Next month I’m running a workshop on marketing information services using new technologies. It’s a course I really enjoy teaching – during the full-day we discuss marketing with video, mobile, online publishing, geolocation (Foursquare), actual real-life useful things to do with QR Codes, social media… The emphasis as always is on talking not just about why they’re relevant, but what actual next-steps you might take towards using them.
The site is essentially designed to give you lots of practical advice on how to market your library – be that public, academic, special or archive. There are tools and resources, lots of useful links, new case studies which will be added to on an ongoing basis, and there’s info about the Library Marketing Toolkit book and its contributors.
The next post on the site will be a fantastic case study from the Bodleian library at Oxford, about their amazing smartphone app which has had everyone from Stephen Fry downwards swooning over it’s amazingness.
There’s also some additional case study material which I couldn’t fit into the book, and several other brand new case studies including stuff from the UnLibrary in Crouch End, high-level tips on crowd-sourcing from JISC’s Ben Showers, and a brilliant how-to on social monitoring from Andy Burkhardt.
The Library Marketing Toolkit will be published by Facet Publishing this Summer (probably 20th of July in the UK, and slightly later in the US / Canada. Stateside it will be distrubuted and marketed by Neal-Schuman, who’ve just been bought by the ALA). It is aimed at public libraries, special libraries, academic libraries and archives, and is extremely practical in nature – ideas you can apply right away to market your library more succesfully.
The best part is, it has 27 fantastic case studies from really amazing people and libraries from the UK, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore. Contributors include organisations like the British Library and the National Archive, New York Public Library, University of Cambridge, JISC – and amazing individuals too: see the Contributor’s page of the Toolkit website for details of all of them.
We have one advance-copy review so far, a great one from Nancy Dowd, the vertiable QUEEN of marketing libraries!
Ned Potter’s book will help any library succeed in creating a community that is aware and engaged in its library. He has written an easy to follow tool kit targeted at the specific marketing needs of librarians that is sure to become a favourite resource for anyone involved in marketing a library. There are case studies from libraries around the world that will inspire you no matter whether your library is large or small. You’ll love this book!’- Nancy Dowd, Author of ALA’s Best Selling Book, Bite-Sized Marketing
… trying to count the number of people entering a country by only checking the airports, and ignoring those who come by sea or land.
It’s like trying to count book sales just based on what has been sold in the shops, and not online.
It’s like trying to measure BBC viewing figures without taking iPlayer into account.
It’s like trying to measure an album’s success just by CD sales, without taking downloads into account.
It’s like trying to measure a newspaper’s success just by physical sales, and not by use of the website.
It’s like trying to judge a supermarket’s success without taking into account online shopping.
It’s like ANY NUMBER OF THINGS WHERE THE CRITERIA ARE COMPLETELY INADEQUATE TO QUANTIFY SUCCESS OR OTHERWISE.
How I feel.
Let’s settle this once and for all – as I’ve written before (PDF), and previous to that Ian Clark has written before, and any number of others have pointed out: library use has changed, people do stuff online now. People renew books online (around 40% of renewals happen online, according to my research – every single one of those is a visit to the library building saved), people reserve books online (around 18% of reservations happen online according to my research – every single one of those is a visit to the library building saved). And people access the library’s resources online – e-books, e-journals, e-newspapers, databases, and so on and so forth. Take my local library, in York – in three years, online user activity (which is to say, searches of online library resources – not ‘use of computers in the library’) has gone up by 9,385%. That’s over NINE THOUSAND PERCENT! So stop telling me that because less people visit the building, that means the library is being used less – it is a hopelessly anachronistic paradigm and no longer fit for purpose, damnit!
So thanks, BBC Breakfast, for your ill-considered piece this morning which did NOT take that into account (despite the best efforts of library campaigners who gave you their time), and was editorially led, rather than balanced.
Of course, this post is nothing more than an impotent rant that will be read only by Information Professionals who already know everything I’ve just said. Aaaaargh! How do we get this information beyond the echo chamber? How can we make people understand that footfall doesn’t cut it as a measurement of success on its own any more?
In the meantime, if you wish to make your feelings known to the BBC about the report, you can do so via the BBC’s feedback page. If we all do this it WILL make a difference.
Last week I attended the Libraries@Cambridge event, and it was excellent. Laura and I were due to present on the Echo Chamber together but, in what is rapidly becoming known as The Curse of the Echo Chamber*, once again one of us ran into problems – this time Laura had Flu so I had to go solo.
The keynote was from Alex Wade, Director of Scholarly Communications at Microsoft, no less. He designed the search functionality in Windows 7, calling on his expertise in information retrieval, acquired during his time as a librarian. This is an interesting use of a librarian’s skills, and another example of the myriad career paths potentially available to the Info Pro. The thing which most caught my eye in his presentation was Academic Search, a free service from Microsoft, which at the moment is in beta. Currently heavy on the Computer Science side of things but soon to be expanded to cover more subjects, it nicely allows the user to navigate to scholarly papers via various different means. It’s a very attractive interface, and easy to use: it shows that presenting data in a more visual way really serves a purpose beyond nice aesthetics – here’s a screengrab, showing Alfred V. Aho at the centre, and all of his co-authors around him:
Click to go to this actual search and play around with it
If you click on the lines between the authors it shows you how many publications they’ve co-authored and takes you to them if you want to drill deeper, and if you click on any of the co-authors then the whole matrix re-centres on them. It looks really useful and is perhaps indicative of what 3.0 generation library catalogues could usefully do to make navigation easier for users.
Alex had to rush his presentation as he had more to say than he had time to say it in – he literally skipped 20 or 30 slides. This baffled me somewhat – we all knew well in advance how long we had to talk, so why not tailor the presentation to fit the time? No one HAS to say yes to an invitation to present – if you don’t have enough time to prepare properly, time your talk etc, why agree to do it? I was up late the night before, timing my talk, finding it was 3 or 4 minutes too long, and then cutting bits out and timing it again until it was right – because I was honoured to be there, and didn’t want to disrespect the audience, the organisers and my fellow presenters by over-running. Turns out I’m quite high-horse-ish about running to time…
Next up was me. I have to say it was pretty amazing to be doing a plenary session in front of 250 people at such a venerable institution – one to which I owe my very existence, as my parents met there. I refered to this in my introduction with a ‘thank you for having me’ gag, and the way the audience responded completely relaxed me – I knew it was going to be fine after that, despite not knowing the bits Laura normally does as well as my own sections, and having added new bits and a re-structure for this presentation. I’ve never spoken to that many people at once before, and I’ve certainly never used a screen that big – it was literally about the size of my house!
Look how small the podium is compared to the screen!
Although I don’t really get nervous when I present, I do worry about the technical side of things – I need to know, in advance, that everything is working, or I get stressed. I was really glad I asked that we check everything was okay before the conference began, because both times that Alex removed his laptop so we could hook up the ‘general’ one most of the rest of us were using, it didn’t like the Projector and took ages to display on the big screen. Thankfully there was a break before my talk during which we could iron this stuff out.
Having got up at 4:45am I was worried I’d be tired, but adrenalin and the four-shot coffee I’d had at the station earlier carried me through. It was great to do this presentation to a crowd that was really mixed in terms of age, seniority and so on, and who weren’t all familiar with what I was talking about – sometimes I fear Laura and I preach to the converted ABOUT preaching to the converted. The talk went well, I remembered everything I wanted to say (I think) and it really was far better not using notes than the New Professionals Information Days where I did use notes. People did a fantastic job of tweeting the presentation – you can read the twapperkeeper archive here – and really got the points across well, which is good as I didn’t have time to amplify this event myself by setting up any auto-tweets.
People were really kind in what they said to me afterwards, and there was lots of positive feedback. It was particularly good to hear a lot of people say they found the presentation fresh and engaging even though they’d read about it all on this blog, on twitter etc, in the past. Because I really believe in the echo chamber idea and its importance, I was really pleased that many of the afternoon sessions referred back to it – I think the concept stuck. As ever, if you’re interested in reading more about echolib, there is a Netvibes page with all sorts of information in one place.
The updated Prezi used on the day is below – this is restructured and improved from previous efforts, so check it out even if you’re familiar with the subject matter (and of course feel free to embed it on your own site):
There was break-out sessions after this – I chose to go to one which contained a useful talk by Tim Padfield on copyright in Special Collections, very relevant to my current work with the LIFE-SHARE Project. At lunch time I talked to the Graduate Trainees who seem to be really switched on and forward thinking about the library profession – and also went outside to look at a tree my Dad fell out of when he was a choir-boy in Cambridge…
After lunch there was about a million mini-presentations around the theme of working together in Cambridge (by and large, the more senior the presenter, the less likely they were to run to time…). I particularly enjoyed Katie Birkwood (@Girlinthe)’s talk about Open Libraries in which she made excellent use of Prezi (and an exclamation point therein, in particular) and talked very entertainingly; and the Graduate Trainees’ presentation; and the summary of the TeachMeet movement which began via a speculative tweet or blog post fuelled by wine. (The movement did, not the summary.) There was excellent use of theatre in a very good talk about the Fresher’s Fair (and the funniest use of the phrase ‘unexplained chasm’ I’d ever heard) from the twinkly-eyed and very laid-back Huw Jones. I also very much enjoyed Andy Priestner‘s look back at Cam23, and some random aerobics (with kissing noises) he made us do in the middle of the session!
There was a theme running through a lot of these sessions – or rather two related themes. Firstly, many of these projects and movements came about because someone just decided to ‘do it’ – I’ve talked before about how much I think we all can just achieve things ourselves now, often via the web2 tools available to us, rather than waiting for someone more senior, more influential, or cleverer to do it for us. People just tried to make things happen, and they did, and the things that resulted were a success, and will be repeated. Which brings us to the second theme, which is of the trouble with formalisation. A lot of these projects were and are informally run – there aren’t people taking minutes, or even necessarily people having meetings. People just communicate via modern channels, show up on the day and get things done. This malleable model really seems to achieve a lot – it allows people the freedom to act quickly and creatively (and is in stark contrast to the bureaucracy CILIP often gets bogged down in, for example, and it is by no means just CILIP who suffers from this). Voices for the Library seems to be the ultimate exponent of this modern approach, but it’s happening all over the place. The problem is, it often becomes quite hard to keep informal when things start working really well. Up-scaling and informality do not often go hand-in-hand. Particularly when money becomes involved, the accountability that results often hampers the very creative endeavour which the funds are rewarding. It’s an interesting problem, and not one for which I have a ready solution.
“I found ‘supergroups’ notion intriguing – the idea of self-selecting groups that can constitute themselves according to what they want to accomplish. What I found surprising, however, was the fact that no-one in the discussion explicitly acknowledged that this is already happening. It’s happening right there in the discussion, as disparate professionals are coming together to discuss problems and issues that are common to all.
I’m fortunate to be involved with another couple of these self-selecting, self-forming groups. The first is LISNPN – the LIS new professionals’ network. Set up by Ned Potter, this is a virtual space where hundreds of new – and not-so-new! – information professionals are gathering to talk, to collaborate, to share ideas and experiences. The network is independent – it’s not affiliated with any of the prof organisations, it’s run by new professionals, for new professionals. It’s not sector-specific, it’s not country-specific. Most of the users are from the UK, but on one random page of users I also saw members from the US, Canada, Germany, Serbia, the Netherlands, Finland and Nigeria, highlighting the truly international nature of some of the issues facing information professionals.
LISNPN has recently graduated from a purely virtual network to involving some face-to-face events. Theses have been social events so far, organised by members. There’s been no approval to get, no committee to go through, no worries over the target audience – just an idea of ‘wouldn’t it be nice to meet-up for a drink and a chat? Let’s do it! Everyone welcome!’.
Does this sound like a profession that’s fragmenting? To me it sounds like a profession that is embracing its differences, and finding its commonalities.”
I love the message of hope in this! And I think it is relevant to the formalisation debate, too. Perhaps the answer is that we need both informal and formal groups, as both serve their purposes and allow their opposite to function more successfully, too.
Anyway, it was a great day. It was great fun to meet so many people I’d had online interaction with previously, in the flesh. Thank you so much to Andy Priestner, who lobbied the organising committee to have two New Professionals no one had heard of to do a plenary session at a big event; I’m really sorry Laura couldn’t be there, but I had a great time. My only regret is that Andy’s spectacular Star Wars related Echo Chamber incident (this post went viral) happened too late to be included in the presentation – I think it’s my favourite echolib escape EVER.
This is a blog about Information Professional stuff, library marketing and advocacy, tech trends, and the odd how-to-guide on various platforms and bits of software. It is written by thewikiman, who works in Higher Education.
library marketing toolkit
I have written a book! It's all about marketing libraries. Click the cover to go to the Library Marketing Toolkit website for more info, or bookmark www.librarymarketingtoolkit.com