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Is Your Library Remarkable?

Over the summer I was able to play catch-up on my reading list. Since I received my bachelors in business administration I find myself continuing to read non-fiction business books (go figure). One book I enjoyed was, “The Big Moo: Stop Trying to Be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable” edited by Seth Godin. Not only did this book inspire me but I could really relate it to the library community.

So, what am I getting at? Well, I’d like to announce a mini-blog series titled: The Purple Library. I just ordered my own copy of Seth’s book and thought I’d give some forewarning. If you want to follow along this is your notice to pull the title off the library shelf, go InnerLibrary Loan style, or purchase it. The choice is yours.

The posts will occur every Sunday, but will not begin until October 8th. The underlying goal of this project is to offer ideas to create anything but a run-of-the-mill library. In addition 100% of all author royalties goes to charities, including Room to Read.

Also, if your library is doing something remarkable, let me know. You may email me at: garretth [at] hotmail [dot] com.

Community vs. Contact Card

From my Library 2.0 Thoughts the other day I addressed in point #11 the following:

Have you created an online community? Is it so restricted that the flow of ideas between users is affected? It shouldn’t just be about the library connecting with the patron. It should be about connecting your patron with their niche community.

The University of Kentucky Libraries is currently in a hullabaloo over a recent decision from Facebook to disable their user account. Seems that the University had set up a user profile for the library, which is against Facebook policy. I give full props to the University for trying to connect with the community, but they went about it the wrong way. The library was merely connecting with the patron.

Facebook encouraged the library to instead form a group. Being a college student and avid Facebook user I couldn’t agree more. I don’t want to be friends with a library. I want to join a group where I can meet others that are library advocates like me.

If your library is trying to interact in a 2.0 environment take note that you need to form a community and not a contact card.

Library 2.0 Thoughts

What an adventure it is to explore the concepts of Library 2.0. When I started on this topic I had planned on giving a nice write up. As time went on I found myself scribbling down thoughts. All these ideas arose while reading, “What is Web 2.0” by Tim O’Reilly. I would love some feedback to any or all of these thoughts. Before you start reading think about your library and the services currently being offered.

  1. Are you using Interlibrary Loan to its full potential to fill the needs of your patrons? Do you allow patrons to easily request items?
  2. Do you know what book was the most popular at your library last year? Amazon knows what theirs was and can recommend 4 other books that you’d like as well, automatically.
  3. You are already serving a niche. Your community is different from every other library community, but then again how can you reach out to non-readers?
  4. Should public libraries of the future be more like community centers to reach those niches?
  5. Could I please have better search results? I want results to resemble an Amazon product page. This information IS useful:
    • Anonymous patron gave title A, 4 of 5 stars.
    • 98% of people that check out this book, also, checked out title B.
  6. I’d love to see a day where mini-barcode scanners (you know, like the price-checker at Wal-Mart) can display information on the book you scan as well as patron reviews, recommended reading, and location of recommended reads.
  7. Most Web 2.0 services are found by word of (digital) mouth. Is your new service worth talking about to anyone besides the professional library community?
  8. If you do have a great new service that can be shared and developed is it on Sourceforge?
  9. If trying to be like Amazon or Netflix, realize their success is in their community and the sharing of recommendations. Is your reference desk willing to allow users to recommend books?
  10. Users are what give a service its value. If a service is not being used it’s not Library 2.0, it’s a product/ technology that is there for the sake of saying you have it.
  11. Have you created an online community? Is it so restricted that the flow of ideas between users is affected? It shouldn’t just be about the library connecting with the patron. It should be about connecting your patron with their niche community.
  12. Can you think of 5 patrons that are always reading a book and love to tell you about them? Would you consider giving them a blog on your libraries website?
  13. Library 2.0 is about information. How can you gather and interpret data to make your library more aware of a user’s wants and needs?
  14. Amazon has an Internet Movie Database. Why haven’t libraries formed an Internet Book Database? And no, WorldCat doesn’t count. I want to see what’s upcoming, what readers have to say, what books have received awards, etc.
  15. Google constantly filters out spam and bad links. Is your library keeping up on inventories to make sure information is accurate?
  16. New organizations can easily create a 2.0 atmosphere since they don’t have old habits. If your library has old habits, it’s time to question everything.
  17. Flickr has built an amazing online community because it allows users to interact. How can you allow your patrons to interact without creating a privacy issue? And how do you reach those that don’t use and/or enjoy the Internet.
  18. I lived on a university campus that provided a community board where a question was posted each day, and students responded. What if you put a whiteboard up that reads, “What is your favorite book of all time and/ or this week”. Then pull the books listed nightly and create a perpetual display?
  19. I can’t spell. Why can’t all e-catalogs be like Google and have a “Did you mean” with the correct spelling?
  20. When you launch a service does it stay the same forever? Or is it is evaluated and improved continuously?

If you have gotten nothing else from this bits and pieces, let this final part influence you the most.

  • Library 2.0 is about constantly improving yourself, your institution, and the way you reach out to your users.

Library users are not going to change the system; they will seek other outlets and means of getting the information they need. Be like George!

And when you’re finished creating an exceptional user experience for your patrons, head over to gapingvoid for other pictures (like the one above).

LIS 6080: ISM (Part 2)

Since my first post on Internet Station Management (ISM) I received a mailing from Fortres Grand Corporation on their newest Time Limit Manager. The system promises:

  • Fair and appropriate use of public access computers
  • Easy allocation of computer time
  • A “reservation ticket system” to limit time
  • End sessions at library closing
  • No hardware or personnel needed

This, I was promised, could be mine for the low price of $25. Digging further I found that the $25 price tag was for a single license. Not so good if you have more than one computer in your library. Prices for 25 computers, the next option up, are $195.

Time Limit Manager seems like it would be a good option if you are looking to get patrons in and out quick. Once a ticket is handed out the patron only has the allotted time, even if nobody else is waiting. This is probably the greatest disadvantage. I was, also, concerned with the following quote:

Librarian’s can view screen shots, end sessions, and send messages reminding particular patrons of appropriate use.

While I realize you can see the same thing by walking past a computer, I felt like gaining screen shots could be an infringement of the user’s privacy. Then again, the feature doesn’t have to be used.

The main concern I have is figuring out who is supposed to receive passes. If your library requires that an “Internet Use Policy” be signed there is no way to keep track of this information with the system. Every time someone comes in they are given a different code to use. In short this software is not making it easier on the librarian or the patron.

Library Zen Wallpaper

Sick of the classic library logo.  The Library Zen logo was designed by Gonzalo Rodriguez with an emphasis on Library 2.0.  The logo challenge was posted on designpost.ca in a month long competition.

You will notice that it resembles the classic library logo but looks much better as you desktop wallpaper.  Provided in three different screen resolution flavors.

800 x 600 | 1024 x 7681280 x 1024

Library Stuff Welcomes Library Zen

I thought I was done posting for tonight but had to compliment Library Stuff on being on top of things.  Less then 2 hours after posting the launch of Library Zen, it was shown in the periodic “New To Me Librar* Blogs”.  Woah!  Thanks Steven and welcome fellow bloggers…

Link: New To Me Librar* Blogs, September 17th

Library Zen Launched!

Library Zen is finally here.  Technically, everything you see here has been up and running since the end of August.  So, why the delay in launching?  Well, there are a number of things I wanted to get out of the way before committing to this project of mine- namely, Grad School.

Nearly two weeks ago I began grad school at Wayne State University.  This consisted of making a few 3 hour drives to Detroit, waiting in lines, working on assignments, and reading text like there is no tomorrow.  This hasn’t stopped, especially the reading.  Now that I’m in the groove of things, I’m ready to do some blogging!

What I’m committing to, within my own schedule, is a weekly post on library issues.  That’s right; I PROMISE that every Sunday there will be some sort of news for you to see.  This isn’t saying that you won’t see extra bits during the week but on Sunday expect to see something.  The topics will range on a number of things, but with a focus on improving the library experience.

So, I end with a little intro into next week’s post: Library 2.0

On September 12th I attended a presentation by Rachel Singer Gordon.  The presentation was entitled, “Your 21st Century Library Career” and touched on the changes occurring in libraries.  Currently, the hot topic these days is Library 2.0.

Library 2.0 is the buzz word for changing to a user-centric form of service.  Since libraries depend on patrons to exist you’d think they’d be user-centric?  Sadly, this is not always the case.  I’ve seen, first hand, unnecessary hurdles that weren’t in the best interest of the patron.

On the other hand, I think there may be more buzz then necessary about Library 2.0.  Adapted from Web 2.0, there are numerous me 2.0’s.  In the end we need to make sure we put substance behind our product.

gapingvoid: Snake Oil 2.0

So, stay tuned next week.  While you wait read up on these Library 2.0 related links:


LIS 6080: ISM (Part 1)

With neat discussions already going on about chat reference, wiki’s, podcating, RFID and more deciding what to write about was a challenge for this LIS 6080 assignment.  So, I decided to turn to a project that I’ve been working on for the last few weeks at West Branch Public Library.  The challenge is one that a number of smaller libraries face and it is Internet Station Management (ISM).


Having a limited number of computer resources and keeping track of allotted patron time.


Because we are a smaller library (aka: lack technology funding) open source software was the only way to go.  While other companies such as Pharos Systems and EnvisionWare offer high end solutions it was a bit excessive (and expensive) for our library.  Grand Rapids Public Library, also, offers a very nice Internet Station Manager but requires a little more setup since it needs a server to run on.  Then there was Cybera an open source solution that could run in a windows environment on both client and server end.

Cybera was a little rough around the edges at first since it is being developed for Cyber Cafes, but was easily implement into our library in just 2 weeks!  I won’t go too in depth but to process consisted of:

  1. Manipulating our Internet user database to create usernames.
  2. Importing them into the Cybera database (uses Access).
  3. Installing the Cyber client on each Internet terminal.

Once Cybera was running on all the system we tossed out our “Internet Sign-In Sheet” which we used to keep track of a patrons time on a computer.   For first use with the patrons received their user name and password.  Then we were able to keep track of user time from the circulation monitor.  Notifying someone that they needed to relinquish their computer was an easy as pausing the session which gives a two minute warning.


  • Improved User Privacy (no more sign-in sheet)
  • Easier to distinguish whose time was up thus improving “wait time”
  • Denied access to patrons jumping on without signing in

ISM is a great way to handle resource constraints and relive staff from constantly monitoring whose time is up.  I highly recommend Cybera for the smaller libraries out there.


So Many Computers, So Little Time by Andrew Mutch and Karen Ventura is a great article on ISM, computer security and print management solutions.


Cybera: Staff Manual (.pdf) used at WBPL (added 2-16-2007)