Closing Keynote — Sarah Houghton-Jan

One of the main themes in this presentation was one I heard a lot throughout the conference — Experiment and Evaluate.

Sarah started by saying that public libraries have been working on a shoestring for a long time; with the budget crisis, many more libraries need to learn how to provide services with free or low-cost tools.

Library users today (Venn diagram)
– brick & mortar users (shrinking)
– dig lib users (growing)
– power users intersect both (growing)

Digital library usage is still very low per capita …Various reasons for low usage — in San Jose bandwidth problems present a barrier; people don’t want to wait for downloads.

Necessary library services (and how it’s done online):
*book and media
– ebooks : libraries should promote free ebook sites
– emusic, emovies, egaming, instructional videos — free and CC licensed
– digital special collections. scanner + wordpress = special collection

Concerns: DRM, formats, platforms, devices, ADA-compliance (many vendors – including OCLC – are not ADA-compliant. If it’s a concern for your community, you should test.)

*periodicals (free article sites & other resources work for undergraduate research) and ejournals (open access).
Concerns: DRM, formats, open access, sustainability of subscription model

*databases (free databases)
also: free language learning sites, free practice test sites etc.

*reference and research
Instant Messaging (AIM, Yahoo, MSN, GoogleTalk), web chat and widgets (meebo, plugoo), VOIP (Skype, AOL, video chats and  Twitter), free
text messaging (be careful not to get blocked by wireless carrier)
Concerns: staffing models, co-ops

*information literacy
screencasts: Wink, CamStudio
podcasts: Audacity, OurMedia
video class recordings: avidemux, YouTube,
class websites: WordPressBlogger
live office hours: freeconferencecall (good regardless of equipment & bandwidth)
Concerns: use– will users even touch this?, learning models

free and low cost hardware on free after rebate

*special events
podcasts: Audacity, Ourmedia
vidcasts: Avidemux, YouTube or
live webcasts:
event websites for comments and questions before and after — WordPress, Blogger, Google sites
Concerns: use, access

everyzing ($ based on hours/words you’re transcribing) audio & video to text
textaloud ($) text to audio eg class notes to podcast

*Marketing tools
social networks (FaceBook flyer — $10 = 5k FaceBook flyers to targeted audience )
event sites
concerns: going where your users go, where to distribute staff time

1) interacting
welcome comments on everything
respond quickly
respond like a human being
tools: google groups, google wave, WordPress PBworks

2) use cheap services
have a contingency plan — be able to re-purpose equipment

3) free web hosting, statistics and web gadgets

tinypics, Google apps, WordPress, statcounter, bravenet, google analytics, gimp, yousendit, survey monkey, openphoto, programmable web, zoomerang
(there were a lot more — see slides)

4) use LibraryThing

5) Project planning is very important but we often don’t give enough attention to planning and following up.

tools: MS project, Excel table
What we most often fail to do is evaluate projects after they’re done. e.g. blogging — analyze usage
It’s better to move on than continue to spend money supporting a service that no one is using

6) Getting staff buy-in:
– Let staff know about the project early
– Ask staff for their input and use it
– Keep everyone informed at all stages
– Managers must consistently support the new project or service

7) Evaluate!
– survey users and staff 6 months after the launch. Simply ask: would you recommend this service to a friend? Why or why not?

Evaluate statistics
– how much time is being used?
– how much is the service being accessed?

Evaluate the library’s follow through
– has adequate marketing and training been done?

Different type of statistics for different type  of projects
– assess the usage you’re getting against how much money you’re putting into it
– analyze monthly usage

Evaluate results and then take the next step…

– continue service
– discontinue service
– extend pilot
– change aspect of the service
– do more promotion or training

“Failing to discontinue an unsuccessful service is failing”

8 ) Push for change
– Try new things
– Push administrators (they like 24/7 nature of web services, minmal staffing and cheap costs, highest ROI in library)

Rejoice in failures (it means you’re pushing boundaries)!

Regardless of what kind of library we work in, we democratize  information and expertise — and we should applaud ourselves for this.

contact info:

Sarah Houghton-Jan
im: LibrarianInBlack
skype: LibrarianInBlack


2 Responses

  1. Houghton-Jan seems to have entirely missed the point of the conference. A disappointing conclusion to an otherwise compelling day.

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