Category Archives: patron privacy and security

Ideas for Improving Patron Service at Your Library, Regardless of Your Department

Customer Service

Self-Checkout Machines

Improving patron service doesn’t always mean providing the human touch; in fact sometimes it can mean giving the patron the option to forgo the human touch. One example of this is self-checkout machines.

There are many reasons why a patron might prefer to use a self-checkout machine. They may be in a real hurry and just want to pop in real quick, grab a certain title from the shelf, and dash back out. Or they may be checking out books on a subject that would make them uncomfortable to bring to the circulation desk for check out.

Providing this additional self-service checkout option improves service by giving these patrons exactly what they want – more convenience and improved patron privacy.

Staff Training and Cross-Training

There is perhaps no better way to improve patron service at your library than to ensure that the staff is well-trained on customer service strategies and able to handle any basic library function or patron request.

To ensure the first, regular customer service training should be an integral part of your library’s staff development programming. Repeated exposure to different types of strategies and techniques for improving patron service and tips on handling difficult patron situations with poise and tact will help foster a patron-centered environment.

Making sure that all staff members are cross-trained on the basic functions outside of their own departments will help ensure the second. When a patron stops a staff member to ask a question that falls outside of the staff members immediate duties and activities and that staff member is able to provide the needed assistance rather than having to go find the answer from another staff member, your patron service has stepped up to the next level.

Give Them What They Want

Finally, one of the best ways to improve patron service at your library is to provide opportunities for your patrons to tell you how you can improve service. This is easy because you don’t have to be creative; you just listen and then implement.

The old-fashioned suggestion box is still a terrific way to solicit this feedback from patrons. Add the modern incarnation to your library’s homepage – an online suggestion form – and you will have no shortage of projects to work on.

Improving patron service is an ongoing assignment. Use these techniques on a regular basis to ensure that excellent patron service in your library is no harder to find than the latest bestseller or local newspaper.

Library News Update: Libraries unite to increase size of catalog, Helping Seniors Learn New Technology, Library Appreciates Support – Offers Free Alerts

The Library of Congress has a wide array of historical collections. The latest to be digitized and made available to the public for viewing is a set of 400 early Twentieth Century panoramic postcards. The postcard collection took 4 years to digitize and represents 39 states. They can be viewed online. Additionally the Library of Congress already has 4000 historic panoramic photos available for viewing online.

Library of Congress Digitizes Stunning Collection of Early Panoramic Postcards

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Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein made a generous gift to the Sheepshead Bay public libraries to buy laptops to loan to patrons. The laptops can be used anywhere in the libraries, and ease the burden on the heavily used desktop stations. The goal of the laptop program is provide people with opportunities that may improve their lives, that would be extremely difficult without computer access.

Loaner laptops draw library users

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These are some other library news stories we’re excited by this week.

Little Free Libraries great example of neighborly kindness

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Libraries unite to increase size of catalog

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Grand Strand libraries adding e-books, other streamlining media into circulation

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Waterford library opens self-check station

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Northbrook library upgrades technology

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Moms’ love for libraries anchors future

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Sacramento Library Offering State-Of-The-Art 3-D Printer Use

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Some Clearwater libraries will use RFID chip technology

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Aurora Public Library Bookmobile to be featured at Bookmobile Roundup

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Wauconda Area Library adds new state-of-the-art eBook service

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Self-study goes high-tech

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Front-yard libraries turn back page of time

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Whitehall Public Library changes with the times

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Cupertino Library unveils new ‘Tech Toolbar’ for e-reading material

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Library’s catalog easier to search

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Library Appreciates Support, Offers Free Alerts

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Pima County Libraries help create a career-ready workforce

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County libraries offer tremendous help in digital age

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Lorain libraries, including Avon and North Ridgeville, now offer free digital magazines

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Helping Seniors Learn New Technology

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Libraries offer free music downloads

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Missoula Public Library looks to future as books fill every nook

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Westfield Memorial Library Offers New E-Book Service ‘Freading’

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Found and listed by Mosio for Libraries – Patron Support Software for Libraries. All copyright belongs to original owners.

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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SMS from Red Phones!?

I was intrigued by the news that both President Obama and Russian President Medvedev would prefer to communicate with each other via texting and email.  It seems as if Obama’s much-discussed addiction to his Blackberry before moving into the White House still influences his communication customs.  Some habits are hard to break but it also helps being the leader of the free world.

What really grabbed my attention was the mention that both Obama and Medvedev would rather communicate with each other directly than involve their staff members having to print out messages and deliver them by hand.  (Somewhere out there a White House staffer is looking for a new internship.)  Truly the speed at which you get information is important and sometimes saving a few extra minutes makes all the difference.

The notion that the world’s leaders can all text and email each other from their mobile devices adds quite a wrinkle to the term International Diplomacy.  International agreements, arguments and accords can now develop and take place via the clicking sound of QWERTY keypads.  I’d like to point out that Medvedev uses a decidedly less compact mobile device.

How this affects and changes a process that used to be carefully prepared and reviewed may be too hard to tell but the truth is that people will always want to find ways to make communication easier, more effective and more accessible.

This got me thinking.  If I was Obama would I want to be able to reach Medvedev via SMS?  Of course!

Obama: “OMG thanks for your help at the nuclear security summit.  I told you that DC in the spring is nice.”

Medvedev: “No worries.  Hey, while I’m in town can you get me tickets to the Hockey Playoffs?  Ovechkin FTW!”

Obama: “Settle down!  It’s the Blackhawks time!  Let me see what I can do, brb.”

How Important is Patron Privacy at Your Library? 5 Tips for Increased Security

How Important is Patron Privacy at Your Library?

How Important is Patron Privacy at Your Library?

I’ve never ever had a librarian tell me “we do not care about patron privacy or security at our library.”  And come to think of it, I haven’t had them even say it’s not that big of a deal. Security breaches stink and they can be harmful as the news of Twitter’s secret information exposed shows.  But they’re also embarrassing and ultimately very time consuming for those involved.  What’s more, there are simple things that can be done to avoid them, keep things secure and keep patron (and librarian) information private.

In the past 2 weeks, I have seen or read about 3 serious instances of security/privacy issues that could have been avoided if people within organizations would have been a little more careful or at least aware that their actions were viewable by others:

1) A user id and password posted on a blog by a library. We notified them to let them know.
2) A user id and password tweeted from one twitter user to their client, unaware that their @reply could be seen by others.
3) Twitter getting hacked by someone guessing an employee’s password on a Google Apps account.

I had a quick talk with our CTO to find out what he would say are 5 helpful security tips for libraries, or any business for that matter, to consider.  He gave me 6, the nice guy.

1. Whenever possible, don’t share user ID/logins between librarians.
Every time a login is shared, you’re creating more of an opportunity for a security breach.  The same as trying to keep a secret: the more people you tell, the more chances of it not being a secret.  The idea here is that if something happens, you can delete that user without disrupting everyone else.  Sometimes you have to share log-ins.  Understandable, so if you have to share, make sure the password is VERY unique but easy for everyone to remember.  Consider changing it regularly.

2. Assume that blogs, wikis, websites, Twitter, Facebook, etc, are viewable by the public and that everyone can read them.
It’s actually not the case, many of them can be hidden behind passwords, but as long as people second guess what they’re posting and thinking it’s possible for someone to see, you are creating a more secure environment.

3. Use or create systems that don’t show or store private patron information.
This is the one we see the most, unfortunately.  It’s done using hacks and work-arounds in the name of simplification, cost cutting, etc.  One of the librarians who advises us said “many people are using hacks because they want to be able to offer services to patrons, but I’m seeing more people understand it is simply not worth the risk.”  We believe if you can see a patron’s information, others can too.  If you’re using Google products, you have to delete information 3 times: inbox, sent box and then the trash (information is stored in the trash folder).  Sound a little paranoid?  Ok, but understand this is a blog post about security tips.  We care about security and hope you appreciate it.

4. Use Google Alerts for your library name to ensure that information posted about your library is what you want it to be.
These are easy to set up and easy to manage.  You can set them for select words/terms (the name of your library for starters) and control when they’re sent to you.  If someone is posting information about your library, you may not be able to get them to remove it, but at least you’ll know what it is.  Besides the security element, they can be pretty fun and you’ll be able to see when people are tweeting about how much they love you.

5. HTTPS: The “S” is for “Secure”
This is something you might not be able to do on your own, you’ll have to speak with IT or ask any web services you’re using if they offer it.  Simply stated, if you’re on a Wifi (most libraries are), or any sort of LAN network, and you login to a page without HTTPS, anyone in the network can sniff out your password.  HTTPS is what banks and/or credit card companies use online.

BONUS TIP (thanks Jay!)
6. If you only have one strong password, make sure it’s your email password!

Password “reset links” all work via email.  If someone can log into your email, they can get into anything.  Make sure your email password is used ONLY for your email and that it’s hard to guess.

So there you have them.  If anyone thinks of any more, please feel free to post them in the comments section.  There are obviously various ways hackers can cause harm, recently some experts found that they can get private information from an iPhone security flaw through text messagaging.  The difference is that some security issues are things hackers are going to find ways into.  The others are choices people can make to be a little more secure.

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