Author Archives: nc

About nc

CEO and Co-Founder of Mosio, a mobile agency and the creators of Text a Librarian.

Mosio’s Facebook App – Now Patrons Can Ask a Librarian from Your Library Facebook Page

Virtual Reference Questions Asked Directly from your Library’s Facebook Page

The growth and power of Facebook shows no signs of slowing down and now with Mosio for Libraries, you can enable your Facebook page to be yet another amazing virtual reference channel. There are instructions below, it takes about 5 clicks. No hacks, no difficult workarounds using FBML (Facebook Markup Language), just a few clicks and you’ve extended your virtual reference services to Facebook. Here’s how you do it…

Step 1: Visit https://apps.facebook.com/mosiofb and you’ll see a window that looks like this:

mosio_facebook_app_screenshot

Step 2: Enter in your Keyword, an email address of one of your admins, then pick the page you want to add the app into.

Step 3: Click on Last Step: Add it to your page and then choose your page in the drop down.

That’s it! You’ll see the Ask a Question button in your tabs. The default button may change, but here’s what it looks like today:
mosio_facebook_app_button

If you want to change the color or title of the button, click on the little Edit Tabs button (see image below) until all of your tabs are showing, then the pencil and choose Edit Settings.
mosio_facebook_app_editbutton

You’ll see a little pop up that says “Edit Mosio Settings” and you can add a Custom Tab Image or Custom Tab Name. Add your custom tab or custom name and you’ll see it on your page.

mosio_facebook_app_addcustomtab

Patrons who click on your tab will be taken to a page inside of Facebook where they can ask their question. All questions will post to your microboard like they do now, enabling patrons to start a live chat (if you’re logged in) or choose to be responded to via email or text message.

If you have any questions, please let us know.

Thanks and have a great day!

The Mosio Team

Mosio for Libraries
Patron Support Simplified
http://mosio.com/libraries

Patron Support Tips: Technology Learning As Process

Technology Learning As Process

pst_march2013_techprocess

What if we transformed the notion that technology is something to learn, and instead, cultivated an understanding of technology learning, and the support it requires, as a continuous action? This thought was fresh in my mind this week as I prepared my schedule for the South By Southwest Interactive (SXSW) conference and the Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L) #ideadrop house, a librarian-organized venue for all things libraries, technology, and innovation. Event organizers for both SXSW Interactive and ER&L #ideadrop use the SCHED conference scheduling tool, which was previously unfamiliar to me.
Quick learning? Necessary. Mistakes made? You know it. Two minutes into using SCHED, I had somehow created duplicate accounts. Twenty more circuitous minutes passed by before I realized that I could simply click on a star next to the session title to add it to my conference schedule. After repeatedly thinking, “There must be an easier way,” I discovered that there was, and it was there all along right in front of me. I was learning while doing, in real-time.  If SCHED had real-time support available on the site, it would have saved time, frustration, and an email to the help desk (email, an asynchronous solution in synchronous times).

pst_march_2013_ERLsched
While we aim to learn new technologies, technology learning itself is present progressive. It’s never complete. It’s a series of ongoing teachable moments, many self-taught, across platform and purpose, and riddled with frightening stumbles of uncertainty. Whether by training or trial and error, we eventually master the necessary skills and confidence to accomplish our objectives. That is, until the next required tech tool sends us back to square one. Sometimes, that’s ok. We experiment with the latest tech thing and compare it to what we know about the one we prefer, or are most experienced using (I’m still not over Instagram’s popularity eclipsing my old friend Flickr).
At other times, we don’t have the luxury of the exploration. Technology learning is an active, integrated part of our lives. We develop operational knowledge of how to achieve a desired outcome concurrent with actually creating it. More than ever, we, along with our customers, need active, integrated solutions for obtaining synchronous support when the answers aren’t obvious.  We’re all learning while doing, in real-time, every day.

Lisa Carlucci Thomas is the Director and Founder of Design Think Do, specializing in library innovation, technology, and creative services. Follow Lisa on Twitter @lisacarlucci.

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This article is provided by Mosio for Libraries. To receive these directly in your inbox, please register for our Patron Support Tips Newsletter.


Patron Support Simplified
www.mosio.com/libraries

 

 

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The Best Meebo Alternative for Libraries: Mosio’s Text a Librarian

Mosio’s Text a Librarian now includes Chat + Text Messaging + Email + Website Support Tab Widgets

The Best Meebo Alternative for Libraries: Mosio’s Text a Librarian

We’d like to start by congratulating the Meebo team on being acquired by Google. We had the chance to meet with a few of them back when we started Text a Librarian and those we spoke with were incredibly intelligent and very nice. Even with the excitement of selling your company (especially to the tune of $100 million), there must be a bitter-sweet element to building an amazing product only to have it shut down by the acquiring company. It seems not all Meebo products will be going away and the team gets to work on Google +, so I’m sure there is much more sweet than bitter.

Many libraries have enjoyed using Meebo’s services to offer web-based chat/IM to support patrons, many of them Text a Librarian clients, so it comes as no surprise many are going to be wondering what their next chat/instant messaging move is. In our opinion, their next move should be Mosio’s Text a Librarian. Why?

Mosio’s 3 promises to libraries (and librarians), listed below.

I don’t want to take any thunder out of the announcements we have coming up over the next two weeks, of which there are some very exciting ones, but if you are an existing customer of ours, trust me when I say you’ll be excited to stick with us. If you’re a library looking for ways of being more efficient in your patron communications and relationship management across mobile and web technologies, you’ll want to take a look at what we’ve created and are continuing to build.

Mosio powers web-based customer support software for many different types of clients, including Fortune 500 companies and the United States Government. We love that we are able to offer the same, enterprise-grade technology, increased accessibility and technical support to libraries at discounted rates.

In our opinion, personalized customer service beats self-service. We sincerely believe it to be one of the biggest opportunities libraries have in the future: Personalized Service. We build our technology with the awareness that libraries have to do much more with less to “compete” with businesses, websites and the media for patron attention.

As we continue to add new exciting features, functions and partners to our service offering, I want to share 3 promises to libraries (and librarians) from Mosio.

1) Simplicity in Plans and Pricing
We will continue to add features and functionality with the goal of keeping the price of plans the same. Our original plans have stayed the same price since 2008 and we want to keep them that way. As a company we do not try and think of ways to increase revenue through add-on modules or “new” products to sell to libraries for more money. It’s too confusing and we prefer to make our existing product better at the same price, rewarding our existing customers for staying with us and offering ideas to improve the service.

2) Reliability and Next Generation Technologies Built With Your Work Efficiencies Top of Mind
Our technology is used and depended on by a wide variety of customers where timely message receipt and response is paramount. We use our own, U.S. mobile carrier-approved text messaging short code (66746) to maintain that reliability instead of skirting carrier compliance through 10 digit texting numbers, not permitted for normal Text a Librarian messaging. 10 digit texting numbers are unreliable, not carrier certified and the preferred tool for text message spammers in the United States.

We also use SSL encryption, the same used in online banking and offer anonymous PatronIDs for privacy. If you are a Mosio customer, your messages are important and your data is secure. We make our technology and product development choices accordingly.

3) Great Customer Service and Quick Support Responses With a Smile
Being in the business of supporting customers/patrons, we truly understand the importance of getting great service that makes us better at our jobs. We also know a touch of humor and personality go a long way when helping people and will always do our best to get you the quickest response/fix possible while keeping a positive attitude. It’s not only the best way to make a relationship successful, it makes work more fun.

Meebo is going away, but patron needs for answers and support are not. We’ll keep making the technology to enable you to support them simply, more efficiently and hopefully with a smile and we look forward to serving you in the future. If you have any questions about our company or service, please don’t hesitate to ask. If you don’t have any questions for us, but want to see a funny dancing gif, you may enjoy this one.

Thanks and have a wonderful day!

Noel and the Mosio Team

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Library Thought Leaders Q&A: Buffy Hamilton (The Unquiet Librarian)

Today’s library thought leader is Buffy Hamilton (aka The Unquiet Librarian), high school librarian and teacher at The Unquiet Library in Canton, Georgia.

For this series we are gathering thoughts and opinions about Patron Relationship Management (aka PRM) in libraries. What does PRM mean to you? Is it different in a high school library setting? If so, how?
In the high school library setting, this concept is central to establishing collaborative partnerships with students and teachers so that we can seamlessly integrate information and digital literacy skills and concepts into the context of content area research.   Points of patron relationship management include instructional design with faculty, the delivery of face to face and virtual instruction to students, and participation in the design and implementation of formative and summative assessments.  It’s also taking time to listen to our patrons (teachers and students) to better understand their needs and passions as learners.  It’s also reaching out to our patrons through our social media streams (our library blog, YouTube channel, Flickr account, and Facebook page)  and connecting through those mediums as well as putting the spotlight on the talents of our patrons—we genuinely value their role in crafting the “story” or narrative of the library experience at The Unquiet Library.

You recently wrote a blog post about the roles, titles and future of school librarianship. What roles will technology play in the future of your profession? Do you see it evolving even further, or are we already mostly there?
It’s difficult to predict the future of libraries or technology’s role in that future, but I see technology as tool and medium for amplifying the core work that we do in terms of providing access and services to our learning communities.   I think if we keep our mission and vision of our library programs first and then ask the questions, “How can technology support that mission/vision?” and “How can technology be a catalyst or provide support conversations for learning?” then we are more likely to do a better job of harnessing the potential of technology in meaningful ways rather than utilizing just for the sake of doing something “new” that may not necessarily be better.  The application of technology to meet a need of the library community and the possibilities technology can present are the interesting aspects of technology integration for me.

We hear mixed responses to mobile technologies used in high schools. Some are open to it and some don’t allow mobile phones on campus or in the school because they are disruptive. What scenario creates a win-win for both students and faculty?
I think it’s important that school districts continually examine their acceptable use policies in order for them to stay organic and to address the needs of learners.  As more districts update these policies and adopt “Bring Your Own Device” policies that provide flexible but clear guidelines for usage of mobile devices for learning, students, teachers, administrators, and parents are more likely to be on the same page in thinking about how to use these devices in ways to support student learning.   Rather than viewing the devices as a disruption, this challenge presents a wonderful learning opportunity for everyone to explore the literacy of attention (when is it appropriate to use the device?  How do I train myself to minimize distractions?  How do I configure my device to meet my needs as a learner?) and to provide faculty and administration professional development on strategies and emerging practices for incorporating the devices into classroom life.   Librarians can be facilitators of these conversations by providing workshops and resources for their schools and by having a voice in the crafting of these policies.

What is an example (technology-oriented or not) of how a school library has done a great job with “customer/patron service”?
One of my favorite things we’ve done to highlight the expertise of students here at The Unquiet Library is inviting students to do guest blog posts (either in the form of a written post, a video entry shot with one of our Flip cameras, or a combination of both) about a skill or a talents they’ve developed to share with our learning community.  Students can either send us their blog entry, be added as a guest author, and/or participate in a video entry that we upload to our library YouTube channel (with the student’s permission, of course) and then feature in a blog entry.  We also incorporate student and teacher videos and commentary into our multimedia monthly and annual library reports hosted at http://bit.ly/I4wKTi.

Another innovative project that could be adapted to any library environment is the “Student Voice, Student Choice” initiative created by my friend and colleague Andy Plemmons at  David C. Barrow Elementary in Athens, Georgia.   Because he was paying attention to circulation data and student behaviors in the library, Andy realized students in grades 3-5 were not finding books that appealed to them; consequently, he sat down with the students, discussed with them their interests, and then worked with his Capstone Press representative to get samples of books that were about the topics the students cared about and on their reading level.  Students had the opportunity to browse the books and work with Andy to make book selections;  not only did students then have the chance to read the books they selected, but they also got to work with Andy to create podcasts to “market” their books to other students.   I encourage you all to read Andy’s blog post at  http://bit.ly/I9Qnnd in which he details the process and what he learned from this experience and his students to improve his collection and library services.

What tips or resources do you have for other academic libraries looking to improve patron experiences and service?
I think the most important thing we can do that doesn’t cost a dime is to take time to really listen to those we serve.  While we often have wonderful ideas for library services and programming, they may or may not be at the point of need for our patrons.    When trying to nudge people toward inquiry or advance an innovative learning strategy, we have to be willing to listen to learners and be open to making adjustments based on their feedback.  Something as simple as ten minute conversation with a teacher or spending an hour doing a research roundtable debrief discussion with a class can provide tremendous insights into what is working and what isn’t in our instruction and services.  Relationships are at the core of successful libraries, and like a garden, they need constant care and nurturing.  By framing libraries as sites of participatory culture, we’re better positioned to empower people to participate in and/or create learning communities around information literacy and content area standards as well as the passions, wonderings, and interests of students and faculty.

Great responses, thanks so much for your time!
Thank you!

About Buffy (in her own words)
I’m a high school librarian and teacher at The Unquiet Library in Canton, Georgia, with nearly 20 years of experience as an educator as a high school English teacher, technology integration specialist, and librarian.   I’m passionate about creating meaningful learning experiences for students and teachers. My interests include social media, participatory learning and culture, ethnographic studies, digital composition, personal learning environments, critical pedagogy, and social scholarship. I’m a 2011 Library Journal Mover and Shaker who loves dogs, shopping, running, music, and poetry.
She earned her M.Ed. in English Education in 2003 at the University of Georgia; in 2005, she completed her Ed.S. at UGA in Instructional Technology and School Library Media.  She has been recognized as the 2011 winner of the Salem Press Blog Award in the “School Library” division, Salem Press Blog Award,  School Library Blog Winner 2011 as well as the 2010-11 GLMA/GAIT Georgia Library Media Association/Georgia Association for Instructional Technology School Library Media Specialist of the Year.  Her Media 21 program (http://theunquietlibrary.libguides.com/media21) was a winner of the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) Cutting Edge Library Service Award.  In addition, she has been honored as one of the National School Boards Association Technology Leadership Network “20 to Watch” 2010, Tech and Learning’s 100@30: Future Leader;  her library program was also honored as the 2010 Georgia Exemplary High School Media Program.

Portfolio:  http://buffyjhamilton.wordpress.com/
Blog:  http://theunquietlibrarian.wordpress.com
Twitter:  @buffyjhamilton
SlideShare:  http://www.slideshare.net/buffyjhamilton

Library Thought Leaders Q&A: Courtney Young (Penn State Greater Allegheny)

Today’s library thought leader is Courtney Young, Head Librarian and Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and Penn State Greater Allegheny.

Hi Courtney, thanks so much for your time, here we go…What does the idea of Patron Relationship Management in libraries mean to you?
For me, Patron Relationship Management means a supportive collaboration. That includes getting to know your users, provide them with the types of services they expect, and create opportunities for your patrons to discover something new at your library. PRM is outreach, opportunity, and advocacy rolled into one.

You were recently the Twitter moderator for Library Journal’s “Power to the Patron” virtual tech summit. What ideas stuck out to you in the convergence of patron empowerment and technology?
I was really impressed with the creative ways libraries were bringing content of interest to their communities as well as improving access to their resources using technology. The walking tour of San Jose mobile site drawing from images in the library’s collection takes digitizing a collection to a new level. Cuyahoga County Public Library’s decision to stop tattle taping their print collection and encouraging self check-out via a mobile app is the ultimate in patron empowerment. These projects and others from the tech summit highlighted that being user focus has changed, and the implementation of these services using technology effectively provides an opportunity for patron empowerment. Dan DeSanto summed it up during his talk on the Long Trail digital collection when he noted by creating mobile apps libraries create access to digital collection at “point of interest”.

It feels a little odd to say libraries “compete” with other entities, but when it comes to patron attention, companies, social networks and the media are all competing. What can libraries do to maintain the attention they have? Is it different for Academic Libraries vs. Public?
Libraries will likely continue to do the type of work that users traditionally expect, but it is very important that we continue to transform in the eyes of our users by experimenting with new models for providing information and other resources to our respective communities. The “Power to the Patron” virtual tech summit presentations are a glimpse into the possibilities for libraries to capture and maintain that attention. Outreach and advocacy must go hand-in-hand with strategic risk-taking. It is also important that no matter what libraries decide to do they must do it well.

While the missions of academic and public libraries can make the way this is carried out look different, there is definitely overlap in strategies for keeping your users’ attention. This includes awareness of user needs and implementing programs and services to meet those needs. It has been my experience when having conversations with public and school library colleagues there are more commonalities than differences. Sometimes we use different terminology, but our goals are usually the same.

What is an example (technology-oriented or not) of how a library has done a great job with “customer/patron service”?
There are a lot of libraries out there doing an excellent job with “customer/patron service”.  There are school libraries lending e-readers to students, a program that not only fosters literacy skills but also technology skills. There are public libraries providing diverse programming and events such as author lectures, live musical performances, book groups, and technology training. There are academic libraries collaborating with students to allow them to create LibGuides from the student perspective as well as teach software functionality skills (ex. creating high-impact tables and graphs, working with images to create slides for presentations). All these examples and more illustrate positive PRM.

What tips or resources do you have for libraries looking to improve patron experiences and service?
Educate your staff so they have the tools to succeed. They know and build relationships with your patrons, so their understanding of new programs, services, and technologies will allow them to directly provide patrons with positive experiences. Decide what skills everyone needs and what members of your team should become specialists or experts with certain products or services.

Ask for feedback from your library users and your staff. Not only will you find out what could be done better, but you may be surprised to find out what you are doing well.

Identify libraries providing the types of services and programs you want to provide at your library and contact them for advice and strategies. The library community is very generous with its time and eager to share information. In addition to how they decided to implement a particular program or service, you can often find out what modifications they made as a result or approaches they would have liked to have taken if they were planning it again for the first time.

Thanks for your time and insights!
Thank you again for the opportunity!

About Courtney:
Courtney Young is currently Head Librarian and Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and Penn State Greater Allegheny. Courtney is an active leader in the American Library Association (ALA), serving on the ALA Executive Board and as a past President of the New Members Round Table. In 2011, Courtney was named a Library Journal “Mover & Shaker”, recognized as a Change Agent for her ability to successfully make connections among a diversity of duties in her library, on campus, and in the profession. She graduated from the College of Wooster in Ohio with a B.A. in English and minors in Black Studies and Women’s Studies.  She received her M.S. in Library Science from Simmons College.

Before coming to Penn State Greater Allegheny, Courtney worked at The Ohio State University, Michigan State University, where she received a Staff Achievement Award as the assistant instruction librarian, and Penn State’s University Park and Beaver campuses. Courtney frequently presents and publishes on issues related to academic librarianship, diversity, African American studies, women’s studies, virtual reference, and professional development.

Follow Courtney on Twitter at @librarycourtney and visit her blog at http://librarycourtney.blogspot.com/

Integrated Library Systems – All library software providers using text messaging need to do it the right way

Everyone is texting and it is not likely to be going away any time soon. That means libraries looking to communicate with patrons on their mobile phones need to rely on the best and most reliable ways for deploying mobile technologies. There is a lot of hype around mobile apps and we love them too, but text messaging is the best way to reach literally everyone and it can be deployed at a fraction of the cost of developing and managing a mobile app. With the popularity of text messaging, we see a lot of software providers in the library space circumventing short codes, truly the only approved way to send and receive text messages.

What about ILS integration?
We get asked this a lot, it makes sense and we’re having discussions with potential partners where we feel we will add the most value to our libraries and patrons. The problem we’re seeing in general is that many software companies in the library industry are doing their best to add text messaging, yet doing it in a way that is not permitted or certified by the mobile carriers or the CTIA (the wireless association).

Permitted and certified text messaging can only be done using a 5 or 6 digit short code.
It is truly the only way a software provider can add text messaging to their service and be compliant. Sending emails to text message email addresses (aka SMTP to SMS) or using 10 digit texting numbers are not permitted and there will soon be a bigger crackdown on companies attempting to provide text messaging solutions.

I recently asked the CTIA for a response about 10 digit texting numbers being used by software companies of all types (not just libraries). Here’s the response I received:
“the carrier community is not pleased with the circumvention of the consumer protections that are part of the short code environment. CTIA’s position, developed in collaboration with our carrier members, is that all commercial messaging–the so-called “A2P” traffic, belongs on a short code and must be subject to the controls and monitoring that apply to short code campaigns.  We oppose the abuse of the person-to-person (P2P) channels for commercial messaging.”
Note: [P2P = 10 digit texting numbers]

“The guidelines that the CTIA board adopted in October (http://files.ctia.org/pdf/Inter-Carrier_SMS_Guidelines_v3-as_adopted10-11-11.pdf ) are pretty clear about that: 
‘These recommendations apply to regular 10-digit dialable telephone numbers and expressly exclude A2P campaigns. It is recommended that A2P traffic utilize messaging channels established to support Common Short Codes (www.USShortCodes.com).’”

So why are we sharing this info?
After hearing our customers (or potential customers) echo incorrect information that they’d been told, read or assumed, as a company we felt the need to get and share an official statement from the mobile industry. Mosio strives to make mobile messaging easier to understand for our customers, partners, developers and anyone who is interested in deploying text messaging as a part of communications with their members, patrons, students, employees and event attendees. We pride ourselves in knowing what is available, how to navigate the waters of this rapidly changing industry and make the most informed decisions possible.

If you have any questions about deploying text messaging applications the correct way, please feel free to contact us, whether you are a customer or not. We want to do our part to educate the marketplace so mobile messaging is done correctly, securely and permitted.

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Library Thought Leaders Q&A: Trent Garcia (San Francisco Public Library)

Today’s library thought leader is Trent Garcia, eResources Specialist at the San Francisco Public Library.

Hello Trent, let’s jump right into it. What does the idea of Patron Relationship Management (PRM) in libraries mean to you?
It makes me think of the parallels between Libraries and private industry, such as, building relationships with patrons/customers by providing quality information in an efficient manner and by any channel to patron/customer wants, i.e., text, email, phone, etc.

You just defined exactly what we’re going for with this: the application of powerful tools and technologies in the private sector within libraries. Who comes to mind at SFPL when you think about how this is being done effectively?
I immediately think of our Information Services team. They handle the tremendous flow of questions we receive by email, phone and in-person every day. They’ve done an amazing job of developing their own system using only the software/hardware provided to them. They’ve also been incredibly adaptable in getting up to speed on new services.

What role does/can technology play in PRM?
PRM can provide information management tools to help staff and patrons stay organized and streamline the process to achieve the end goal of directing patrons to the information they need.

Obviously we’re pretty technology focused here and love learning about what people find interesting. What is an innovative new technology you’ve seen or heard about? Is there a way libraries can and should utilize it?
It’s not so new but I’m still in love with mobile apps. I think it allows endless possibilities for enriching our social and working lives. I’d love to see innovations in scanning and digitizing of physical materials. Libraries have such a wealth of materials that could benefit from being digitized but the process is complicated and time consuming.

What tips or resources do you have for libraries looking to improve patron experiences and service?
Experiment with process, and get it right. Anything you implement is only as good as the process it was built upon.

Great advice, for libraries, companies or any type of organization. Anything else you’d like to mention about PRM, patron relationships to the library, customer service in general, etc?
As our patrons increasingly move to accessing and communicating with us online, there is a lot of pressure on libraries to adapt services to meet their needs.

Thanks for your time!
My pleasure.

About Trent
Trent’s first job out of library school (SJSU) was as Research Editor for Wired Digital’s LiveWired. He worked on several interesting projects with this company, such as the transfer of Wired Magazine content to digital form using elaborate indexing, custom subject terms and other descriptors. A few years later, he moved to New York City and worked for Deja.com as a Producer and Information Specialist. He managed content and worked with IT, design and business development, in creating online tools to search and evaluate consumer goods based on user reviews. After the dot com bust, he came back to San Francisco to work as the Knowledge and Information Specialist for a commodities consulting company. He was given the task of organizing the Institution’s content, streamlining their publications process, using technology where applicable, and project managing the development of a database to improve customer relations management.

Trent is currently employed as the eResources Specialist, working for the San Francisco Public Library. Many of his responsibilities revolve around the evaluation, selection and maintenance of SFPL’s online databases. Other duties include managing the OverDrive eBook/eMedia collection, participating on committees, and educating staff and patrons about digital resources and technology issues.

Text a Librarian Marketing – New Business Card Template

Text a Librarian Marketing - Business Cards Template

Hello!

We just had a customer ask for an updated business card template to market their Text a Librarian service, so we wanted to share it here. As always, there are a handful of digital assets and templates in the patron marketing materials section of your account, but here’s a business card template. It uses our Text for Instructions feature, which encourages patrons to engage with your service at the “point of experience” as they say in advertising and marketing.

For the template you can click on the big image above or here – Text a Librarian Marketing – Business Cards Template

Enjoy!

:)

Library Thought Leaders Q&A: Aaron Tay

Today’s Library Thought Leader is Aaron Tay, Reference Librarian with the National University of Singapore.

As you know, the theme of this Q&A series is “Patron Relationship Management” or PRM. What areas of PRM are you seeing where libraries can benefit the most?
To me Patron Relationship Management refers to tracking, managing of customer/patron needs and requests. Relationship Management also includes communicating with users in the way they prefer, with the right information they want to know. Libraries should be responsive to the needs of their users to be aware of user needs, ideally the library should be able to learn from users to improve their services in real time..

What is a great example of how a library has done a great job with “customer/patron service” recently?
One of the things our library does is to embed chat boxes on every FAQ and guide page. We correlate the chat queries that come through the chat boxes with each page. This has been very useful to help us improve the content and design of each specific page. What confuses our users? What information are they looking for that the FAQ they are on lacks? Studying the chat questions, they sent from these pages has helped improve our services by putting information they looking for and rewording confusing text so our patrons can find what they looking for.

This is a great idea, you’re essentially targeting the “pain point” for patrons when (and where) they’re experiencing it.

Roles technology plays in managing patron relationships?
Technology allows automation of many tasks that would not be possible manually. For example, while users do contact us when they have a question or issue, a large number do not. They would tweet, blog, post on Facebook status and otherwise post on the internet comments about the library whether positive or negative. What we do here at NUS Libraries is setup an automated scan of the internet using tools such as Google alerts and Twitter search scans to be alerted what our users say about the library. Depending on the type of comment we find, we may respond and help if we can or take note of the comment if necessary. A free online webinar talk I gave at Library 2.0 describes the tools I use to scan comprehensively for Tweets , the type of tweets I found while scanning proactively, and the reactions of users when we intervene and help. In general, users are delighted when we unexpectedly chime in to provide help.

I read about that on your blog, the “listening” to social media for sentiment, mentions, etc. Taking a page out of the book of the world’s leading companies. Great idea. Companies compete with other companies for customer’s attention, but they also compete for a patron’s attention.

What is an innovative new technology you’ve seen and is there a way libraries can use it?
Many libraries including ours are using QRcodes but I think that in the long run the future lies with applications like Aurasma, Kooaba’s Shortcut or Google goggles and other augmented reality apps, which use image recognition so that users can just point their smartphones at a book cover, or any image and the object would be recognised and some action would be taken on their phones. One could for example use this for book covers, such that pointing a phone camera at it, would show links to book reviews, ratings and other relevant data.

What tools or resources do you have for libraries looking to improve patron experiences and service?
Look to use tools like Google analytics to track user behavior. Like many libraries we have systems spread across many diverse systems from the library catalogue (classic, next generation, discovery), web portal, Libguides/LibAnswers etc , we embed Google analytics whenever possible across all these systems so as to have a consistent way of comparing usage across these systems. This combined with close study of user search queries, analysis of email and chat transcripts, internet scans of mentions of the library, coupled with occasional surveys and focus groups help us keep on top of user needs and help us decide what are the important issues to focus on to improve patron experience. It’s good to study each source in combination rather than in isolation. Sometimes while one data source say chat transcriptions might show only isolated feedback on a certain topic, looking at the full picture with web analytics might help uncover that it is not an isolated issue.

Thanks Aaron, have a great day!
Thank you.

About Aaron (in his own words):
I am a reference librarian with the National University of Singapore. Since joining in 2007, I have worked on library projects to extend our digital reach, launching chat reference, Social Media projects, led teams to redesign our FAQ and Library Guides using LibAnswers and LibGuides platforms and have recently starting using web conferencing software to conduct library tutorials such as EndNote classes. I have served on various library committees including Portal Redesign, LibQual+, Cited Reference and Web Discovery teams.. I was awarded LAS (Library Association of Singapore) best Speaker at Libraries for Tomorrow seminar and recently LAS Outstanding Newcomer and was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker 2011.

Contact Aaron:
Blog:  http://musingsaboutlibrarianship.blogspot.com
Twitter: @aarontay

Library Thought Leaders Q&A: Alison Miller

Today’s Library Thought Leader is Alison Miller, Manager of the ipl2 Reference Services at Drexel University and the WISE Coordinator for Syracuse University.

As you know, the theme of this Q&A series is “Patron Relationship Management” or PRM. What areas of PRM are you seeing where libraries can benefit the most?
There is no one specific area, but rather several areas where libraries can benefit.   The relationship between libraries and users should include many things.  It should include responses and follow-up to questions, updates on new services or collections, information on events and programs, and more.  Users should be continuously engaged with the library and the idea of PRM is just that – a way for the library and users to form and continue a mutually beneficial relationship.

What is an example, technology-oriented or not, of how a library has done a great job with “customer/patron service” recently?
Makerspaces/hackerspaces!  Think of the possibilities of these spaces in libraries!  These spaces can really drive innovation in libraries.  The space is created based on common interests, whether it is technology, art, science, etc., with labs incorporating elements of studio or workshop type spaces and people can share resources and knowledge.  It is essentially limitless – ideas and creations from these spaces can lead to collection enhancements, new services and programs and new or renewed interest in libraries!

What roles can mobile technologies play in PRM?
Mobile technologies can and will increasingly play a very important role in cultivating relationships between libraries and users.  This technology is essential in all library environments:  public, academic, school and special.  We know that mobile use is huge, and this technology is used by the general public, college students, high school students and professionals.  People may not always have easy or quick access to a computer, but they always have their mobile device.  Those people that use text services are typically people that are texters – it makes perfect sense to add and enhance this service in libraries to increase communication and outreach with users.

What is the most innovative new technology you’ve seen or heard about? Is there a way libraries can and should utilize it?
I really like the hackerspaces that have been implemented in libraries.

Example:  The Fayetteville Free Library is installing a hackerspace/fablab with 3D printers, CNC routers and other equipment, available free to the public as a community space for making. The project is led by librarian Lauren Smedley, who is basically MADE OF AWESOME. Info: http://boingboing.net/2011/11/12/library-to-get-a-hackerspace.html

Many fear that libraries may become “techshops,” but I see this as an exciting way to not only provide users and the community with an area that meets many of their needs, but allows the users to shape part of their library.  I have worked in libraries where technology and services are essentially “locked down,” and the atmosphere in these libraries is not friendly or inviting.  Ideas and community involvement, like the fablab included above, are what will keep us growing – physically, intellectually and technologically!

What tips or resources do you have for libraries looking to improve patron experiences and service?
I think that libraries should use resources that best fit with user needs.  This may include a specific service, only applicable to a certain community (for instance, a law library), or a variety of services, including a mix that fits with the groups within the community (the public library – kids, teens, adults, older adults).  These services don’t have to be expensive or time consuming types of things. But they do have to be user-driven.   I think what is most important is continued communication, two way, that involves methods to share and gather information.  Users like to feel that they contribute to libraries, that their voices are heard.  The greatest way to do this is to build and continue relationships with our users.  We do not define our libraries, our users do.

Anything else you’d like to mention about PRM, patron relationships to the library, etc?
PRM is something that should be considered in every library.  The economy affects our libraries, environmental factors affect our libraries – a lot of things affect our libraries.  The biggest affect should come from our users, and this is most beneficial when users feel that they have good relationships with their libraries.

Thanks Alison, we appreciate your time and ideas!
Thanks!

About Alison:
Alison is the Manager of the ipl2 Reference Services at Drexel University and the WISE Coordinator for Syracuse University.  She is also an adjunct instructor for Drexel and Syracuse, teaching courses including Digital Reference Services, Reference and Information Literacy Services, Innovation in Public Libraries and Social Networking in Libraries.  Alison was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker for innovation in 2010.  She has worked in public, academic and special libraries for over 10 years.  She is passionate about librarianship and is always looking to improve practice, change misconceptions about libraries and librarians and spark innovation.  She is active in associations and is currently on the Board for the Association for Rural and Small Libraries.

Contact:
Linkedin:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/millerlibrarian
Twitter: @millerlibrarian