or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk



Archives for Conferences:


#PLA12 NewsBank Database Usage Study

   March 15th, 2012 Brian Herzog

NewsBank has been conducting a study with 100+ libraries of various sizes, to look closely at how library databases are used. Here are my notes on the presentation, and the short discussion afterward.

  • As daily newspaper shrink (in page count), archiving shrinks as well (many newspapers are posting more to their websites than they put in print, and they are not archiving that content)
  • The trend of investment is going to "first-to-web" systems model, mobile and social network integration, and paywalls and metering systems
  • Library databases appear to be ~80% remote usage
  • Majority of use is for older content, not current news - 80% of articles accessed are more than 90 days old. Of that 80%:
    • 18% = 1-4 years old
    • 32% = 5-9 years old
    • 50% = >10 years old
  • Majority of searches are for local news: people names and local topics (political issues, crime, businesses, development of schools, etc)

As a bonus, the local NewsBank rep explained how to properly order a Philly cheesesteak:

  1. Specify the quantity you want
  2. Specify your cheese:
    • Wiz = cheese wiz
    • American = American cheese
    • provi = provolone
  3. Specify fried onions or no:
    • Wid = with onions
    • Widout = without onions

So, an order for one cheesesteak with cheese wiz and onions would be:

One - wiz - wid



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Working Like a Patron, and, Rethinking Reference

   October 11th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Shift the traditionsJust two sort-of unrelated announcements today, although they actually compliment each other quite well:

Wed., Oct. 12, is Work Like A Patron Day
I know it's not feasible for everyone, but if you get the chance tomorrow, try approaching the library as if you're a patron - use the front door, use the public bathroom, see if the posted signs help you at all, whatever. Check out the Work Like A Patron Day 2011 post for more ideas and how to share your experiences.

Rethinking Reference, Non-Fiction, and Local History
This past Friday I gave a talk for NHLA-READS on a few projects my library has done to keep our collections (and access to them) in step with the needs of our patrons. They are a great group and I had a wonderful time, both giving my talk and listening to the other speakers. If you're interested, my slides and other links are available.



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Highlights from nelaconf11

   October 6th, 2011 Brian Herzog

NELA2011: Navigating the New NormalAs I mentioned in the previous post, I was at the 2011 annual conference of the New England Library Association this week. Now that I've had a day back to unpack and get caught up, I thought I'd share a few of notes I wrote to myself.

Again though, be sure to check out the session slides/handouts at http://nelaconference.org and notes from attendees at the NELA conference blog.

General Interestingness

  • A great way to encourage patron interaction on Facebook is to just ask questions - What's your favorite book? What are you reading right now?
  • A fun game for online social interaction is to post part of a book or album cover, and then have people guess what it is (also give hint - new book, published 50 years ago, etc)
  • I'm not a Childrens Librarian, but I thought the idea of rethinking the "Childrens Room" as the "Family Room" was interesting. Something mentioned was providing furniture for adult-child reading/working together
  • When you create a book display, put a list of books for display on the back of the sign, so it's easy for staff to refill as the books go out
  • 21% of Americans have no internet access at home - that's double the unemployment rate, and can have just as big an impact, but there are no initiatives to address it

My To-Do List

  • Check out http://maps.nypl.org - it overlays historical maps onto Google Maps, to compare where things were/are. They may have plans to make it open source, so it could be something we could all use for our own maps
  • I was surprised to see the Delicious linkroll on our Chelmsford History site wasn't working (but those on our main library website are fine). A good time to double-check your own linkrolls just to be on the safe side
  • Plan to have a program in January on ereaders and other gadets - not a
    talk, but more like a general help/troubleshooting session, focused on accessing library materials
  • Play with Join.me for a screen-sharing tool

Easy Ways to Improve a Mobile Website (that I should have thought of on my own but didn't)

  • add link to Overdrive for ebooks
  • add link to OCLC QuestionPoint chat or other 24x7 chat reference
  • add links to Twitter/Facebook/Flickr accounts to contact page
  • hide the browser address bar on mobile sites (to save display room)

For more tips, check out #nelaconf11 tweets - many people are linking to their own blog posts, in addition to passing on ideas they heard. I hope everyone got something out of the conference - it really was a good time.



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New England Library Association 2011 Annual Conference

   October 4th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Presentation from NELA2011Today is the last day of the 2011 NELA annual conference, in Burlington, VT. I've been here since Sunday, meeting people and hearing great ideas.

There's a new NELA Conference blog this year, which a few people have been posting sessions notes to - mine are:

All the slides and other materials are available at http://nelaconference.org, and there's also lots of great Twitter chatter at #nelaconf11. All good stuff, and any time spent with New England librarians is of course a great time.



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NHLA11 Talk on Building a Mobile Website

   May 5th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Mobile website mockup in testiphone.comI'm doing a few talks this year about how to build a mobile website for libraries - based, mainly, on my posts about the one I made for my library. This Friday is the first of those talks, for the New Hampshire Library Association's Spring Conference.

For a sneak preview, I put my slides and a few more "going mobile" type resources up at SwissArmyLibrarian.net/mobile.

I also posted there my first attempt at a downloadable template version of the site I made, that other libraries can use to build a mobile site for themselves. It takes a lot of customization (obviously, it all has to be customized with your information), but I tried to provide instructions. If anyone tries it, please let me know how it can be improved.

I've never been to NHLA before, but I have heard nothing but good things, so I'm looking forward to it. Besides, any time spent in New Hampshire is time well spent.



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LISEvents – Check It Out

   April 28th, 2011 Brian Herzog

LISEvents logoIn case you missed the announcement on other sites, a new great way to stay involved in libraryland is LISEvents.

The site is easy to use, both for finding events by date or location (including online-only), and for finding someone to come speak at your library or event.

The best part is that it is community-driven, and adding events is easy - I just added a posting for the NELA-ITS workshop on mobile devices and libraries (also here).

And for anyone wanting to get their name out, be sure to register yourself as a speaker. This portion of the site will be a great resource for event planners, and anyone who has something to share.

Thanks Blake for putting this together - the library world perpetually benefits from the tools you maintain.



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