EXPECT MORE: The Library Story
Thursday May 15, 2014
Los Angeles Public Library
Stephen Abram, MLS
Stop the Insanity
Tech is a tool
Tech is an opportunity
Innovation involves risk
The biggest risk is not taking any.
Stop Having and Engaging in BS Discussions
• Libraries are more relevant than ever
• We have no good reason to be on the defence
• Reading is UP
• E-Books aren’t replacing p-Books - the dynamic is a new hybrid
• E-Books have benefits that p-Books don’t
• Librarians are being hired and doing well
• Change is our tradition
• This new normal requires specialized professionals like us.
Comprehensive Digital Strategies: More than just Content!
Digital is more complicated than Print.
Biggest Issue: Getting Lost in the Reeds
Understand the difference
between Search and Find
• Roy Tennant and I have been saying for years: “Users want to find not
• Librarians enjoy the challenge of search and try to create mini-
• Information literacy is different than contextual information fluency.
•The user experience is mostly “elsewhere”.
• Learning, research and decision-making processes trump search.
Understand the difference between
the roles of discovery services and
• Search is the identification of potential objects to read or view in
either a known item retrieval scenario or – more importantly – an
immersion environment where choices are made.
• Until recently, we handled immersion environments in the context of
defined subsets of content (a single database or small group).
• Discovery services are one step before search – the identification and
discovery of the resources (databases) that are worth searching.
The Field Mapping Failure
And the Algorithm Understanding Failure
The power of algorithm is
in the target user needs,
the institutional needs,
and the behavioral history
. . . Not the underlying
Are there any real national
initiatives to understand
and differentiate library
end user behaviors from
constructs? (yes but …)
Get the naming and labeling right
• Vendors must develop unique names and brands for their services to meet
positioning, marketing and sales needs to you.
• There is no need for you to fall in line and pass through these names – or
worse try to train end users to know hundreds of them!
• Can anyone defend using these titles to be the single most important label
for end users? MLA, Scopus, Compendex, ABI/Inform . . .?
• Honestly! The needs of trademark law don’t match the needs of users to
Are you using numbers strategically?
• Statistics versus measurements
• Satisfaction and Impact
• Visual versus data
• Stories build on data springboards
• Are your numbers showing customer satisfaction or just
• Do you trust your numbers (It’s easy to mess with an
interface and increase hits or whatever statistics you’re
• How can the vendor help your numbers issues and insights?
• Value of Your Time
• Value of Their Time
Until lions learn to write their own story,
the story will always be from the perspective
of the hunter not the hunted.
Library Advocacy: The Lion's Story
• Are you framing your library's story well?
• Are you sharing measurements about your impact, or still beating the
drum of raw statistics that show funders where to cut?
• Are you using great gift of social media to engage and get your
• Has your library's marketing and communication plan stepped up to
the 21st Century?
• Are we ready for advanced data mining of our websites, circulation
and membership records?
• Are you ready for the reach beyond outreach?
• What are the skills and competencies that library teams need?
First . . .
Let’s stop using the word advocacy
Let’s discuss influence and being
influential . . .
Second . . .
Let’s start using verbs to describe
ourselves in the context(s) of our
members, audiences and
Third . . .
Learn and use the language of
benefits – not features, functions
Fourth . . .
Let’s build on our legacy of trust
and respect and our foundation of
collections and places to shine
Fifth . . .
Let’s emphasize the humans that
make the magic happen . . . Library
Librarian and Staff Magic Should Not be Invisible
Cookbooks, Chefs . . .
Cookbooks, Chefs . . .
Sixth . . .
Let’s focus on VALUE, IMPACT, and
What’s the music and magic you hear?
Are you locked into library
What about value and
Or shall we stick with this?
It’s the stories that happen inside
your library that matter . . . Not just
the ones you have on the shelves.
Tell those stories
Encourage the heart . . .
Better yet . . . Collect the stories in
your users’ voices
The signs . . . There’s always another view…
Being a ‘real’ professional
Personal and Institutional Impact:
Strategies and Tactics
Let’s talk . . .
Why is the staff invisible on your virtual presence?
Are we a culture of poverty?
Do You Feel Poor?
Important Strategic Questions for Priority Setting
1. What are your top questions?
2. What does your community need?
3. Who are your engaged users?
4. Who isn’t using the library who should?
5. Why do we read? Why do we ask questions? What’s the
impact of learning?
6. What are the key success factors (KSF) of your library?
Important Strategic Issues
1. Investing for success
2. Strategic budgeting
3. Developing a culture of controlled risk
4. Learning to de-invest, sacrifice, stop, and grow.
5. “A library is a growing organism.”
Record your Story Hours
YouTube Your Story Hours
Tie in to collection
• Children’s Health
• Continuing Education
Moms and Caregivers Social Glue
Teddy Bears, PJ’s, Pets, Toys
How do you find kids’ books?
3D is 4D
STEM vs. STEAM
Changing Life Arcs
And so much more…
Douglas County and Colorado Models
Lulu, Amazon Singles, Self-publishing
Fifty Shades of Grey
This is an economic activity
Hand-knitting Sweaters or an Industrial Revolution for libraries
Consider scalability and replicability
Cooperation on a massive scale
Mobility of programming
Thinking big – over 1000 attendees or 30?
Mobile staff talent
Top Questions Pattern
Common Core Curriculum
Websites and e-mail
Vimeo / YouTube / Vine
Stephen Abram, MLS, FSLA
Consultant, Dysart & Jones/Lighthouse Consulting
Stephen’s Lighthouse Blog
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LinkedIn: Stephen Abram