Library101

3883707406_7b0bd34066I was excited, honored, thrilled and other adjectives that end in “-ed” to be able to contribute to Michael Porter and David Lee King‘s Library101 project.  It first started out with a call (via Twitter) from Michael asking for pictures of library staff holding up a giant 1 or 0.  At the time I wasn’t sure what this was all about but I was game.  Anything to help me hone my photography skills I was able to get many of my fellow co-workers to pose for me.

I was then surprised, elated to help Michael beta test his Zazzle store for the Library 101 merchandise.  The final surprise came when Michael asked me if I’d like to contribute an essay to the web site he was creating to launch the Library 101 project. Here it is in the original unedited version:

New Library 101

So what exactly does the New Library 101 need to be part of the future? In my opinion there is one very important piece that needs to be there for the library of the future to stay afloat – customer service. Without our customers we won’t be here no matter what fancy words we use, what new fangled gadgets we have, what exciting programs we offer. Now customer service is nothing new to libraries, however, my version of customer service includes three aspects. If the library of the future will focus on these aspects they will grow and stay relevant.

Technology

Recently I got a Tweet from Jimmy Willis (@katannsky2) asking me if I had any career tips for a future librarian. My words of wisdom where “to learn technology. Embrace it. It will be a very big part of your job.” Be current. What are the latest trends? Adopt them, learn about them and use them. If you don’t you’ll be left behind because your customers are using this technology. And more than likely they are coming to you for help with it

Technology means not only the hardware/software we use in our branches but includes your presence on the web. Whether it is your web site, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or other social web sites – remember that not every customer walks through your physical doors. Make sure you have a presence out there in the digital world. But don’t limit it to just a Facebook page or a bunch of pictures on Flickr – engage your customers, start a conversation with them, bring them back to you (whether it is into your physical building or your catalog or one of your programs).

Education

I understand that funding doesn’t always allow every library to have tons of the latest and greatest hardware or even software. However, you can still educate yourself about technology even if your library can’t afford a Kindle, a new fancy web site or you don’t have an iPhone. Use what technology you do have to your benefit. Get out on the web and socially network. So many of your fellow librarians are on the social web, network with them and find out what they already know. Ask questions or use your searching skills so when that customer invariably asks you how do they do ___ you can use your network as a resource.

Please, don’t ever tell a customer you don’t know and let that be the end of the conversation. That is not an acceptable customer service response. Sure, it’s okay to say you don’t know but continue. “You know I’m curious about this too. Let’s research this together so we can both learn.” Customers come to you for help and hey would much rather have a real human admit they don’t know but work together to find the answer than some cold response that boils down to “go away I can’t be bothered”.

Audience

Above all the library of the future must remember who it’s audience is and what they want or need. As Thomas Brevik (@Miromurr) tweeted from the Internet Librarian International 2009:

* #ili2009 Stop insulting the user by guessing what the user want!

* #ili2009 start with the question: is this what our users want?

Once you have figured out what your customer wants not only meet that need but exceed it. But how to find out what the customer wants. Don’t rely on surveys on your OPACs or your web site, you have an opportunity every single day in every single interaction with your customers (via email, chat, face to face, or phone). Just go that extra step and see what need isn’t being met. Keeping in mind that meeting someone’s need doesn’t always require a big budget – sometimes just listening to them makes all the difference in the world and you’ll have a lifelong return customer.

Is it a guarantee that if the library of the future follows these three aspects of customer service they will survive? Well nothing is a sure beat but I would put good money on the library of the future (if it focuses on customer service) will be around for all of us to enjoy.

So here is to the future of libraries.  Long may they reign.

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Thanks for Spreading the Word – Twitter & Raising Funds for LFPL

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Image via CrunchBase

For those who don’t understand how things like Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed and blogs can help you get your message (be it an individual or a company/organization) let me give you a perfect example from yesterday.

Steve Lawson posted a blog entry on See Also trying to raise money to help the Louisville Free Public Library.  Folks who subscribe to his RSS feed I’m sure saw this post, as well as those who searched and stumbled upon it that way but I love how we all jumped on this and spread the news.

My original Tweet:

mlibrarianusLet’s Flood Them With Cash: I know the economic times pull on everyone’s purse strings.  What I̵.. http://bit.ly/yFnHq

Then my followers retweeted (thanks to them all for helping to spread the word):

eclasperRT @AtYourLibrary: RT @mlibrarianus: Louisville Free Public Lib is under more than 3 ft of water – donate today http://twurl.nl/uumkmn

thesheckRT @mlibrarianus: Louisville Free Public Lib is under more than 3 ft of water – donate today if you can http://twurl.nl/uumkmn #libraries

AtYourLibraryRT @mlibrarianus: Louisville Free Public Lib is under more than 3 ft of water – donate today if you can http://twurl.nl/uumkmn

prattlibraryRT @mlibrarianus Louisville Free PL in desperate need – is under more than 3 ft of water – donate today if you can: http://twurl.nl/uumkm

Grants_PrattRT @mlibrarianus Louisville Free PL in desperate need – is under more than 3 ft of water – donate today if you can: http://twurl.nl/uumkm

JobCenter_PrattRT @mlibrarianus Louisville Free PL in desperate need – is under more than 3 ft of water – donate today if you can: http://twurl.nl/uumkmn

calimaeIcon_lockLouisville Free Public Library is under more than 3 ft of water – donate today if you can http://twurl.nl/uumkmn (via @mlibrarianus)

TuphlosRT @TaraLSF RT @mlibrarianus Support Your Library – keep Louisville Free Public Library in mind. They are under water – need your help

TaraLSFRT @mlibrarianus Support Your Library – keep Louisville Free Public Library in mind. They are under water – need your help to recover h

My followers added their own original Tweets or retweeted other to spread the word:

gregschwartz http://twitpic.com/cujvz – Today’s first pic

TaraLSFRT @amandamcneil How to donate to the Louisville Library ($1mil in damages): http://bit.ly/yrkVm

TaraLSFRT @yo_bj RT: @TheRepoRat: Help Louisville Free Public Library, devastated by flash flooding: http://bit.ly/tJea7

mlibrarianus#fb New blog post Let’s Flood Them With Cash: I know the economic times pull on everyone&.. http://bit.ly/yFnHq

cjburnsRT @czamm: Louisville Free Public Library needs your help http://icanhaz.com/LFPLNYH – LSW raising funds

librarianbydayLouisville Free Public Library Needs Your Help http://bit.ly/tJea7

mir_bRT @gregschwartz Watching the h2o being poured out of our servers. Depressing. and http://twitpic.com/cujvz – Today’s first pic #lfplflood

mir_bRT @czamm Louisville Free Public Library needs your help http://icanhaz.com/LFPLNYH (LSW fundraiser) #lfplflood

cindiRT @czamm Louisville Free Public Library needs your help http://icanhaz.com/LFPLNYH

ellbeeceeIcon_lockRT @czamm Louisville Free Public Library needs your help http://icanhaz.com/LFPLNYH (LSW fundraiser)

mir_bLouisville Free Public Library, hang in there. #lfplflood

gregschwartzWatching the h2o being poured out of our servers. Depressing.

joshuamneffRT @czamm Louisville Free Public Library needs your help http://icanhaz.com/LFPLNYH

TaraLSFRT @Jill_HW Flood devastation at Louisville (KY) Free Public Library from @gregschwartz http://twitpic.com/cujvz

Jill_HWFlood devastation at Louisville (KY) Free Public Library from @gregschwartz http://twitpic.com/cujvz

libraryfutureRT @cpellegr The LSW is helping out the Louisville Free Public Library: http://tinyurl.com/lc42u8 Spread the word.

laurabottsHelp the flooded Louisville Free Public Library: http://tinyurl.com/lc42u8

beccalovesbooksReading about the Louisville Free Public Library and their damage from the rain. I wish there were something I could physically do to help!

jambinaRT @cpellegr: The LSW is helping out the Louisville Free Public Library: http://tinyurl.com/lc42u8 Spread the word.

lisacarlucciRT @libraryfuture @cpellegr The LSW is helping out the Louisville Free Public Library: http://tinyurl.com/lc42u8 Spread the word!

BillDrew4RT @cjburns: RT @czamm: Louisville Free Public Library needs your help http://icanhaz.com/LFPLNYH – LSW raising funds

millerlibrarianRT @libraryfuture RT @cpellegr The LSW is helping out the Louisville Free Public Library: http://tinyurl.com/lc42u8 Spread the word.

kenleyneufeldFwd: Let’s raise $5k for Louisville Public Library in the name of the LSW – http://bit.ly/DTj2K (via… [pic] http://ff.im/-6cMjG

kenleyneufeldFor you non-librarian types, the Louisville PL was flooded yesterday. Help out with a small/large donation at http://bit.ly/DTj2K

cclibrarian#Librarian Feeds reading:Louisville: Can A Plague of Locusts Be Far Behind? http://bit.ly/DkyU7

baldgeekinmdIcon_lockRT @cpellegr The LSW is helping out the Louisville Free Public Library: http://tinyurl.com/lc42u8 Spread the word.

HoCo_Library Help out! Louisville Public Library hit hard by rain and flood. To read more and to donate http://bit.ly/3kb2NN

Jill_HWLet’s raise $5,000 for Louisville Public Library in the name of the LSW – http://tinyurl.com/lc42u8

codslapHelp the Louisville free Public Lib. They had a huge flood. http://bit.ly/3vaf6V Let’s see if we can meet the LSW donation goal of $5,000.

http://twitpic.com/cvorn – My (former?) officegregschwartz

And others I don’t even know got into the act

wfplnews WFPL The Edit: LFPL Closed All Week: The Louisville Free Public Library’s main branch downtown wil.. http://bit.ly/bFral

wfplnews WFPL The Edit: Eat A Pie For The Library: @michellej at Consuming Louisville has started taking ma.. http://bit.ly/oQWxa

AriThatcher Help the Louisville Free Public Library recover from flood damage http://bit.ly/S8edr

Jen_Cook RT @TeresaMedeiros: Book drive 2 help out Louisville Free Public Library-flooded yesterday-massive damage. http://bit.ly/GkZNK

RainyDayBooks RT Help the Louisville Free Public Library out. http://bit.ly/3vaf6V . You don’t know what you’ve lost until it’s gone.

Achilles_healin @joshuamneff Donated, sir. … RT @czamm Louisville Free Public Library needs your help http://icanhaz.com/LFPLNYH

Steve reported today that $600 has already been raised (less than 24 hours after posting his blog entry).  Thank you to all who helped spread the word and more importantly to those who contributed to a very worthy cause.

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