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




CIL2011: Ebook Update and Outlook

   March 22nd, 2011 Brian Herzog

Ebook Update and OutlookMODERATOR: Dick Kaser, VP Content, Information Today, Inc.
Leslie Lees, VP of Content Development, ebrary
Ken Breen, Director, eBook Products, EBSCO Publishing
Rick Rosy, VP & General Manager, Library Services, Ingram Content
Group, Inc.

Ebook publishers talk about the ebook models available from their companies - here are a few points I took away:

NetLibrary and EBSCO

  • 1997 ebooks - came on a CD with a 100+ print user guide
  • NetLibrary brand is going away
  • Ebooks are available for preview on EBSCOhost
  • 3 Users Models - Single User, Three User (Single User with lending), Unlimited
  • Patron model will have lease model - lend books for 1, 7, 14, or 28 days at a time, with payment made for every time a lease is done
  • EBSCO continues to listen and evolve

Ebrary and ProQuest

  • Subscription model - 50,000+ backlist titles available, instant digital library, unlimited access
  • Perpetual Access Archive - purchase and own many titles, many front-list titles, source through various vendors
  • Patron-Driven Acquisition - reduce cost, save selector time, and ensure titles get used (patrons choose what library buys) - model similar to Netlibrary
  • Short Term Loans - rent titles and mediate use (model similar to Netlibrary)
  • Future holds that ILS' will eventually stop being inventory control software, and more access control to a variety of formats

MyiLibrary and Ingram

  • Nashville is a nice place
  • Use model single owner, multiple owner, and patron-driven acquisition
  • Among large academic library, 43% have an ebook copy of the physical book they also own - shows ebooks and books coexist peacefully
  • Focusing on how to keep access to information (ebooks) safe and available no matter what - especially with academic libraries

Overdrive ("and their relationship with the devil")

  • There's been a lot of controversy lately, but the future of ebooks, and the current state of things, is extremely strong
  • Overdrive sees itself as a library advocate - to fight for library rights and provide a marketplace in which all types of libraries have access to econtent
  • Continually innovating - mobile apps already available for Apple products, soon coming to Blackberry, always updating Overdrive Media Console software, always adding new content (new titles and new publishers) to the library - it's all about providing options
  • You will see more and more DRM-free books - there will be more self-publishing options
  • Most Overdrive libraries are experiencing 600% circ growth - Jan-Apr 2011 will see more circs than total circs for 2010
  • If you can, attend Digipalooza - this is the best opportunity to sit down with Overdrive and publishers and have your voice heard and your opinions known

Questions & Answers

  • What's going on with DRM and ebooks? How does that mechanism work?
    Overdrive: More DRM-free is coming. Copyright is set by the publishers, not Overdrive (OD advocates for libraries). Adobe is the main mechanism to make download, transfer, and file expiration possible

    Ebrary: some publishers are more willing than others to loosen policies in some channels - we're pushing for more consistency across the board

    Ingram: Most publishers require DRM, but some large consortium have been able to negotiate reduced-DRM or DRM-free options - this shows that money talks

  • Could you please develop a standard so ebooks download to all devices easily?
    Adobe isn't actually very good, it was just the first one. Overdrive is working on direct-download options, and Adobe is working to improve. Each ebook supplier having their own proprietary software is a problem, and difficult for libraries to get full support. Vendors usually do this because of the standards they are trying to meet. Overdrive has a front-line tech support in beta with NYPL(?), and will be available soon - hopefully by ALA.
  • Do all of you work with the same publishers?
    There is probably differences between Overdrive (which focuses on public libraries) and those vendors that focus on academic libraries
  • Do you allow more than 10 pages to download/print before new charges?
    It is growing - standard options seems to be about one page, one chapter, or any 60 pages


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CIL2011: Innovative Marketing Tools and Strategies

   March 21st, 2011 Brian Herzog

Stacy Bruss and Nancy Allmang, NIST LibrariansStacy Bruss & Nancy Allmang, Reference Librarians, NIST

To help publicize the library and our services, we decided to create podcasts and dynamic presentations.

 

Creating Podcasts
Our first attempt was an audio podcast, with a voiceover reading a script using rotating images to provide a visual, saved in mpg4 format. Had trouble finding license-free music on a PC (Mac has Garageband, which has usage music installed). We used Sourceforge, but found that audio podcasts are okay, but people prefer video.

Next, we decided to go with video podcast.

We went with a video production company, but it ended up costing $5,000 and took 7 months. Plus, it didn't end up being a nice, short, informative podcasts - the production company ended up making it long, dry, and boring.

So NIST bought their own camera, microphone, and Macbook. They also built a camera dolly out of a bookcart so the picture was steady. NIST librarians took a free class at an Apple Store to find out how to do it, and then did it.

Tips for creating video podcasts

  • it's easiest to do audio voiceovers later, so focus on filming video
  • instersperse still images to make it interesting
  • limit videos to about 1 minute
  • save in two formats: .mov streaming, .mp4 for downloading

 

Creating Dynamic Presentations

PPTplex - plugin for powerpoint 2007/10 to allow "zooming presentations" - allows you to easily create moving and dynamic presentations, and repeat words and images without making it look like you're repeating yourself. Another tool for zooming presentations is Prezi.com

Ways to use digital presentations

  • Use this to make static presentations dynamic
  • Conference posters online - make them static and text-heavy, and people with interest will read them
  • Digital display - LCD display uses graphics and colors and attracts more attention, so much better than an LED board
  • Use video in new employee orientation - videos can show more than pictures or words can convey

Optimal length to display a slide is 7 seconds - that is how long it takes for someone to walk by the NIST display. Time yours so it flips during someone's walk-by, so they see that it changes.

NIST staff researched available displays, and chose one that would support PowerPoint, so staff didn't have to learn new proprietary software

 

Ideas for the future

Integrating looping video (showing a screencast on how to do something, because people understand how to follow a mouse, and don't require sound)

Marketing the same information using all your marketing channel - not every patron is exposed to every channel This allows you to repurpose your content.
You should also repeat marketing messages, because people forget

Another fun way to make video presentations is using Xtra Normal - all you do is type a script, and it creates the video for you - it's attention-grabbing because it's fun, and makes the information more noticeable (it's easy and fun)



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CIL2011: Improve Your Website Now!

   March 21st, 2011 Brian Herzog

Web Team from Arlington County (VA) Library SystemLaura Solomon, Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN)
Alexandra Zealand, Social Media Coordinator & News Blog Editor;
Stacia Aho, Library Webmaster;
Jonathan Newton, Library Web Programmer, Arlington Public Library

 

Don't waste your homepage - Laura Solomon

The library homepage is the most important part of your website - here are some tips for the best use of the space

  • Spell it out - patrons don't know library acronyms and jargon. Spell it out, at least the first time you use it
  • Don't be wordy, or use large blocks of text
  • Mission statements are important to libraries and trustees, but not to patrons, so don't put it on your homepage (nor lists of staff or board names)
  • Weed your graphics - graphic loads take time and slow things down and clutter up pages - they need to be meaningful and have a point. And anything you do use, optimize for web
  • Don't use clipart - it undermines your professionalism (even using stock photography is better)
  • Be careful about using widgets and gadgets - people don't come to the library website to check the weather or news feeds
  • Don't use exclamation points!!! They are not professional!!1!
  • Your homepage above the fold is your prime real estate - don't cover it with a welcome mat (if they weren't welcome, it would be password protected)
  • Don't put a picture of your library on the homepage - your building is not your product
  • Put your library's phone number and address on your homepage
  • Label all the links to pdf as [pdf] - don't surprise people with huge downloads

 

Community Engagement on a Shoestring - Arlington VA Public Library

Case study of how they went from municipal website to library-specific website with integrated content to focus on patron needs and use:

  • First, convince county IT department to let library have a branded header with its own logo
  • Use links on homepage to direct people to library's blog, which looks like real website but is easier to update and control - this keeps the homepage and makes it useful
  • Important static information stays on the static site, in case blogger blog went away
  • Content on blog is basically news and events - things that would have been press releases

Tools used were all free

  • Blogger - easy to use (got for less tech-savvy staff), supports tags, and supports...
  • Yahoo Pipes to create news feeds based on tags - use tags to filter information for each branch, so branches can have their own identity and patrons fell more connected with hyper-local information - feeds sometimes get picked up by local news outlets, which drives a ton of traffic, and some people become regular readers
  • Feedburner to embed feeds into homepage
  • But keep in mind: the tools aren't always enough - you need good practice, staff, content, and integration

Result

  • Huge increase in comments and patron participation
  • Staff better understands patrons' point of view
  • More staff involvement and investment in public image


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CIL2011: Building Great Websites

   March 21st, 2011 Brian Herzog

Amanda Etches-Johnson and Aaron SchmidtAmanda Etches-Johnson, Head, Discovery & User Access, Univ. of Guelph
Aaron Schmidt, Consultant, Influx Library User Experience

Two areas of websites we don't have easy control over

  • Catalog
  • Databases

Websites must be three things:

Useful

Our Content Strategy (planning the creation, deliver and conveyance of UUD content) must address this question: What do people want to do on our site?

  • Identify your critical tasks
  • Spend a few minutes each day just asking people what they want to do, and whether or not you're meeting their needs
  • Perform a content audit - not just pages, but the images and information on each page (cataloger, being detailed oriented, are good at this). Is each page: accurate, usefulness, used, web-written, on message, last updated. Rate each piece on a scale of 0-2 to identify areas to keep, remove or improve.

 

Usable

  • Smaller is better
  • Websites should not be junk drawers - "just in case" is not the right approach
  • Design your website around your FAQs - if it's on an FAQ, it doesn't get on the site
  • Write for the Web - we keep hearing that people generally don't read on the web (though this might be changing with tablets and larger mobile devices). What people do is Function Reading - skim to find what's important to them
    • Write with a conversation and friendly tone, not like a policy document
    • Put the most important stuff at the top of the page
    • Use bolded headlines, bullets, and white space - it is easier to scan - be sure to use white space correctly to group related headlines/content
    • Use simple urls: http://library.org/kids vs. http://library.org/kids/pages/content.php?p=423
    • One idea per sentence (fragments okay), not too big, bot too small, never all-caps, use active voice, correct contrast
    • Refer to library as "we" and patrons as "you" or "I" - good example "How do I reset my PIN?"
    • Never use "click here" - make the link text meaningful ("Search Catalog" instead of "Click here to search the catalog")
  • Do usability testing - You can find this out by simply watching people use the website - walk out, ask a patron if they have a minute, give them a task ("use our website to find a receipe" or "can you find out our branch's Tuesday closing time on Tuesday") and then watch them
    • Use Google Optimizer to test multiple versions of pages with the same content, to see what content is important and which design works best

It's also important to have a mobile version of your website. Visit Influx.us/onepage - a library website template that puts this idea into practice - works on mobile devices

 

Desirable

  • Choose a good color palette - use a professional, use a free website color matcher, etc
  • Don't use clipart
  • Use common conventions, grid layout, pre-made themes from the community
  • Make content interesting - example: transmissions between NASA control and space flights presented in back-and-forth Twitter-like conversation
  • Make it convenient - definitely a mobile-friendly version
  • Marketing: put your stuff out there, and keep at it

 

Four Stages of Library Website Development

One builds on the other, and you can't move up until you finish the lower levels (like Maslov's Hierarchy)

Basic
Necessary information, relevant functionality, no major usability issues

Destination (a "destination website")
Librarian-created content, basic interactivity

Participatory
Serious user generated content, patrons creating culture - library acts as the aggregator, and patrons have reason to do this here, instead of somewhere else
example: Hennapin County bookspace

Community Portal
Library website as community platform, the website becomes a community knowledge bank (tool like this is Kete)

 

Take-away goal

Reduce your site by half - it doesn't mean you have bad content, but people cant find it because there is too much to look through - bit.ly/smallsites



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Detecting and Redirecting Mobile Devices

   December 16th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Mobile website mockup in testiphone.comRemember a few months ago, when I was inspired by Steve Butzel's presentation at NELA2010 and created a mobile version of my library's website? I bet you have that date marked on your calendar.

Anyway, one lingering problem I had was some mechanism to automatically detect mobile devices when they visited our website, and reroute them to the mobile version instead of the full web version. I finally had some time this week and was able to accomplish that - aided by the fact that it was easier than I expected.

The ultimate goal is to redesign our entire site along the lines Brett suggested, by creating a stylesheet specifically for mobile devices. Brad pointed out that the Canton Public Library employs this, awesomely: visit their site and slowly make your browser window smaller, and watch the website flip from "full web" mode to "mobile" mode.

That was more than I could handle this week, so I opted for the detect-and-redirect approach. I had found online instructions using both javascript and php, and I went with the php method because

  • I think php is more reliable than javascript, because javascript depends on the browser whereas php runs on our server
  • Php is more fun, and I know our server runs php

The website offering the php method is http://detectmobilebrowsers.mobi, and very happily they make it available free for non-profits. Here's what I did:

  1. Read and reread their website
  2. Downloaded the main bit of code, and uploaded it to our web server
  3. Used their Function Generator to create the snippet of code to paste into the top of our homepage. I chose to treat all of their options as a mobile browser, and redirect them to http://www.chelmsfordlibrary.org/mobile - the resulting code looked like this:
    require_once('mobile_device_detect.php');
    mobile_device_detect(true,true,true,true,true,true,true,
    'http://www.chelmsfordlibrary.org/mobile',false);
    

    (this should be two lines of code, but it wraps because of the width of my blog - if you use this code, make sure the second and third lines above are actually one long line)

  4. I copy/pasted that code into our index.html homepage. However, because this is php code, it had to go between php tags, (<?php and ?>), so the complete code I actually added to the top of our page was:
    <?php 
    require_once('mobile_device_detect.php');
    mobile_device_detect(true,true,true,true,true,true,true,
    'http://www.chelmsfordlibrary.org/mobile',false);
    ?>
    

    (again, see note above about line wrapping)

  5. Note that the path in the "require_once" line must match where on your web server you actually saved the mobile_device_detect.php file (downloaded in Step 2)
  6. Now, the last step was a little tricky, because it involves editing the .htaccess on the server. It's easy though, and one of their faq answers explains it.

    Basically, .html files don't normally run php code - .php files do that. So if our homepage was index.php instead of index.html, I could have skipped this step. Instead, in order to make .html pages execute php, I had to add a few lines to our server's .htaccess file - which was no trouble at all - and then everything worked splendidly

That is, at least, so far. I've done some testing with mobile devices and (as suggested) with the User Agent Switcher Firefox add-on, and all of that has worked. But please, if you have a mobile device, visit our homepage (http://www.chelmsfordlibrary.org) and let me know if you don't get redirected to our mobile site.

A couple other notes:

  • I also added a link to the mobile site in the upper-left corner of the homepage, in case the redirect doesn't work
  • I only added this auto-detect to the homepage. I thought about adding it to every page, but our full site has a lot of information our mobile site doesn't - especially descriptions of our events. If I added the redirect to every single page, people with mobile devices basically wouldn't have access to any of that. So, my thinking is to provide mobile users with the (robust) basics, but if they want more than that they'll have to endure our not-great coding until we're able to redesign the entire site to be mobile-friendly

This was easier than I was expecting, which makes me think I missed something.

Update: someone pointed out a gap in my logic. On the mobile site, there is a link to "Visit our main site" which linked back to our full homepage. However, since the homepage redirected people to the mobile site, anyone clicking that link from the mobile site just got looped right back to the mobile site. So, I changed that link to go to our About page. Again, this is a good reason to just have mobile-friendly stylesheets like Brett and Brad suggest above.



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Creating a Mobile Library Website

   October 28th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Mobile website mockup in testiphone.comYou're probably sick of hearing about things I picked up at NELA2010, but I'm not done yet.

In the very last session of the conference, Steve Butzel from the Portsmouth (NH) Public Library demonstrated the Online Newsstand he created to boost their online magazine usage. That was neat in itself, but what I really took away from his talk was that I needed to - and easily could - create a version of our website specifically designed for mobile phones.

He showed theirs (in beta), which is simple and awesome. It inspired me to give it a try.

I started on http://chelmsfordlibrary.org/mobile/ yesterday, and am still working on it yet (in fact, I haven't even told anyone at my library yet that I'm doing it - surprise!).

I don't have a cell phone and so haven't tested this on a smartphone yet. I have been using testiphone.com (an online tool Steve highlighted - there are other tools, too), so please give it a try and let me know how it works.

Steve's point was that it could be very simple - hours, directions, events, a contact link, and a purchase suggestion link for patrons who are in a bookstore (great for people with apps like RedLaser). Here's the logic of what to include:

  • Hours
  • Directions (right now it just links to Google Maps, but I need to also include a link for our branch library)
  • Ask a Librarian (haven't created this yet, but it will be a simple email form)
  • Purchase Suggestion (also not done, but will be a simple form)
  • Upcoming Events (our calendar was not at all mobile-friendly, so I just grabbed the rss feed and ran it through feed2js.org to create just a list of our upcoming events. There could be separate feeds for adult events, childrens events, etc., but that might be overkill)
  • Link to the catalog (I also embedded a catalog search, but that might be too much. And I found the catalog isn't entirely mobile-friendly either - we'll be moving to the Evergreen ILS soon, so I'll wait and see on this, otherwise I'd investigate LibAnywhere from LibraryThing, which Steve also mentioned)
  • Link back to the main library website for everything else

The next trick will be getting our regular homepage to automatically detect mobile devices and reroute them to the mobile website. I haven't even attempted this yet, but have done a little research.

Apparently, cell phones and smartphones aren't just a fad after all, so having a website that works well on these devices is just as important as a browser-based website - and this will only become more important as a way to serve our patrons on their terms. I was happy with how easy it was. Now I need to find out what my coworkers think.



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