Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Cutler Lending Library Unveiled

After over a year's worth of work, our Lending Library was officially unveiled yesterday. It was part of a USDA Rural Development grant (also part of an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), a $100,000 project. This is one of the projects I spoke about at Internet Librarian, and I will further discuss at the California Library Association Conference in November of this year.

The product is called the Brodart Lending Library. We selected this machine because it was cheaper and easier to use than other machines. In particular, the Library-go-go machine is $140,000 to implement fully and you need a Swedish team to come out to install and deal with any technical issues. The Brodart library is created and maintained in the United States and can be accessed remotely by cell tower. The product is only $17,000. We paid an additional $10,000 to custom build this machine so that it did not require internet access. The rest was for the bookdrop, books, and  building the housing to protect the machine. Information is stored locally on the machine, with a branch librarian coming out weekly to get the information and re-stock the machine. It's as easy to use as a candy machine, and you just need to know the number of the book you want and have a library card; it's that simple.

I am especially proud of our staff for getting all this together. It took a year of planning, but just like cooking, most of the action is in the last moments. We paid for the machine and had it custom built.We had to contact the Cutler Public Utility District to get permission to build a structure on their grounds to house the machine. It took coordination from our Public Works, the Utility Office, canvassing the schools and businesses, and working with Brodart to get all the technical requirements correct to go live. It all worked beautifully. It was also a wonderful location since it was right across the street from the school and it sits in between the school and the way home for the kids.

When I got out there yesterday there were kids streaming in from everywhere excited about the machine. We had about 300 kids at the event and we signed up 200 of them for new library cards. It's wonderful to see the heavy use considering this area where 60% of the population does not have a high school education and 80% are mono-lingual Spanish speakers. We had kids running up and asking about it, then running to our bookmobile to get library cards and then coming back. We had a whole row of books gone in under an hour!
UPDATE!! After one day's use, the book machine is now empty. That's 300 books gone in one day!
UPDATE 2!! After one week, it looks like we will have to restock the machine three times a week. We've restocked it three times and it is empty the next day. Today the book return was full!!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Internet Librarian 2010 #intlib10 pre-conference: Promoting Effective use of E-resources using E-tools by Barbie E. Keiser

This was my first year at Internet Librarian. I will post my feelings about my first conference, speaking as part of a panel at the conference, and failure. For now, these are my notes for Promoting the Effective Use of E-Resources by using E-Tools. We are getting heavily into our usage stats for our digital products and determining whether this database or resources needs to be cut, or needs more promotion. This session answered both sides of that question.

The Program/Michael Porter Approach to Marketing
I really enjoyed this program since it promotes marketing to a specific group of people rather than a spread out approach, shotgun style. Find and identify the specific target group, develop service and promotion around it, and then measure the full impact of the program.

It begins with the assessment process. The thinking behind this presentation takes a business-like approach to rolling out a new service. 

Establish an information need, estimate size of market, identify competition, can you meet the need now? 

She brought up Michael Porter's Five Forces that affect the marketplace: New Entrants into the market, suppliers, buyers, substitutes, and Industry Competitors. I found this approach very refreshing. 

When I simplify this question, I would wonder if I should bother with a library database when Google will do. Some researchers will even pay to get the information that is already available through the library because they don't know about it. Genealogy research comes to mind, people can Google their ancestry, pay for a subscription at Ancestry.com or use the library resources that provides all that and more. The introduction of the competition in this was fascinating and really changed the way I am thinking about marketing e-resources.

Need to identify your user base, who are they, what drives them, what forces them, what are the barriers, what are all the critical factors?

Porter's four P's: product, Place, Price, Promotion. There was a great emphasis on Porter's works, should pick it up. If product is not new, how do you repackage as if it is? People have short attention spans, need to re-introduce and re-package current services.

Heavy emphasis was placed on focus groups, asking them what they expect of your service, what products and services are currently available, do people even know about it, are you aware what others offer.

(As a side note of strategically marketing services, lots of comments from librarians on how they needed a certain database, but project was scrapped to get eBooks. I wonder if that is a director overreacting to a trend or librarians unaware of their market?)

Pull marketing ideas from what we are doing now
Libraries need to find new ways to promote services, examples given were product of the month, giveaway of products, get and giveaway freebies. Think of marketing like a sales promotion, tie everything into that. Lower the barrier to access for a limited period of time to encourage usage, same as a sale. One of the participants mentioned that libraries do this during their Summer Reading Programs. Another thought is asking why are you promoting it? Yes get new users, higher stats, what's the goal. What does this promotion say about me?

Need to use these skills to push a message, but can also allow message to be pulled, what users define us as, and also participatory, engaged patrons. There are different methods to accomplish any one of the three.

Next part covered social networks available. Overall, this segment was a rehash of social networking sites and which one works best for each type of marketing and promotion. This segment was a bit more advanced and I think it would take a good amount of critical analysis to get this part right. Broadcast media equals lower engagement; Networks/Blogs equals higher engagement. Push messaging versus dialogue, this segways into a general approach of library branding and service delivery. When is it a good time to use a blog, wiki, newsletter, tutorial, podcast, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, giveaways, RSS feeds and more? 

Libraries should develop a marketing campaign design worksheet. Needs and benefits, messages, platforms, vehicles, frequency and strategy, partners and personal dates, measures and more all affect that message. A parting thought, people don't friend libraries, people friend people, we may need to change approach in library marketing to further embed ourselves. Not a library, but a librarian is a more human approach. Funny that most libraries that have social networks have maybe one or two people work on them, and also have their own account. Why not use personal accounts to push?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Library Bandwidth in Terms of Gigabytes

I attended the meeting for CENIC's project to provide high speed fiber for California's Central Valley last week. When completed, this project will provide high bandwidth fiber pipe from Kern County (Bakersfield) up to Colusa County. The Central Valley is California's most rural and poorest area, encompassing over 500 miles with a population of over 6.2 million. This is an often neglected part of California. A largely agricultural area, so it is no wonder that this area doesn't have fast bandwidth.

CENIC approached many different partners earlier this year when they submitted an ARRA grant to get high speed. In this area, we refer to bandwidth in megabytes if we are lucky, but it seems soon, we will be speaking in terms of gigabytes.

It's an ambitious program that has identified anchor institutions receiving one Gigabyte per second download speeds. Our Visalia branch library will be an anchor institute, one of 20 headquarter libraries chosen in this project. Currently, the library has 5mbps download times, but with this new fiber coming through, there is the potential to have 1 GBPS, almost 1000 times more bandwidth.

This is the second stimulus grant in which we will benefit. The first from USDA for library construction. This one will be a group project involving schools, public safety, universities, and public libraries. We are one of many organizations, in particular public libraries, that are receiving stimulus grants for broadband. In order to track the progress of these awards, you can go to the United States Department of Agriculture Utilities Page to track grant awards or to the Broadband USA page to see various broadband and Public Computer Center grants.

The grant intends to accomplish the following:
"According to a June 2009 report by the Public Policy Institute of California, Internet and broadband use has increased in all regions of California except for the Central Valley, where 49 percent of households cannot access high-speed service. Current broadband infrastructure in the region is largely inadequate to meet the needs of local community anchor institutions. In response to this situation, Central Valley Independent Network (CVIN), along with its project partner, Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), intends to deploy a 1,371-mile fiber backbone network through 18 Central Valley counties. The network, consisting of 720 newly constructed miles of fiber and the leasing of 164 miles of dark fiber, will provide Internet backbone service to Amador, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Fresno, Kings, Kern, Mariposa, Merced, Madera, Nevada, Placer, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tuolumne, Tulare, and Yuba counties. In addition, the project will construct 12 new wireless nodes in order to deploy WiMax last-mile service to the rural portions of Fresno, Tulare, Kings, and Kern Counties."

Further, the FCC will fast track these sorts of projects and allow schools and libraries to borrow pipe. Even though we have an anchor institution in Tulare County, we have 15 libraries that could also use high bandwidth fiber. With the many anchor stations in the county, we could tap into four and possibly six other locations, vastly improving service. In fact, this project is scheduled for completion in October of 2012, just two years away. This is the kind of service desperately needed in this rural part of the country. I wrote about bandwidth choking late last year and how that can affect new features and services from libraries. This kind of project can unlock so many doors and provides so much potential. I couldn't believe my ears when Cenic spoke of a one gigabyte pipe and I can hardly contain my excitement at the possibility of having this amount of bandwidth.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Libraries need to put content online

                Uris Library Stacks
            Originally uploaded by
Libraries are nowhere near a future where everything is online. Books and information will stay in print for many, many years to come, but we need to position ourselves to not just provide services online (such as marketing through social networking sites, or online reference), but start providing content online, whether as a digital distribution center for e-books, or by providing our own content that is easy to access. 

My first foray into e-books increased my reading habits. My library didn't have a large budget and we had to be very efficient. When I was the collection development librarian, the director wanted Science Fiction titles from LOCUS (he circled what he wanted), but they never circulated.

When I became the director, I ran into a dilemma, there were books I wanted to read, but I couldn't justify the costs if it was just for me. However, when an opportunity came to subscribe to the largest e-book consortium in the state, I jumped at the chance. It was 20,000 e-books for only $20,000, one dollar per book. By doing that, I opened up the possibility of so many more books for our patrons at a low  cost (that was equal to one fifth of our entire print collection added immediately), and for myself, I now had far greater diversity and selection. Since then, I have always been excited about e-books and about what they can do.

Vendors like Overdrive, Netlibrary, and MyILibrary all provide e-books and e-audiobooks online through library websites. Libraries pay for this content so that the information can be freely accessed by the public.

Overdrive continues to make steps into the library's future. The recent announcement that they will make e-book content directly downloadable to smart phones (http://www.teleread.com/2010/05/19/overdrive-to-release-ebook-reading-applications/) (just like they already do with audiobooks) demonstrates a strategy that is in line with the library's future as it connects online content with a mobile delivery system.

E-books evolving
This is the game changer. If all e-reader devices, from iPod touches, iPads to Kindles, can download material from the library it would be a different world. A free book option provided by libraries would change how we view e-readers. There will be more devices that can read e-books that aren't just for e-books. With so many ways to read a book, having a free option would be wonderful. Furthermore, librarians will need to learn more about these devices as they are multiplying like rabbits. One Library Journal Editor commented at BEA:

"affordable ereaders are going to drive you all crazy" -- B&T's Coe to librarians, on future of collection development for devices #dod10                                   
less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone                                                                                   

We also need more training in this area and to be able to support this technology. At BEA:

Teleread: BEA: Tomorrow’s Library in the World of Digits
Libraries are becoming “IT” services for consumers and they need to train their own people better.

It's dissapointing that libraries aren't considered partners with publishers and vendors in ebook distribution. This excellent article explains where libraries need to be in regard to ebooks.

Librarians to Ebook Creators and Sellers: Library Model Needed (Library Journal)


In order for us to help you sell and promote your e-books, we need you to sell or license them to us in a manner that works with our business model.
-      Provide for electronic check-out to customers similar to how we lend hard copy items.
-      Offer popular titles at reasonable prices.
-      Provide e-books in standard format with standard digital rights management.
-      Offer them to individual libraries and allow libraries to pool resources by selling to groups and consortia.


Many are concerned about the content delivery going through library vendors instead of through the library. The library currently subscribes to databases that are not housed in the library, but require librarian navigation and troubleshooting. That content still serves the public and tax dollars support it so that everyone can have equal access. That's the basic model of librarianship. We pool community resources to better the community by providing services and access to content, not necessarily providing the content ourselves.

Destroy your microfilm machine, libraries provide digital content
Many libraries house history collections and microfilmed newspapers. There should be a major push to digitize which will bolster library collections. Part of libraries continued relevance online. The library is one of the few places that collection this type of resource, particularly local in nature. Publishing our own resources as well as partnering with local history centers to digitize their materials should be the next steps in library service evolution.

Much of my frustration is the need to destroy microfilm machines in libraries. These expensive tedious machines represent such an anachronism today. You can sit down on a computer and look at a historical digitized newspaper which can take minutes for a patron or a librarian to look up, or you can scroll through reams of microfilm for hours fruitlessly.

Digitization projects are very expensive, so bringing up this point seems indelicate, but I get frustrated at many librarians who would simply say, "Sounds great, if we could afford it." I think it is important enough to place some focus upon it. In California, there are two good online repositories for digital collections, Online Archive of California and California Newspaper Project. Both of these agencies are great at organizing information and providing permanent access to collections. There are also private library vendors that can perform the same amount of work with assurances that the items will be properly formatted for the future. I think this needs to be more of a priority for libraries to make this content easy to access and better preserved.

What's next?
What other content can we provide online and how can we make that content easy to use. Not just online, but downloadable to devices. If an iPad can read it, highlight, and edit this content, it becomes infinitely more useful for future generations. Instead of researchers having countless photocopies and clipping, they can have access to everything through one device and be able to replicate that content if necessary. That cannot happen, however, if that information isn't digitized and preserved and formatted in a way that it can be accessed in the future.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

California Libraries Article on USDA Grants

My article for the May California Libraries Newsletter is now up. I discuss all the nuts and bolts on how our library applied and received a grant to renovate two of our branch libraries and purchased one book machine. If you have rural communities in your library system, you might consider reviewing the article and applying to the USDA. They have Community Facility Funds set aside just for libraries and the Undersecretary of the USDA is making a point of getting the word out. Take a look: Creative Fund Finding: USDA Grants for Libraries

Thursday, April 08, 2010

A Thanks to KVPR and the future of libraries

I have always loved National Public Radio. When I was asked to be interviewed for the local NPR affiliate, KVPR's Quality of Life Program, I was ecstatic. The program aired Tuesday and is now available online here. During the program, the moderator speaks to a varied selection of people about the future of libraries and information. The program included segments with a Fresno County Librarian, Rick King, Chairman of the Minnesota High Speed Broadband Task Force, and later in the show, myself.

As I was listening and speaking on the show, one of the things that kept surfacing in my mind was- how do we get our services to people? How do we connect the information that we have to them? iPads and ebooks are all the rage, and are certainly a great innovative step into our future. However, for the here-and-now, it's a question of, "how do I get this print book or this DVD to the person who wants it?"

Here in the San Joaquin Valley, there isn't sufficient broadband to provide e-content consistently and the population typically isn't affluent enough to have e-book readers or the bandwidth to download an audiobook online to their mp3 player. We need to provide the content that we currently have, most of which is non-digital. That's why I continue to be impressed with our library consortium. The San Joaquin Valley Library System includes 13 different jurisdictions, making 2 million books and other items available. If you live anywhere in the area, whether it is the biggest city such as Fresno, or the smallest community, which might be Alpaugh, you can still have access to a variety of material, from critical information to the latest bestsellers. It's all moved around by hand and delivered to your local library.

It's truly amazing what we can do by pooling our resources, responding to the community needs right now, and getting them the services they want. It's looking to the future as well, and being able to plan for future needs.  However, it's the right now that needs to be figured out. How do we do that?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mobile conferencing at PLA

I don't like lugging laptops to conference so I thought that I would try to rely on my Blackberry, iPod Touch, and Sony Reader. I made a big mistake on the last device; I forgot the power cord for my Reader. There I was foolishly reading my book while listening to music on my Reader (so that I could conserve power on my other devices). Of course this drains the battery like nobody's business. I also brought a digital camera, not thinking about how I would upload those pictures. Luckily the hotel had a business center and I was able to upload pics just fine.

I tried Foursquare with my Twitter account. I felt Foursquare was valuable for the conference, but doubt that I will use it outside of that. Foursquare is a good tool if you already know people and are in close proximity, fostering social connections, especially at a professional conference in a new city. It was a great tool to see who was around and I got to meet people in real life that I only knew on Twitter. I geeked out a bit and put my Twitter handle and picture on my badge as well. It was helpful and fun to associate a photo with the Twitter persona.

Overall, I would say the mobile conferencing was a success.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Changing Course: Leadership for Navigating the New Library

Me with Luis Herrera
With Luis Herrera, San Francisco Public Library Director

Me with Susan Hildreth
With Susan Hildreth, Seattle Public Library Director

This was a wonderful program that I had the privilege to attend. There were many of my library management heroes there like Susan Hildreth (Seattle), Luis Herrera (San Francisco), and a good friend, Laura Isenstein with Providence Associates. I met some new friends there, some from Twitter, and other brilliant library admin people.

We had homework for this program, four articles that are available online. These are classics in the management profession, one of them by Peter Drucker. I will post the links to my Delicious account.

This session was held over two days during the pre-conference. The main focus was to understand the basic principles of the articles; the community building and building personal networks were the high points for me.

The thing that puzzled me a little is that I feel like I have gone down this road before. I used the Planning for Results model sponsored by PLA. However, even though many libraries went through the strategic planning process, many didn't engage the community in a meaningful way. They grabbed the same people that were already in their circle and asked them what they already knew. As the presenter told me, they didn't expand their sandbox or their social circle, thereby they didn't gather meaningful support. I even discussed a very prominent library and wondered surely they did this, and in fact they didn't. They got complacent.

I can't tell you how meaningful those relationships in the community are. You don't have to be a director to make them. In fact, my library has several staff members who are so embedded. It's amazing what they can accomplish, how "in the know" they are. They are valued and consulted, particularly on non-library issues. This is a big part of what we are talking about. Do you have the relationships that move beyond library and into community? Are you at that point? Great takeaways!

Another concept discussed was the personal board of directors concept- trying to establish a network of coaches and mentors that you can speak freely with and that can guide you in any aspect of your life. This is a circle that will inoculate your decision-making so that the first person telling you an idea is stupid isn't a staff member or a board member. Another point of emphasis is to not limit this circle just to librarians. I would think non-librarians would be particularly valuable, as you don't get too tunnel visioned. Library organizational issues are almost never unique to libraries, and we shouldn't treat them as such.

Overall, it was a great program. Our moderator understands our profession needs to change and to accomplish that he needed to change the people in the room, a tough sell. I think we can change and be the center, the Mecca of our communities. Surprisingly, it only takes one phone call.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The post where I gush about PLA and other thoughts

I can't tell you how impressed that I am with the 2010 Public Library Association Conference. This conference just did everything right. Beautiful location, beautiful venue, free working wireless and world class presenters. They even got the weather to cooperate! Sunny days in Portland in MARCH, someone must have good connections.

Having Natalie Merchant at the program was huge! Playing stuff yet to be released and having her serenade librarians with a thank you and going into the audience! Wow, that's what librarians need right now. The conference started a bit melancholy for me as I knew many colleagues were suddenly pulled from coming and many more would shortly be laid off. In fact I got news of a friend who was to be laid off, just as the program was starting. I hope that I can make a connection for her, but I couldn't help thinking of others. Like soldiers falling in the line, we must move forward but it's hard not to mourn what's going on, I can barely read the news anymore.

In sharp contrast, Kristoff gave us a lot to be thankful for. If you've read Half the Sky you know about the oppression of women worldwide. Women not considered worthy enough to save their lives, pay for an education, or even to pay for a simple surgery that could improve their quality of life. The book resonated with me, but not in the specific way of women in third world countries. What makes the book different was that it breaks down the problem, offers a solution, then goes further in discussing how good deeds and relief can be fruitless and difficult. Sometimes solving the problem doesn't end at one stage in the effort, but must be seen through. He told the story of a woman kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery. To save this woman, he purchased her and brought her back to her village. However, in one week she ran back to the brothel because she was addicted to meth that only the brothel could supply. How to solve that problem?

It reminded me of our library's literacy efforts. Literacy is only the first step. They then need a GED, job skills, soft job skills, then afterward to find a job, but then there aren't any. It's a great deal of work, and rewarding, but the work doesn't stop at literacy. The problems are much bigger and multifaceted. It's not just literacy, it's getting teens out of gangs and into the library. It's so much more. This is the work libraries need to do.

At the end of the day I'm energized and thankful about the work I can do in my community. I run an organization that is unique in one particular way. Other community agencies, schools and nonprofits have specific goals, mandates, and parameters that restrict them from doing the most good; libraries aren't as restricted. I can get on a committee and say we can give resources, know how to get funding, and can bridge the gap on your mandate. It's a wonderful feeling, like being a superhero and that's how this conference made me feel, thank you PLA!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone