Archive for August, 2009

Libraries Are Rocks

Library Garden is participating in the BLOGATHON for the Lexington (KY) Free Public Library. The purpose of the blogathon is to raise awareness about the flood that caused so much damage to the library and the need for donations. For more information, please see the wiki. To make a donation, please click on the banner below.

 

 

This post is a personal essay and does not speak for everyone here at Library Garden (unless they want it to!) The theme for the blogathon is “Why Libraries Rock” (or see another version here or here), but I submit that libraries don’t just rock, they ARE rocks.

I give you definition number 5 from The Free Dictionary by Fairfax

rock 1

Noun


5. a person or thing on which one can always depend: your loyalty is a rock

-retrieved http://www.thefreedictionary.com/rock, 08/31/09, 3:46pm

Libraries are things on which one can always depend (or they should be anyway). Libraries are there for you whether you are rich or poor, privileged or underprivileged, old or young, law-abiding or not law-abiding, educated or uneducated, beautiful or ugly. My personal library work background is in public libraries and I can tell you from first-hand experience, that many people consider the library a first (or last) resort in many cases.

 

When I worked in the Clifton Public Library, I met a man who moved his family from Poland and literally his first stop was the library. He came for job information, school information for his daughters, and found out about the Conversation Club. He began attending the club and made friends and connections at the library. I came to know many other people who came to the Conversation Club and who frequented the library regularly for information, entertainment, conversation, connection. They would have come to Conversation Club every day if we had been able to hold it that often.

They came to use the free Internet stations to communicate with friends and family back home, and to look for work and apartments. They came to our computer classes and created resumes and learned how to search in our databases and in our catalog for books, dvds, cds. Their children used the library after school to play games on the computers and to do homework and socialize with other students.

At the Paterson Free Public Library, I knew many regulars for whom the library was a safe and dependable place to come. These library users read entire newspapers cover-to-cover, looked at magazines and yes, used the free Internet stations. They attended the free cultural and entertainment programs and took part in events at the library. They relied on us to open every day, and be there every day.

 

Home-schooling groups, the Girl Scouts, small business owners, Toastmasters, and others all reserved and used the community space at these libraries to hold meetings and events. Seniors attended the free movies on weekday afternoons and book clubs met monthly. I don’t even have enough room to mention all of the children’s programming….

 

As a child, it was a weekly event for my mom to take my brother and sister and me to the library where we would literally stock up on piles and piles of books to bring home. I remember participating in the “reading olympics” and the summer reading programs every summer. And when I was looking around for a career, where did I head? To the library. Not originally to find a career in librarianship, but to find out information about careers, and to check out a sign for office help. Ultimately, that trip to the library resulted in me realizing that an actual LIBRARY career might be for me (true story)! Today, I have the most rewarding career I could ever have imagined.

 

Whether people realize it or not, whether they actively use their library on a regular basis or not, I think people think of the library as a rock. As something that will always be there and should always be there. Does this mean they take it for granted? Does this mean it will always be there?

 

Perhaps. Perhaps not. But those who love libraries, those who KNOW libraries ARE rocks, are such passionate people about their libraries. This blogathon is just one example of the types of passionate people working in, using, and surrounding libraries. Rocks seem permanent, but we know that events that are catastrophic enough can damage or demolish them. And, events that are minor, but happen over and over again for a long time (such as erosion) can also wear away a rock. Sometimes those who most depend on the library cannot be the ones to stand up and fight for, or protect the libraries. We who can do that need to remain vocal about libraries, our rocks, so that they never disappear.

Rock Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aeu04117/581816877/

August 31, 2009 at 4:14 am

New name, new blog. CLENE is now LearnRT

Happily sharing this press release from Lori Reed, Board Member and Communications & Marketing Chair of the Learning Round Table of ALA

ALA Learning Round Table Chooses New Name, Retains Mission

by Lori Reed

The name may be changing, but the mission of the “Learning Round Table of ALA” remains the same. The American Library Association’s round table dedicated to quality continuing education for library workers has changed its name from CLENERT to LearnRT.

Under its new name:

  • LearnRT will continue to promote quality continuing education for all library personnel, helping you network with other continuing education providers for the exchange of ideas, concerns and solutions.
  • LearnRT will serve as your source for continuing education assistance, publications, materials, training and activities.
  • LearnRT is your advocate for quality library continuing education at both the local and national levels.

NEW BLOG–ADD US TO YOUR FEED READER!

In addition to the name change the Round Table is sponsoring a new blog/website, “ALA Learning” (http://alalearning.org), which will feature training and learning news, information, best practices and thoughtful discussion from leading trainers and staff development practitioners in the library field.

Contributing authors include:

JOIN AND BENEFIT FROM OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH THE AMERICAN MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION

Membership in LearnRT is only $20, in addition to ALA membership dues. Among the many membership benefits, LearnRT members enjoy, through a unique agreement with the American Management Association, the following valuable AMA benefits:

  • Preferred pricing on all AMA seminars-least a 10-percent discount.
  • Unlimited access to AMA’s Members-only Web site – an ever-growing library of both timely and timeless information on practical issues of management.
  • Access to case studies, how-to articles, trend pieces, best practices, profiles of leading executives and companies, best-selling book excerpts, author interviews and recent research results.
  • Interactive self-assessments that reflect the abilities and knowledge of today’s high-value managers.
  • Exclusive discounts and special offers on AMA products and services.
  • Thirty-percent discounts on “Last-Minute Seats” at numerous selected AMA seminars announced each month.

To become a member of ALA’s Learning Round Table complete the ALA membership application: http://www.ala.org/ala/membership/joinrejoinrenewadd/default.cfm.

(Please note that we may be listed as either CLENERT or LearnRT in various places until the name change has fully circulated throughout ALA.

August 27, 2009 at 12:57 pm

5 Reasons why you should be gaming in your Library

“We’re pleased to have Justin Hoenke, Teen Librarian at Cape May County Library guest posting for us this week. -Peter Bromberg

This past month, my library (Cape May County Library) was named the first place winner of the New Jersey State Library’s video contest “Solving Life’s Problems.” The video follows a timid young boy named Trevor whose family cannot afford to buy him the latest video game system. Instead, his family takes him to his local library where he quickly becomes a fan of the weekly game night program. In turn, Trevor and his family become regulars at the library. (So regular that Trevor now gets high fives from the librarians!)

Needless to say, I’m super proud of our staff (Lisa Alderfer, Technology Librarian and Mike Trout, Technology Assistant) for putting this video together. It clearly shows the many ways a library can be there for its patrons if we just take that extra step. But video games…in the library? I always get quizzed about how odd this idea seems by friends, family, and library patrons. I tell them that the answer is simple…we’re a public library and the public wants video games so…we give them video games! In 2008, video games sales topped $21 billion dollars(http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28682836). Now I’m no expert with money, but that seems like a lot. Enough that we librarians should take notice.

If you’re on the fence about video game programs or circulating video game collections in your library, here are five reasons why you should just go for it.

1. Welcome to the 21st Century!
Video games are part of the new media. Corporations are using video games for product placement. Movie stars are starring in their own video games. That old cliche of video games making kids lazy and unsocial can be thrown out in the trash. Video games help people learn how to solve problems, develop hand/eye coordination, and now with games such as Wii Fit, provide exercise. Please check out all of your excuses at the door thank you very much.

Welcome to the 21st Century, where video games are a relevant source of information and media. If you choose not to have any kind of video games in your library, you’re living in the past.

2. Gaming builds community.
Since my library (Cape May County Library) initiated our Game Night program in January 2008, we have seen around 20-30 teens attending our weekly Game Night program. Looking at this crowd, you see a wide range of personalities; the hardcore gamers, the metalheads, the anime teens, and many more. Over the past year, I’ve watched all these personalities mix, mingle, and become good friends. Teens have told me that because of our Game Night program they now have more friends at school. This is what the 21st century library is all about…building community. The public library of the 21st century should bring together all sorts of people and provide them with the stuff they want.

3. You will see all sorts of new people in your library.
My desk is situated about 30 feet from our entrance. I get to see a number of folks stopping in the library on a daily basis. They’re usually the same people, but since we got our circulating video game collection things have changed. I see a lot of new faces coming in every few days to get a new game. Once they find out I’m the one buying the games, I become sort of a pseudo celebrity. The cool thing about this story? These are people I’ve NEVER seen in the library before. Just think of all the patrons that are out there that are not interested in books. This is one way to reach them.

4. You couldn’t ask for an easier way to get teens interested in the library.
I call video games the “gateway drug for getting reluctant teens interested in the library.” It almost seems too easy. Have video games and they will come. That’s it. As I said in #2 above, every week I see a wide range of personalities mixing it up for two hours over Rock Band. These teens started out just coming to our game nights. I casually introduced them to our other teen programs and all the teen books and graphic novels we had. I didn’t beat them over the head with this other stuff…instead I just said “Hey, take a look at this other cool stuff.” Slowly but surely the teens were coming into the library on non game nights. They were checking out books. They were coming up to my desk and requesting new books. As a matter a fact, they helped initiate a new collection of video game strategy guides in our teen room.

Now, our teen circulation is through the roof. All of our teen programs are very well attended. And it all started with video games in the library.

5. The initial cost may be high, but the return investment is priceless.
Wow. That was such a cliche line. I’m sort of proud of myself for writing it. Anyway, video games cost a lot of money. Playstation 3 games regularly go for $59.99. Ouch. Especially in a time when so many libraries are getting budget cuts. Here’s something to think about though; You’re not plopping down all this money for nothing. You are creating life long library users. These patrons will see that and they’ll become supporters for your library. They’ll be the ones to fight for you in the future if you face budget cuts.

Are you also gaming in your library? If so, comment below and share what is working best for your library.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions:
Twitter: http://twitter.com/justinlibrarian
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/justinhoenke

August 27, 2009 at 12:16 pm

It’s All About the Experience

(For original post, with comments, see: http://librarygarden.blogspot.com/2009/08/its-all-about-experience.html)

In July 2008, I posted on authenticity and what it means for libraries. Essentially explaining that we are in an experience economy and that we need to be aware of the expectations that exist regarding libraries, services and technology.

It is easy to find examples of other businesses trying to create an experience, from fitness instructors and personal trainers to pet spas and resorts. Keith Goodrum writes in his post, Are You Creating an Experience instead of a Transaction? about the delight he and his wife experienced after leaving their dog at a pet resort while they were on vacation. The experience wasn’t just about the novelty but about the way the pet resort made Keith and his wife feel.

Is this what libraries are doing? How do library users feel after being in the library or using their library’s website? Are they experiencing your library or are they merely conducting transactions?

My renewed interest and changed perspective on the experience economy is based on my new job as the Virtual Branch Manager at a public library. When looking for library websites to get ideas and inspiration for a website redesign or overhaul, I have to admit that in many places, that “experience” feel is missing. And its not just the libraries’ websites either; it is the vendors and databases libraries subscribe to or use, as well. For example, there is no reason why any digital media download site should be convoluted. If you have to click more than 2 or 3 times to actually start a download, how frustrated are you getting? Now imagine a library patron, with a slower internet connection, who isn’t sure if they really want to use these digital resources and what will their response be? My money would be on a few quick clicks, then give up and move on to a place that literally takes one click to download, purchase, etc. (think iTunes or Amazon.com).

While there is a plethora of information out there about how to design an experience that will excite and satisfy library users, consider two great resources as a place to start:

  1. David Lee King, in his new book, Designing the Digital Experience and on his blog, discusses libraries, websites, marketing and emerging technologies. He has experience from which to draw (he is the Digital Branch and Services Manager at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library)and lots of great tips and insights to help get your started.
  2. Kathy Dempsey, blogger at the M-Word and author of The Accidental Library Marketer, talks about marketing your library (and its website) and making it more relevant. Her book mainly focuses on marketing and promotion of library services. However, she does say that most libraries, unfortunately, do not try to create an experience. Part of creating an experience is to find out what people want and need (all part of the marketing process) and then to give it to them.

In my authenticity post from a year ago I wrote: “It may take lots of work to make the vision and missions of our institutions match and exceed positive expectations that people have about libraries of all types.” This does not just relate to your physical building but also to your web presence and the resources and services you offer. As libraries and librarians move towards creating experiences for users, it is important to remember that those experiences have to be true to the library’s mission and vision. Remember advice from authors James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II in Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want: “Be what you say you are by finding your very own original way for customers to experience your offering in the places you establish” (p.152).

August 14, 2009 at 2:29 pm


Creative Commons

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Disclaimer: The thoughts expressed on this blog are those of the authors and are not intended to reflect the views of our employers.

A Note on the history of posts

Please note that all Library Garden posts dated earlier than September 13,2009 originally appeared on our Blogger site. These posts have been imported to this site as a convenience when searching the entire site for content.

If you are interested in seeing the original post, with formatting and comments in tact, please bring up the original post at our old Blogger site.

Thanks for reading Library Garden!

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