Rethinking reference


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Explaining three projects to "rethink" reference services offered by public libraries.

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  • This is actually three intertwined projects
  • Dewey is by librarians and for librarians
  • Last two bullets = 20-40% of the ref collection
  • This is all based on Steve Butzel’s mobile website for the Portsmouth Public Library, which in turn was built on NYPL
  • I don’t have a cell phone
  • The gap between these two is becoming smaller
  • Don’t replicate your entire website – just the content mobile patrons want
  • ASK US Need to include link to 24x7 chat reference service
  • AVERAGE ~20/day
  • Lots of ways to do this – using flickr for access to photo/postcard collections Vendors (like Gale) doing this with selling ebook versions of print reference
  • 10 months
  • Rethinking reference

    1. 1. If You Can’t Change The Patron, Change The Library Brian Herzog, Chelmsford (MA) Public Library
    2. 2. What I’m Not… <ul><li>… A Good Public Speaker </li></ul>
    3. 3. What I’m Not… <ul><li>… A Cheerleader </li></ul>
    4. 4. Ways to Rethink Reference <ul><li>Virtual Chat Reference </li></ul><ul><li>Roving Reference (inside and outside the library) </li></ul><ul><li>Technology Help Desk </li></ul><ul><li>Other ideas? </li></ul>
    5. 5. What We’re Doing <ul><li>Revamp Collection & Repurpose Use of Floor Space </li></ul><ul><li>Mobilize the Library Website </li></ul><ul><li>Improve Remote Access to Traditional Tools </li></ul>
    6. 6. <ul><li>Revamp Collection & Repurpose Use of Floor Space </li></ul>Rethinking Reference – Part 1
    7. 7. Before Photos
    8. 8. Before Photos
    9. 9. Before Photos
    10. 10. <ul><li>Problem #1: </li></ul><ul><li>Underutilization of Reference Collection </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Have to check both Ref and Non-Fiction collections for a single topic (and Oversize!) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No one wants to use books they can’t take home </li></ul></ul></ul>Revamp & Repurpose
    11. 11. <ul><li>Problem #2: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Drawbacks of Dewey for Non-Fiction Collection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Linear Shelving = Crowded Stacks </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Dewey is great for organization, not great for access – examples: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Career” books could be in 331.702 or 650.1 </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Home Improvement” could be in 620's, 640's, 680-690's, 720’s or 740's </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>Revamp & Repurpose
    12. 12. <ul><li>Problem #3: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not Enough Study Rooms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Never enough quiet study spaces or places for groups to work </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>We had tutors fighting over who reserved our one study room </li></ul></ul></ul>Revamp & Repurpose
    13. 13. <ul><li>Our Goals: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interfile & Circulate Reference and Non-Fiction Collections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Highlight Popular Non-Fiction Subjects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Build More Study Rooms </li></ul></ul>Revamp & Repurpose
    14. 14. <ul><li>Process for Interfiling & Circulating Reference Collection </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Weed ~50% of the Ref Collection (and some non-fiction too) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify those items that need to stay in the building, make them Ready Ref </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Circ for 3 weeks anything possible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Circ for 1 week everything else (they are also non-requestable and non-renewable) </li></ul></ul>Revamp & Repurpose
    15. 15. <ul><ul><li>Highlight Popular Non-Fiction Subjects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To make room in the Non-Fiction stacks, pull out popular subjects that can be stand-alone collections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use subject stickers and signs on tables to identify collection </li></ul></ul>Revamp & Repurpose
    16. 16. <ul><ul><li>Highlight Popular Non-Fiction Subjects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Purchase three “index tables” to make popular collections more accessible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>These went where Ref Stacks used to be </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Each table has shelves, table space, and one chair </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Provides extra seating even if those books aren’t being used </li></ul></ul></ul>Revamp & Repurpose
    17. 17. <ul><ul><li>Build More Study Rooms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Town employees and hired contractor build three new small study rooms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Big enough for two people (8’x8’) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Work counter instead of table saved space </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>All have AC plugs, ethernet jack, and clock </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>All have floor-to-ceiling window </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get rid of entire magazine archive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Underused, most available in databases </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Kept archive of Consumer Reports and Nat. Geo. </li></ul></ul></ul>Revamp & Repurpose
    18. 18. After Photos
    19. 19. After Photos
    20. 20. After Photos
    21. 21. After Photos
    22. 22. Before & After Photos Before After
    23. 23. Revamp & Repurpose New Study Rooms Built
    24. 24. <ul><ul><li>What We Learned Later </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Staff was reluctant to weed Reference, but no one missed what we deleted </li></ul><ul><li>Not one person has asked about magazines </li></ul><ul><li>Patrons understand the 7-Day Loan stickers </li></ul><ul><li>You will have construction delays </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But be there when the building happens </li></ul></ul>Revamp & Repurpose
    25. 25. <ul><ul><li>What We Learned Later </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Study rooms needed more sound insulation </li></ul><ul><li>Clocks tick too loudly </li></ul><ul><li>Subject tables need better signage </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Compromise between aesthetics and function </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Dividing the collection isn’t always intuitive </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Struggle with Education and Career books </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Atlases don’t fit on shelves, but did in OS </li></ul></ul></ul>Revamp & Repurpose
    26. 26. <ul><ul><li>Project Costs: $23,515 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Construction (walls/windows): $16,580 </li></ul><ul><li>Study tables (3): $4,295 </li></ul><ul><li>Chairs (10): $2,061 ($200/chair!) </li></ul><ul><li>Data computer lines: $309 </li></ul><ul><li>Signage: $270 </li></ul><ul><li>Town employees did electrical/lighting </li></ul>Revamp & Repurpose
    27. 27. <ul><li>Mobile the Library Website </li></ul>Rethinking Reference – Part 2
    28. 28. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li>Who needs a mobile website? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It’s not up to us </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(I don’t even have a cell phone) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ask your patrons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Review your website logs </li></ul></ul>
    29. 29. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li>Mobile Options: App vs. Mobile Web </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile App: a self-contained application downloaded and installed on a mobile phone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile Web: a website specifically designed for the small screen of a mobile phone’s web browser </li></ul></ul>
    30. 30. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li>Mobile App </li></ul>Pros? Cons? Looks and sounds cool! Are you cool enough to support it? Easy-access icon on main screen Patrons must find and install it – and it must work with their (meaning every!) phone You can build it yourself Takes “advanced programming skills” (C, C#, C++, Objective-C, Java, etc.) You can buy one/hire someone to create it Takes money
    31. 31. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li>Boopsie </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Complete catalog plus static info (hours, contact info…) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Works on any phone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expensive(ish) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Customers: Seattle, San Jose, Notre Dame, WorldCat </li></ul></ul><ul><li>LibraryAnywhere (from LibraryThing) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Complete catalog plus static info (hours, contact info…) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Works on some phones, more on the way </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Less expensive than Boopsie </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Customers: LoC, Concord (NH), Boston University </li></ul></ul>
    32. 32. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li>Mobile Web </li></ul>Pros? Cons? Gets library into the mobile world quickly Can’t say, “we have an app!” Works on any phone with a browser Patrons must remember to look for you Easy to update content Your catalog still might suck You can build it yourself Might look like you built it yourself You can buy one/hire someone to create it Takes money
    33. 33. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li>Design to Accommodate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Canton (MI) Public Library ( </li></ul></ul><ul><li>One-Pager ( </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Developed by Aaron Schmidt and Amanda Etches-Johnson </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Specifically developed to be easy for mobile patrons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Totally free to libraries - they’ll even help get it working </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Find a Mobile Theme </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For you WordPress/Drupal/Joomla/etc. people </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Build Your Own </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Here’s what I did… </li></ul></ul>
    34. 34. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>What you can’t see </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Catalog search box </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Link to full website </li></ul></ul>
    35. 35. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li>It’s just a little website! </li></ul>
    36. 36. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li>Remember: Design for Use </li></ul><ul><li>Big buttons </li></ul><ul><li>Big fonts </li></ul><ul><li>Clear text </li></ul>
    37. 37. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li>Design for Use Scenarios </li></ul><ul><ul><li>… getting out of work, need to know how late the library is open </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… coming to a program and wants to know when it starts and how to get there </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… in a bookstore and sees a book they want to read </li></ul></ul>
    38. 38. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li>Include for all branches </li></ul><ul><li>Link to Google Maps </li></ul><ul><li>Click-to-call phone numbers </li></ul><ul><ul><li><a href=&quot;tel:9782565521&quot;>+1 978-256-5521</a> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li><a href=&quot;wtai://wp/mc;9782565521&quot;>+1 978-256-5521</a> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>+1 978-256-5521 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Click to email </li></ul><ul><ul><li><a href=&quot;;></a> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Hours – as clearly as possible </li></ul>
    39. 39. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li>Events are pulled from our main calendar via RSS feed </li></ul><ul><li>Using to format and provide embeddable code </li></ul><ul><li>Showing only events for next seven days </li></ul>
    40. 40. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li>Form to ask question </li></ul><ul><li>Or suggest new feature for mobile site </li></ul><ul><li>Sends message as email to Reference Desk, just like web forms on full website </li></ul>
    41. 41. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li>Form to suggest a purchase </li></ul><ul><li>Subtle reminder to search catalog first </li></ul><ul><li>Ask them to provide Library Card Number, Title/Author/ISBN, and where they found it </li></ul>
    42. 42. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li>It might work, it might not </li></ul><ul><li>Biggest drawback of mobile website/biggest benefit of an app </li></ul><ul><li>When you’re shopping for a new ILS, ask about this </li></ul>
    43. 43. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li>Auto-Detect & Redirect </li></ul><ul><ul><li>CSS (like Canton Public Library) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Best method, but most takes the most work to implement </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Javascript </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Runs in patron’s browser, so not totally reliable </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PHP </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Runs on the server, so better than javascript </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul>
    44. 44. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li>But just in case… </li></ul>Failsafe Link
    45. 45. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li>Try your new mobile site on as many different devices as you can find </li></ul><ul><li>Online phone emulators </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Firefox User Agent Switcher </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
    46. 46. Mobilize the Library Website <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>What to look for </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Overall usage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Visitor location </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Devices used </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… all the usual stats </li></ul></ul>
    47. 47. Mobilize the Library Website
    48. 48. Mobilize the Library Website
    49. 49. Rethinking Reference – Part 3 <ul><li>Improve Remote Access to Traditional Tools </li></ul>
    50. 50. Rethinking Reference – Part 3 <ul><li>Create a microfilm obituary index </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Online and searchable – save patron & staff time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lots of volunteer hours, Microsoft Excel, and Yahoo Pipes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Two weekly papers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Chelmsford Newsweekly 1940-93 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Chelmsford Independent 1986- </li></ul></ul></ul>
    51. 51. Microfilm Obituary Index
    52. 52. Microfilm Obituary Index
    53. 53. Microfilm Obituary Index
    54. 54. Microfilm Obituary Index
    55. 55. Microfilm Obituary Index
    56. 56. Microfilm Obituary Index
    57. 57. Microfilm Obituary Index
    58. 58. Microfilm Obituary Index
    59. 59. Microfilm Obituary Index
    60. 60. THANK YOU [email_address] <ul><li>Brian Herzog, Chelmsford (MA) Public Library </li></ul>