Changing stakeholder expectations for library value #InternetLibrarian

Kim Silk, Hamilton (Ont.) Public Library
Bill Irwin, Huron University

Who does evaluation? Do you find it good or bad? One audience member was able to show that lots of different work areas used her library.

Measure to inform the strategic plan, to see changes over time, to inform our practice, to demonstrate value both quantitative (financial) and qualitative (social, educational, cultural).

Don’t confuse means and ends.

Librarians too often stop with outputs (things you can count). Also, think about outcome (qualitative results).

Public libraries often count circulation, membership, program attendance. But also consider:

Economic impact:
* value per open hour
* value per cardholder
* value per citizen

Social impact:
* student experience
* job skills
* early childhood literacy
* civic engagement
* digital learning
* economic development
* lifelong learning
* summer reading

Promotion can improve usage of parts of the collection that haven’t gotten as much use as they could.

Traditional metrics lack context. Metrics do not reflect evolution of library success. Circulation is just a means to an end.

Whatever kind of community you serve, you know which ones could use more attention. In Canadian public libraries, that’s the indigenous population, immigrants, seniors.

Engage stakeholders at every level: staff, administrators, community. Engage them about metrics.

For example, ask the children’s librarian not just to count books read in the summer reading program, but to ask the kids what they learned, what they got excited about. Maybe pre- and post-literacy evaluations at beginning and end of summer.

Question: we do surveys, but response rate is so low.

Suggestion from a corporate librarian: when you do a literature search, ask if it helped them solve their goal.

Business students learning how to use the library in their third and fourth years of school. That’s a measure. Also improved quality of work.


Market Impact: Creating Positive Outcomes & Actions #InternetLibrarian @SusanSchramm

Susan Schramm

Slides at

Libraries are catalysts for smart communities.

Smart communities: IoT, safe, comfortable


Streets make changes based on traffic, parking adjusted.

Firefighter knows where the people are. AR with building plans. Doctor could advise EMTs on the way to the hospital.

Open data to solve social problems

Smart parks adjust lighting

Smart airports advise you about things to do.

We used to talk about if, now we talk about how and when.

Thinking about human effects. What about people replaced by robots? What about skills we may not have enough of? What about ethics, such as algorithms that discriminate? How do we make it of, by, and for all?

Libraries can help with this.

Libraries are doing in training in skills: Maker spaces, IoT, etc. Connecting with economic development folks to reach people who want to start new businesses.

Challenges: promotion, staffing, funding. (Same for everyone)

Lesson 1: Clarify our value proposition. What problems can we focus on solving? What do we contribute? What is the call to action for our community?

Keep asking, “So what?”

Why you? Why would I get that from the library?

Sometimes it’s the how that makes you different. Libraries are safe, neutral, local.

Why now? People say, “That’s nice, I’ll have to remember that.” What’s their call to action? How can you get them to do something now?

Lesson 2: Target our audiences. Who really wants to solve this problem? (Stakeholders, not just the people for whom you are solving the problem.). What positive outcomes can be created? What communities can we partner with? Who are the influencers and early investors?

You leverage by getting your message to other groups’ members (newsletters, advertising, etc.).

Lesson 3: Help our customers buy

Lesson 4: Ask the hard questions

Learning from customers/ patrons/ users/ clients #InternetLibrarian

Jeromy Wilson, Niche Academy


* Get new people in the library
* Get people back to the library
* Enhance everyone’s experience
* Find unmet needs

How do we find out about patrons’ needs:

* One-on-one
* Observation
* Surveys
* Focus groups

Listen, seek to understand, repeat it back

Niche Academy provides tutorials on common library subscription databases. They collect data from hundreds of library systems (anonymized).

Consumer Reports gets a big spike in Nov.-Dec. Maybe you could promote it other times.

Libraries see a jump after marketing efforts.

Other sources of data:
* Circ data: not just numbers, but also types of interest
* E-resources: stats
* Video cameras to do people watching. (Hmm, this seems a little creepy.)

At the top of Google Search Results #InternetLibrarian

Trey Gardner, Koios (helps libraries promote themselves)
Corinne Hill, director, Chattanooga Public Library
John Andrews, Washoe County library

Cats vs. cardigans

Cats – “organic” search results.
Cardigans – you get ads at the top if you type in something you could possibly buy.

Organic search looks for:
* Structure
* Content – fresh, original content
* Linking – good links to you
* Engagement – how long do people spend on your site

Are you answering the searcher’s need?

Paid search:

It’s not necessarily the highest bid. Google adds in a “quality score.”

Objections to buying ads:

Do people actually click on ads? Yes, 5-15% of the time, especially on mobile.

Isn’t this going to be expensive? There are Google ad grants for non-profits. $10,000/month = 250,000 views = 10,000 clicks.

Chattanooga PL got one of the ad grants.

How do we push our services out? ILS are siloed, they don’t show up in search results. Wants to get people to use databases. Also wants to promote services, such as e-books and language learning databases and classes. Apply for a passport at the library.

Wants to have a confident logo. Doesn’t want to have web URL, Facebook, Twitter, phone numbers, locations on printed material — wants people to go to the web site for that info.

Keeps the library’s image/brand out there. Even if people don’t use the services, they remember it and support it.

Washoe County:

Promoting Brainfuse (job search program) and Mango Languages.

We try to promote all services all at once. With a Google ad, it comes up when they’re looking for the service. If they were looking for the library, they would find it.

People think about e-books — free if possible — but they don’t think the library has them. Has a program that creates online book lists and promotes it on Google. Topical online displays: “What is DACA?” “More like ‘It’ ”

Easier process to have friends of the library group handle the Google non-profit grant application, don’t have to go through city council, etc.

ROI of Marketing: Increasing the Value of Library Services Through Promotion #InternetLibrarian @benbizzle

Ben Bizzle

Branding is every connection with your customers.

Two of the biggest challenges: lack of awareness and barriers to entry.
People think libraries are just buildings full of books.
It might take 14 clicks to download an e-book

2008, his director said libraries were at war with the trinity of evil: Google, Wikipedia, and Amazon.

His library’s weapon in the war? A boring web site that probably looked old-fashioned even then.

The world’s judging you by your web site.

Today the web site looks modern, responsive, works on all devices.

Advertising seemed heretical. Would you rather spend $50 for advertising or $5,000 on a service nobody uses? If 10 people were using it, then 20 people are, you’ve doubled the value.

Social media: have a robust promotion on Facebook. People need to see that your page is updated. Facebook advertising has reach, can be targeted. $50 ad reaches about 10,000 people. For example, with Freegle (song-downloading service), you can calculate how much your users saved over pay services. Because of promotion, the library’s cost was about 19 cents a song compared to about $1 users would spend elsewhere.

Genealogy night. T-shirts: who’s your granddaddy? Pull up your genes.

Theme for arts and crafts show. (Called it “vaudevillian,” but it sounds more like a sideshow theme to me: strongman, magic act.)

Regional interest: Elvis week.

Poster: should be cool, make people think.

Wet t-shirt *throwing* contest.

Creative team, not just one person.

Billboards. “Spoiler alert! Dumbledore dies on page 596.” “Cheap date? You get dinner, we’ve got the movie.”


Speed dating at the library didn’t work out too well.

Controversial: “At least I know my book will be good in bed.”

Diana Nyad quoted Mary Oliver, “Are you doing what you want to do with your wild and precious life?”

Coasters for a bar. Downloadable at

Woman found out she was illegally adopted at birth. Librarians helped her find her family she didn’t know she had.

Homeless people were proud to be in a library video.

Advertising isn’t about making you agree. It’s about making you never forget what you just saw.

(ROI) Truth to Power: Measuring & Talking about What Matters #InternetLibrarian @mebs

Mary Ellen Bates

Slides here:

“What gets measured matters,” but
“Not everything that can be counted counts.”

How data vs. Why data
How data may be useful for internal staff, but it’s not ROI.

Outcome data: the value, the impact of what you’re doing.
(Referring to previous session: being a trusted advisor may take a lot of time, but if you’re doing it for someone high up in your organization, that’s the best ROI you can get.)

Cost of material vs. circulation:
20% of cost * # circulation = value (assuming they would have paid at least 20% for a used book)
Journal routing saves $ vs. article purchases
ILL also saves article purchases (c. $40)

Show impact on revenue:
Supporting your city council
Student success
Patron engagement goals
Solicit testimonials of impact (especially when you do a big-deal research project). You can just send an e-mail; people don’t usually volunteer their gratitude.

Show impact on your organization:

Supporting employee development -> improved employee retention. (A tech company had employees bringing kids to work, so the library included children’s books. People have cited the library as a reason they’ve stayed with the company.)

Effective outreach to stakeholders resulted in [an action on stakeholder’s part]. Why did they contact the library? It was in order that they could do something. What was that thing?

Show impact on org’s staff:

Look at information flows, pain points. Librarians are “information whisperers.”

* Time spent searching (and not finding)
* Duplication of effort within team
* Underutilization of resources

A librarian watches for search boxes on intranet and takes it upon herself to give advice.

True cost of your time:

* annual salary * 1.3 = fully loaded (with benefits, etc.)
* 52 weeks – 4 weeks = 1,920 work hours/year (vacation, holidays)

Salary / work hours = hourly rate

Many of the people we support get paid more than we do.

Outsell said a library interaction saved a user 9 hours.

If 1 hour of your time (@ $68) saves 9 hours of someone else’s time (@ $102), you saved $850.

If you teach people things like how to use your subscription databases vs. fruitless Googling, you saved a lot of money over the course of a year. Same thing if you created a UI to make it easier and more effective to use.

What are your org’s strategic goals for this year?
Do you read your org’s press releases? Do you follow their social media?
Do you follow new ad hoc teams that are set up to do things? (Suggest targeted services for them.)
Read between the lines.
For-profit: increasing no. Of products
University: student job-placement rates
Non-profit: Strengthening relationships with partners

Describing the less-measurable:
Ask users why they are asking that question. (Ask nicely.)
What will this be used for? What’s happening to this information next? (Might also help you format the information so it’s most useful. Help you put it into a presentation, inform a team, guide a decision.)

If your deliverable isn’t frictionless, your clients will go elsewhere.

Follow up after high-value research project:
* What difference did the library make for this project? (Even if the answer is bad news, you can ask what you could do better. And you don’t have to put it in your report!)
* What impact did this make for your outcome?
* What would it cost to achieve [your goal] without [our services]?

Look for programming that will help people.

Embed widgets at pain points
Embed content
Curated daily news!

Look for underutilized resources. Promote it to likely users.

Face-to-face contacts. Feed stuff to “ambassadors” of your services.

Use new language:
Describe yourself by outcome, not activity
“We’re here to make you more successful. What do you need?”

Not: We centralize acquisitions, but we save money.

Librarian as Consultant #InternetLibrarian

Paul Barrows, Federal Resrve Bank of San Francisco


Pyramid: transacter -> problem solver -> consultant -> trusted advisor

Problem solver: more involved than a simple reference question.

Consultant: someone keeps coming back with a subject.

Trusted advisor: someonce comes to you when they’re really lost and they trust you to get them started.

The pyramid narrows at the top, because you can’t be a trusted advisor to very many people.

New MLIS: “My boss is very smart, she must have had a reason for hiring me.”

Perpetual curiosity, ask lots of questions, be a team member, speak up, change leader.

Fewer ready reference questions, needed to transform services.

Positioning the librarians as advisors, partners, consultants.

Transforming staff: re-training, tough decisions, playing to strengths, honing existing skills, emerging skills.

Think about your mission as furthering the success of your parent organization, rather than self-preservation.

Find about your organization’s mission, your management’s priorities. Commitment to customers’ goals (they want to look good and do well), future of librarianship, and your own professional development.

Librarians are already generally trusted, but people don’t know what we do. People think they’re bothering you. Soft skills, like empathy and emotional intelligence (know the difference between panic and curiosity!). Get in on the ground floor of projects. Iterative approach improves the product — and the relationship (don’t give all at once, make sure you’re on the right track). Regular brief meetings during larger projects. Over-deliver and maybe offer more. Learn and ask about something personal.

Build awareness of services, esp. online subscriptions. Have a strong web site, self service but can come to us for deeper levels of service. Pop-up tables.

Catch key clients: Meet with new executives and give them targeted recommendations. Presentations to departments and divisions. People are happy to find out you can help them do their job better. Check-in regularly: “What are you working on now?”

Trust your gut, even in the deep end of the pool.
Periodic SWOT analyses (organizational and personal)
Are all your strengths being used?
Go on field trips to where people are
Polish how you talk about the library, yourself, and your colleagues
Influence without authority (peers, executives)
Suggest the wacky if you can explain how it serves the mission
(Something for everyone is part of their goals.)

Transforming Our View of Roles & Services, part 2 #InternetLibrarian @RebeccaJonesgal @desertlibrarian @stembrarian

Rebecca Jones, manager of branches for a large public library

Has worked in corporate libraries. Skills: project management, training (i.e., adult learning), knowledge management, I.T., consulting.

Important right now: project management, knowledge management, data management.

“Seize whatever you want to do.”

Ruth Kneale, system librarian at Daniel K. Inouye Solar Observatory

embedded, solo, runs all the databases, web sites, document manager, tech support.

Turned them on to things like Skype and Dropbox

Testing equipment at new observatory under construction.

Engineers still do “red lines” on paper drawings.  She takes pictures of them every three months to create as-built drawings.

Her job ends when construction is done in 3 1/2 years.

As the only librarian, she gets reference requests and does publication tracking (i.e., articles written based on work at the observatory).

Camille Mathieu, JPL

Six librarians, but also “knowledge managers” and “information managers” elsewhere and a large I.T. dept. that builds things in-house.

Does reference and publication tracking.

Shifting focus to internal information management.

Teresa Powell, Raytheon (previously Boeing and Rochester Electronics)

At Boeing, had to integrate collections and databases from companies that they acquired.  Eventually closed satellite libraries, centralized and digitized collections.

At Raytheon, again there are satellite libraries, which report to different manufacturing groups.  Have to justify space.  Wants to do something other than the traditional library.

Rebecca Jones:

Any organization has research and development.  Librarians could be part of that.

Librarians need to think more about ongoing operations and maintenance of service.

Librarians need to use our metadata skills to curate local data/documents.  What is happening with local newspaper, university publications, etc.?


Asking people, “What can we do for you?”

Or, “We can do X.”

Rebecca Jones:

Don’t do the first one.  Know what people’s needs and info seeking behaviors are and tell them how you can help.  Don’t ever ask people what they want.  They don’t have a clue.  Watch what people are doing, listen to what they say, do interviews, what are your biggest barriers, how can you expedite that?  Then figure out how you can help.

Transforming Our View of Roles & Services, part 1 #InternetLibrarian

Teresa Powell, Raytheon

Has been there 1 month.  Formerly archive manager at Rochester Electronic, before that at Boeing library.


At Rochester, in charge of design documentation. No books, journals, electronic resources.  In boxes with spreadsheets listing contents. Powell was hired to organize this in 2013.  Two staff members worked for her.

Drawings on tapes in a “CADD-like format.”

No standards, no authority control, manual checkout, materials scattered.

Got materials physically in the library.  Implement ILS (Soutron Global).

Lots of abbreviations and non-standard metadata in Excel spreadsheets.

Called their catalog the “Chip Crypt.”

Needed to set up categories:

  • US vs non-US
  • Intellectual property (original manufacturer vs. Rochester)

Did not show location info (box, etc.) to users.

Tracked service requests in ILS.

Built thesauri to track part names and numbers — which could be expressed multiple different ways — and make cross references.  The cross reference thesaurus became useful as a stand-alone database for staff to be able to figure out what chips they could  make with existing materials.

File submission page: Brief form for users to submit forms and add notes.  Brief as possible to encourage people to use it.

Archives expanded to include knowledge management for all manufacturing documentation.

Couldn’t browse ILS.  So they implemented the archive module of the ILS.  Developed hierarchical tree similar to what engineers were used to seeing on a shared drive.

Talked about re-branding from “Archive Services,” but that hadn’t happened while she was at Rochester.

Are you positioned to be effective?  Where are you in the org. chart?  Should you change your library’s name?  Can you get a seat at the table with management?  Does your org. have someone setting info. policy?  Do they know what knowledge management is?  (I.T. people often have a different idea.)  Can you lead the way?

How can you add value?  What are the info. pain points?  Need to learn the business.  (She took a one-week crash course in semiconductor mfg.)  “How can we help?”  Market your capabilities.

Look beyond traditional librarian services for your next opportunity.

Questioner talks about his organization, where I.T. suggested crawling everybody’s e-mail and Sharepoint to make one big knowledge management system.  He and Powell agree that Sharepoint isn’t much use if there isn’t good metadata.

Ask people what pieces of info. are useful, what would you search by?

Question about retention: how do you get rid of records about obsolete products?  Powell says they deal with products with a very long life.