March 16th, 2012 Brian Herzog
Do print collections actually meet the needs of your patrons?
Non-traditional collections actually give patrons the tools to use the information they find in the library - guitars, seeds, video games, ereader, etc.
We don't circulate DVD players. Because market penetration of DVD players means most people have them, but only a low percentage of people have ereaders (this will change over time).
Look for partners - contact Barnes & Noble (or other ereader providers) to donate them, give classes, and provide support.
How to circulate ereaders
- circulate in a padded bag to protect the ereader, along with instruction sheet, circ rules, and a patron survey
- content: load different ereaders with different genres (best sellers, childrens, teen, etc) and people check out whichever one they want - all titles were listed in the catalog
- needed to have a separate database to manage devices (and record all information, in case patron deregistered it somehow)
- losses and damages: out of 300 circing devices, only two have been damaged (one by staff, during transit)
- training: classes for staff (try to train everyone, and give lots of hands-on time), and classes for the public, along with YouTube videos (provided by B&N - and handouts and FAQs for both staff and public
- devices do need to be upgraded and maintained, because B&N doesn't support old versions
San Mateo is a "food desert" so this encourages people to eat healthier. Partnered with a group called Collected Roots - they help people created a raised bed in their backyard, and teach them how to plant (all for free).
How it works
- all seeds are donated
- people write down what seeds they're taking (comes with info on when and how to plant
- people don't need to return seeds (also don't want seeds that have been cross-pollinated
Total cost to set up: $30 - seed boxes from IKEA ($3/3 boxes), a binder (library already had). Shelf to hold boxes was donated by local artist who built it from recycled wood.
Partnered with a local band who gives lessons, and purchased 15 acoustic guitars (about $200/each), which circ for 8 weeks (grant funded). They also purchased a lot more guitar books, to go along with the lessons. Look for a local store to supply the guitars - hopefully they will work with you select which guitars are best for this project, and help with advice down the road.
Guitars are not requestable, so that they don't have to travel through transit to other libraries.
This project motivated staff to learn guitar, and childrens librarians are trying to do musical storytime.
Programming in a box
Boxes make it easy for staff to present programs - requested through staff intranet (contents are fully catalog, but not visible to patrons). Program guides are provided, but staff are free to change things up any time and add to boxes. Some things can't be kept/shipped in boxes (liquids, etc), so sometimes the libraries have to go shopping after the box arrives. They currently have 64 boxes (for 28 branches), but it's growing all the time (will only stop when they run out of room).
Staff needs to book them to use, but need to spread them out because each box needs to come back to main library to be restocked.
These boxes are a huge timesaver for the staff, while still provided good programs to patrons.
Video game collections
Gaming is mainstream (everyone knows Pac-Man, Pokemon, Angry Birds), and almost a traditional library collection at this point.
Video games have plots, character development - same things as books (read Sex, Brains, and Video Games. Plus they lend themselves well to programs, tournaments, and community engagement - and tie-ins with books and movies.
This is probably the last generation of games that can be physically loaned - pretty soon games won't be played on consoles from cartridges.
ALA Gaming Roundtable is now providing reviews of video games and boardgames, so libraries should pay attention. Also look for National Gaming Day - http://ngd.ala.org
Tags: collections, guitar, libraries, Library, pla, pla12, pla2012, programms, public, seed, seeds, video games
December 15th, 2011 Brian Herzog
There was an article in our local paper this week about a resident's experience volunteering in the community. Nice, but what I especially like is that he cited http://www.chelmsfordvolunteers.org as the way he found his volunteer opportunity.
This stood out to me (and others at the library) because this website was created and maintained by the library - yay us! The article doesn't mention the library at all, but it's still a win because the resident found what he was looking for.
I'll be the first to admit that the Chelmsford Volunteers site isn't a marvel of design. We created it a few years ago to be a centralized listing of organizations in town that have volunteer opportunities, because this is something we get asked about a lot. It's evolved over time, and now a simple WordPress website, with a calendar of upcoming events, and one page for each organization so that it's easy for people to search.
The reason I bring it up here is because I was curious if any other libraries maintain websites under a domain different from the main library's website. My library also maintains the website for our town-wide history project.
Our logic for creating these as separate websites includes:
- branding: it's easier to remember "chelmsfordvolunteers.org" than "chelmsfordlibrary.org/volunteers" or something else
- shared resource: the chelmsfordhistory.org is a project involving other organizations in town, and I think having a non-library website makes us all co-owners of the project, instead of the other groups just contributing to a library project
- focus: the library does a lot of things, but each of these separate websites are very focused on one specific area - having standalone websites lets visitors see only what's relevant to that topic, instead of all the other stuff we do, which might be a distraction
- it's easy: all our websites are hosted at bluehost.com - creating a new website is a matter of buying a new domain and clicking a button, and it's ready to go
I'd be very curious to hear about other libraries' experiences with maintain websites beyond the primary web presence - how you do it, why, is it successful, etc. If this is something you do, please leave a note in the comments with a link to your website - thanks.
October 25th, 2011 Brian Herzog
This isn't new, but I read on Slashdot last week that NPR listeners voted for the top 100 science fiction & fantasy books of all time.
But the website SF Signal saw a problem: the 100 science fiction & fantasy books were from all over the genres, and had basically no rhyme or reason. So they created a readers advisory flowchart, to help readers select which of the 100 they'd be most interested in reading by answering a few questions.
A 100-book flowchart graphic is massively huge (see below), so they also made an interactive version - it's great, and worth a look:
Does anyone know of other interactive "choose-your-own-adventure" type readers advisory tools out there?
Tags: best, book, Books, fantasy, flowchart, guide, libraries, Library, national public radion, npr, public, ra, read, readers advisory, reading, sci fi, science fiction, scifi, sf, sf signal, sfsignal.com, suggestion, suggestions, themosttagsever, tool, top 100
March 12th, 2011 Brian Herzog
Instead of one of my reference questions, this week, I wanted to share this:
Through a chance email conversation with the ALA librarian Karen Muller, I learned the ALA not only maintains a library of its own, but the American Libraries magazine also posts online some of its more interesting reference questions.
They're interesting, so check it out.
Also, I was curious, so I read more about the ALA library, including its mission:
The primary mission of the ALA Library is to help the staff of the American Library Association serve ALA members, and thereafter, the needs of the members of ALA, other libraries, and members of the public seeking information on librarianship. The ALA Library is a small special library with a collection that focuses exclusively on the history of and issues within libraries and librarianship. The Library's staff will respond to reference and information requests in accordance with this mission and collection scope.
Their website deserves some exploring, and has interesting information, including
Of course, it could just be me that was in the dark about all this. They're also on Facebook and Twitter, and with 12,000+ Twitter followers, maybe I'm just the last to know.
January 15th, 2011 Brian Herzog
This week's question wasn't difficult, and isn't particularly unusual, but I'm sharing it because I like the resource we ultimately found to answer it.
An older patron walked up to the desk and said,
I don't really follow popular culture, but I think I should start watching more movies. Can you tell me which movies were the most popular in each of the last five or so years?
My first suggestion was to check the Academy Awards and Golden Globes, but he felt that winning an award didn't necessarily mean it was popular. Besides, he said, he didn't just want a list, he also wanted to read summaries of the movies.
When he said that, I walked him back to where the film and movie books are (791.4375). I showed him Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, and a few others. None of the books on the shelve arranged films by year, but he did like all the reviews and ratings, and he especially liked 1001 Movies... because it listed movies by genre.
The patron took those over to a table while I went back to the desk to find a chronological list. At the desk I told my coworker about the question I was working on, and just then the phone rang. I answered it, helped the caller with their question, and by the time I hung up my coworker had already searched online and found the perfect resource for this question.
The website is Films101.com, and it lets you see lists of movies in all kinds of different ways - by rating, year, gross revenues, genre, award winners, and on and on. Clicking on any movie led to reviews, and the website's layout was uncluttered and easy to navigate.
The listing that best fit this question was their Yearly Top 10. Since the website format was clean with no sidebars full of ads, I was able to print a double-sided list all the way back to 2003 on a single sheet of paper. I brought this over to the patron, and his face lit up - he said it was exactly what he was looking for.
He came by the desk a few minutes later, saying he was checking out Leonard Maltin's latest book, so he could go down the list and look up each one. He also pointed out that he was happy foreign films were included, because "there's a lot going on outside this country."
Any kind of movie suggestions (or readers advisory) can be tough because once you get beyond award winners, everything is so subjective. Something else I liked about this website was that it continually took in new data, so rankings sometimes changed based on new review sources.
Yay for giving a patron what he wanted, and for teamwork.
Tags: film, films, libraries, Library, movie, movies, public, ranking, rankings, rating, ratings, Reference Question, stars
November 18th, 2010 Brian Herzog
Thinking about the new design of the San Jose Public Library reminded me that I've been collecting links to tools and articles about web design. I posted a few resources before, but the demise of Bloglines has prompted me to pull out all my bookmarks and do something with them.
I'll be using these when we redesign our website, and hopefully you'll find them helpful too:
Web Design Overview
Design Tips & Goals
Testing & Development Tools
And the final word on this subject will come from Chuck - Design Coding is not only hilarious, it's amazingly accurate:
But I'm sure there are tons of other tools out there, so please share your favorite in the comments. Thanks.
Tags: coding, design, development, libraries, Library, public, site, sites, tools, web, web design, website