Not this: Generalities peppered with a few examples. But this: Examine a couple of very successful library technology services How did they happen? What role did PR play? What can be concluded from these instances?
Flatbed scanner with book edge Single-pass, doubled-sided PDF, Word, JPEG, etc. USB, G-Docs, email
These technologies have been around for awhile Real adoption and diffusion is much more interesting than cutting edge tech
Neither of these info tech successes are Cutting Edge Technologies
Collaboration Stations Scanning Stations Vendor demo Vendor contact Frustration over price Vendor demo Local offer to build Friends discussion Specs and design Temp location Furniture selection Staff orientation Location selection Furniture selection PR blitz Permanent location Fortnight of high anxiety Soft launch mid- 6 more added within yr. semester Added another soon
Obvious needs Built and improved upon known user behavior Tied to current pedagogical styles and curricular goals Easy to use with obvious benefits Located thoughtfully within the library Good promotion, with help from users
Doug Smith, Classroom Technology Support Years of experience Both a thinker/visionary and a builder Maintains current knowledge about Tech Cost conscious An keen eye for durability and the point of quickest failure or obsolescence
Inexpensive Design and construction team is nearby and easy to contact However, you literally are a guinea pig as they work through various iterations of their design
Mathews, Brian. 2012. “The Library is [Just] a Philosophy (it’s not about chairs)” Chronicle of Higher Education (June 19). Available at http://bit.ly/LJ2YQ0 The library is a belief system, an application of a philosophy translated into a tangible form. Space should be designed for intentions, not for users. What do the chairs enable users to do?
Figure out the why before you figure out the what and how. It takes a lot of villages and neighborhoods [i.e., use/experience zones] to make a library. What are the intentions of the library? Academic Support? Preservation? Knowledge Creation? Instruction?
“…consider the best means formaking those intentions tangible,rather than just the current means.”
The phrase appeals to our lack of PR prowess. It’s generally false, especially when it comes to library information technology.
Website Twitter Facebook Student Newspaper Alumni Magazine Banners on the actual tables PowerPoint slide show on one of the screens Offers made to groups working on projects Word of mouth
Free Easy to Use Green (not stressed) Simplify the choices Thank you, Friends
“Word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful form of marketing these days. And, libraries can afford it.” Don’t wait for word-of-mouth marketing to just happen. Encourage people to tell their friends. Peggy Barber (June 23, 2012) at a session of the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim CA
Does computer tech need any promotion? Aren’t most library users enthralled by info tech?
No, Technology Services Requiresome Planning, Thought, Study,and Imagination
How do you imagine each service being used? Think like a potential user. What will be the benefits for them? How will this tech service improve their information lives?
Some students just like the collaboration station furniture. They ignore the tech. One student used a station for several hours alone, because he had dropped his laptop and the screen had cracked.
Locate the service where users can find it.Locate the service where users will like using it. Collaboration Stations in the large, open study areas within the library ▪ Collaboration Station in a group study room isn’t used as much (but users asked for it!) Scanning Stations in “Copier Row” – a high-traffic area on the main floor
9 out of 10 users are actively using portable devices (laptops and/or phones, mainly) Lots of small-group work with two or more laptops open and being shared Lots of people making paper-to-paper copies
…neither of these highly successfullibrary tech services was suggestedor requested by users.
More Specifically: When asked, people have a hard time imagining and articulating what they want. Crisis of Imagination in Librarianship? When presented with something useful, people will use it.
Risk management concerns about anonymous emailing from the scanning stations Systems concerns about ongoing support Apple dongles for the collaboration stations left everyone dazed and confused Rapid roll-out and mid-semester deployment concerned some librarians
When a tech servicebecomes successfuland breaks awayfrom the servicepack, the rest of thepack tries to elbow itback into the pack.
They say: If we offer a scanning station as a free service, our photocopying revenue will decline. I respond: Scanning stations are desired by users, are much easier and cheaper to operate, are greener, etc.
Don’t refuse to innovate because it might harm existing revenue streams. Don’t do it! That way lies madness and obsolescence (Pass the hat)
7 collaboration stations added in one academic year for less than the price of a single vendor-supplied station Too soon to tell about any decline of photocopying (and that revenue rivulet)
When possible, construct with local talent and materials Just do it A wildly popular service trumps frugal fiscal management
Now expected by most library users. One of the most heavily used library services Biggest challenge: Avoiding negative PR when the wireless network teeters
Because good wireless access is now just assumed, the only PR possible with wireless is now negative PR Poor coverage Limited capacity Device problems User ignorance Often never gets reported to librarians What halo effect does this negative PR have?
We should have promoted the heck out of the scanning stations when we first deployed them Perils of a Soft Launch: Confuses and angers users (Why didn’t the library tell us about this great service sooner?) Confuses and sends mixed msg to library workers (soft launch = tepid commitment)
Probably never will beNo black rotary phoneera on the horizonRemember Mathews’Villages andNeighborhoods
Launch and promote Then watch and learn Then modify/expand as appropriate Be happy with success Lather, Rinse, and Repeat
Tom Peters Today: Assistant Dean for Strategic Technology Initiatives, Milner Library, Illinois State University As of Aug. 1: Dean of Library Services, Missouri State University Phone (probably until I die) 309-660-3648 Email firstname.lastname@example.org