Category Archives: Patron Support Tips

4 Ways Text Messaging Can Improve Your Patron Communications

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A recent Pew study revealed that 80 percent of American cell phone owners use text messaging as a means of communication, sending or receiving an average of 41.5 text messages per day. For the 18-24 age group, 97 percent of cell phone owners text, sending or receiving an average of 109.5 texts per day.

One look at these numbers and you know instantly how to reach a majority of your current library patrons and an even greater majority of tomorrow’s library patrons: via text.

Text messaging is a fast and efficient means of communicating with your library patrons and there are many ways in which you can use text messaging to improve your patron communications. Here are just a few types of messages you can communicate to your patrons via text:

1. Circulation Notices Such as Holds and Overdues.

Emails today convey much less of a sense of urgency than they did a few years ago, especially to younger library patrons. To catch your users’ attention with important circulation notices, try sending them via text instead of email. This way, they can act on the notices immediately.

2. Promotional Polls and Contests

A great way to keep your patrons engaged is to link promotions to programming and other library events. Your library can have contests where you send out polls or questions via text for prizes such as first row seats to an upcoming speaker (ie. “The first three patrons to text us the author of Tender Is the Night win front row seats to our October Author Speaker Series Event”). You can also hold a text vote to choose between two programming possibilities for an upcoming date.

3. URLs to Newsletters or Other Library Publications

Does your library publish a monthly newsletter? A terrific way to get the newsletter into the hands of your patrons so they may have immediate access is to send them a short text with the URL right when it is published. Your patrons can be reading the newsletter that your staff worked so hard on literally within seconds of publication.

4. Programming Reminders

In today’s fast-paced and information-packed world, we need to be reminded of things. A great way to promote your library programs is to send your patrons text reminders of upcoming events, along with URLs linking to further information if available. This way, they can check their schedules on the go and even add the events directly from your text to their calendars.

Try these text messaging tips to improve communications at your library. We think your patrons will appreciate it.

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.

5 Reasons You Should Have Ask-a-Librarian on Every Page of Your Website


To get the most value out of your library’s services and provide patrons with the highest level of service, it is important to make it as easy as possible for your patrons to connect with those services

The best way to connect patrons with your Ask-a-Librarian service is to have Ask-a-Librarian tabs, links or buttons on every page of your library’s website. Here are five ways that implementing such a strategy with your online reference will benefit your users:

1. All successful advertisers know that the key to getting a message across is through repetition and consistent branding. When your patrons interact with a consistent layout from page to page and see Ask-a-Librarian on every page, you have created the best possible ongoing marketing campaign for your service, with an important added bonus: It’s free.

2. While we can predict some user behavior, we never really know when and where on a website patrons are going to need assistance. A patron may be on a page where the information seems to be straight-forward to librarians, but to an uninitiated patron the information may leave questions. Likewise, a patron may be on one page but thinking ahead to another problem or the next step in his or her research process. Having Ask-a-Librarian immediately available from wherever the patron may be on the library’s website ensures that he or she will be able to connect to help when needed.

3. If a patron is interacting with the library’s website, encounters a problem, and then has to recall where to go to find the Ask-a-Librarian service, the library has not succeeded in making the most of the service’s primary benefit to users – the ability to connect them instantly with a library professional who can solve their problem.

4. Consistent placement of the Ask-a-Librarian tab on your library’s webpages makes marketing the service via social media or flyers much easier. When the Ask-a-Librarian tab is on every page of your library website, there is no need to place an easily forgotten URL (or URLs) on your marketing materials – simply state that the Ask-a-Librarian service is available from every page on the library website and where it is located (“look for our Ask-a-Librarian tab in the upper left-hand corner of any page on the library site”).

5. Each Ask-a-Librarian query that comes from a specific page can help you improve the overall content and design of that page. When you have an Ask-a-Librarian chat box on every page, and you are tracking which pages queries come in from, this gives you the great benefit of an ongoing focus group indirectly telling you what works and what doesn’t work on every page of your library’s site.

Responding quickly to queries will help you provide the top-notch customer service that will keep your library patrons satisfied and returning for more business. To make sure your patrons submit those queries whenever they need help on your library’s site, you should have ask-a-librarian tabs on every page.

 

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Library News: Libraries look beyond the shelves, Why Libraries Are More Relevant Than Ever Before, New York Libraries 24 Hour Read In

Albertsons Library at Boise State gets some great publicity from the campus newspaper. The story talks about the various services the library provides that aid students in their research needs, and save them valuable time. The piece details how to get research assistance both in the library, and through the text and mobile options.

Library tips to save students time

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Another fun example of how libraries are drawing in young people is Harlem’s new library dedicated entirely to teenagers. The library offers 4,400 square feet of open space. Teens can play video games, snack, lounge and study. The space boasts bright colors and creative seating.

PUBLIC LIBRARY ENCOURAGES TEENS TO HANG OUT [PICS]

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Read more about new trends in libraries in these other stories.

Libraries look beyond the shelves

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MidPointe: We are a modern, changing library

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Maine libraries’ Internet expansion aids jobless

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Washington libraries embrace technology

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Montclair Public Library investigating new ways to check out

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Could Bookless Libraries Revolutionize Access for the Poor?

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Public Libraries of Saginaw keep kids, adults reading with summer reading kickoff June 3

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Why Libraries Are More Relevant Than Ever Before

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A Gorgeous Home Library Would Turn Anyone Into A Bookworm (PHOTOS)

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Rediscover the wonders at your local library

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Even in the digital age, public libraries provide an important service

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Digital bookmobile’ promotes e-books

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Library of Congress to exhibit 230 new items in “Civil War in America”

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Bookmobile Hits The Streets

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Howard County Library System Named 2013 Library of the Year

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Libraries expanding availability of free digital downloads

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City of Evanston announces new mobile app for the Public Library

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New York Libraries 24 Hour Read In

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Check it Out at the Library: Traveling photos tell county libraries stories

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Library use on the rise in a tough economy

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Duluth library’s book-delivery program comes off the shelf

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Patrons can use materials from any location in the library system

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Williamsburg Library gets online magazines

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

How to Create a Great FAQ Page for Your Library

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A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page can be a useful tool that patrons, and even library staff, can refer to to get helpful answers to frequent questions. However, FAQs can often become outdated, and lackluster FAQs will give a poor impression of your library and its customer service. A well thought out and maintained FAQ page can serve as a great resource and a good marketing tool for library services.

 

Make sure to discover what your patrons are really asking. Keep a log at the reference desk where librarians can note questions that are asked. Go through and group like questions together and decide which questions are appropriate for a FAQ. They should be questions that are not only frequently asked, but that are brief and easily answered to completion in an online document.

 

Keep your FAQ timely and up to date. It may be too much of a burden to continually track all questions posed to the reference desk, but you may want to have reference staff note when new repeat questions seem to pop up. You can also select certain time periods throughout the year to have questions logged.

 

Ensure that your answers are clear and answer the question completely. Inquiries that require a more in depth explanation, or have various nuances,  may not be appropriate for an FAQ document.

 

Make your FAQ easy to find and easy to search. Place the link in an obvious place on your website. You may want to have the link in several locations. Group questions by subject and have a search function, so patrons can find the answers they are looking for without too much effort or any aggravation.

 

Consider letting patrons contribute ideas for the FAQ. Provide a form or a contact page for them to submit ideas. Obvious contact information is also necessary to make sure patrons know where to go next in case the FAQ doesn’t answer their question.

 

Remember that a great FAQ document can be a key element to successful customer service. Patrons can get quick satisfaction by finding their own answers to basic questions. Additionally, rather than repeatedly answering the same questions library staff can quickly and easily refer patrons directly to the FAQ, saving valuable time.

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.

Library NewsByte: The library is home to not only books, Library launches free mobile app, Vending machines latest library offering from Northland

Members of the public making good use of the Family Mobile Library during its stop at Reayrt y Chrink, Port Erin

Maureen Sullivan, President of the ALA, writes on the Huffington Post about the new Pew study showing that the vast majority of parents place a high value libraries. She discusses what libraries have to offer children and parents, from tangible resources to intangible experiences, such as instilling a love of reading and providing a safe community environment.

Libraries Offer Children Resources Not Available at Home

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One of the intangible items libraries offer to all patrons, is the experience of browsing. This editorial talks about the personal experience of browsing at the library.

Libraries offer more than books – it’s a personal experience

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In this difficult economy, people are finding the library can be an essential resource in finding a job. The Spencer Daily Reporter talks specifically about the ways the Spencer Public Library is helping patrons in their job search. They include access to computers and the internet and books on cover letters, resumes, and job searching. Additionally, the library website has links to skill building resources.

How the library Can Help You to Find a Job!

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Read more about the ways libraries are helping people in these other news items.

The library is home to not only books

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Clive library to launch new online catalog

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Library makes changes

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Parents Value Libraries’ Digital Technologies and Programs, Pew Research Shows

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The New York Public Library Discusses eBook Pilot Projects

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Get the library app

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Even in Digital Age, Libraries Still Considered Crucial to Youth Development by Most U.S. Parents

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College Libraries Transition to High Tech Learning Centers

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Libraries; maintaining a role in the digital world

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Mobile service helping those who can’t get to local library

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B-BP Looking to Shore Up Library Programs, Enhance Technology

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Little Free Library is a great, big idea in little, tiny space

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Shorewood-Troy Library Now Offers Home Delivery Service

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Vending machines latest library offering from Northland

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Magazines go digital at Garfield County Libraries

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More people using libraries with book loans up 3% in 2012

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3D Printing Comes to Sunnyvale Library

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New Rochelle Library is not bed-bug infested

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New Library Program to Try Out Tablets & E-Readers Starts at 10 a.m.

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Library launches free mobile app

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Libraries unite to bump up size of catalog

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The bookmobile gets the digital treatment

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

Virtual Reference – When to Collaborate

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The spirit of sharing and cooperation is perfectly at home in the Library world. The most traditional form of collaboration is Interlibrary Loan, but libraries have also found some more unique ways to collaborate, including through shared virtual reference services. There are several things to keep in mind when establishing collaboration on virtual reference service. Consider your goals.

Think about subject matter. Partnering with libraries with similar focus and clientele will ensure a consistency of service, but searching for libraries with a different focus could broaden the type of reference queries you can answer through virtual reference. Think about your patron base. Who are they and what type of questions are they most likely to ask?

Think about location. Local libraries may ensure ease in the collaboration process, but reaching out to libraries in other regions can increase the hours of availability for your virtual reference services. Collaboration between Universities from different time zones could mean available reference service in the wee hours of the morning, when students might be finishing up that paper, but the library isn’t open.

When entering into collaboration you want to make sure that all institutions are on the same page. Everyone should be willing to commit roughly the same amount of effort and time. No one institution should be unduly burdened. Once your virtual reference collaboration is off and running you’ll want to keep careful statistics. Keep record of when the queries are coming in, who is answering them, and the basic subject matter. Use these numbers to continue ensuring that the workload is evenly distributed, and to think about areas where you might need to broaden your individual collection and services.

Collaboration doesn’t make sense for every library. Your individual institution will need to decide what is right for them. However, it is worth investigating and thinking about how it can improve your virtual references services and the customer experience. After all, it’s all about the patron.

 

Walking in Your Patron’s Shoes: A few exercises can improve your levels of service and empathy

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Is your library open to input/changes   Does your library make it easy for patrons to provide input and suggestions from their perspective?  Comment boxes located strategically throughout your building can convey your openness to receiving input from patrons. It’s one thing for your patrons to comment on what they feel would be improvements or needed changes during their transactions with library staff, however, showing that you are seeking their feedback can be even more paramount to providing excellent customer service. Our patrons often provide excellent tips and suggestions from their perspectives that would be more difficult to see from our point of view as library staff.

 Accessibility   ADA compliancy is something most of us take seriously and currently have in place.  However, are we staying mindful of the provisions helpful to our patrons with children and those with mobility limitations? A few years back our library invited students from our college’s Equal Access Department to survey both floors of the library while completing a comment sheet from their wheelchair-access perspective. Some of their comments  included poor signage placement inside our elevator, placement of study room sign-up sheets were at an unaccommodating height, and although we were ADA compliant, our periodical and newspaper areas created maneuverability issues we were unaware of prior to our students completing this exercise. We have since been cognizant of all of these issues and others and are thankful this input was provided. Had we not been open to input, we perhaps would have never known to make these improvements in the area of accessibility.

When working in any library or public building, it’s important to take into consideration all of those who will be using the accommodations. Receiving input from your users will only prove to become more beneficial as you continue to grow with your patrons while moving forward.

Diane Perrine is a freelance writer and an academic librarian at the College of Central Florida in Ocala, Florida. She resides in Ocala Florida.
Her hobbies include gardening, hiking, bicycling, volunteering and learning something new everyday.

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


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Library News: America’s First Virtual Library Opens at Suburban Station, British Library sets out to archive the Web, Reach out and learn at the Library

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America’s First Virtual Library Opens at Suburban Station

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County library eBook use grows, new technology expected

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Shelf Life: Library on board for digital literacy

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Reach out and learn at the Library

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British Library sets out to archive the Web

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Technology hub helps Columbus library connect with younger patrons

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Library technology worth hooting about

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Mahoning County’s libraries of tomorrow are focus of today

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Kitsap Regional Library now offering digital magazines

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Library brings small businesses, nonprofits together to talk technology

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Hack the humanities: The Digital Public Library of America is coming

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Prototype of Digital Public Library of America to launch in Boston this month

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Iowa City library begins digital history effort

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Fairfield County District Library to boast more items in online catalog through new deal

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Libraries to lend ebooks under new pilot scheme

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Philly Free Library Debuts Virtual Collection at Suburban Station

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New system at MHS Library to offer more selections

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Little Free Libraries

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Investing at the Library

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New library system highlights e-resources

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New Service Allows Mentor Public Library Patrons To Stream Indie Films

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Welcome to the Fox: best little library around

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New Illinois library system means more access for less money

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Free Wi-fi to be rolled out across West Sussex libraries

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Award just latest show of library’s excellence

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