Tag Archives: PRM

7 Things Library Customers Want NOW | Customer Service and Library Patrons

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7 Things Library Customers Want NOW

What attracts library customers to today’s libraries? The rise of mobile culture and the smart phone society brings a dynamic shift in expectations about how, when, and where to access information. Endless media streams, interactive news feeds, and autonomous research options provide numerous avenues for information-seeking customers. What factors draw their attention to the library, rather than a crowdsourced data channel, commercial service, or search engine?

1.    Convenience. Mobile customers use text messaging constantly and carry on multiple conversations concurrently. Libraries offering SMS services to manage reference, information, or patron relationships fit seamlessly into to this information exchange and can interact directly with the customers at the point of need.

2.    Community. Libraries serve an essential role as a leading provider of educational programs, local events, after school and family activities, and employment and business resource centers. Announcements, notifications, mailing lists, newsletters, and social media are effective options for community interaction, library marketing, and advocacy.

3.    Immediacy. Libraries partner with other libraries around the city, county, state, and country, and make use of these established networks to connect readers and researchers with necessary information. From integrated request systems to on-site kiosks, libraries support patron self-service, both inside and outside of library buildings.

4.    Accuracy. Librarians deliver experienced, trained, and intuitive support to readers and researchers seeking specific content. Rich collections are enhanced by a curator’s historical knowledge, detailed research questions are handled by subject specialists, and so on. Library services delivered via IM (instant messaging), allow librarians to handle complete questions while providing direct access to supporting documentation and online resources.

5.    Customization. Once accurate content is identified, librarians provide expertise, synthesis, analysis, feedback, and references, without bias, in the context of the inquiry.

6.    Privacy. Libraries’ privacy practices are published and non-negotiable: private records are not made public, sold to advertisers, or shared with other agencies.

7.    Service. Regular library users recognize the value of direct support, local context, and personal attention. These strengths, built and enhanced through patron relationships, set outstanding libraries apart from the competition.

About the Author
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

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Getting More Patron Usage from your Text a Librarian Service | Best Practices from Mosio’s Text a Librarian

The video below is a recorded session discussing how we’re seeing libraries increase patron usage. Below is a transcript of the notes taken during the recording.


Increasing Patron Usage of your Text a Librarian Service:


Get patrons to register their phones.


The following conversation took place late in the evening as part of a podcast test run…


We decided to keep it as is.


Best practices for increasing Text a Librarian usage among patrons.


Your cell phone is your database of contacts.


No one remembers phone numbers anymore.


If someone’s number isn’t in your phone, they’re not an active part your world.


Even voting on American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance requires you to “remember later.”


The goal isn’t about marketing or promoting your service, it’s about registering patron phones.


Simply put:
Your library’s contact info needs to be on their phone.


Academic libraries have shown us the best practice for getting patrons to use their text a librarian service.


Text for Instructions is the best way to get patrons to register their phones.


Text KEYWORD to 66746.
(Except use your library’s keyword)


Text for Instructions presents the patron with a different experience.

It gives them a specific call to action right NOW.

With your info in their phone, they’ll have it when they are out in the world.


Focus on getting them to text in the first time – register their phones.


It doesn’t hurt to remind them regularly too (text message alerts are great for that).


All promotional materials and instructions should have that “TRY IT NOW!” call to action.


Libraries are getting this and putting it into practice, with success!


Everyone is texting, encourage them to text with you.

Research shows they prefer it over a phone call.


Academic Libraries have a different opportunity with orientation.


Public Libraries can do it at various times where they have the attention of groups of people.


Open Houses

Text for Instructions works!
It educates patrons on how to begin asking questions…


it is also great for having patrons sign up to receive alerts and announcements.


1) Get Patrons to Register their phones.

2) Use Text for Instructions to do it.

3) Remind them whenever possible.


Mosio’s Text a Librarian


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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/

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