Friday, October 23, 2009

Shift Again! Libraries and the Near Future - VII

Again, I am quoting mcsnippets of things found at

Review (R)Evolution

What current services do we have that encourage customers to review services and materials? How are they sharing these review services and materials. What vehicles do we use that allow customers to easily find and participate in these discussions? How do we use "Right Now" review sources to solicit and receive feedback. How do we respond to feedback? What services, especially mobile, can we use to get into the review and opinion conversations? How are we finding these opinions and reviews?

We have many traditional experiences that are successful, valued, and fit the criteria. Some of them are evolving quickly.

  • In-house feedback forms
  • Remote ways to share feedback via the homepage.
  • Libraries do respond to feedback forms and virtual opinions if contact information is supplied. They may respond on paper or by email.
  • Libraries have always followed current trends, whether by traditional paper reports or watching for current thoughts in the great number of media access points.
  • In-House and remote book clubs, even if it just a link to non-library online book clubs, are popular. This, allows customers to give opinions and review books; to participate in a valued "owned" experience.
  • These book clubs also allow the customer to find information from others, allowing them to make purchase or reserve decision. Whether to "own" or "not own" the experience of the material.
  • Some libraries are giving the customer the ability to share their favorite items on the homepage.
  • Libraries are participating in Amazon's willingness share customer reviews to add to your display.
  • Review journals also are willing to share their professional reviews to add to your display

What other opportunities can we provide customers to review and give opinions about our library and its services. How can we make it easy for customers to join this conversation? How will we increase our ability to do this real-time? How can we increase our ability to give feedback real-time? What can we do to add to the greater conversation?

  • Are we using new websites like Collecta, TwitterSearch, and Trendsmap to discover current dominant thoughts, opinions, and reviews?
  • Are we checking these services multiple times each day and responding?
  • Are we using these services as opportunities to tie into a dominant thought and provide real-time feedback or "push" library services, materials, and E-Collections addressing that thought?
  • Are we using Facebook, Twitter, or other vehicles to promote services, events, and materials?
  • How create abundant opportunities for customers to participate in the greater conversation?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Shift Again! Libraries in the Near Future - VI

Let's brainstorm for a while. How do the trends in the previous posts affect libraries? What responses should a library take, if any? How do we turn new trends into new wins for libraries?

And, as importantly, what current services fit right into the trends?

Yes, there are barriers, politically, economically, and technically. Why not take a trip into the land of "what if?" If we have learned one thing from Science Fiction, it's that the "what if" can become the "we have" very quickly.

Let's start with Experiences and Hypertasking

What current services that fit the trend of "trying out new things" and "escaping commitment and obligations?" Services that are "owned" or "not owned?"

We have many traditional experiences that are successful, valued, and fit the criteria:
  • Storytime
  • Public Access Internet
  • Programs for all ages
  • The ability to preview a book or magazine before deciding to commit to a purchase
  • The ability to read a book or magazine without committing to a purchase
  • A physical place that the user does not have to "own" completely. Although libraries do come out of their tax dollar, the "ownership" is transparent to the user.
What new and non-traditional experiences might we want to discover? Some possibilities:
  • Storytimes via Youtube so the user does not have to "own" the physical experience?
  • Does the remote catalog provide the thrill of discovery or is it frustrating and clumsy?
  • Is your remote experience as easy to use as an online bookstore?

Hypertasking as Time Management

How are we convenient? How can our customers save time in finding and using library materials and services? Are we convenient enough that users will commit or "own" the experience of using our in-house or remote services? How do we leverage our services and materials so their value trumps the customer's preference to "spend money to save time?"

We have many traditional and newer experiences that are successful, valued, and fit the criteria:

  • Physical locations near retail centers and schools where the customer will be anyway
  • We attempt to give the customer "instant attention" without an appointment. Instant may not be always possible, but it is our goal. We have experience dealing with customer frustration with not receiving instant attention, so we do have coping mechanisms for when we must fail in that area
  • Ask any library user - using the library is a money-saving activity. Whatcom County Library even has a Library Savings Calculator
  • We offer on-line reserves, card registration, and fine payment for convenience and "non-ownership" of a separate library trip.
  • Many libraries have real-time staff available to answer questions from remote users, either by phone, email, instant messaging, or all of the above.
  • We alert the user when a hold comes in

What other conveniences might we want to investigate that would help the user either save money, or decide that coming to the library, in-person or remotely, is better than saving time by spending money to get what they need?

  • Do we have rss alerts that would allow the customer to receive a notification when items about a pre-determined topic and format are available for either reserve or pickup?
  • Do we then have a way for the customer to instantly reserve a copy of the item without entering long library card numbers, pins, and names?
  • Are we alerting users that materials are due and instantly allow them to renew?
  • Do we also have a website that works mobily? An app to make the service work seamlessly?
  • Can we seamlessly deliver materials electronically or physically to their home or mobile device in the fastest way possible?

Shift Again! Libraries in the Near Future - V

Let's take a minute now and look at some trends out there driving the consumer market. Later, we'll consider implications.

As a reminder, our typical in-person services are still valued by the consumer. They may approach us through different media or traditionally, but the experience is still valued.

Also, a trend is never an "either/or" a trend is always an "and." Eventually all things run their course. Trends are new things to be aware of and possibly pursue. They never replace the previous model immediately.

Much of this post will be mcsnippets from and its recent free reports.

“Consumers’ ingrained* lust for instant gratification is being satisfied by a host of novel, important (offline and online) real-time products, services and experiences. Consumers are also feverishly contributing to the real-time content avalanche that’s building as we speak. As a result, expect your brand and company to have no choice but to finally mirror and join the ‘now’, in all its splendid chaos, realness and excitement.”

In an age of abundance, with a reduced need for non-stop securing of the basics, and physical goods so plentiful (and/or ecologically harmful) that the status derived from them is sometimes close to nil, only consumption of the experience* and thus the now, the thrill, remains.

In fact, many ‘fixed’ items run the risk of becoming synonymous with boredom, hassle (Maintenance! Theft! Going out of style! Repairs!), eco-unfriendliness, and sinking a large part of one’s budget into one object (which impedes spending on multiple experiences)."

"It’s about detachment, fractional ownership or no ownership at all, trying out new things, escaping commitment and obligations, dropping formality, and of course collecting endless new experiences.

This is not to say that in-person "owned" experiences are devalued. The travel industry has not been greatly impacted by the virtual "not owned" experience"

" more activities are being crammed into ever diminishing timeframes, how convenience is king, how products and services are literally becoming smaller or more fragmented so budget conscious and/or time-poor consumers can collect as many different experiences as possible

"The Checkout" report found that 28 percent of June 2009 shoppers describe themselves as "preferring to spend more if it saves them time." This was up from 23 percent in May. Additionally, the number of customers (28 percent) who responded that "saving money by shopping around" was their top preference fell from 33 percent the month prior. (Source: M/A/R/C Research and Integer, August 2009.)

More than 30 percent of the people who visit a business for service expect instant attention - in some cases even if they do not have an appointment. (Source: Beagle Research Group, August 2009.) "

Instant attention? Libraries have experienced this since day one!

"Called "Nowism on Steroids." Twitter is the poster child for this trend. Witness: Total number of tweets, in real-time . Find the current dominant virtual thought at Watch a trending topic take over your city, country, or the world at Trendsmap (still definitely in beta).

Not surprising to librarians, people are most likely to ask family and friends for information before coming to the library.

"Recommendations by personal acquaintances and opinions posted by consumers online are the most trusted forms of advertising globally. The Nielsen survey shows that 90% of online consumers worldwide trust recommendations from people they know, while 70% trust consumer opinions posted online.

There are many more research studies, findings, dissertations, and so on that confirm the same fact: reviewing is the new advertising. "


It's all about the mobile apps. here are some examples

"Shopsavvy, an Android app, allows the user to scan almost any barcode using the phone’s camera, and it will then search over 20,000 online and local retailers to find the best price. Once the best deal has been found, users can either purchase online, or use the phone’s built-in Google Maps feature to find their way to the store." Or, presumably, download the book to your mobile device"

"Californian SnapTell says half a million iPhone and Android users have downloaded its application (which, unlike Shopsavvy, allows users to photograph a product using cameras in their handsets, and then upload it to the website for reviews, recommendations and best prices), resulting in more than 1.5 million image queries so far. More than one in three buyers click through to an online retailer, earning SnapTell commissions. "


"The NOWISM trend is as big as they come, and we had serious challenges not letting this briefing balloon into dozens and dozens of pages.

The bottom line: while the appeal and influence of ‘now’ has been building for years, societal attitudes, sky-high consumer expectations and new technologies are currently converging in such a powerful way that brands truly have no choice but to go ‘real-time’: in their business intelligence processes, in their customer conversations, in their innovation labs, in their distribution, sales, marketing and branding departments...

The many examples above (from new ways to monitor the arena to how to engage customers to clever new products and services catering to infolusty, instant-gratification loving consumers), should provide you with enough ammunition."

What we have here is the tip of the iceberg. If Trendwatching had trouble narrowing it down to a few pages, you can imagine the trouble we had.

NEXT: How does this affect libraries?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Shift Again! Libraries in the Near Future - IV

Let's take a brief and over-simplified look at technology progress in the past 35 years or so.

In the beginning was the Card Catalog. And it was good. And then that day passed.

Then there was the text-based Catalog. And it was tough going but then it was good. And then that day passed.

Next there were CD-based indexes. And there was a learning curve and there was much annoyance with technology. And, for a brief moment, it was good. And then that hour passed

Soon, the GUI interface arrived and libraries adapted quickly, despite a high learning curve and sheer terror on the part of libraries. And it was good. And it slowly improved.

Then became WWW access to indexes and subscription databases. And there was much excitement and a learning curve for both vendors and libraries and customers. And, while many customers still struggle, it is pretty good. And access is improving.

Soon there was remote access to subscription databases. And there were connectivity problems and there was exitement throughout the land. And while there will always be connectivity issues here and there. It is good.

Ten minutes later, libraries began to send newsletters and other information via snail-mail and email. There also began phone notifications and renewals. And it is good and rejoicing was heard throughout the land by both customers and staff. And it is good

Five minutes later, libraries began responding to email queries from customers. And methods evolved. And some libraries had the ability to have a librarian on hand to answer queries immediately. And it continues to morph. And it is very good, indeed.

In the blink of an eye, libraries created newsfeeds using rss. Newsfeeds that featured library blogs, alerts when a new book came in from a selected newsfeed, and other things. And it remains good.

Seconds later, the web changed and social media became a customer need. And libraries created MySpace and Facebook interfaces to promote library services. And it is good.

Simultaneously, library services that were previously in-house only became available via homepages. Account access, online registration and fine payment, reserves, and other services. And it is good.

Then, embracing social media, libraries added twitter alerts for events and other promotions. And it is good.

And now, no resting. Targeting the current dominant thought in social media and pushing out services that enrich that conversation are developing. And that will be interesting, indeed.

And tools exist for determining that current dominant thought, even locally:

Twitter Search

And many more.

See the October Trendwatching for more ways to target current dominant thoughts

And still, in-person services and library physical locations and other traditional library services remain valued. And That is Very, Very, Very good.

Shift Again! Libraries in the Near Future - III

The current things we know will be happening to the Internet and Social Media.

Some people have suggested we are already heading toward Internet 3.0. It's possible they are correct. We all know that the internet will change. It has from the beginning. Here are a few things we know are in the works or are still valued.

E-Book Readers
Dead already? Not quite. On their way out? Quite probably. There are already apps on the iphone that will allow a consumer to find an ebook on Amazon and download it. These devices are bypassing the single-purpose e-reader. Zoom functions allow the reader to enlarge type without losing a sentence. Eye-fatigue from older devices is being is fading away with new technology.

And consider this twitter-quote from a librarian in Gilbert, AZ:

vickinovak Vicki Novak Phoenix, AZ Following
The holy grail of e-book readers would be one that is compatible with library downloads, along with wireless purchases of books/periodicals. 10:20 AM Oct 9th

Further, Roy Tennant quotes a New York Times article that points out current e-book reader limitations and what the future will be for these devices

  • A recent report from Forrester Research suggests most consumers will buy a digital reading device only when they cost less than $100. One way this could ultimately happen is if wireless providers like Verizon subsidize the devices and sell them in their stores, as they do with the inexpensive laptops called netbooks.
  • The general public (that is, "savvy consumers") doesn't want to shell out $3-500 for a single-purpose device and then have to buy content for it in addition to that upfront cost. Either lower the price significantly (not my preferred solution) or create a device on which we can do all kinds of other things in addition to reading (bingo!), and you'll be much more likely to capture my dollars, and the dollars of many other savvy consumers.
Netbooks? Single-purpose E-Readers? Curling up with a laptop in bed to read? These things are going to go away and go away fast.

  • Consider Amazon's Android app. How can this be adapted to libraries?
  • Will the current barriers with library contracts be changed to allow access to Overdrive and our subscription databases this easily?
  • Many libraries are looking at Summons from Serial Solutions. Will there be an app? Not just a mobile website, but an app?
  • How will your library prepare?
  • How will your vendors prepare?
  • Our in-person contacts with customers will continue to be valued and used. How will we educate ourselves to encourage customers to use all methods available according to the customer's technology demands, comfort with technology, and economic circumstances?
As always, it's a matter of balance. Think it over. What steps can you take now to prepare for this future?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Shift Again! Libraries and the Near Future - II

The Library's traditional approach, products, and services will continue to be valued. That is not going away.

In spite of every technology change we have had since the first communications were chiseled into stone, talking, hearing, and seeing will remain the first line of use for humans. They existed first. Long before reading, typing, and searching. They will not change.

Face to face contact and a physical community is still valued and will remain valued by customers in the near future. There is still a strong need for in-person reference services, circulation help, community gathering places, and privacy.

Current event notifcations, whether by snail-mail, the homepage, email, twitter, in-person, or other social media, will be valued

Current services will still be valued. Continue with online card registration and fine payments. Enable reading lists and shared lists. Keep notifying users by mail, email, and phone number.

Keep making those catalogs easier and easier to use

Maintain your desire and push for better search engines that will search across your many subscription databases. Work toward getting that homepage configured for mobile access.

These things are working for libraries in the 2.0 world. Keep them. We are falling headlong into 3.0. Even as we do, the need for pre-internet and 2.0 services will continue for a very long time.

Shift Again: Libraries in the Near Future - I

As we wander through this exciting and terrifying look at What's Next, we'll be bearing these library philosophies in mind:

From Karen Schneider's Meme Masquerading as Manifesto:

The user is the sun.
The user is the magic element that transforms librarianship from a gatekeeping trade to a services profession.
The user is not broken.

We'll also bear in mind Ranganathan's 5 Laws of Librarianship:

Books are for use.
Every reader his [or her] book.
Every book its reader.
Save the time of the User.
The library is a growing organism.

Of particular importance are the last two laws
Save the time of the User
The library is a growing organism

Shift Again! Libraries and the Near Future

In the next few posts, we are going to be examining some technical things that are going to hit libraryland sooner than we think - must sooner.

Why? You don't usually do original content!

Because in 3 hours this past week, I received 5 items via my newsfeeds talking about the subjects we will cover. Libraryland needs to listen up, man up, and brace itself. We're hitting another watermark. And it's happening fast!

We'll be using the following links as well as other materials to explore this phenomenon.

Single purpose e-readers dead


Mobile Internet


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

2020-The Mobile Internet

Progress marches on. By 2020 internet access will be by mobile devices. See video here

Did You Know 4.0 video via Librarians Matter by Kathryn Greenhill on 9/15/09

Best Free Reference Sites!

Best Free Reference Web Sites 2009 via Librarian in Black Blog – Sarah Houghton-Jan by Sarah on 9/29/09

Some that might be useful in my library:

Title: ePodunk (TM)URL:
Detailed, easily browsable profiles of cities and counties across the U.S. are the specialty of ePodunk, which has grown to include data on airports, cemeteries, museums, and other institutions as well. Profiles include historical postcard images from the Making of America project and all imaginable statistics at the city and county level: income, educational level, economic, crime. Not only does the site link to useful municipal/county government and chamber of commerce sites, but it also displays or links to harder-to-find information like local media outlets, community organizations, political reports, historical weather information, support for libraries, a “gay index” based on the Gay and Lesbian Atlas, films shot in the area, and celebrity residents.

Title: FastWeb: Scholarships, Financial Aid, and CollegesURL: Students fill out a detailed questionnaire about academic achievement, future plans, interests, and awards and then receive information on scholarships and internships for which they are eligible. The beauty of this site rests in its organizational features. Students can set up e-mail reminders about application due dates, mark favorites or delete entries from their lists, e-mail descriptions to friends, and add personal notes about a scholarship. The site also contains advice on test preparation, navigating the admissions process, and transitioning to college. FastWeb boasts that their database searches “1.3 million scholarships worth over $3 billion,” making this a valuable resource for busy students.

Genre Talk

Will the Proliferation of Fantasy Sequels Overwhelm Shelf Space? via The Reader's Advisor Online Blog by Cindy Orr on 9/8/09

Guest Op: The Case for Steampunk Romance via Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary by Guest Reviewer on 9/1/09

What is Steampunk?

Steampunk as a literary genre gained notice starting in the 1980s. A subgenre of science fiction and fantasy, it developed as a rebellious response to the science fiction that preceded it. Core elements of steampunk include:

Steam power
Alternate history settings (mostly Victorian/Edwardian era England)
SF/Fantasy elements
Devices that reflect the period but are ahead of their time (e.g., difference engines, airships, etc.)

In fact, the concept of inventions that debut far ahead of schedule represents one of the most fascinating aspects of the genre.

If you're old enough to remember the television show "The Wild, Wild West," think that, but funkier.

Social Networking, Blogging at work

The line between what is work-related and what is not in the social networking world is getting fuzzier and fuzzier. Studies are being done. Results may surprise lots of IT managers/lawyers/supervisors/HR professionals!

Tuesday tech links via Library Bazaar by Fiacre on 9/1/09
By describing the practices of knowledge workers who blog, this research provides a view into the changing nature of work that becomes increasingly digital, nomadic and networked. It shows the power of individual knowledge workers, who bypass existing authorities and use their networks to stay informed and to get things done. It documents the blurred boundaries between what is personal and what is professional, as well as the growing need to know how to deal with transparency and fragmentation of one’s work.

Social Media Policies from 80+ Organizations via iLibrarian by Ellyssa on 9/21/09

Social Media Revolution via iLibrarian by Ellyssa on 9/21/09 (Video)

The Social Web, Information Overload, and Libraries via Librarian in Black Blog – Sarah Houghton-Jan by Sarah on 9/15/09 Includes connecting with customers online

Best Free Reference Websites

Best Free Reference Web Sites 2009 via Librarian in Black Blog – Sarah Houghton-Jan by Sarah on 9/29/09

The Reference and User Services Association (from ALA) does it again. Worth perusing.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Genre Talk

And boy has there been a lot of talk about Genre lately! Go Popular Fiction!

Why we love those rotting, hungry, putrid zombies
Little Women and Werewolves? via RA for All by Becky on 10/2/09

Novelists take a break from fiction and are writing memoirs!

Historical Fiction
Cover Art Can Give Us Clues for the Reader And historical art seems to appeal mostly to the female reader! But does this writer include historical sea adventures and so forth in her observations? Or is that a separate genre?

Die, Gothic, Die via Romancing the Blog Romance Authors and Readers Who Blog by Special Guest on 9/6/09 Despite the title, this author is really asking if the Gothic really is dead or ready for a comeback.

What is a gothic? Gothic romances involve a heroine, usually in reduced circumstances, who is called to live in an isolated location - most generally a mansion or something. The atmosphere is moody. The hero is difficult to identify until near the end. Two possible heros are introduced. But who is the hero and who is dangerous? A crime or even murder is often part of the story. The resolution of this bad-news incident reveals the solution and who is the actual hero.

Women's Fiction
The Appeal "Women's Fiction is that catch-all term that covers fiction focused on the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of contemporary women. It's difficult to call it a genre, because the story can blend with so many other genres — there can be mystery or suspense elements, it can take place in a different era, it can be funny, or sad, or often both.

...when a reader picks up a Women's Fiction novel, what she is really looking for is a sense of recognition.

A New Nonfiction Genre? They Could Have Just Asked Us via The Reader's Advisor Online Blog by Sarah Statz Cords on 9/16/09. This genre is called "Annualism" It's where an author chooses to do something for a year. For example, work through Julia Child's cookbook.

Libraryland Roundup WIN!

Our recent listing of rss feeds that are Vital To Life As We Know It made the Big-Time!

Reader's Advisor Online
Thanked us for our citation!

"One more thing—great thanks to Libraryland Roundup for listing us as one of its five “Vital to Life As We Know It” RSS feeds"

Squeeee! We feel grown-up and important! Thanks RAOnline!