Like most libraries MPOW had to cope with a pretty striking funding shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year. The Trustees decided to accommodate by combining the Technology Division with the Reference Division. I found out on a Wednesday that on the next Monday I was to head up the new Information & Technology Division and manage 11 people. This was at 8 months pregnant. It is a great decision and I’m loving working with the crew, but made for a busy few weeks.
In a lot of libraries, I think the reference staff are probably the defacto technology folk too – but I’m not sure. In this case, though, combining these divisions was exactly the right move and I’m proud to work in a place that’s brave enough to make it. I’m wondering what other similarly sized libraries do, though.
Also exciting is that I am working on the Connecting to Collections project that our State Library has taken a lead on. The idea is to catalog and expose the most important collections in NH. We are contacting as many cultural institutions as we can think of to participate and I am in charge of creating a website to allow researchers easier access to them. So many are in small organizations and rot away because no one knows they are there. Baby has largely kept me distracted, but there is slow progress being made and I’m hoping to get good time in once the bruises heal.
Watch findNHhistory for the first collections going up by the end of the summer.
Simple, yet brilliant, kid’s room hatches chicks and who doesn’t want to watch baby chicks grow up? This is just one of the awesome online things happening in my beloved state this week. Live free or die, baby!
Any librarian who has worked on a Reference Desk has gotten those toughie questions – maybe we’re not all that sure we should even be asked. If you’re anything like me they pass by without a second thought – just part of the job. But Jeremiah, at the Barker Engineering Library at MIT, reported an interesting exchange yesterday:
Mystified in Manchester: “Sure. I want to print, but nothing will print.”
Caring in Cambridge: “Right. Could you be just a little more specific? Where are you printing from? What are you trying to print? Which printer are you sending it to? That type of thing.”
Mystified in Manchester: “Can you just log in and fix it?”
Caring in Cambridge: “I don’t know what you mean…”
Mystified in Manchester: “Like if I give you my IP address, can you log in and fix it?”
He is right, most reference librarians would have no idea how to do this if the printer were in front of them, let alone how to remote to a computer to troubleshoot. But as the number of folks seeking reference services decline and computer use increases, perhaps this is something more libraries should consider? How would you answer this question?
Kudos to the Freedom Public Library for making some non-library focused news. It may seem small, but what an sweet and playful way to help keep libraries in the hearts and minds of the public. Let them love the library for a reason other than that it is a library. I sure do… how could you not love that face?
I was thrilled to host Social Media Breakfast – New Hampshire at the Library in September. I met some fantastic people, learned some stuff, and even got on youTube talking about the relevant services our Library can offer to the technorati.
The morning really drove home for me that libraries are not alone in attempting to provide services and outreach online. We’re just another business in a whole world of businesses – what we do isn’t that different. I’ve learned way more networking with the Chamber of Commerce crowd than the library associations.
That said, I ran across a terrific primer this morning: 14 social media lessons we can all learn. Read it, live it, love it.
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss was banned by a California School district because it “criminalized the forestry industry”.
Quick, simple and interesting – programming designing especially for the online audience. Awesome.
I am thrilled to have organized the sixth NH Social Media Breakfast at the Library. As I’ve watched my colleagues bust out open houses and other outreach to our community this month, it feels great to host my people – the ones who share my interest in community and how to reach them.
The event was organized by the lovely Leslie Poston of Uptown Uncorked and co-author of Twitter for Dummies. Three speakers:
Heidi Duncanson, Marketing Director at the Children’s Museum of NH, will share tips for building community on a shoestring.
Make people feel invested in your success.
Generosity and the dollars follow it.
Who are you trying to reach.
Volunteer in the community you are trying to reach.
Be positive and be generous.
Kevin Micalizzi, Community Manager for DimDim, on Simple Rules for Great Community Management
Be real. Do not be a bot.
Your customers are people and as people they want to speak with people.
Always be honest online and be upfront about who you are and what you are representing.
Be real and address the need.
People want to know someone is backing them up – [LJR - This could be the Library!]
Sometimes folks just need to feel validated. Someone to tell them that it’s okay.
Do not be a roadblock. The buck does not stop here. You are not the end of the line. There are already too many roadblocks.
Sometimes the directions are just confusing.
We need to be the ones giving the customers the clear path. [HELLO Libraries!]
Unless you are open and engaged you cannot be an active participant in the community.
Conversation goes both ways. You are not there to simply broadcast your message. It’s not called broadcast media.
Rachel Happe, Co-Founder of The Community Roundtable, on Eight Competencies to Socializing Your Organization
How to manage a community in an organizational context.
One person cannot manage this. You cannot be the only one managing your brand, you need advocates.
Pay attention to the cues – they are there.
You want a customer to be an enabler for you.
Expectations – Reality = Satisfaction. If you set high expectations and don’t follow through you are *creating* dissatisfaction. Marketing should be modest and then delight the customer.
Be Transparent, that may mean telling them why something is private. Don’t just hide it.
Be Authentic, show yourself.
Be modest, don’t overhype yourself.
Lead from the Back. We are used to telling people what we want. It’s much better to encourage and set boundaries from the back. Inspiring rather than forcing.
Tone, Formal tone and language creates a barrier between you and your constituents.
Communication Mode, people are mixing work and life. Know where your constituents are and meet them there.
Feeling of Power/Control, Customers can see their choices – they have them [even with libraries] and they know it. Ask them to partner with you.
Find your cheeseheads – the people who are really passionate about your organization.
Bring catnip – incenting people and encouraging them, especially when it’s an opt-in environmnet. [They are all opt-in]
Ride the waves.
Don’t ignore what is going on. You don’t have to fix the problem, but acknowledge it.
Keep a Regular schedule.
Be valuable. This is not free, invest money and time.
Have rules. Be clear about you are trying to do with your community. Be firm about how people interact. Rules are the codification of your culture, decide what that is and write it down.
Protect your base. Know what is risky for your constituent groups and know what will cause them to be fractured with you.
Find good tool.
Measure. Your efforts can be quantified.
Account and reconcile.
After two years of marriage my friend, Justine has still not been able to have a direct conversation with any of her Turkish in-laws. Her beleaguered groom has to do all the translating… and he is not a master of nuance. This morning, though, she cheerfully IMed me to say that Baki’s sister, Fatos, had discovered Google Translate and they were having their very first conversation. Fatos speaking English with Justine correcting and Justine speaking Turkish with Fatos correcting.
The internet, bringing families together.
With all of these fancy widgets, plugins, apps, oh my! at my disposal, leave it to me to let tab after tab of things I want to blog to collect in my browser. Over 20 means it’s time for a link dump. Stop me if you’ve heard this:
Do Your Research Before Asking for Help [Lifehacker]
As a librarian I have some reaction to this. I’m just not sure what it is. Territorial – research is my thing, hands off? Excited to learn people still ask for help? Not sure what it is, but I like it.
Long Time Listener [Cat and Girl]
This reminds me of my favorite snarky comment when someone says something stupid like, ‘Oh, Libraries have computers?’ I smile sweetly and say, ‘You obviously haven’t been in a library in a looong time.’ I once looked for a new dealership when the salesman said that his librarian just sat around ‘and stamped cards all day.’ Sheesh.
How Do You Share Links Over the Internet? [Lifehacker]
I thought I was going to be all smug and use this as evidence that we need to invest more in providing services via IM, FB, Twitter, etc. But, joke’s on me – the result was email. Followed closely by IM & Facebook. Twitter was a distant third. Color me surprised.
Facebook Pages basics – a Screencast [David Lee King for the BIGWIG Social Software Showcase 2009 at the Annual ALA Conference. BTW, I'm wearing the tshirt reward from my 2007 offering at this very moment.]
This is a fantastic primer for anyone thinking about starting a library facebook page. I’m not a beginner, but I didn’t even know I could add a username. Yay! David gives fantastic advice – watch it!
Is there a Red Box DVD machine in your library’s future? [PAFA.net]
Fantastic idea. Anyway to provide services after hours is brilliant. If I had my way we would have installed one outside the children’s room last month. Unfortunately, and this may come as a surprise to some, I don’t always get my way.