Big Trends in Library Land:
Member Engagement or Books?
What's the Solution?
Thursday May 8, 2014
VTLS User Group
Stephen Abram, MLS
Comprehensive Digital Strategies: More than just Content!
Biggest Issue: Getting Lost in the Reeds
Digital is more complicated than Print.
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 . . .OPAC!?
• 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 using.)
• 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 technology
Let’s discuss experience and user
satisfaction . . .
Second . . .
Let’s start using verbs to describe
your service portfolio in the
context(s) of our members,
audiences and communities.
Third . . .
Let’s build on our legacy of trust
and respect and our foundation of
collections and places to shine
Fourth . . .
Let’s emphasize the humans that
make the magic happen . . . Library
Cookbooks, Chefs . . .
Cookbooks, Chefs . . .
Fifth . . .
Let’s focus on VALUE, IMPACT, and
What’s the music and magic you hear?
Are you locked into library
What about value and impact?
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
The signs . . . There’s always another
The Public Library Value Proposition
1. Excellent Return on Investment
2. Strong Economic Development
3. Great Employment Support
4. Welcoming New Canadians
5. Provable Early Literacy Development & school readiness
6. Ongoing Support for Formal Education and Homework Help
7. Serve the whole community equitably
8. Affordable access to community resources
9. Access to Government Services and e-government
10. Questions Deserve Quality Answers
11. Support Cultural Vitality
12. Recognized and Valued Leisure Activities for majority of Ontarians
13. Infrastructure Support (AODA and Buildings)
Being a ‘real’ professional
Personal and Institutional Impact:
Strategies and Tactics
Let’s talk . . .
Are we a culture of poverty?
Do You Feel Poor?
Let’s talk top tech trends . . . In context
• Cloud & TCO
• Mobile – mobile first and apps
• Data through Insight – Data Info Knowledge Behaviour
• SurveyMonkey and ForeSee
• Research: Pew, Market Probe, OPLDS, OMBI, etc.
• Experience Portals
• MOOCs, e-Learning, & more
• Measurements and Stories
Core Statistics (CLA Draft)
1. Service points and visits
2. Reference questions
3. Circulation (of particular item types)
4. Population served
5. E-resource holdings
6. Children’s membership and services
10. Total operating expenditures
Core Measurements (FOPL Draft)
1. Overall value of a library membership (usage not cardholders)
2. Value of an 'open hour' (new metric unique to MPI TPL study that aggregates
cost + value)
3. Economic impact (vs. ROI) (Households and Population)
4. Per Capita 'Usage" comparison across systems, groups (like small, medium.
large, urban, suburban, rural, remote, FN, etc.), and jurisdictions
5. A 'new' usage algorithm to modernize the old circulation stat and combine
digital and print usage into a standard, comparable metric
6. A metric for technology access tied to the digital/economic divide(s)
7. A standard operational effectiveness metric (Value for Tax Dollars)
8. Average cost per household (taxes are based on household rather than
population and better reflects funding models)
9. A metric for Use of Space (meetings, study, rooms) which was new for the MPI
study and hadn't been done before
Branding: How are Ontario PL’s Describing ourselves?
Stephen Abram, MLS, FSLA
Consultant, Dysart & Jones/Lighthouse Consulting
Stephen’s Lighthouse Blog
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