Author Archive

Election Night and Public Libraries

Princeton Public Library will be hosting an Election Night at the Library event for the third time tomorrow night. The library has always been open regular hours on election days and starting in 2004 we decided that as the “community’s living room” we were the perfect venue to host a non-partisan, family friendly election return event. We serve food and drinks, have political commentary, watch the returns on multiple screens, and stay open late — generally until 11 pm, but the year of the hanging chads we stayed until after midnight. Leslie Burger hosts the event and Ingrid Reed of the Eagleton Institute provides the commentary. It really is a wonderful way to spend election night and a great way for the library to prove its value as a Third Place.

I started looking around to see if this idea had caught on at other libraries and I did find that Tigard Public Library in Oregon will be hosting an Election Watch 2008 event and that Towson branch of the Baltimore County Public Library will also be doing an Election 2008: Returns after Dark event. I am sure that there are other public libraries hosting events, if so please comment here and let us know what you are doing!

I was somewhat surprised, however, during my quest to find other library election parties to also discover that many, many public libraries close on election day. I was a little baffled by this, to be honest, especially since Princeton Public Library has always been open and it is the only public library that I have worked at since emigrating from Canada. At first I assumed that some libraries closed because they are polling places. That turns out to be partly true, but it seem that many more close because it is consider a legal holiday in many states, including New Jersey (thanks Wikipedia).

Should libraries remain open on election day and provide a non-partisan forum for their community to gather and participate in watching returns — or should they close in honor of the occasion? I obviously side with the former (even though I am not able to vote, yet) but I am sure there are other viewpoints and I would love to hear both sides.

November 3, 2008 at 2:28 pm 5 comments

Email Habits of Library Workers

About a month ago I posted a simple poll using Doodle to get a quick snapshot of the email habits of librarians and those who work in libraries. I am finally finding a few moments to summarize the results. This is not a very scientific study at all, but it does give an indication that many of us in libraryland seem to feel compelled to check our work email even on weekends and holidays. I wonder if this is the same in other industries or are we just a hyper-connected profession of overachievers that must know at all times what is happening in our libraries even when we are not there?

As of August 15th 2008 there were 160 responses (many more than I expected) and the most popular option chosen was “Yes on weekends” with 119 people (74%) indicating that they needed to know what was going even when they were not at work.

Even though we seem to have a burning desire to check our work email on weekends, there is some indication that at least a small portion of the profession knows the meaning of the word vacation — 51 people (32%) indicated that they do not check work email while on vacation. Conversely, though, that means that more than two-thirds check work email when they should be sipping margaritas or relaxing on the beach.

Here is a quick summary of all the responses (results do not equal 100 as it was multiple choice):

Although the numbers in and of themselves are interesting, what I found most fascinating was the long list of comments. Here are a few sample comments:

Comment by Eileen. (Monday, July 14, 2008 3:11:27 PM CEST) Less so at night but definitely on weekends and vacation. I’d rather spend a few minutes a day keeping up with it than deal with it when I get back. When I’m on vacations I will hit the delete key more quickly — especially with list mail. Anytime I’m at home or on vacation I tend to respond to only what I need to. I almost never check work-related blogs though.

Comment by Anonymous. (Monday, July 14, 2008 9:55:35 PM CEST) Though I don’ t check e-mail from home. I have been known to come to work for a meeting while on vacation, do check my voicemail sometimes, and have taken home work that I knew would require too much time during my work day.

Comment by Patty. (Monday, July 14, 2008 3:48:31 PM CEST) I’ll check it occasionally at night through the week and usually every weekend at least once or twice, but I rarely act on anything unless it is dire. It can usually wait until I get to work but I am curious to see what is going on.

And, perhaps most wise of all:

Comment by Becky. (Tuesday, July 29, 2008 11:57:32 PM CEST) follow up – I have a friend who says no one ever died of a Library emergency, and I try to remember that, even as I’m checking.

I have been trying to check my email less frequently when I am not at the library with some measure of success and I think my life is better for it. Still, I mostly fall in the camp of wanting to know what is going on (even if I don’t respond to the message) and being able to delete anything unimportant over the weekend to make re-entry on Monday easier. It seems as if curiosity is a trait of many who are constant email checkers.

I used to check less frequently from home on weeknights, but since I took over as PPL’s program coordinator I find that it often puts my mind at ease to check email quickly after 9 pm to get the update on how the evening went at the library. We have programs almost nightly and when someone else is covering the program I want to know if things went smoothly. I know that I can do nothing about it from home if things went wrong, but still I seem to need to know.

Perhaps library workers need to follow the popular trend of having a Technology Sabbath – ditching email, all online communication and our cell phones for one day each weekend. It would be tough for many, myself included, but it is something worth considering.

Please take a few moments to scroll way down and read the rest of the comments left on the poll. Also feel free to leave comments on this post about your email habits — and if you plan to change them in the future based upon this unscientific research.

August 18, 2008 at 10:03 pm 6 comments

The New WebJunction is here!

My new profile on WJ is set up and ready to go and I am stoked! A huge congratulations to the entire team at WebJunction for all their hard work in creating a dynamic and interactive site for library workers to gather online (I know some of the key players, but I am sure there are many more behind the scenes that I have yet to meet). I spent a few hours last night “playing” around with the new interface and gathering some friends and I am impressed.

I have been a member, moderator and advocate for WebJunction since I first met Chrystie Hill at the OCLC booth during ALA Annual in Toronto way back in June 20003. Chrystie’s enthusiasm was so infectious that I signed up on WJ my first day back at work and have not looked back since. In addition to moderating, I have assisted with various projects over the years and as a result have found advice, ideas, support, and friendship — all the things that keep one coming back to an online community.

I have been anticipating the release of the new WJ for many months now. I talked to Michael Porter during PLA last March and when he told me of some of the plans (at least that which he could reveal) I knew immediately that it was going to great — and it is.

One of the features I am liking best at the moment is the ability to create your own group and I have already set up a group called Public Library Programming for Adults. I am currently the only member, but membership is open to all who are currently providing programming or thinking about it in the future.

I have found navigating the new site to be easy, my only minor complaint is that it seems to be a bit slow in loading new pages. If you want an overview and some advice on how to get going there is an online training video to help you out. I already feel like I have found a new online home and I look forward to seeing soon you on WJ!

August 4, 2008 at 8:42 am 5 comments

Seeking Examples of "Programs on a Shoestring Budget"

Next month I will be giving a presentation called Implementing High Impact Programs on a Shoestring Budget for the Nevada Library Association at their Annual Conference in Las Vegas. I have many ideas to present based upon my own work at PPL and have also found some great ideas from other public libraries, but I want to make sure that I am not missing something truly fantastic that has not passed my radar.

My presentation is focusing on public library programs for adults and teens with a technology element, but I am also compiling programs that are based in the arts and humanities. Programs from academic libraries would lend a nice balance.

My concept of “shoestring” is that you either did it for free (other than staff time) or ideally spent less than $250 on the program if you are a small library serving under 30,000 people. If you are a larger library a budget limit of $500 would still be a shoestring.

I am not going to give examples in this post because I do not want to narrow anyone’s thinking on what they might submit. I am taking a fairly wide ranging view on what is considered a “program” and am truly interested to see what other creative programs on limited funds are being offered elsewhere.

Submit your great “shoestring programs” that have had a positive/high impact at your library to janieh at gmail dot com with the subject line of Shoestring Program.

If you have photos, PR materials, etc. to go along with your program that would be all the better. I will give full attribution to anyone who submits and I will share my slides online as well as create a summary post here at the Library Garden.

Oh, and it is my first time in Vegas so feel free to leave me tips on what I should see and do.

Image by Aussiegall found via FlickrCC

July 19, 2008 at 9:11 am

A Quick Poll for Libraryland

I was out with friends last night for an MNO (Mom’s Night Out) and we ended up talking about email and how much it overwhelmed us at times. I told them that although I was technically on vacation this week I still checked my email once or twice day and, except for one friend, they all thought I was nuts.

One of my friends, who is senior management at a large insurance company, shared that she checked work email daily and at home in the evenings no matter what — vacations or sickness, etc. The others are all mothers who work outside the home (just like me) but they indicated that they leave work email at work and never check from home — they are two teachers, a nurse, therapist, and a manager in a small company.

So here it is Saturday and I just logged in to check my work email and while I was reading my messages I started to wonder, how many other librarians and library workers check their email from home and when?

I used Doodle, one of my favorite “fantastic freebies“, to create a quick poll that will give us a quick snapshot type answer to the questions “Do You Check Email From Home?”. Just go to this doodle poll and check off all that apply. You can check more than one answer and you can be anonymous if you want. Also, you can leave comments and further explain your email habits. I will leave the poll up for a week or so and then summarize on the blog later this month.

July 12, 2008 at 12:43 pm 1 comment

Follow-up on Food for Thought at R.I.T.

Jon Jiras was kind enough to send along the following information to post here at LG as a follow-up to the earlier Food for Thought interview. Congratulations to Jon and the entire Food for Thought team on a successful event and for providing a model for others to follow. The comments from participants definitely show the value of a campus library providing such a day — plus the fact that Jon says “steal this idea” with no attribution needed really rocks. I can hardly wait to see what 2009 bring for the FFT Team at R.I.T.!

Post-event update:

2008 Numbers:

Total number of session registrations: 578
Total number of people who registered online: 212
Total number of people who registered in person: 11

Total number of registrants: 223
Staff: 186 ; Faculty: 19 ; Students: 3 ; Other: 4 Unknown: 11

If you count every seat in every session (of our original room assignments) we were over 73% filled and seven of our sessions filled to at or near room capacity.

Three sessions (Create Your Own Website, Optimizing Outlook, and Facebook and RIT) each had over 50 registrants.

An analysis of first names, indicates that 80% of registrants are female.

Extra Helpings Area:
We took a 36″ x 28″ whiteboard on an easel and had one of our artistic staff members use dry erasable markers to mimic a deli menu with “specials of the day” complete with branding by the co-sponsors Online Learning and Information Technology Services. This area saw only limited use. Eighteen one-on-one appointments were made. The questions ranged from setting up access to the campus wide staff portals, resetting passwords, and how to accomplish specific tasks in MS PowerPoint, MS Word, and MS Outlook. rewarding for both the staff who manned the area and the individuals who came to it with questions. Next year, I think we will move this area to the first floor near the entrance and registration desk where it will get more visibility and we can talk it up during the registration process.


Lightning Talks:
We had five more requests to present a lightning talk than spots available, so we had to turn down some requests. We secured the use of a 30 inch Chinese gong to indicate when the 5 minutes were up. We set up a laptop with a countdown timer set to 5 minutes that someone in the front row displayed to the presenters. The talks included staff from the following departments across campus: Center for Professional Development, RIT Ombudsperson, RIT Public Safety, Online Learning, Academic Intervention and Mentoring Program, Institute Advising Office, Barnes and Noble @ RIT, Wellness Center, Office of the Registrar, and the Library. We will definitely be offering this again next year.

Since the original blog post there have been some questions asked in the comments and through other channels.

1) Is this available to “steal” with credit?

Sure, that’s why I have provided so much information about the planning and marketing. Help yourselves, no attribution necessary.

2) What were the session titles in 2007?

Social Networking with Second Life, MySpace, and Facebook
Planning and Marketing RIT Events
To Bid or Not To Bid: Auction Tips Online and Offline, or, Why Pay Retail?
New Features of Microsoft Office 2007
New Features of Microsoft Windows Vista (offered twice)
Advanced iPod
Introduction to RSS and Blogging
Introduction to Web 2.0
Origami for the Office
Image Resources to Jazz Up Presentations
Sharing Videos and Pictures on the Web
Organizing with MS Outlook: Calendaring, Contacts, Notes, and Tasks
Self-Publishing with Lulu.com
TechnoStress Relief 101
Art on Campus Walking Tour (offered twice)
Create Your Own Web Site
Optimizing Your Digital Photographs
Wildflowers and Weeds of Western New York
Become a Published Author with InDesign and Photoshop
Easy Creation of Online Tutorials with Adobe Captivate

3.) What was your budget for 2008?

The budget this year was still under $1,000. Several folks have suggested we apply for a grant from the Office of the President, or Staff Council, or some other campus entity to pay for boxed lunches. Which is probably something we will consider.

Here are some results of the 2008 post-event electronic survey:

90 of the 212 registered users filled out the survey.

82% said the Food For Thought website was very good or excellent.

96% said the registration process was very good or excellent.

92% said the variety of sessions offered was very good or excellent

94% either agreed or strongly agreed that the event timing (2nd week of summer quarter) was appropriate

97% said they are likely or very likely to attend again next year.

And here are some of the comments:

The hardest thing about attending Food for Thought was trying to decide what topics to select for the day. There was so much to choose from, great conference.

Excellent program as always. Food For Thought is simply wonderful.

Very successful, love the content, love the idea.

Thanks for another excellent Food for Thought program. It was very well organized and informative.

All the workshops I’ve attended – this year’s as well as last year’s, have been most worthwhile for me.

I know how difficult it is to pull together a day such as this and offer my congratulations for an extremely worthwhile event!!!! Great job.

I truly enjoyed the session on “Understanding RIT’s Students”. This is something that every person on this campus should be required to attend!

It’s a great day and I hope you continue offering it in years to come.

I learned SO much and I’ve used stuff I learned in several sessions already today (and it was only 3 hours ago that I finished the sessions). But it was SO much information in one shot!

Love it. Keep it going!

I am very impressed with all the library’s staff. Good job.

The 1 hour sessions were a bit short. The Lightning Sessions rocked.

More Lightning Talks!

It was very informative, I enjoyed the sessions and learned a lot.

More craft sessions.

Lightning sessions were a nice touch. Do this again.

More sessions offering RIT-specific information – there were several this year, as compared to last year. I think they are very useful.

I would like to see a continuation of topics on how RIT is embracing online communities and usage among our students. RIT & Facebook was an excellent session, I very much enjoyed attending. In general the variation of topics was great.

June 18, 2008 at 9:20 am

Food for Thought at R.I.T. : An Interview with Jon Jiras

Food for Thought, a unique day-long learning opportunity organized and hosted by R.I.T Libraries, came to my attention last week via a Facebook update status by my good friend Jon Jiras. I was immediately intrigued by the idea of a campus library leading the way in providing training for all staff on campus in such an innovative format and sent Jon a message asking if he would agree to be interviewed via email for the LG.

Jon is currently Library Technologist at the Rochester Institute of Technology Libraries. I first met Jon in 1996 when we both began working at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva NY. We were both recent graduates in our first professional librarians positions. Jon was a cataloger while I was a reference/ILL librarian and we collaborated on many projects during our two years at HWS, including the creation of the library’s first web portal. We have kept in contact throughout our careers and it is my pleasure to be able to present this interview with Jon that highlights a program that I am absolutely positive others will want to replicate at their own library.

Janie: Can you tell me about the background behind Food for Thought? In particular: What is your role? How did the idea get started for such a day? What were the original goals of the program for the organizing committee?

Jon: The origins for Food For Thought (FFT) stem from two developments. First, a somewhat similar annual event for faculty has been sponsored for several years. The Faculty Institute on Teaching and Learning had been moving away from application specific training and more toward classroom pedagogy and educational innovation. Our library director had been attending and participating in this annual faculty event since its inception. She noticed that the shift away from technological training at this event created a opportunity to develop a day long event that focused on application training.

Secondly, as part of the Library’s strategic planning process, we identified university staff as a constituency for which additional library services could be developed. We noticed that most of the registrants coming to the library’s long standing series of technology training workshops were university staff. So we decided to leverage this success by creating a full day of learning events. No one had ever (to our knowledge) sponsored a complete day’s agenda of learning sessions directed at staff.

A small internal team was formed in Fall of 2006 (four full-time Library staffers) to conceptualize, plan, and promote the project. The team consisted of an array of staff from four different Library departments: Library Technology Services; Reference; Serials/Acquisitions; and Marketing/Communications. I was the representative of the Library Technology Services department and chaired the Food For Thought team. I was responsible for coordinating the efforts of the team, keeping them focused, and acting as liaison to library administration. Organizing and developing this program was so rewarding that I volunteered to chair the team again for 2008.

Some things the FFT team established within the planning process included:

  • We decided to format an entire day (9am – 4pm) with multiple “tracks” to allow for the most flexibility to accommodate people with limited free time.
  • We wanted to make it like a conference with registration, name tags, tracks, and simultaneous sessions.
  • We determined the optimal date to be June 14, 2007; for many reasons all tied to timing and the likelihood of having the most staff available on campus
  • We named the program “Food For Thought: A Day of Free Techie and Not-So-Techie Learning Sessions for RIT Staff”
  • We established available session venues within our building, spanning three floors.
  • We decided to spend the bulk of our limited budget on 3-ring binders to be given to every person who reserved a spot in any of our sessions.
  • We decided to spend the remaining budget on light refreshments.
  • We set out to brand the event and collaborated with a student employee and another library staff member to create the original graphic identity.
  • We involved the entire Library staff in not only sharing ideas, but in helping to shape the schedule. Most of the instructors of the sessions were Library staff.
  • We decided to offer “Brown Bag” Lunch-time sessions, to maximize our number of possible sessions and to accommodate those who might only be allowed release time during their lunch hour.
  • We decided NOT to invite a keynote speaker. There were some who felt a shared experience of a keynote address would be welcome. FFT team members decided against this as it conflicted with the “a la carte” nature of workshop sessions.
  • We knew that many staff could not take the entire day, so we wanted to provide a broad range of topics so they could pick and choose which sessions interested them the most.

The session topics were carefully chosen to provide a balance between application-specific instruction, technology trends, and fun diversions.

Presentations were solicited in three ways.

Individual presenters pitched specific sessions to the FFT team. (For example: Advanced iPod; Create your own website; and Origami for the Office).

The FFT Team invited library staff to brainstorm sessions at an open meeting. Several sessions resulted from this meeting. Technostress 101, The Web 2.0 series, and Organizing with MS Outlook were pitched to FFT team at this session.

In addition, the FFT team approached individual library staff and requested specific topics be covered (such as Windows Vista, MS Office 2007, Adobe Captivate, and the Art on Campus Walking Tour).

This mixture of presenters pitching ideas, the FFT team holding a staff-wide brainstorming session, and the FFT team soliciting specific presenters for specific topics produced a well rounded list of workshops.

We specifically asked that presenters not offer workshops that are already on the list of technology training sessions that the library offers as part of its technology training workshop series that runs throughout the year. Instead, we ask them to develop new workshops on new topics. This is their chance to present on a topic that might not normally be covered in our regular training series. Several of the 2007 FFT sessions became regular sessions in our workshop training schedule.

The Food For Thought team had a total operating budget of $1,000. Here’s a list of expenditures made in the first year:

2007 FFT Budget Expenditures:
3-holed paper: $ 35
3-ring Binders: $ 435
Name Tags: $ 3
Food: $ 200
Marketing: $ 200
Buttons: $ 50
Total: $ 920

The 2008 budget is not yet finalized, but we are planning to spend significantly more on food and to drop the binders in favor of simple paper folders. We will still keep the entire budget at under $1000.

Janie: How many attended last year and what was the response from those who attended? Did you get a good cross-section of employees who work at RIT attending? Is this program open to all RIT employees?

Jon: Food For Thought is directed at RIT staff. However, it is open to any member of the RIT community. RIT staff makes up largest group to attend the event – indicating that the target audience is being served.
2007 numbers:

Total number of people who registered online: 196 (plus 15 on-site day-of registrations) = 211

Total number of session registrations: 546

Staff: 169 ; Faculty: 21 ; Students: 5 ; Other: 1; Unknown: 15

Number of people registering for:
0 sessions: 11
1 session: 36
2 sessions: 46
3 sessions: 33
4 sessions: 31
5 sessions: 39

52% of registrants registered for 3 or more sessions – indicating that a majority attempted to devote most of their entire day to this event.

Several of the sessions had to be moved to larger venues. We took over a large lecture hall in an adjacent building that holds over 200 people and moved as many sessions there as possible.

If you count every available seat (in the original selections of rooms from 2007), we would end up with an event capacity of 790 seats. The event was 69% filled which is an extraordinarily high response rate.

2008 numbers — so far this year (with 10 days to go till registration closes) we have the following numbers:

Total number of people who registered: 167
Total number of session registrations: 497

Staff: 147 ; Faculty: 16 ; Students: 1 ; Other: 3

0 sessions: 6
1 session: 28
2 sessions: 35
3 sessions: 32
4 sessions: 27
5 sessions: 39

A post-event feedback survey was sent to registered users. We received 75 responses. Ratings for individual sessions were generally “Very Good” or “Excellent.” Ratings for the day as whole were generally “Very Good” or “Excellent.”

Comments from the feedback survey can be broken down into three general areas:

1) Comments about time: These included comments about breaks between sessions, session lengths, the timing of the event, and the number of sessions offered. One frequent comment was that a realistic lunch break should have been factored into the schedule. (That suggestion was incorporated into the 2008 event)

2) Ideas for next year: This category of comment was the most extensive and included these suggestions:

Movie Making Software
Help Grad Students Navigate Thesis Writing
Separate class on PhotoShop
More academic topics like surveys in different disciplines
More tours (printing facilities on campus, Hub, president’s office, dorms).
More fun topics for brown bag sessions (movie discussions, video game discussion etc..
More advanced coverage of In-Design and Creating a Web Site
Very basic class in computers for those who do not use them
Mac orientated sessions
Home computer maintenance

3) Criticisms and suggestions:
Binders were not necessary
Techie sessions seemed much too basic
More extensive handouts

In addition to the survey, the library staff has received many compliments behind the scenes. The Food For Thought Team was nominated for a campus –wide staff excellence award.

Janie: How have you modified Food for Thought this year?

Jon: We repeated only three 2007 sessions in 2008: Create Your Own Website, MS Office 2007, and MS Outlook. All three were highly attended in 2007 and continue to draw well in 2008.

Last year all sessions fell into one of three themes: application specific training, technology trends, or fun diversions. For 2008 we have developed a fourth theme: RIT-specific information. Several workshops were developed with this fourth theme in mind, such as Virtual Worlds: Touring the RIT Island in Second Life, Understanding the RIT Student, Basic Sign Language and Deaf Culture, and Lightning Talks.

Other sessions were consciously modified to incorporate specific aspects of this university’s setting. For example, a proposed “Facebook” session was broadened to become Facebook and RIT. No longer just an overview of Facebook, it will now include information about how Facebook is being used on this campus by various departments and student groups.

For 2008 we have added two new features:

1) We have added an “Extra Helpings” area in the computer lab on the second floor of the library. It is modeled along the lines of the Apple Genius Bar where folks can book one-on-one training sessions with technology staff to get personalized help with whatever technology, application, or other questions they may have. In this way, the content of the day gets to be driven by the registrants themselves. Instead of being limited to a select list of sessions, registrants can bring their issues and needs to the attention of training staff. We collaborated with other campus departments to arrange for additional staffing of this area for the day. Knowledgeable and helpful staff from the university’s central Information Technology Services group and Online Learning are partnering with the Library to staff this area the entire day.

2) Lightning Talks: This special session is modeled along the lines of unconferences and Barcamp where the content of the session is driven by the registrants. Staff from across the campus have agreed to give 5 minute micro presentations on technology they use, services they provide, or anything they think other RIT staff may find of interest. So far we have commitments for 9 (of the 10) 5 minute sessions, so we are confident that all of the micro sessions will fill up.

Both of these new initiatives involve a greater degree of cooperation and collaboration with other campus units. The “Extra Helpings” area has been a great opportunity to reach out to other campus units and get their buy-in with the day as a whole. The “Lightning Talks” in particular allow other campus units to present topics during the day. Limiting their presentations to 5 minute micro-presentations gives them the added advantage of not having to prepare too much for the sessions. To line up the Lightning Talks library staff approached their contacts across campus to pitch the idea. The mere process of approaching these outside departments, discussing the opportunity, and offering the possibility is a networking opportunity and creates awareness of the event and buy-in.

The 2007 Food For Thought event had a few sessions that were co-presented with other staff from across campus. For 2008 we encouraged presenters to collaborate with other campus departments. As a result, one in four sessions have co-presenters who are non-library staff. The “Lightning Talks” session and the additional staffing needed for the “Extra Helpings” area are convenient ways for non-library staff to participate in the event and are a direct result on the 2008 emphasis on encouraging collaboration.

Janie: What topics are proving to be most popular this year? Is this different from last year?

Jon: For both 2007 and 2008, workshops that list specific applications and/or websites in their titles tend to receive more registrations than workshops that do not mention them.

Overall registrations have been very good. We anticipate having over 250 individuals register
for 2008.

Janie: What obstacles (if any) did you have to overcome to get Food for Thought off the ground last year? How long is the planning process?

Jon: Here’s the event planning timeline for 2007:

Feb 20 – FFT team meeting prior to prepare for the Library staff brainstorming session
Feb 26 — hold library staff brainstorming session on possible sessions
Mar 23 — deadline for session presenters/commitments
Apr 13 — deadline for schedule/program confirmation, room reservations
May 15 — publicity kick-off and online registration begins
June 11 – presenter handouts due
June 12 — end registration
June 14 — hold event

A major deliverable for the event was the event website with registration and schedule selection capabilities. It’s a PHP / MySQL website developed in-house: http://library.rit.edu/foodforthought/

A staff view that shows the number of registrations for each sessions, the list of individuals registered for each session, and overall statistical information was created. All presenters were given the username and password to access this staff view of the FFT website.

As with any large event that involves multiple participants and large numbers of people – it’s the details and logistics that are the most challenging.

Janie: Is this a model that can be adapted elsewhere?

Jon: The Rochester Institute of Technology is a mid-sized, private, academic university with 1,900 staff, 1,300 faculty, and 16,000 students. This program may have to be scaled down (or up) for smaller (or larger) institutions. We have declared 200 registrations (just over 10% of staff) to be successful. The hardest part is lining up quality presentations that don’t compete with other staff development opportunities on campus and have presenters willing to present them. The RIT Libraries is fortunate for having a number of librarians and technical staff who not only have the ability to develop and present quality presentations, but more importantly, the eagerness and willingness to do so.

Janie: Is there any other information you wish to share?

A large part of the time and effort of the FFT team was spent on marketing and promotional materials. We used all of the following as promotional devices:

- PowerPoint displays (teasers) on our Plasma Screen.
- Bookmarks (handed out at Circ).
- Pins (tin buttons) in two different designs, worn by our entire staff for the weeks leading to the event.
- Full-color Posters (variety of graphics; in three sizes- tabloid, letter-size and a custom size).
- Electronic (email) messages sent on multiple dates leading to event.
- Created a customized website with original graphics, an interactive component and complete with online registration capabilities.
- Advertised on thermal Circulation Desk receipt printers (like a store imprints a message).
- Outdoor (exterior) Digital Message Boards (animated text) for three weeks prior.
- Promoted the event on the Library web site, including our scrolling News Ticker that highlights special events and services.
- Published an article and our Logo (branding) in campus newspaper News & Events one month before the event.
- Highlighted (advertised) the event on the Library’s “What’s New?” web page.
- Created custom Binder Covers (color) for each binder (200) we prepared.
- Created color Cover Sheets for each presenter’s section within each binder.
- Created and printed out a condensed complete Session Schedule as hand-outs.
- Created a Press Release, sent to University News.
- Designed and created PowerPoint Templates to assist presenters in creating their PowerPoint slides; ensured a consistent branding and a format that was uniform (optional if they wanted to use the templates).
- Created a Facebook event page and encouraged library staff to invite their RIT Staff Facebook friends to the event via Facebook.

A sample of our promotional materials is available here: http://library.rit.edu/foodforthought/FFT2008MarketingSamples.pdf

For both 2007 and 2008 we asked all library staff to reach out to their staff contacts across campus to get our promotional material into areas we don’t normally cover. Instead of merely placing posters in hallways and public areas, we devised a way to get our posters into staff break rooms, copy rooms, and other staff-only areas.

We requested all library staff to take a variety of posters, flyers, bookmarks, etc… and hand deliver them to their staff contacts across campus. We had library staff record where they dropped off this material and who they had contacted about it. As a result, our promotional material reached areas of the campus we have never previously covered and the mere act of reaching out and visiting other departments on campus drummed up interest.

Janie: I would like to thank Jon and the entire Food For Team at RIT for providing the readers of Library Garden with such a detailed overview of their highly successful program and for all the planning process information. Best wishes with all of your plans for June 10th and please keep us updated after the event with new statistics.

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Jon Jiras has worked at the Rochester Institute of Technology Libraries since 1998. His interests include the support, maintenance, development, and integration of library technologies. For more information about this event please contact Jon at jjjwml at rit dot edu.

May 29, 2008 at 8:43 am 10 comments

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