Tag Archives: patron relationship management

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!

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.

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

Patron Relationship Management (PRM) – Mosio’s Future in Libraries

As we gear up for another ALA Annual the company has had some interesting discussions on new announcements and our directions in the world of library software.

A couple of weeks ago I had a great meeting/conversation with one of our partners and the discussion of library customer service came up. At the end of our partner meeting, someone said “we can give patrons access to all of the data in the world, but if we aren’t there for them from a customer service standpoint, it won’t matter.” Very true. Andy Woodworth’s blog post “Why Closing More Public Libraries Might Be the Best Thing (…Right Now)” [link below] came up in an internal company meeting, specifically his two points about customer service and advocacy (from the comments it seems the post got a lot of people talking).

The idea of improved customer service, whether at libraries or businesses in general, will continue to be a significant function of an organization’s success in the information age. Aaron Tay’s recent blog post about regularly scanning Twitter and the web for feedback is great (he gives some tips on how to do so) [link below], obviously taking a page from what many companies are doing as part of their customer service: listening to social media mentions for good and bad comments. Neither are the first to talk about the ongoing need for pro-active/reactive customer service in libraries, but both are current and relevant.

So what does this mean for Mosio and Text a Librarian?

We’re still very new to libraries and we LOVE working with them. Frankly, we’re just getting started. While we have friends who are librarians and have a handful of amazing people advising us, we’re not librarians ourselves, nor have we ever pretended to be. In many ways we see this as a distinct advantage to building our product: we cast aside any preconceived ideas of how things should be done and focus instead on simplicity, usability and feedback from our customers. We also know the inner workings of mobile technologies, enabling us to offer reliable (and certified) mobile services to libraries. We recently made an announcement that Mosio’s Text a Librarian is being used by over 500 academic and public libraries. It’s something we’re very proud to have accomplished in such a short amount of time, but we could not have done it without listening to the people who matter most to our success, the librarians who use our software with the benefit of communicating with more patrons on-the-go. The combination of our expertise and passion about creating an amazing library service will continue to be the keys to our ongoing success.

Text Messaging: It’s Not Just for Reference Anymore

In the same announcement we also mentioned that Mosio is now offering our full list of mobile services to libraries. Text messaging can be used for so many things beyond virtual reference and we’re set up to offer additional services to the benefit of our customers. We’re thrilled to be able to continue working with new and existing customers in offering technology solutions that will help us fulfill our vision for our library software: Patron Relationship Management.

Patron Relationship Management

We truly believe this is going to be one of the key tools libraries will need in the future to maintain great patron relationships and relevance in the community. Two comments we hear often are “I wish we could answer all patron questions this way” and “I wish everything could be in one place.” One of those comments we take as a compliment, the other we are taking seriously as a wish list item. Our goal for Text a Librarian was always to start simply, create web-based software that’s easy to use, reliable and certified by the mobile carriers, then grow additional features, elements and uses to continue giving more patrons access to libraries on their mobile phones. You can expect to see more from us in the mobile technology space, but every new product or service we add will have patron communications and relationship management in mind.


Andy Woodworth: Why Closing More Public Libraries Might Be the Best Thing (…Right Now)
Aaron Tay: Why libraries should proactively scan Twitter & the web for feedback – some examples
LISWire: Mosio’s Text a Librarian in Over 500 Libraries, Announces Add-On Mobile Services