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

Hello, I’m the Swiss Army Assistant Director

   January 20th, 2016 Brian Herzog

In Mother Russia, sometimes the agent changes you.My library's long-time Assistant Director retired at the end of last year, and I am taking over that role. This means two things:

  1. My library is hiring a Head of Reference - if you're interested, check it out. It's fun.
  2. Second, since I'll no longer be a reference desk librarian, this blog will certainly change.

For whatever it's worth, I'm going to try to keep writing new posts here whenever I come across something people might find interesting. My desk hours are going to change drastically, so the Reference Question of the Week posts will be less frequent. Which is too bad, but we'll see what happens. I've done almost one of those a week for over nine years - wow.

I'm a little nervous about change. I'm sure things will be fine after all the transition, but not spending most of my time covering a service desk will certainly be an adjustment.

But really, if you're interested in being Chelmsford's new reference librarian, send in your resume. It's a nice place to work.

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Reference Question of the Week – 10/11/09

   October 17th, 2009 Brian Herzog

Instead of a reference question this week, here's a good example of another question-of-the-week service:

The Seattle Public Library has a regular feature on the website of a local paper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It's titled Shelf Talk, and in addition to general library content, it also features interesting reference questions (and their answers).

I think it's a great idea for libraries to have regular columns in the paper, in addition to events listings. It's not only entertaining and informative, but also promotes the library's reference service, subtly reminding people they can get help with tough questions at the library. And not surprisingly, Seattle is doing an excellent job of it.

via LISNews

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Library as Selling Point

   March 10th, 2009 Brian Herzog

new england real estate teamI use a couple Google Alerts to try to keep on top of websites that mentioned the Chelmsford Library or just Chelmsford, MA in general.

I set these up in the hopes of connecting to people in the community, or people talking about Chelmsford. I thought if someone mentioned the town, a local event, or the library on their blog or website, I might be able to comment and contribute on behalf of the library (but it's also an interesting way to find out what's happening in town - example).

A recent alert led me to the website of the New England Real Estate Team where I saw, big as day right on the top of their website, a photo of the library. I was kind of surprised at first, but then I was happy that a realtor is using the library as a selling point for the town. It certainly is, and it's also a nice looking building.

I think this is great, and I wonder if it would be worth it to encourage other local businesses to use the library's image to promote their services or Chelmsford. It certainly wouldn't make sense for every business, but it's nice to know that at least one feels we're worth showing off.

Now they just need to link to our website, in addition to the local schools.

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Library Marketing Ideas (sort of)

   February 6th, 2007 Brian Herzog

Marketing. There's always workshops concerning how to market libraries and services at conferences, and they are always well-attended. This past weekend seemed to be a perfect storm of marketing-related events, so I thought I'd convert-to-library a few ideas I witnessed recently.

  • Guerilla Marketing: If you live in the Boston area (like I do), you couldn't help but hear (endlessly) about the "terror scare" that gripped the city last week. If a library wrapped up books in duct tape envelopes and left them on busses and trains, they might be able to get $800,000 worth of advertising. And up to five years in prison.
  • Movie Theaters: I went to a movie this weekend, got there a bit early, and ended up sitting through a good ten minutes of advertisements. Personally, I dislike these commercials, but doesn't it make sense for a library to sponsor some kind of trivia game for all those captive teens to play while waiting for the movie to start?
  • Logo Recognition: One of the ads at the movies was for some show on the NBC network. At the end of it, they displayed this image:
    NBC.com logo
    What impressed me was that they consider their logo so recognizable that they don't even need to spell out what their web address is - just their logo+.com is enough. My library has a logo, too, but I don't think patrons would be able to make that same leap:
    Chelmsford Library.org logo
  • Water Survey KitDirect Marketing: I got this "Important!" water survey kit in the mail. Survey questions regarded water use/quality and home ownership, including space for me to fill out my name, address, phone number, etc. They also asked I fill the little bottle with tap water and return everything back to them. I did not like that this company barely identified themselves (I needed the internet to find out this is just a marketing campaign of a company that sells water systems), but could libraries do a similar direct mail campaign to find out what patrons want from libraries? It could be a good way to reach those people who don't come into the libraries, what their reading habits/tastes are, and what the quality of water around town is like.

So much to do, and so little time.

ideas, libraries, library, marketing, promotion, public libraries, public library

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