Marketing and Outreach

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich discusses resilience, subject of ALA’s Center for the Future of Libraries' book

Formally launched in 2014, ALA’s Center for the Future of Libraries works to identify emerging trends relevant to libraries and the communities they serve, promote futuring and innovation techniques to help librarians and library professionals shape their future, and build connections with experts and innovative thinkers to help libraries address emerging issues.

Resilience by Rebekkah Smith Aldrich has just been published in the new Library Futures series, presented by ALA Neal-Schuman in partnership with the Center. At the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Denver, Miguel A. Figueroa, the Center's director, interviewed Aldrich about her work and the new book. What follows is a transcript of their conversation, edited for clarity.

Miguel A. Figueroa, Director, Center for the Future of Libraries: One of the trends that our Sustainability Round Table and some of our other advocates in the profession really encouraged us to explore was this idea of resilience. Resilience was first explained to me at a civic innovation summit. And I remember the Miguel A. Figueroa, Director, Center for the Future of Libraries, and author Rebekkah Smith Aldrichperson who was talking to me about it, he said that it was really about equipping and informing communities so that they could talk about how they can be responsive to changes in their community. Whether it's environmental changes or economic changes, or political discord, or any number of things. And the more that he spoke to me, the more I realized that it has everything to do with information and communities coming together and how we empower people to make better decisions in their lives. And that's fundamental to what libraries do. So I'd love to hear from you, Rebekkah, how you've become more interested in resilience and how it's transformed some of your library practice and what you think of its long-term importance to libraries.

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich: I work for the Mid-Hudson Library System, and a big part of the work I was doing about 10 years ago was helping libraries to build new buildings. I was frustrated that we weren't building more resilient and sustainable buildings. I would go in to talk to boards and I'd ask, “Why aren't you using LEED?” And they'd say, “That's too expensive.” I said to myself, I have to learn how to make the case for this.

So I started to educate myself and I ended up going to the United States Green Building Council's conference, Greenbuild. I got to hear Alex Wilson, who's the editor of Environmental Building News. It’s a little niche publication, but he had started a new thinktank called the Resilient Design Institute and he was really focused on how to build for resilience. But when I started to learn the ten principles of building for resilience, the ninth one really stood out to me, which is that when you build, you have to respect social equity and community. And that's when the light bulb went off because that's what libraries do. That's us right there. That's our sweet spot. What I really came to learn over time is, you have educated guesses of what might be coming your way in terms of disruption, whether it be economic, environmental, political, social, technological, but you can’t know the specifics of it. So the best preparation you can have is a community that knows each other, respects each other, and has empathy for one another. Because then in the right moment we can come together and find shared solutions. So that proactive role that libraries can play to bring people together and help them understand their neighbors, that's the most valuable thing we can bring to any of the disruption that arises within this world.

Libraries are perfectly and uniquely positioned to do that work. But I wasn't seeing us owning that in that space. It’s kind of like, libraries get called in after the fact. After the river floods, after there's an economic downturn, then libraries, all of a sudden, are thought of. But really libraries should be part of planning for the future in those respects. George Needham has this great observation, he says that libraries aren't first responders, but we're first restorers. But in reality, if we're not part of the conversation in the beginning, we're a couple book cover for Resiliencesteps behind. Libraries can help to give a voice and a platform to some of the more vulnerable residents during resilience planning. Those who are vulnerable, from a socioeconomic standpoint, are more at risk in the face of the disasters a community may face. Vulnerability in the midst of an environmental disruption could mean life or death. Libraries that create a tighter social fabric are actually saving people's lives. Particularly as we're thinking about the extreme weather we’re going to be living with in the future.

So, when I think about the profession, we're really good at the social equity stuff and we're pretty good with the economic feasibility stuff. But environmental stewardship, we aren't really as up to speed as we should be. That's where I focus a lot of my work, understanding how libraries can be a better leader on the topic of sustainability and resilience. And to really own the idea of being a catalyst for change and be proactive about it.

Miguel A. Figueroa: You mentioned that ninth issue, that connection to equity. Sometimes it's really easy for us to think, oh, well this is one more thing for me to do. But the way you framed it, it kind of fits into why so many of us got into this profession. It is core to our values. It's core to the profession’s values, but also our roles as helpers. Our roles in believing in the power of communities. So how does that help people reframe the idea: it's not just one more thing to do, it's one more way to do what we've always been doing, but to do it in a better way?

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich: I would say, you know, we’re not just educators for education's sake. Not to get all existential or “What's the point of it all?” But really for me it comes down to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Like if we're not contributing to that, what's the point? It's not just about students’ scores on the tests or someone's ability to get a job. It's really about the quality of life they have in the aftermath of those achievements. We need to keep what matters in focus. The core values of librarianship fit right into this. When you talk about access to information to make better decisions for us all, and leaders who can lead us in a direction that's going to be better for us all, that starts at the beginning. It runs through the spectrum of library services. When you take a look at lifelong learning, social responsibility, the public good, all of that is tied to the health and well-being of the people that we serve.

So as you said, we're a helping profession. I always think of the Mr. Rogers quote, in times of distress, look around for the helpers. And that's where people find hope and that’s why libraries are so perfect for this moment in time, right here, right now. We don't get the recognition we deserve in that area. Because we really do come through for people. They really do find us in those hard times. But you know, the trust we build during the quiet time is really the most valuable thing we bring to the table. Where people trust us. We’re an asset you need in the face of disruption when you're not sure who to trust, when things have gone south on a variety of topics, whether it be politics or economics or the environment, libraries come through. Librarians, we always joke around that we're superheroes, but I think it's more true than ever today.

Miguel A. Figueroa: When I look at these trends and how we can stitch them together with our values, librarians are going to be very well acquainted for thinking about the future. Because we have guiding values that adapt to these trends and changes and we know how to utilize them for the future. Thanks so much for talking with me and for advancing the issue of resilience and sustainability in the profession.

Learn more at the ALA Store. The next book being published in the Library Futures series, Anonymity, is available for pre-order. 

logo for Center for the Future of Libraries

Merrilee Proffitt on collaboration between Wikipedia and cultural heritage institutions

A senior program officer at OCLC Research, Merrilee Proffitt first started exploring how to develop better relationships between Wikipedia and cultural heritage institutions about seven years ago. Since then she created OCLC’s Wikipedian in Residence program, has helped run several edit-a-thons, and contributed to Wikipedia, Wikidata, and Wikimedia Commons. In her new book she and her contributors explore how to connect these various communities of knowledge, which she expands upon in this interview.

What was the genesis of this book project?

A while back, Grace Agnew from Rutgers University told me that librarians would naturally expect a collection of case studies about how librarians are engaging with Wikipedia to be in a book. There are case studies published “on Wiki” and individual journal articles in the professional literature, but, to my knowledge there’s no book on the special connection between Wikipedia and libraries. Grace’s comment stuck with me, and when Patrick Hogan from ALA Editions contacted me to see if I would be interested in putting forward a proposal, I jumped at the opportunity.

The opening lines of your introduction are, "I believe that Wikipedia is important for the future of libraries. I also believe that libraries are equally important to Wikipedia." Why do you think some libraries tend to see Wikipedia as a threat rather than as a potential partner?

I think most see it as an opportunity rather than a threat, but many librarians (and teachers, and journalists, the five pillars of Wikipediaand researchers) are concerned about the quality of Wikipedia articles and don’t know if they are supposed to use it as a legitimate resource. A wise friend, Phoebe Ayers from the MIT Libraries, once explained that Wikipedia is like a busy newsroom, and what you see are not necessarily finished articles, but articles in various stages of completeness. When information professionals realize that the “incomplete” or imperfect nature is part of the transparent process of Wikipedia, and understand how to determine where an article is in that process, they can then gauge how to assess the information and  see how they might become part of the continuous improvement process. We saw this again and again in our Wikipedia + Libraries: Better Together project.

You point out that Wikipedia definitely has flaws: for example, its contributors skew male, and there’s a large gap in articles relating to librarianship. Why should the library world be concerned with Wikipedia’s flaws, and what can the profession do about it?

Simply put, everyone is using Wikipedia; ideally they will find information there that is both accurate and reflects a diverse world view. As organizations that serve diverse communities, libraries can help readers see Wikipedia’s biases by teaching them to be critical consumers of freely accessible information. We can also guide people to understand why and how they can participate in Wikipedia. One of the chapters in the book features the voices of public librarians who use Wikipedia in the library. One librarian, Allison Frick, held very brief Wikipedia editing sessions so that young women would have the seed planted that there is a place for them to contribute to a larger body of knowledge online, they have permission to participate, and they know how to get started. This is the kind of attitude that will take us far—the “yes, and” attitude to Wikipedia’s flaws.

What are some “baby steps” that librarians can take to reach out to the Wikipedia community?

I don’t think librarians are about baby steps; they can be bold and leap in! Librarians can draw upon their resourcefulness and love of learning to become knowledgeable as they can about Wikipedia norms and practices. The chapter by Alex Stinson and Jason Evans has some helpful starting points. Also check out the materials available in our Wikipedia + Libraries: Better Together project space; look out for other training opportunities; join our Facebook page and mailing list.

Would you briefly describe Wikidata and why you believe it’s so useful for libraries?

book cover for Leveraging Wikipedia: Connecting Communities of KnowledgeSure. Wikidata is a collaboratively edited structured data set that is used by Wikipedia and by other sister projects. It is quickly becoming a go-to resource for identifiers and I believe it will play an important role in our linked data future. You read it here first!

There are numerous examples of collaborations in your book—what’s a particular example that surprised you?

It was not surprising to me at all that librarians are great collaborators, and many of the chapters in the book demonstrate there are many forms of collaboration between Wikipedians and librarians. I look forward to seeing even more examples in the future!

To me, the most surprising thing in the book is in the chapter contributed by Lily Todorinova from Rutgers, and her findings about how students understand (or misunderstand) citations. I also recommend the chapter from Kenning Arlitsch and Justin Shanks—their findings about how search engines understand libraries and how that fits into the knowledge graph are something that we, as information professionals, should take note of. Wikipedia plays a role here.

Learn more at the ALA Store.

Mary Grace Flaherty on promoting health at the library

As trusted guardians of facts and knowledge, libraries play an important role in providing their communities with accurate health information. Furthermore, as Mary Grace Flaherty writes in her new book, taking the initiative to offer health promotion programming is a valuable form of community outreach, serving community needs while increasing visibility. In this interview we discuss the consumer health movement and how it intersects with public libraries. 

What inspired you to write this book? Why is this topic so important to you?

I started my library career as a reference librarian at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. While I was there, I learned the immeasurable impact of timely, authoritative health information on health care provision and research.  Later in my career, as the director of a small public library in rural Upstate New a drawing that represents the interlocking nature of patient-provider interaction, self-care, health literacy, and health informationYork, I realized the need for accurate health information was just as important in that setting. I also observed during my tenure as director that public libraries have great potential as community partners. I wrote the book to provide resources and templates, and to highlight and promote the role public libraries play in health initiatives.   
We were really struck by a figure you quoted in the introduction: nearly half of all Americans are estimated to be functionally illiterate in terms of dealing with health care issues. What’s the consequence of that for libraries?

As information providers and community resources, libraries are uniquely situated to assist patrons with acquiring and evaluating health information resources, and get many opportunities per year to do so. If we consider libraries as organizations that assist with all types of literacy training, the consequences are two-fold. First, libraries can assist through materials provision, by acquiring current materials and assuring resources are kept up-to-date and available in plain language and at reading levels patrons can understand. They can also guide patrons to credible online resources like MedlinePlus. In addition, they can initiate programs to address specific patron health needs, such as signing up for health care.
The issue of health care, in general, has been so politicized in the last decade. What advice can you offer libraries who want to serve their communities but encounter objections or resistance?

As with any issue that may engender controversy, libraries should approach health care by first considering their community’s needs. There are many aspects of health and health promotion that are not political; for example, we know that obesity plays a role in diabetes prevalence, and that exercise can help prevent obesity. If the library is situated in a community with a high rate of diabetes among youth, they may consider offering programs that incorporate physical activity for youth. This way, the library can contribute to addressing health concerns in a transparent manner, and positively respond to community challenges.
For libraries who are ready to collaborate with community organizations, what are some first steps to take?

The first step is to get out into the community and meet the key players in the health arena. These may book cover for Promoting Individual and Community Health at the Libraryinclude the folks at the local clinic or regional medical center and local governmental agencies, such as the Public Health department and the Recreation and Parks department. The library could host a community forum and invite these key players for an open discussion about addressing pressing health care needs.
Which resources would you recommend for staying up to date with developments in health information, and learning about what other libraries are doing across the country?

The National Library of Medicine’s consumer health website, is the best starting place for keeping up to date. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has a wide array of free tools. There are a number of well-established initiatives under way, such as WebJunction’s Health Happens in Libraries that provide free resources, and ALA and PLA are also a great place to find support for health programs. 

Learn more about ways to promote individual and community health in Flaherty's book, available through the ALA Store.

Homelessness and libraries: an interview with Ryan J. Dowd

It may surprise you to hear that staff at public libraries interact with almost as many homeless individuals as staff at shelters do. But as Ryan J. Dowd, who has spent most of his career as Executive Director of a large homeless shelter near Chicago, observes, "Libraries are one of the few places in a community where everyone — homeless and not homeless — are likely to mix." He advocates for an empathy-driven approach to these individuals in his new book The Librarian's Guide to Homelessness.

You open your book by discussing some of the myths surrounding individuals who are homeless. In your view, which myth is the most pervasive and damaging?

I think there are two pervasive myths that contradict each other, and each cause a different type of damage. One myth is that homeless people are nothing like housed people. This “othering” of homeless individuals really allows us to view them as less than human, less than citizens and less than deserving of assistance. The related myth, though, is that homeless individuals are exactly like housed people. That simply isn’t true. A homeless individual has had a lot of different experiences that effects worldview, communication style, etc. If you assume that a homeless individual interacts with the world exactly like you do, then you are completely unable to empathize with the unique circumstances they face.

What is the Homeless Golden Rule and why do you write that it's the most important thing in your book?

The Homeless Golden Rule is that you should treat your homeless patrons no better or worse than any other patron. This is so important because homeless individuals are used to being singled out and treated as “other” (and usually “less than.”). Being singled out (and discriminated against) is a massive trigger for conflict with homeless patrons. Simply not treating homeless patrons discriminatorily removes a massive source of conflict.

When there's a difficult situation to deal with, often one's default is to immediately shift into problem-solving mode rather than taking a moment to empathize. What are a few pieces of advice you would give librarians for confronting difficult situations with empathy?

The first step is to slow down. Talking to an angry patron (homeless or otherwise) is uncomfortable, and so people try to rush the situation in order to get out of it. This is a mistake. Homeless individuals are constantly rushed and ignored, so when you try to rush the conversation, you send a clear message that they are not worthy of your time or attention. This is a trigger that escalates the situation, which—ironically—causes the confrontation to take much longer than if you took a little time to listen. So few people take the time to listen to homeless patrons. When you do that, it really resolves a lot of problems down the line (and saves time!).

Let's say a library patron approaches you to complain about a homeless individual. So now you have two overlapping situations to handle. What do you do? 

The first step is to determine whether the non-homeless patron’s complaint is legitimate. At one library I talked to, the patrons call the police every time a homeless patron even enters the library. That is simply an elitist misunderstanding of the role of the library as the last truly democratic public space in our communities. On the other hand, if the non-homeless patron has a legitimate concern (e.g. sexual comments) then that is a totally different matter. So, basically, if the concern is legitimate, then library staff should address the problematic behavior. If the concern is not legitimate, library staff should do their best to explain the role of libraries in serving everyone across the socio-economic spectrum (easier said than done, of course!).

On a day to day basis, how does librarianship's advocacy role fit in with serving the homeless?

I think that any effective advocacy begins with a relationship. When you take the time to hear the stories—and learn the names—of homeless patrons you immediately become a more effective advocate. The revolution is in the relationship.  

What are some first steps that libraries can take to partner with outside organizations?

Let’s start with the idea of hiring a social worker. I think it is great for libraries to have social workers, but I am totally against libraries hiring social workers. A far better approach is to partner with a local nonprofit to provide the social worker. There are several reasons for this:  1) A social work agency will do a better job hiring a good social worker, 2) A social work agency will do a better job supporting and supervising a social worker, 3) A social worker operating in a sea of librarians will not have adequate moral and technical support; if that person works for another agency, s/he can get advice from co-workers back at the main office.  4) When another agency has staff based in the library, there are more people caring about the library. That is huge.

Learn more about Dowd's book at the ALA Store.

Though fictional, The Public, a new film written and directed by Emilio Estevez, deals with these very real issues. The opening film of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, it stars Taylor Schilling, Alec Baldwin, Jena Malone, and Jeffrey Wright alongside Estevez. It centers on a group of homeless library patrons in Cincinnati. When brutal weather fills the city's emergency shelters to capacity, they refuse to leave the downtown public library at closing time, leading to a standoff. Check out the official trailer below.

What's graphic design got to do with me? Diana K. Wakimoto explains

Diana K. Wakimoto speaks directly to library staff in her new book, and so we wanted to speak directly to her about why graphic design is such a useful set of skills for any librarian regardless of job description.

First off, I can imagine someone saying, “I’m not on the marketing team, I don’t do PR for the library—why do I need to know anything about graphic design?”

Graphic design is so much more than marketing and PR. It's about communicating to the best of our abilities with our patrons in our communities. Graphic design is visual communication. It's about solving problems and providing great service for our communities and all librarians are about that. So whether you're the one creating the flyer and bookmarks or you're the one giving them out to your library patrons, knowing more about graphic design can only help you be a better communicator in your job as a librarian. Graphic design is an important, but overlooked part of so much of what is driving many of the hot discussions in libraries today in the realms of UX, instruction, online resources and services, assessment, and more. Understanding graphic design will help you in all these areas.  

Just as we wouldn't say, "I don't need to know about written communication or how to give a coherent update on my project at a meeting because I'm not in PR or marketing", we shouldn't discount the need for basic graphic design knowledge as librarians just because it's not a core facet of our job. It's part of all of our work. Even if you never move around a pixel on the screen for creating an instruction handout and you never hand-letter a flyer for programming, knowing a bit about graphic design can help in other ways. Knowing how to "decode" or analyze a design is helpful for understanding why it works or doesn't work as a form of visual communication. This helps all of us in quickly finding the important information in well-designed materials and knowing why poorly designed materials are difficult to read or are just plain unattractive. 

an explanation of sightlinesIf you are someone who has to sign-off on any form of visual communication in your library before it is published online or goes to print, it's imperative that you understand the basics of graphic design. Otherwise, how will you provide helpful and informed feedback for your librarian graphic designers? Everyone has an opinion about design, but not everyone is informed. If you are informed, you can have a positive impact in ensuring that your library always puts its best foot forward graphically. 

Design is everywhere and as librarians we are really good at learning a little bit about everything, so why wouldn't we want to know more about something that surrounds us everyday? Plus, learning and applying what you know about graphic design is just plain fun!

If someone only has time to start with a few “high impact” projects, what would you suggest?

High impact projects really depend on the needs of the individual library and the community the library serves. But, if you press me to name a few high impact projects that I think could benefit many libraries (and won't take months to do) they are: redesigning materials for new library patrons (bookmarks, handouts, etc. about using the library), redesigning calendars of library events, and auditing the library homepage to see if it is both easy-to-navigate and visually appealing. Notice for the last example, the library's homepage, I just suggest auditing and critiquing, especially if you haven't checked for ADA compliance recently. The redesign of a homepage is a lot of work and will take a lot more time than the two other projects. 

I see the first two projects as high impact because: 1) you want to make a good first impression on new patrons of the library and 2) lots of people view and use your library's calendar of events. Both of these projects provide great opportunities to apply your graphic design knowledge in a concrete and very visible way. Plus, if you create a great new template for your library's event calendar, you can reuse it and save yourself time in the following months--always great for busy librarian graphic designers. 

From the librarians I've talked with, most have an idea of what projects they want to tackle first and I say go for it! I'm a big fan of taking care of low-hanging fruit in the graphic design realm and using positive momentum to get you through more complicated and time-consuming redesign projects.

What are some ways that librarians can streamline the design process to save time and just generally make the job easier?

Another great question! I do go over some tips in my book about saving time, too. Everyone needs to save time since, as librarians, we are always trying to cram more work into a day than is possible! A few key points that help with graphic design projects: 

  • Don't create complicated designs when you are short on time. Simplicity really is your friend and some of the most powerful designs I've ever seen or created have been simple ones. 
  • Be okay with saying no when you can. Mistakes and frustrations happen most frequently when trying to juggle too many design projects at once without allocating enough time for each. 
  • When possible, put in the time up front to create custom templates for items you have to create frequently in your library, such as flyers or web banners for ongoing program series like book clubs and calendars of events. These templates will save you so much time and allow others in your library to also take care of things when you are out. 
  • Keep project logs, even very simple ones are so helpful for remembering  what fonts, colors, and image sources you used for each project. Hunting around to match a font you used two years ago wastes so much time. 
  • Always, always, always backup your work in multiple places and never put your only copy of a project in a shared drive. 
  • And figure out what works best for you. Just like answering a reference question or teaching a workshop, there's no one right way to design. 

In your book you write that “software is a tool, not the solution.” Can you elaborate on that?

Computers are great for design. I love Adobe Creative Cloud and Microsoft Publisher and sites that allow me to use icons royalty free, but none of these software programs or websites creates a design, I do. Every librarian graphic designer holds the solution to any design issue or problem. We are the solution to creating better, more usable visual communications for our libraries, not the software loaded on our machines. Thankfully, the software can't think for us. We have to apply our creativity and knowledge to whatever design issue has been brought to us for fixing, whether it's creating a new brochure to celebrate the library's anniversary or redesigning a handout for a resume writing workshop. 

Software simply allows us to create the final form, for most library designs, in a print-ready or online publishing-ready format. All the hard stuff--brainstorming, deciding on a theme, understanding the content book cover for Easy Graphic Design for Librariansthat needs to be included, choosing images, typefaces, and color schemes, and determining layout--are done inside our heads and with pencil and paper. The final pushing around of pixels in whatever software program is used is usually the fast and easy part of the design process. This is why it is so important for all librarians to understand graphic design and the design process so we acknowledge the hard creative work of graphic design lies with the librarian graphic designer, not the software. Software is a tool, a great tool, but just a tool. A great librarian graphic designer can create a fantastic design no matter what software limitations they face.

Lastly, you point out how important it is to share design knowledge throughout one’s institution so that everyone can share in that learning. What are some ways to do that?

There are many great ways to share design knowledge throughout a library and, again, the best ways depend on the library and the librarians. I love brown bags because they are informal and everyone has the chance to share something, but I know these don't work for everyone. If you are on the marketing or UX team, share your knowledge with others on your team so you can all implement your knowledge on current and future projects. If you are in administration, support your librarians taking courses and workshops to learn more and support time on the job to get together and discuss graphic design and how it impacts the success of the library. Also, keep your eyes open for pieces of design that inspire you and try to pull apart why the design works and what pieces of the design you can apply to your library. This is a great activity to do in a group as a more interactive way to review concepts than a lecture, too. 

And, of course, you can always recommend my book to anyone who wants to learn more about graphic design in libraries! 

Interview: Marie R. Kennedy and Cheryl LaGuardia on effectively promoting electronic resources

In this interview, Marie R. Kennedy and Cheryl LaGuardia discuss the new second edition of their ALA Neal-Schuman book Marketing Your Library’s Electronic Resources: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians.

Teaching with Technology @ The FIC; photo by  Richard CawoodThe first edition has been one of our bestsellers. Why did you write a second edition, and what are some of the most useful updates?

We learned so much from our readers about their experiences using the first edition that we wanted to incorporate all that feedback and share it widely. In the first edition our readers found the marketing plan reports we included very helpful – in this edition we’ve added some more. To help you get moving on your own marketing plans faster we’ve created a downloadable template. Grab it, use the prompts to consider the essential steps in a marketing plan, and get going!

One of the central themes in your book is that libraries should focus on value rather than ROI (return on investment). Would you explain the differences between them and why value should take precedence?

We think about marketing as having an ongoing conversation with our patrons, and this book acts as a guide to help you start the conversation at your own library. It guides you to consider what you already know about your patrons, and how to find out more about them and their needs. As a result of your efforts, imagine how satisfied and empowered a patron will feel when your library supplies them with just the right electronic resource. Meeting (or exceeding!) the needs of our patrons is value; we’re not too interested in trying to place a business construct on institutions that are inherently not businesses (ROI).

What are some key questions that libraries need to ask when they first enter the planning stage?

There are some big questions to ask at the planning stage, and we encourage you to think about them as part of a team. We know that marketing works best when it is embedded in the culture of a library. You’ve likely heard the old saying, “Marketing is far too important to be left to the marketing department.” Marketing can turn a traditional administrative hierarchy on its head, empowering staff (not just administrators) to speak for the library. Once you have your team in place you’ll need to identify what the purpose of starting down a communication path will mean for your library, what are the goals you have in mind, who will be involved, how you will complete the work, and how you will determine if you’ve done a good job.

You have a chapter subtitled “Lather, Rinse, and Repeat.” Once you have a marketing plan in place, why is important to keep revising it?

We’re learning every day, and our patrons are changing every day. At the end of a marketing cycle it’s important to pause, consider what we’ve learned, and how we can improve in the future. We then put that reflection into action in a new marketing plan.

What are a few trends in electronic resources that you think will be the most important in the next five years?

Here’s our take:

  1. There’s a greater emphasis than ever before on demonstrated value to researchers. Very few libraries can afford “luxury titles” any longer. If the product doesn’t have immediate value to primary users, libraries won’t acquire it. This has major implications both for the design of electronic products and for their marketing.
  2. If subscription e-resources are not being used sufficiently by primary clientele, they’re not going to be continued; trials and deaccessioning will increase to sort the e-wheat from the e-chaff.
  3. Resource information provenance is key; libraries and our researchers want to be able to judge the validity of resources in the tighter, more competitive market.
  4. On a related note, libraries want greater transparency in aggregated content, and to keep up companies who want to survive will have to provide it. Libraries are less inclined simply to accept whatever product a company is willing to make available or sell to them, and product usage segmentation is becoming more of the practice, rather than a “take the one size fits all” package. This is an area in which savvy companies can prevail over the competition if they but have the smarts to create more individually-tailored products.
  5. Mobile access is simply being demanded by digital natives, and companies will have to redesign interfaces for excellent mobile device access to survive.

Books hot off the press, Meet the Authors at the ALA Store in Orlando

Located just inside the Shuttle Bus Entrance at the Orange County Convention Center, the ALA Store offers products that meet the widest range of your promotional and continuing education/professional development needs—as well as fun gift items. Make sure to carve out some time in your schedule during the conference to stop by and examine the many new and bestselling items available!

ALA Store hours:

  • Friday, June 24            12:00 pm – 5:30 pm
  • Saturday, June 25       8:30 am – 5:00 pm
  • Sunday, June 26          8:30 am – 5:00 pm
  • Monday, June 27        9:00 am – 2:00 pm

ALA Graphics will feature a selection of popular posters, bookmarks, and promotional materials, including new 2016 Teen Read Week and Banned Book Week items. And stop by early to get your pick of conference t-shirts—they sell out fast! We’ll also be introducing several brand new items and exclusive gifts:

  • Libraries Transform Expert Badges
  • CSK Book Award T-shirts
  • CSK Book Award Pashmina (limited quantity and only available at the Conference Store)

ALA Editions and ALA divisions are excited to offer several new titles hot off the press, such as “RDA Essentials,” by Thomas Brenndorfer; “Engaging Babies in the Library: Putting Theory into Practice,” by Debra J. Knoll; and “The Librarian's Nitty Gritty Guide to Content Marketing,” by Laura Solomon. Come by the ALA Store for these special Meet the Author events:

Saturday, June 25      

Sunday, June 26      

Remember that you can now find titles from ALA Neal-Schuman and Facet Publishing in the ALA Store. You can also get free shipping on all book orders placed in the ALA Store (posters, bookmarks, and other gift-type items are not eligible for this offer).

Stop by the ALA Store to learn more about our eLearning opportunities. You can also arrange for a live demo of RDA Toolkit—just contact us by June 20 to request an appointment.

Prices at the ALA Store automatically reflect the ALA Member discount, so there’s no need to dig out your Member number. And remember that every dollar you spend at the ALA Store helps support library advocacy, awareness, and other key programs and initiatives!

Continuing the Conversation: Serving Deaf Patrons in the Library, Part 2

The resources and slides for Part 2 of Kathy MacMillan’s Serving Deaf Patrons in the Library are listed below. Have further questions or comments? Whether you participated in the event or not, feel free to chime in via the comments area below!


Chart of state regulations concerning interpreters:

RID Interpreter/Agency Locater Tool:

Hearing and Speech Agency (Baltimore, MD)

Video shown in the workshop: How ASL and English Differ: Brief Example

Visit for resources, tips, and to sign up for Kathy’s e-newsletter!

Kathy’s slides

Serving Deaf Patrons in the Library Part 2

Handout: Working with an Intereter.

Working with an Interpreter

Continuing the Conversation: Serving Deaf Patrons in the Library

Untitled Document We just wrapped up the first session of Kathy MacMillan’s Serving Deaf Patrons in the Library.  The readings, resources and slides for the event are listed below. Have further questions or comments? Whether you participated in the event or not, feel free to chime in via the comments area below!

Kathy’s “Resources to Know:
  • Online ASL dictionaries:
  • The Red Notebook: Deaf Resources @ Your Library:
  • Try Your Hand at This!: Easy Ways to Incorporate Sign Language Into Your Programs by Kathy MacMillan. (Scarecrow Press, 2006)
  • "Hands-On Collection Building: A librarian offers tips for sign language materials selection" by Kathy MacMillan. School Library Journal, March 2003.
  • For Hearing People Only: answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the Deaf community, its culture, and the "Deaf reality"  by Matthew S. Moore and Linda Levitan ; with a foreword by Harlan Lane. (Deaf Life Press, 1993)
  • Through Deaf Eyes (DVD).  (PBS Home Video, 2007)
  • Audism Unveiled (DVD). (DawnSignPress, 2008)
Kathy’s Slides:
Serving Deaf Patrons in the Library Part 1

Library Sentences Handout
Serving Deaf Patrons--Library Sentences Handout

Library Signs Handout
Serving Deaf Patrons--Library Signs Handout

Links to Videos Shown in this Workshop:

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