March 12th, 2014 Brian Herzog
I'm heading to PLA today, and will try to post highlights of the conference over the next couple days. In the meantime, here's some random photos I saw online recently:
Bringing book covers to life...
This seems so much better than calling the Police or a collection agency...
I know we've all felt this way at one time or another...
February 26th, 2014 Brian Herzog
I was a marketing major in college, so things like branding and public presentation are always important to me (although I certainly don't consider myself an expert). That said, I've never really been a huge fan of the ALA's "@ your library" campaign - you know the one:
I'm not entirely sure why - however much I like the sentiment, I've never been able to really embrace this slogan.
It's important to me to brand and promote libraries though - especially in a universal way - and I finally came up with an alternative to @ your library. I don't think anyone's done this approach before, and what I was going for was both a catchy way to promote the library in general, as well as a way to inform people of library services they might not know the library offers.
So, without further ado, here's my suggestion for an "I Library" campaign:
And of course, no online campaign is complete without an animated gif:
I'm obviously not a graphic designer, but I like this idea. The services I used are just a small sampling of what libraries offer - the possibilities are endless. So too are the choices of fonts, colors, and improvements over my layout. But I thought it was nice and simple and clear. And customizable, because patrons could choose the services they use.
Hopefully it's interesting enough that patrons would want to put bumper stickers on their car, wear it on a t-shirt, carry a tote bag version, or whatever. And, maybe it's even informative enough to show non-patrons that the library does indeed have something for them.
September 18th, 2013 Brian Herzog
I love this video from the Forbes Library in Northampton, MA:
It's short yet informative, and I bet any patron watching it will be surprised to learn the library offers something they didn't already know about.
Plus, of course, "Steven, as the man" has just enough of a strangely idiosyncratic delivery and off-beat humor to make it irresistible to watch all the way through. Nicely done, Forbes Library.
August 14th, 2013 Brian Herzog
I get behind on Twitter very easily, so it was only recently when I was going back reading old tweets that I saw Jenny Arch retweet of the Robbins (Arlington, MA) Library's blog post about Under-the-radar library resources.
I thought that was a great idea for a blog post at my library too, so I am going to shamelessly steal the idea soon.
But then I started reading more of the posts on the Robbins Library blog, and realized just how great a job they do with it. It actually made me feel a little bad about how lax I've become with the Chelmsford Library blog - so I'm going to turn that guilt into inspiration to do a better job.
My goal for our library blog is one post a week, with the topic being something of slightly lasting content. We use Facebook and Twitter for more immediate or interactive content, whereas the blog posts are things that people might find months or years from now and still find useful. Also, blog posts tend to be longer, explaining how to use a database or the rationale behind a new policy. I like these guidelines - I'm just going to make a point of being better at it.
Good job, Robbins Library!
July 31st, 2013 Brian Herzog
Update 8/8/13: I got a message from someone at Google who reminded me of an important competent of Indoor Map - it's really designed to work on phones. I've only been checking it online, where it hasn't changed since it went live. But he assured me that using Google Maps on a phone will use your location to place you on the correct floor. Nice. Not having a cell phone, I forget the fancy things they can do.
I just learned something annoying about embeddeding Street View - Internet Explorer automatically jumps to wherever it is on the page. I found a hacky workaround for this
, which I've implemented on our About Us page, and it seems to work okay. But hopefully, Google will fix this (it only happens with embedded Street Views in IE, not with regular Google Maps or with any other browser). I did not fix it on this page though, so IE users could see what I'm talking about.
This year, the Chelmsford Library has been involved with two Google mapping projects: Indoor Maps and Indoor Street View.
We did Indoor Maps first, which displays a floorplan of your building on Google Maps (instead of just the outline, like the buildings around us). It looks like this:
This is neat because it lets people online see where things are in your building, at a glance. One catch, however, is that they're still trying to figure out how to handle more than one floor (like our building) - so in the meantime, they only show the ground floor.
The process was interesting: we contacted Google Maps and supplied them with labeled floor plans of each of our buildings (the whole thing was free, so we were able to do our branch too), and they sent a crew1 to take multiple GPS readings around the building to make sure the floor plan images matched up accurately with the map itself.
Pretty neat. But of course, when you say "indoor map" what people really think of is Indoor Street View, so we got approval from our Trustees to do that, too.
Indoor Street View
Since there was a cost associated, and a third-party photographer involved, this process was a little different. The first step was to contact "Google Trusted Photographers" in our area to see if anyone was interested, and what they would charge us. I sent requests to everyone within a reasonable distance, and mostly the quotes were in the $1000-$2000 range, with various discounts because we were a non-profit. We ended up going with CJL Photography of Manchester, NH, because his quote2 was one of the lowest, and
he had worked with libraries before we liked his portfolio samples (the struckout link was a mistake on my part).
Now this is where the delays set in. I initially contacted the photographer in January, and had scheduled the photo shoot for February. Then we were hit with a series of snowstorms, which pushed things back. Then, we decided to wait until March because that month we had a really visual art display up in our meeting room. And of course, a few days before he came we got more snow, so he shot the entire inside of the building in March, and then came back in early July3 to do the outdoor shots.
The wait was worth it, I think, and the tour looks phenomenal:
Photographing the inside took maybe two hours, and we chose to do it early on a Sunday morning when we were closed to the public, so as not to interfere with patrons. The photographer used a camera on a tripod to take a series shots from each "point" on the tour to create the 360 degree view, and then handled all the processing on the backend to color-correct, stitch everything together, and upload it to Google. All library staff had to do was make sure the building looked as nice as possible.
In addition to the tour itself, the photographer also created a Chelmsford Library Google+ page, which also features a series of still shots. The still shots are included in the package, and we're free to use them however we want - on our website, in printed materials, etc. I know this is an obvious statement, but holy smokes there is a world of difference between the library pictures I take with a point-and-shoot camera and what a professional photographer can do.
We're not sure what we'll do with the stills yet, but we've already started using the tour. Besides mentioning it on our Facebook page, we've put it on our About Us page, using it to highlight the mural in our Children's Room, and embedded views of our meeting rooms on our reservation page so people can see what the rooms look like before they book a room.
We're certainly not the first library to appear on Indoor Street View - ebookfriendly did a post in March listing others.
They all look great, and we expect this to be a useful tool for us. Not only as an online tour and historical record of the building, but we're hoping that by showcasing how nice our space is, some of our online-only patrons will be motivated to visit in person. But honestly, I've been pretty content just to click around and play, even when I'm sitting in the library. Being online almost makes it like a video game - now I just need a laser gun. Pew pew.
1. I'm sure they had a very precise method, but to us it looked like eight guys randomly wandering around the building for an hour, eyes glued to their smartphones.
2. After the photo shoot, the photographer told me that a business of our size would normally cost about $3000, but libraries would be discounted to around $1000. Our actual cost was a bit lower than that, because I think he underestimated the size of our building with his initial quote, but was good enough to honor it. Incidentally, he was great to work with overall, and I personally would recommend him to other libraries considering this.
3. Which is why you see snow if you look out a window, but see flowers if you walk out of any of the doors.
Tags: google, indoor, indoor street view, libraries, Library, map, maps, online, photo, photographs, photography, public, tour, virtual
July 24th, 2013 Brian Herzog
My library has partnered with the Chelmsford Open Space Stewards to create a StoryWalk along one of our local trails.
The idea of StoryWalk, which originated with Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT, is to line a trail with pages from a picture book, which kids (and adults) can read while on their walk/hike. The pages are laminated so as to be weather-proof, and attached to wooden stakes driven into the ground along the trail.
It's a very simple project to do, but looks great and is a lot of fun for trail walkers. Library staff prepared all the pages and stakes, and the volunteer Stewards cleared the trail and installed the stakes - here's a slideshow of the installation and trail:
The StoryWalk was put in last weekend, and the "ribbon cutting" ceremony officially announcing the trail is this Saturday. The plan is to swap out a new story each season, and if all goes well hopefully start a monthly rotation.
The first four books were purchased by the Friends of the Library, who also paid for the lamination (all the wood and other materials were donated). For the future, we're hoping to get a local hardware store and office supply store to donate the wood and lamination services, too.
The first story chosen was Sheep Take a Hike, by Nancy Shaw and illustrated by Margot Apple. It's a perfect story for the natural trail selected (Sunny Meadow in South Chelmsford), and subsequent stories will also be seasonal - something in the snow for winter, etc. I like this project a lot because it's one of those great outside-the-library ideas that bring literacy and fun to where our patrons already are. Plus, it's easy!