The Million-Dollar Reason You Need to Market Your Library’s Collection

January 3, 2017

$250,000 vs. $8 million. That’s the spread between the amount my library spends on programming and the amount they spend on collections. I bet if you checked your library, you’d find a …

Source: The Million-Dollar Reason You Need to Market Your Library’s Collection

Librarians share their predictions for education trends in 2017

January 2, 2017


Check this out – great ideas and insights….

Fighting Fake News – How libraries can lead the way on media literacy

January 2, 2017



From American Libraries:

Librarians—whether public, school, academic, or special—all seek to ensure that patrons who ask for help get accurate information.

Given the care that librarians bring to this task, the recent explosion in unverified, unsourced, and sometimes completely untrue news has been discouraging, to say the least. According to the Pew Research Center, a majority of US adults are getting their news in real time from their social media feeds.



Seven Seriously Super Ways to Target Teens at Your Library

January 2, 2017

1-2This is the third and final part of our three-blog series on marketing to teenagers. Before you read this post, be sure to read this one and this one. Okay, here are seven more ideas for targeting …

Source: Seven Seriously Super Ways to Target Teens at Your Library

What will libraries do with all that extra space? Fiction E-books outsell print hardcovers

July 19, 2012


Full year 2011 sales mark the critical mass for the sales shift away from fiction print editions to the E-book format.

Adult fiction ebooks outsold hardcovers in 2011-survey 

“Net sales of e-books jumped to 15 percent of the market in 2011 from 6 percent in 2010, according to a report by the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group. The groups compiled data provided by nearly 2,000 publishers. Total overall U.S. book market sales declined 2.5 percent to $27.2 billion in 2011 from $27.9 billion in 2010, the report said. While ebooks increased in strength, bringing in more than $2 billion in 2011, the majority of publishers’ revenue still came from print books, with $11.1 billion in 2011.”

While only holding 15% of the total book market, the market share growth of E-books is quite breathtaking. In a year that saw overall book sales fall by 2.5% over the previous year, E-books market share more than doubled. This raises some critical questions for all libraries in response to this dramatic shift:

  1. Did your library shift enough in by doubling your E-book holdings and decreasing your print purchases?  Or are you falling behind the customer demand curve?
  2. What will be your strategy to monitor the effective weeding of print materials as the usage continues to swing to digital formats?
  3. What will be your shelving and floor space strategy as your print holdings decrease in size? What will you do to effectively use this new found extra space?
  4. Did your library spend the last few years with a renovation/expansion project on hold due to the troubled economy? Are those old plans even valid anymore?
  5. Are your library’s customer demand patterns for E-books the same demand patterns as they were for print hardcovers. Did you know one of the hottest demand E-book category is the “romance” genre? Do you know that an increasing number of elementary grade students have their own E-book device?
  6. How are you delivering, informing and marketing this collection shift for your customers?
  7. Are you making Kindles, Nooks and other E-book readers available to your customers. Are you offering training and support to your customers who already have their own devices? 
  8. How does your customer access your E-book collection? Is it easy, intuitive and customer friendly?
  9. Does your E-book website portal allow for and promote the: tagging, rating and reviewing that happens in the online retail world? Compare your site to Amazon and see the difference.
  10. How will you handle the likely customer complaints as your non E-book customers come to recognize the smaller collection size of print?
  11. Are you and your staff trained and ready to positively handle these challenges? Are you ready to promote and support these changes? This is real and unstoppable.

I believe this is the beginning of a tremendously positive opportunity to reinvent your library to make it even more relevant, useful and an even more important component of your community’s quality of life.  This is a new opportunity to reach out to and connect with both new and existing users of your library who may choose to access and use your services in a new 24/7, 100% digital way. Lets face it, most of us have changed our retail shopping behavior because of great internet retailers. Our expectations about what shopping is have changed. Libraries need to rapidly adjust to these changes. What happens to your funding if you don’t keep up with this change?

Are you up to the challenge?

New Library Technologies Dispense With Librarians –

October 26, 2010


The article below highlights possible new ideas to the challenges facing public libraries: how do you improve or extend services when you are faced with continuing budget shortfalls?

Clearly – technology will have to play a role.  Netflix and Redbox has changed the delivery of videos to the home. Blockbuster has again filed for bankruptcy and will probably completely disappear.  Big box pharmacies (Walgreens and CVS) have added 24-hr. drive – throughs for prescription pick ups. 

Isn’t it time for libraries to aggressively explore ways to use new delivery options for providing service for it’s customers?

I have no real fear that most libraries will go away. Strong libraries will continue to provide social and content connections for their communities. Having said that – libraries that are slow to innovate and find new ways to provide additional convenience and services will be in jeopardy.

New Library Technologies Dispense With Librarians 

HUGO, Minn.—In this suburb of St. Paul, the new library branch has no librarians, no card catalog and no comfortable chairs in which to curl up and read.

Matt McLoone for The Wall Street Journal

A library worker shows how to check out books from a digitally locked cubby, in Hugo, Minn. Audio

Listen: Conor Dougherty reports on the library of tomorrow and what’s behind the shift.

Instead, the Library Express is a stack of metal lockers outside city hall. When patrons want a book or DVD, they order it online and pick it up from a digitally locked, glove-compartment- sized cubby a few days later. It’s a library as conceived by the generation.

Faced with layoffs and budget cuts, or simply looking for ways to expand their reach, libraries around the country are replacing traditional, full-service institutions with devices and approaches that may be redefining what it means to have a library.

Later this year Mesa, Ariz., plans to open a new “express” library in a strip-mall, open three days a week, with outdoor kiosks to dispense books and DVDs at all hours of the day. Palm Harbor, Fla., meanwhile, has offset the impact of reduced hours by installing glass-front vending machines that dispense DVDs and popular books.

The wave of innovation is aided by companies that have created new machines designed to help libraries save on labor. For instance, Evanced Solutions, an Indianapolis company that makes library software, this month is starting test trials of a new vending machine it plans to start selling early next year.

“It’s real, and the book lockers are great,” said Audra Caplan, president of the Public Library Association. “Many of us are having to reduce hours as government budgets get cut, and this enables people to get to us after hours.”

Some library directors worry that such machines are the first step toward a future in which the physical library—along with its reference staffs and children’s programs—fades from existence. James Lund, director of the Red Wing Public Library in Red Wing, Minn., recently wrote skeptically about the “vending library” in Library Journal, a trade publication.

“The basis of the vending machine is to reduce the library to a public-book locker,” Mr. Lund said in an interview. “Our real mission is public education and public education can’t be done from a vending machine. It takes educators, it takes people, it takes interaction.”


Matt McLoone for The Wall Street Journal

A skeptic of the approach, James Lund, of the Red Wing, Minn. public library:   ‘We are not a public-book locker.’

Public libraries are an American creation. The first was introduced by Benjamin Franklin, who created a co-operative library funded by people who used it. The first tax-supported library was founded in Peterborough, N.H., in 1833, according to Larry Nix, a retired librarian and library historian. Today there are about 16,700 public library buildings in the country.

Robo-libraries are still a relatively rare sight. Public Information Kiosk Inc., a company in Germantown, Md. that sells kiosks and vending machines to libraries, has had 25 orders for a book-and-DVD-dispensing machine that the company introduced last year. Fred Goodman, the company’s chief executive, estimated that, overall, there are no more than a few dozen vending machines now in operation. Still, he expects to sell at least twice as many units in 2011.

Hugo is a town of 13,700 people on the northern fringes of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area that has seen its population double in the last decade. But surrounding Washington County is struggling to build the infrastructure to support the newcomers: Over the past year, the county’s nine-branch library system has cut the equivalent of two full-time workers to trim costs.

And yet, the system is popular: Visits last year rose 10% compared to 2007.

The combination of greater demand and leaner resources is visible in the wait list for some popular books. The system has 32 copies of “Freedom,” the new Jonathan Franzen novel set in nearby St. Paul, but 321 people on the waiting list—a 10 to 1 ratio. In flusher times, the wait-list ratio was usually closer to 5 to 1 for popular titles.

The 20 lockers of Library Express won’t solve that problem, but they have made the library more convenient. The county is adding 20 more lockers next month.

Melody Baker, 47, recently used the lockers to check out the best seller “Eat, Pray, Love,”—”I had to see what the fuss was about,” she said.

The library’s main branch is five miles from her house, but Ms. Baker, who is a personal care attendant for an autistic child, says it’s hard to get there during business hours when the library is open. “It’s difficult for me to get up there,” she said of the library’s main branch. “This makes it much easier to get library material.” 

via New Library Technologies Dispense With Librarians –

Libraries – power, joy and passion.

January 23, 2010


I unabashedly love libraries…all kinds of libraries!  Big libraries, small libraries, old libraries, new libraries and public libraries as well as school libraries.

In several conversations over the past few weeks about libraries, I realized that most people spoke from quite differing viewpoints. There were positions for or against different formats, different customer service ideals, different expectations concerning funding sources, overdue fines, bestsellers, computer usage….you name it. Nearly anything that could be viewed differently…was viewed differently. I left the conversations with a nagging uncertainty. How could there be so many different ways to think about the role of libraries?

I realized that I understood why I loved libraries. I know why I am a passionate believer in the power and joy that libraries can bring to people’s lives. But maybe, many other people had a library experience that was quite different than mine. Those personal life experiences about libraries give then their own unique understanding,  perspective and values.

My love of libraries has been influenced by a number of experiences during my life. As an early elementary student – the county bookmobile stopped in our neighborhood, on our street. With no nearby library and no 2nd family vehicle, the rolling library brought far away places and people right to me.  The arrival of the big, noisy, smelly,  black bus, brought yells of excitement and a mad dash home to get our library cards. Stepping inside and seeing all those books and getting to take two home to read and then return again for more adventures a week later was pure magic. Would it be a Hardy Boys mystery and maybe a book about some wild animal or outdoor adventure? During the summer, those new books were sure to mean a few late nights with the flashlight under the covers.

The bookmobile was followed by our school library. A K-8 private school – with a small, lovingly created collection. Compared to the bookmobile, the options seemed unlimited. For the first time, I saw encyclopedias and dictionaries and amazing nonfiction to do homework assignments with. The big, real world was there in those pages.

High school brought an even larger collection. Remember a time when reference was the dominant part of high school collections? No internet, no google – just print reference. Anything you needed to know were in those pages. Granted – it took hours and sometimes days, but it was in there. Then came a college library in the 70’s that seemed like a warehouse filled with the world’s knowledge. Those old, musty books, the quiet spaces, the decades old single carrels tucked away – seemingly locked away from the rest of the world. Endless days spent exploring, thinking and writing in the world of science, literature, philosophy and more. Group projects meant, index cards, stacks of books, quiet debate and mountains of yellow legal pads of hand scratched notes – the words, numbers and scribbles that occasionally evolved into stories, or projects to be proud of.

As a twenty something trying to make it on my own – working, having fun, learning about life – I moved 4-5 times chasing career opportunities. Each new city or town had a library that offered advice and information as I tried to learn and become a better manager and professional as well as just getting acclimated in a new community. In my 30’s, marriage and family brought the joy of the bedtime story. There is nothing better than a new stack of picture books from the library and having an infant or toddler on your lap turning the pages and loving the moment.

As a professional traveling and working with both school and public libraries, I continue to see all the magic in those rooms and buildings filled with information, computers, librarians and customers and students – all in search of sharing and or receiving the power and joy that libraries offer. I am especially encouraged to see how many libraries, school and public, are moving to further enhance their sense of community and personal interaction. It is no longer just about the content – increasingly it is about the people connections. As the world gets “flatter” and we can interact with people and places from around the globe in an instant, our libraries offer unique opportunities for learning, sharing and engagement in our local and expanded communities. I understand we have many problems: funding, staffing, changing technologies, leadership challenges and increasing competition. But all of those problems have solutions.

Maybe it’s time we stop and take the time to ask questions and really listen to each other.  We all have a library story to tell. It is within these life experiences that our passion for libraries resides. Maybe it’s time we ask: staff, customers, local government leaders, school educators and especially our kids to explain why – “Libraries are important to me because…?” From these stories come our passion for library advocay. Let’s talk…. and listen.

Maybe it is within these shared stories and understanding that we will find our common ground, the new ideas and the courage to solve our many challenges. Passion always triumphs over fear.

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It’s Time to Reboot – Libraries

January 9, 2010

 Maybe  –  It’s Reboot Time. 

It’s a new year, a time to take stock, decide about the good things and troubling things we face. For some personal reasons I had taken some time off from this blog and airing my views and ideas. Part of my reboot process is to get my thoughts back out into the library public. Many of you know, I have regularly expressed my concerns about the general state of both public and school libraries for these past few years. Is there enough money, leadership or general support for libraries? The answer is emphatically NO. That is both the current state of affairs as well as the likely short and medium term future.  Acknowledging that – it is time to move forward.

Breaking away from the gloom and doom of funding, staff cuts, lack of leadership and support requires another reboot for libraries – a mental reboot. Rebooting usually requires an action – in this case – it is just requires a  new and different perspective. Let’s think about:

A bonanza of opportunities

This thought comes from the recent publication 10 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2010 by Trendwatching. Check out “Massmingling” or “Tracking & Allerting”. They publish a number of trend reports throughout the year as they identify and report on changing trends and ideas. You can subscribe to their free email listing.

They have a sister publication called Springwise. Here they list the Top 10 Business Ideas for 2010. Think about the “Sampling” or “Connecting Consumers” ideas. You can also subscribe to their free resources.

With both a personal and professional reboot in progress, I am confident we can all work to make 2010 the start of new and exciting ideas, plans and actions for ourselves and our libraries.

Why do people think so little of libraries???

May 12, 2009



“So……..Why do people think so little of libraries???”

I received this simple email response from a colleague the other day as her reply to a PA State Senate press release that included a possible 50% funding cut to public libraries  for the next fiscal year.  I know that this is just gamesmanship and politics….. this so called budget proposal…..but really….a 50% proposed cut???

 So…the question still stands: Why do people think so little of libraries???

You say: “But wait… people LOVE their library”. I have come to believe that this is only partially true. Some people, in fact, I would argue a rather small group of people, passionately love their library. The honest truth is a vast majority of people don’t love libraries. Some of the people might: like libraries, think good thoughts about libraries, believe libraries should be around, think libraries are worthwhile places at least for some other people ……blah, blah, blah.

In todays real world –  both school and public libraries are losing funding for materials and staffing. As material costs, operating and staffing costs all increase – real funding is either flat or declining….nationwide. Sure you can find a few exceptions, but the plain truth is – library funding cuts are nearly everywhere. Library branch closings, hours reductions, staff layoffs, equipment breakdowns and old or outdated technology…..these stories are out there. At the same time, there have been truly hundreds of stories nationwide about how busy public libraries have become due to the challenges people face in these difficult economic times. Likewise school libraries face unprecedented librarian and support staff layoffs and purchasing holds. Many schools don’t have a full time library or librarian and some schools have no operating library at all.

I believe the truth is ….. a majority of people don’t believe that libraries are worth the sufficient investment of real dollars. Not tax revenue funding, not dedicated millage funding and certainly not as a pay for services facility.

My thoughts about…..WHY?

1) Some people hold a perception of libraries as that place where an old spinster hissed….”SHHHHH” ….in a place filled with musty old books….you know – old ancient, smelly history kind of a place.

2) Some people think library = books….and since they don’t read books…..then libraries are useless.

3) Some people, especially “millenials”… you know – those “kids” who are always texting on cell phones and have those IPod thingies stuck in their ears, well they think libraries are useless, because they are always connected to their friends, their music and any information they need 24/7 based on their tech toys and so they don’t need libraries.

4) Some people think libraries are just for kids, parents/grandparents of young children and of course “senior citizens”.

5) Some people are too busy to go to the library. You know, they hang out with friends or family, party, go shopping, go places, spend time just always busy. Oh yeah…they have to work and commute and do other stuff too. But the library – not enough time to go there.

6) Politicians, government managers, state authorities – all those folks in power – they just see libraries and librarians as a small, nonpolitical, poorly funded, unimportant and powerless group of folks who can’t help to get them elected or improve their public image.

7) School administrators see library programs and staff as a possible expense line that “can” be cut in a budget too filled with expense lines that can’t be touched. Library and arts programs are always the first to feel any school budget cuts. Because school libraries aren’t viewed as an effective tool to raise achievement test scores – they are seen as an easy place to cut budgets.

8)  Active, outdoors type folks, you know….camping, hiking, hunting, fishing….they spend more time doing, than reading. Besides, the last time I checked libraries for anything current in those subject areas, the materials were all decades old.

9) Sports is a big deal. There are professional sports, college and high school sports, recreation leagues, little leagues and even “fantasy” leagues. Sports represents billions of dollars to our economies, hundreds of hours of our time and of course sports can become a major part of the culture and the psyche of a city or community. When was the last time you saw a serious “sports” affiliation with sports participants or sports leagues and libraries???

10) Google and the internet. Can anyone who reads this say they don’t use the internet and Google for at least one of their primary sources of quick, basic information?????? Your reading this on your computer aren’t you?

11) Librarians are “book” people. Because a significant amount of librarians are altruistic, thoughtful, introverted and somewhat reluctant to be controversial and highly visible – they tend to be ineffective library advocates. How else can you explain someone holding a masters degree from any number of major universities and then only making $25,000 – $50,000 per year with lousy benefit packages???

12) Libraries as “place”. Many libraries are: small, old, dark,  not comfortable, not welcoming, filled with at least a significant amount of outdated content, information or formats. There is typically insufficent space for small or large group meetings. Not to mention actual gathering places where anything above a whisper tone is tolerated. Oh, and what about the no cell phone rules. That alone eliminates nearly everyone who is between 15 and 40 years old. Why is it I have to go to Panera Bread restaurants to attend comfortable and productive  library meetings???

OK….now that we know at least some of the folks who might not care about libraries, whos is left who cares???

The easy ones are: most librarians, anybody who loves books, many small children, parents who support the experience of reading and programs for their kids. You also have to add all those folks who are fortunate enough to live in those communities with vibrant, exciting, relevant libraries with wonderful content, staff and a comfortable welcoming environment and then use their library. Teachers, small business people, many salespeople and road warriors are included. Community groups like: history buffs, garden clubs, some social groups, and all manor of “boomers” are included. Studying students and all those looking for a “quiet, peaceful place” come and enjoy. I know there are many more…..

So how do we reconcile this very wide gap between those who love and are willing to support libraries financially and those who don’t love libraries and won’t support them??? A very successful librarian recently mentioned that anyone who can answer and close this gap for libraries would be very busy, travel extensively and live comfortably on their own tropical island. Hmmmm a nice thought indeed………..

A few thoughts next time……. the ideas are embeded above, until then….. try to be great! It takes courage… can do it!

Public Libraries – jobs, social services and funding, oh my.

February 26, 2009

People need real help!

Where to turn???  Things keep getting worse.

Example: The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania has climbed to 6.7 percent  from 4.9 percent a year ago. The state has processed an average of 46,000 initial claims a week since Jan. 1, a 52 percent increase over last year.

As the struggling economy continues to cause the loss of thousands of more jobs each month, public libraries have become the essential provider of  resources, advice clinics, access to online job search and online social service applications for those seeking employment and help in this time of need.

Public libraries around the country are partnering with profit and non-profit groups to create advice clinics, counseling sessions and additional resources for topics like: employment and career, home foreclosure and access to social services. Norman Oder at Library Journal Online has these examples:

NYPL Session Helping Laid-Off Professionals Draws Crowd 

At San Diego County Library, Foreclosure Clinics Draw a Crowd

The computer access that public libraries provide for internet service for the online completion of job applications and social services is critical to those who have no access or have discontinued their personal online web access due to a lack of funds.  From E-government to E-job-hunting

Now you may ask, how can libraries continue to expand their services and resources for their struggling communities?  The answer lies in an expanded effort to better partner with community groups and your funding partners. See the advice here from Stephen Abram on Funding resources for libraries.

During difficult times – great libraries work smarter, get more creative, develop new partnerships and most importantly – stay focused on the specific needs of their communities. 


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