Sometimes it pays to listen to your wife. (She says I should say “always”.)

(This essay was first published as part of the Young Librarian Series.)