Tag Archives: Lisa Carlucci Thomas

Patron Support Tips: Technology Learning As Process

Technology Learning As Process


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).

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.

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




Audacity & Innovation: Taking Risks and Shaking Things Up [Library Technology Tips]

Audacity & Innovation: Taking Risks and Shaking Things Up

This was originally post in our Patron Support Tips Newsletter. Sign up for free!

Flipping through Wired magazine recently, I read “How to Spot the Future,” a brief and informative look at how to recognize innovative, game-changing, technology trends.

Audacity, the willingness to take risks, chance failure, and shake up the status quo, is too frequently discouraged in library organizations in favor of sticking with the routine of how things have “always” been done, resulting in frustrated innovators and great ideas killed by committee, or worse, outdated services,  lost customers, bored staff, and mobbing. By contrast, an organization that champions creative endeavors reaps the rewards; flexible and adaptable libraries and librarians demonstrate audacity each time a pilot project is launched, a community partnership is made, or a product change requires rapidly and seamlessly implementing new tech.

Competing trends, conflicting priorities, calculated risk, and audacious innovation drive creative development in all markets. Libraries that deliver outstanding services cultivate a culture of yes, with a commitment to try, evaluate, and refine. If this sounds like a “lean library” build-measure-learn cycle, you’ve done your homework.

While audacity sparks the fire, the right environment and an ordered feedback loop maintain the flame. So what’s to prevent it from burning down the forest… or library? Just as you wouldn’t “argue with the guy who invented the computer” – you wouldn’t build a campfire without a strategy for managing growth and a succession plan for when the fire goes out and people are hungry.

Likewise with innovative projects, services, and technology. Our budgets and resources are finite; thus, any new technologies introduced must be effective, easy to learn, affordable, and reliable.  In particular, critical technologies supporting core services must be scalable, multi-functional, and offer added value in order to be worthwhile candidates for adoption. As more libraries turn to SAAS, PAAS, and IAAS solutions, look for those with a suite of services all in one, from vendors that provide transparent pricing, responsive customer support, and quality references. A trusted platform and consistent vendor relationship promotes growth, iterative training and development, and opportunities for customization.

Lisa Carlucci Thomas is the Director and Founder of Design Think Do, providing innovation and technology consulting to libraries, publishers, and information partners. Follow Lisa on Twitter @lisacarlucci

For more information about you can reach more patrons efficiently using Mosio’s Text a Librarian or to sign up for a free webinar, visit http://www.textalibrarian.com

Fill out my online form.

4 Fresh Themes to Market Text Message Reference | Patron Support Tips

Free Patron Support Tips via Email – Sign up!

4 Fresh Themes to Market Text Message Reference

Lisa Carlucci Thomas

There’s been a noticeable trend shift in the past year: mobile is coming of age. More and more people are upgrading feature phones to smartphones, apps and mobile web sites are increasingly available and sophisticated; and emerging research about mobile behavior provides deeper insight into the how, when, and why of mobile interaction.

In libraries, text message reference consistently provides real-time, expert support at the point of need. As the mobile community continues to grow and mature, it’s essential to reach out to customers and be sure they know how, when, and why to use your library’s text message reference service.

In the recent Pew Internet study, Just-in-time Information through Mobile Connections , “70% of all cell phone owners and 86% of smartphone owners” sought “just in time” information via mobile communications over a 30 day period.  Among the objectives cited:

  • To solve an unexpected problem
  • Find information to help settle an argument
  • Obtain real-time traffic or public transit information
  • Get help (in an emergency situation)

Reference librarians receive these types of inquiries daily; why not more by text message? With the back to school rush right around the corner, now’s the time to revitalize your text message marketing to focus on the just in time behavior of mobile customers in 2012.

Need inspiration? Take a look at these retro library posters, then design your own based on the Pew findings. Tweet your designs to @textalibrarian & @lisacarlucci to be featured!

4 Fresh Themes to Market Text Message Reference:
SOLVE A PROBLEM | Text A Librarian
GET HELP | Text A Librarian
Lisa Carlucci Thomas is the Director and Founder of Design Think Do, providing innovation and technology consulting to libraries, publishers, and information partners. Follow Lisa on Twitter @lisacarlucci

RETRO POSTER - In the Library

6 Steps to Change Up Chat Reference | Virtual Reference Software Tips

Free Patron Support Tips via Email – Sign up!

When it comes to virtual services, chat reference provides a quick, reliable, and direct way to answer questions and resolve problems. The benefits are numerous: librarians can perform an efficient reference interview, quotes and links can be exchanged seamlessly between participants, conversations can be archived by the customer (especially helpful for complex information that they’ll need again), and most of all, it’s naturally conversational, just like an in-person or telephone inquiry. Chat reference is an essential part of the suite of information services offered by libraries, and until this week, many libraries relied on Meebo to provide an easy, cost-effective, widget-based virtual reference solution. However, after over five years as a leading chat reference platform, Meebo’s messenger product closed shop this week for good. When news of Meebo’s acquisition by Google hit the presses in early June, the library community mobilized to identify alternative products to sustain existing chat reference services. Popular choices include: Mosio’s Text a Librarian, Springshare’s LibChat, ZohoChat, and LibraryH3lp.

Change is constant in the tech market, and likewise in libraries, as we utilize information and communications technologies to deliver top-quality service to our customers. So what better way to embrace the transition from an outgoing product, like Meebo’s, to a shiny new chat reference tool, like Mosio’s? It’s time to change up chat reference and make it your star service once again.

1. Refresh & Redesign
New product? New marketing! Refresh existing flyers, have a contest to come up with a new slogan or logo, update posters, newsletters, and digital marketing, and get the word out about the new product. Share the excitement with your community and don’t hesitate to let them know that you’re learning through the transition.

2. Document & Share
Whether you maintain print training manuals, cheat sheets, wikis, intranet pages, Libguides, or another type of internal documentation at your library, be sure that everyone gets to see it. Better yet, post the documentation online and share via Creative Commons license.

3. Assign an Ambassador
A local ambassador talks with colleagues on site and beyond about the new product, rounds up best practices, and tunes into conversations via Twitter and social media channels about how to optimize use at your library.

4. Clean House
Out with the old! Discard any documents, guides, coding, references, flyers, handouts, footers or memos referring to the old tool. Don’t forget to check info racks, bathrooms, bulletin boards, local community centers, and all around campus.

5. Plan Ahead
Start a file with a review of what worked with the outgoing product and what you like about the new product. Make a wish list of features you’d like to see included in future products. And as new products hit the market, keep note of them in the file for the next time things change.

6. Throw a Change Party
New tech keeps us nimble and learning and keeps our libraries current and engaged with community needs. Celebrate! Make the change; mark the accomplishment.

Lisa Carlucci Thomas is the Director and Founder of Design Think Do, providing innovation and technology consulting to libraries, publishers, and information partners. Follow Lisa on Twitter @lisacarlucci

Learn more about Mosio’s Text a librarian

Library Thought Leaders Q&A: Lisa Carlucci Thomas

Today’s Library Thought Leader is Lisa Carlucci Thomas, Director of design think do.

We have been exploring the idea of “Patron Relationship Management” (PRM) and it is the theme of this Q&A series. What areas of PRM are you seeing where libraries can benefit the most? What roles can mobile technologies play?
Libraries employ a variety of methods to establish and maintain quality service relationships with customers. Defining a patron relationship management (PRM) strategy ensures that library services align with the vision and goals of the institution and sets the standard for service consistency. As emerging information technologies have driven demand for new library communication channels, we’ve seen increased interest in the use of mobile and social tools to promote interactivity, expand outreach, market programs, and enhance the library service experience across digital platforms, and in our physical spaces, too. PRM tools offer integrated solutions to help libraries identify needs and priorities, obtain and assess feedback, and strengthen customer relationships.

While all libraries strive to deliver timely, effective, and seamless service to their users, many operate with minimal staffing and limited financial resources, which inhibit opportunities to take even modestly innovative risks. When you factor in the steady technological advancements of the last five years alone, combined with the outstanding cultural shift taking place in the way we collectively communicate and interact with information, what’s needed now and what’s realistic for libraries to implement right way become very different conversations. Meanwhile, patron expectations continue to evolve, and mobile users seeking mobile access to library services and collections expect to find what they need readily available. What they’re actually finding ranges from splendidly concise library mobile websites and mobile searchable catalogs to advanced and complex apps; from straightforward SMS reference services to mobile-social communities via Facebook and Twitter; from value-added mobile services (QR codes, augmented reality, place-based digital collections, research guides, and more) to no mobile services at all. How do you prioritize services and engage users across the spectrum of mobile interest? Early adopters are now adept at navigating the mobile information experience, and fledgling users expect those delivering the information to anticipate their needs.

Patron relationship management via text messaging supports mobile users at all levels of engagement by promoting direct, responsive, communication, and allows libraries to address and assess mobile information needs of their unique customer base. Mobile PRM expands the SMS reference concept to combine marketing, outreach, and interactivity to meet a broader need for information services beyond the reference inquiry. A study of the Text a Librarian statistics at Southern Connecticut State University, where I implemented and managed SMS reference from 2010-2011, determined a 60/40 split between reference and non-reference mobile interactions. As more libraries provide mobile offerings, including patron self-service features, mobile payments, room reservations and program registrations, and access to ebooks and digital collections, expect non-reference communications from mobile users to increase.

Social media is such a hot button topic for libraries as well as companies in CRM (Customer Relationship Management). How do you respond to libraries that say “Ok, we have a Facebook Page and a Twitter account. Now what?
Consider how these accounts support the communications and PRM strategy of the organization. Actually, this should be part of the first step, along with determining the name and brand that will be used to represent the organization. If you have the accounts already, make the time to have these discussions retrospectively. Document the organization’s social media objectives and priorities. Include a flexible structure and expect it to evolve. Train staff in social media norms and culture, functional use of the technology, and how and which channels to use for different types of content, and why. Staff the position like any public service. It’s not enough to simply monitor accounts; social media is proactive and interactive. Connect with others and build a network; this is your audience and community. Publish regular content, communicate with and respond to users, set goals, and track and assess progress. Who in the organization will be responsible for delivering timely, informed, interesting, valuable content on a regular basis? If multiple staff members will participate, who will manage the service and ensure consistency? Who will answer incoming questions across the organization’s social media channels and adequately and appropriately represent the organization’s vision and values? Who will manage analytics and report on statistics? Who will determine what content will be archived and how? Social media offers short-term, immediate engagement opportunities which can have long-term effect on consumer interest and loyalty. The advantages are high; the barrier to entry, generally, low. Libraries and organizations can work with partners, peers, and firms like design think do to establish an action plan for implementing and assessing communications, marketing, and PRM strategies via social media.

What is the most innovative new technology you’ve seen or heard about? Is there a way libraries can and should utilize it?
Mobile technologies, and related developments in the mobile-social information environment, are a driving force for innovation today. It’s difficult to pick just one aspect of mobile tech and call it “the most innovative” especially since we’re in a time of constant development, advancement, and growth, and mobile culture has widespread, cross-industry implications. Smart phones, such as iPhone and Android devices, multi-functional e-readers and tablet devices, such as the iPad, B&N Nook, and Kindle Fire are all being used to search, access, store, create, organize and interact with information. This is all still new technology to many of us; and even for the mobile-proficient, next generation devices and new applications with increased functionality and complexity continue to vex and inspire. Furthermore, expanding public interest in mobile services, including access to e-books and digital content, is fueling controversy related to digital publication, distribution, and licensing, for libraries, publishers, vendors, and organizations of all types. Libraries can and should utilize mobile technologies within the context of their organizational priorities and community needs. At minimum, librarians should actively learn about the changes that are taking place in the mobile sphere and consider how mobile technologies, social media, PRM and related innovations fit the goals and objectives of their libraries.

Thanks so much for your time! In closing, what are some great resources (along with contacting you, of course) for libraries looking to improve patron experiences and service?
Selected resources on mobile libraries, mobile culture, and patron self- service:

About Lisa:
Lisa Carlucci Thomas is a nationally recognized librarian and author known for her leadership, innovation, and research on mobile and social technologies. Her expertise includes ebooks, mobile libraries, social media, and technology trends and training. Lisa is the Director of design think do, providing custom creative services and innovation consulting for libraries and information organizations interested in mobile culture and services, ebook workflows and licensing, new media, and professional development programs. Lisa’s recent projects include the Library Journal Virtual Tech Summit: Power to the Patron: From Systems to Services and the Connecticut Library Consortium’s “Trendspotting 2011: eBooks: Collections at the Crossroads” symposium. Lisa is a 2010 Library Journal Mover & Shaker  and 2009 ALA Emerging Leader. She previously managed library systems and digital initiatives at Southern Connecticut State University, and access services and digital collections at the Yale University Library. She writes the Social Eyes column for the Journal of Web Librarianship.

Lisa Carlucci Thomas
twitter: @lisacarlucci

Director, design think do
twitter: @designthinkdo

Do you know a library thought leader (maybe you?) who’d be great for our Q&A series? Contact us! We look forward to hearing from you.