Tag Archives: marketing

Small library going big #vala14 #s44

Anna Gifford and Julie Rae Size doesn’t matter: how a small library went BIG

Australian Drug Foundation – working to develop healthier attitudes to alcohol and drugs through various evidence-based programmes. Don’t want to ban everything, but do know huge impact on people and cost to country.

Deliver info via websites, phone info services, library. Organisation starting to question what was the value of the library, how current is it, what does it do?

Found those who knew about them thought they were great, but most people were finding own pathways to info they needed. Needed to stop talking library and start talking information. Needed to embrace digital.

Started dreaming and reimagining themselves. Gave speculative vision to organisation – and they bought it….
Wanted to leverage own expertise but knew they couldn’t do it alone so wanted to cross-pollinate skills internally and develop partnerships externally eg with Deakin, with an indigenous organisation. Staff development to build skills eg in communication, technology, social media, critical thinking, research methodology, scholarly communication. Improve profile in the organisation and improve organisation’s profile.

About breaking down implicit walls.

  • downsizing physical – big collection review and vigorous weeding of out-dated material and material widely held elsewhere. Digitised some. Trusted parts of internet to stick around. Went to digital journal subscriptions. By loosening grip on ‘The Collection’ could build in ways hadn’t been able to think about before.
  • developing single search solution – previously had a piecemeal setup. Needed a single search to all owned and leased datasets; an authentication layer; and a hosted service. Ended up with Primo/SFX/EZproxy.
  • expanding membership – lots of people wanting access, negotiated with funder to open up membership to anyone.

Coming back to information services side of things – looked at other ways of pushing info out. A couple of them are licensed to tweet to for the organisation as a whole – find a nugget of knowledge from their content and push it out. Automated SMS service: NZ initiative where people text the name of a drug and get and SMS back with basic effects/harms etc. Popular at events and with ambos. Built website targeted at parents – info about drugs and tools to talk to kids about it.

Why would a library so small try to do so much? It works. 15% growth in members in less than 6 months. Leverages the ‘special’ in special libraries. Acknowledges that old model of libraries is outdated and needs to change – but that we can change.

“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you think” –A.A.Milne

Going mobile: lessons learned #ndf2012

Going mobile: lessons learned
Francesca Ford and Brooke Carson-Ewart, Art Gallery of NSW
Over the past year the Art Gallery of NSW have designed and built new apps to deliver rich content via mobile phone and tablet devices. We now have a mobile website and visitor iOS app; we have also produced the first two in a planned series of iPad apps focussing on different parts of the collection. Responding quickly to internal and external demands to deliver content via new devices and in new ways has been an incredible challenge. Along the way we’ve made plenty of mistakes and continuously revise our way forward, we’d like to demonstrate what we’ve built so far and tell the story of how we got there.

Built new CMS in 2010 and wanted new web presence. Built with only desktop users in mind and only later started thinking about mobile devices. At first hard for staff to imagine that they didn’t represent the wider world.

2010 “The First Emperor” was their first mobile exhibition app – downloaded 13,000 times. Positioned mobile apps as a marketing tool but wanted to created something longer lasting.

“The MOMA Effect” = keeping up with the Joneses. Helps show value of these apps to people unfamiliar with tech. Created a benchmarking document which was powerful in convincing executive and trust to put money into these projects.

“Contemporary” was first iPad app. New gallery construction allowed them to add wifi capability so people could use mobile apps in the gallery. Had iPads with headphones available for users. Decided not to lock them down – “knew we were asking for trouble” but wanted to see what happened. Older users avoided touching iPads or engaged only with default view. Younger users would close down exhibit app and use others eg photo app. Played with settings to change background image, language, generally personalise it. Others tried to download games, apps, music from the iTunes store. Eye-opening and sometimes inspiring – but in the end couldn’t leave them unlocked.

Didn’t want to make iPads into touchscreen kiosks either so worked with people to enable people to pick them up and use them as iPads. Setup isn’t foolproof and apps did crash. Have learned to live with fact that things don’t always work. Gallery service officers have learned to stand back and let people experiment.

The “Mona (sp? Moaner?) Effect” – “I love this but I don’t know why. I want to create something the same but completely different”.

In the space of one month went from having to campaign hard to do anything to having everyone wanting them to do things, so had to come up with a way to manage it sustainably.

“First Emperor” app was expensive and though it’s still on the app store it didn’t really have a lifespan beyond the exhibition. And on the other hand, apps also require ongoing maintenance, they don’t just end when the exhibition does.

Created mobile site – so many opinions that it could have ended up as a replication of the main site, but wanted to break away from this. Had to build fast so no time for community signoff on every decision (“which is a good thing…”)

Thought Android users would be glad for a mobile site but found out they didn’t think this substituted for an app. Initial design was also rejected and had to go back to drawing board rapidly.

Had to get wifi working across whole gallery, not just one space. Challenging but the hardest part was convincing IT it could and should be done and wouldn’t result in users coming in to download Twilight. Currently 80% wifi coverage, aiming at 100%.

Effective usertesting with no resources? Don’t underestimate informal and impromptu testing – got a lot out of watching users use tools. IPads got dirty at end of day. (Note: white backgrounds show fewer fingerprints than black ones.) Users happy to give opinions especially if they don’t like it!

Marketing another challenge especially with budgets shrinking. Often marketing department is genuinely shocked and surprised that media is interested in this news!

Want to do more – geolocation, mobile tours, digitising print catalogues.

Links of interest: pricing, impact factors, marketing, and staplers

Acquisitions and budgets
2012 Study of Subscription Prices for Scholarly Society Journals (pdf) is out from Allen Press. “[T]he average increase in 2012 dropped, more than a full percentage point below the average, to less than 6%.” (The Consumer Price Index, according to the same figure, was less than 4%.) Much more detail, analysis and discussion is at the source (pdf).

The Librarian in Black writes I’m breaking up with eBooks (and you can too) on the poor deal that current models of ebook provision are for libraries and, by extension, our customers.

Alison Wallbutton in #brandlibraries ponders what branding is, how libraries are branded, and whether we want to reposition that branding. She argues that libraries are successfully branded – as “books”; it’s in the very word. But of course (segue to my own thoughts) we as librarians get twitchy about wanting to make sure that users know we’re not just books, so we reject that outright – often without having put any thought into what we’re going to replace that branding with. Which leaves us in a position where we can’t effectively promote ourselves because we don’t have any image to put out there.

Impact factors
Nixon, J.M. (2012). Core Journals in Library and Information Science: Developing a Methodology for Ranking LIS Journals. C&RL. Advance online publication.
–Outlines a methodology and resulting list of three tiers into which they’ve divided LIS journals according to “influence”. Uses a mix of expert opinions, impact factors, circulation rate, and acceptance rate and, unsurprisingly, comes up with a similar list as those derived from expert opinions or from impact factors.

Probably a good measure of influence; it doesn’t claim that quality follows. Which is good because Sick of Impact Factors which concludes that “if you use impact factors you are statistically illiterate” and has been so widely retweeted and commented on that the author has posted a followup summarising the long comment thread in sections: useful links; concerns about metrics; alternative metrics; and actions to take.

Just for fun
Library Shenanigans reports on The Stapler Obituaries – a mini-exhibition of dead staplers at an academic library.

The opportunity of the SOPA blackout

I don’t know how this will come across, but I have serious reservations about the suggestion I’ve seen in a few places that libraries can take advantage of Wikipedia being down to promote the library.

I mean, yes, we can do that, but if libraries are only useful when Wikipedia’s down then libraries are pretty crappy. And yes, I know that’s not what people are meaning when they’re suggesting/doing this, but it’s what it comes across like to me at least. I envisage hordes of students desperately trying to finish their assignments grudgingly admitting, “Okay, for that one 24-hour period in a lifetime when Wikipedia’s down, the library’s kinda useful. Apart from being slow and clunky and not giving me enough or up-to-date enough information. Thank $Deity Wikipedia’s back up tomorrow!”

Because to be honest, when it comes to ready reference, everything sucks compared to Wikipedia. I’m a librarian, I know my library’s resources, and I’m also a geek and know how to search the web at large, but if I want a quick introduction to almost anything I go to Wikipedia. If I want to figure out what model my cellphone is, if I want a description of a database that isn’t a salespitch, if I want a listing of all the episodes of White Collar, if I want a summary of King Lear, if I want to decode a biochemical reference query I’ve just received by email so I can start answering it…

If I want to know something and I want to know it now, not in two minutes time, I go to Wikipedia. Because none of the library’s references resources is anywhere near as convenient, easy to use, up-to-date, or thorough.

(If I need to know for certain I’ll double-check elsewhere. But that doesn’t happen nearly as regularly as needing to know it now.)

So to me, the blackout as an opportunity to promote the library as a replacement for Wikipedia is just an opportunity to show people one of our greatest weaknesses. The strengths of a library are so much more than that, but we can’t promote them by setting up this comparison.

The real opportunity of the SOPA blackout is to educate people about intellectual property and freedom of information. You know — that thing which the blackout was supposed to be about.

Beyond the simple ethics of not hijacking an important cause (and btw, I have even graver misgivings about using the blackout to promote the databases sold to us by the publishers supporting SOPA!), teaching people about this stuff is a much more important part of our mission than pointing them to the encyclopaedias. And fulfilling this mission will do far more to promote our real strengths.

Links of Interest 23/8/2011 – What Students Don’t Know (and bonus marketing)

This has exploded onto the various networks I follow, so it seems a good time to gather some other links with it:

What students don’t know gives an overview of findings from an ethnographic study of how students at various Illinois universities research, and is a vital read for anyone in the academic environment working with students.

Related links:

Unrelated links, on marketing:

  • Gavia Libraria writes about all those times people say “So you’re a librarian? So… you… shelve books?…” and suggests Representing Ourselves by telling people what we do (in elevator pitch format – she gives examples) rather than waste time attempting to argue about stereotypes.
  • Mr Library Dude collects a bunch of Social Media Ideas & Prizes for Libraries from various libraries.

The fallacy of "push communication"

It’s actually been a while since I’ve heard people talk of push communication, so maybe I’m a day late and a dollar short on this, but I can’t help when I have my epiphanies.

The idea behind push communication (when I heard it, at least) is that instead of waiting for users to come to your website for news, you could push it out to them through, for example, an RSS feed.

Hands up those of you who, when you ask your users to put their hands up if they use an RSS reader, ever get anyone putting a hand up? No, nor do I. And this is the problem: if you’re pushing information out to somewhere that people don’t visit, you’re still asking them to pull it.

Even if you push it right to their email inbox, if they only check their email when their kids mention they’ve sent photos of their grandkids; or if you’re pushing it to their student email account and they only ever check their dotcom-mail if that; you’re still not going to be successful.

My phone company pushed an SMS message to my cellphone on the 28th July to say that my account’s going to expire next year, my terms and conditions have changed, and I can get a new phone on some special offer until the 31st July. I finally noticed this message on the evening of the 31st July.

I only listen to the radio in the aftermath of natural disasters. I have friends who (by choice) don’t even own a TV (I use mine so rarely I forget which buttons on the remote to press). There’s no guaranteed way to push your communication to all your users short of accosting them face-to-face, and even then, even if you offer candy, a measurable proportion will still avert their eyes and walk right past you.

Of course RSS is still a handy tool, because it lets you embed the feed in places where hopefully the users will go. We embed ours on the library homepage, some subject guides, and our Facebook page. But that just gets more users, not all. (The most common response when I tell students about our Facebook page is laughter. Sure we’ve got 900+ followers. But that leaves probably 18,000+ non-followers.) We can communicate all we like through these channels, but the majority of our users — even when they’re motivated to find out which buildings are open to be borrowed from/returned to this week — still don’t know what’s going on in the library until they get a library tutorial. (And in the last few weeks the attendance rate at my tutorials is running at about 2/3.)

Long story short, if you want a message to get to all or even most of your users, you’re going to have to push hard and you’re going to have to push really really smart.

A rule about rhetorical questions

At intermediate and high school we learned the basics of debating. One technique we learned about was the rhetorical question; and we also learned an important rule for their use: Don’t ask a rhetorical question if there’s a chance your audience will respond with the ‘wrong’ answer.

@libsmatter reported from an ALIA panel:

What if when our budgets were cut we asked – “so – what do you want us to stop doing?”

which I used to agree with. And I still agree that if our budgets keep getting cut then we’ll have to cut services. But that doesn’t mean the argument will make everyone say, “Oh, right. Um, we didn’t think of that. Here, have an extra million dollars.”

Because if an institution wants/needs/thinks it needs to cut the library’s budget, it can really easily reply, “You need to keep providing the same service. Be more efficient. Work smarter. And if you can’t figure out how to do that for yourselves then well, we’ll send in our favourite efficiency experts and cut your staffing for you.”

And if we’re not prepared to accept that answer then we should be very careful about asking that question.

Links of interest 20/10/2010

QR Codes
(What’s a QR Code? See QR Codes: An Overview.)

Google has launched goo.gl, a URL shortening service (like tinyurl.com, bit.ly, etc) which as a bonus gives you a QR code: eg http://goo.gl/Xxyl links to this blog and http://goo.gl/Xxyl.qr gives you a pretty QR code you can paste onto a poster. Shortly thereafter, bit.ly joined in the fun.

On the downside I recall reading (somewhere on the internet; it sounded plausible at the time) that, cool as QR codes sound, since they’re mostly being used by advertisers, actual real people aren’t really all that keen on using them.[citation needed] On the upside, I’ve also heard anecdotes from people who do use them. And in any case they don’t cost any money and almost zero time.

Library tutorials

Open Access

Libraries on the agenda

Claudia Lux

Kris Wehipeihana is covering this better than me. A few highlights:

www.ifla.org has a Success Stories section which she asks NZ libraries to add to as it’s important for their advocacy functions. Success stories show how libraries develop and support the information society. They help networking and partnering; show the value of libraries; help you measure the impact your work has for a student, teacher, administrator….

Transparency – what is a librarian doing all day? Do our users know? Can we explain it? Do we explain it?

Libraries aren’t visible to city planners. Need to explain what we do, advocate. Start marketing

  • no complaints – don’t go up to the minister saying “My library leaks and no-one’s coming and I need more money and more space!” – just puts off the minister. Instead try “I read your speech, it was great, and even though you don’t know it, it has a lot to do with libraries, I’d love to talk about how we can support your work.” Next time s/he remembers your name and that you’re a nice person. 🙂
  • good news “Great news! We’ve got so many people coming into the library that there’s no room for them all to sit down!”
  • surprise your customer
  • define successful methods
  • present your normal work differently

Use success stories and pictures to convince your politician. One picture, or a short video, says more about your activity than a long report, and sticks in their mind better. (NB politicians love children so lots of pictures of children. Young adults are harder…)

What can you do?

  • shape the picture
  • collect arguments
  • know developments in advance
  • connect to the library association
  • help analyse possibilities
  • show best practice
  • make demands
  • never stop

Successful advocacy needs training and is ongoing.

Q: Is it time to update the public libraries manifesto?
A: yes

Q: re what steps we could take to support indigenous / tangata whenua (question was more involved/specific but I lost part of it)
A: Claudia promises to bring this to the governing board at IFLA. Applause from the audience.

Q: Why be involved in IFLA – how would home community benefit?
A: If you don’t contribute who will? We’re privileged speaking English so easier to have influence. (Three very active NZ chairs already. We’re “small and smart”.) Bringing many ideas, big and small, back to your library. And shows you and your library how well you’re really doing.

Links of interest 25/9/09

LibLime, an organisation which sells support to the New Zealand-developed open-source library system Koha, has recently announced changes to their practices that are technically legal but many feel don’t abide by the spirit of the open-source license. Library Journal has a basic summary of events with links to key discussions.

A libarian gets a marriage proposal on Ask a Librarian.

Customer service
Being at the point of need discusses placing screencasts, chat widgets, and other tutorials in the catalogue, subject guides, and databases.

Chalk notes as a valid communication format is a library manager’s blogpost about her response to chalk-on-pavement comments about the library. Her follow-up on chalk notes addresses the issue of communication within the library about public responses like this.

Tracking ILL Requests is a “wouldn’t it be neat if” post about providing more information on ILL requests to users.

The APA has an APA Style Blog with all sorts of handy tips.

10 free Google Custom Search Engines for librarians

5 sites with free video lectures from top colleges