How Librarians Can Party Hard and Make it Happen (Keynotes for AZLA)

hqdefault

The weekend before Thanksgiving I gave a series of talks at the Arizona Library Association Conference where I talked about partying hard and making it happen in a professional context. As many of you might know, this is the Mantra of ALA Think Tank which is the largest online network of librarians in the world. The opening keynote was entitled Party Hard and I spoke about how to take advantage of professional and social functions to make connections that will benefit you, your library, and your career. In the closing Keynote I spoke about how to take advantage of these connections and make it happen in order to accomplish even more for your communities. AZLA was kind enough to record the sessions and I am making them available here. The slidedecks for these presentations are available on Slideshare here.

Partying Hard

Making It Happen

My Goal for the New Year: DO MORE STUFF

Nj3Bzcd

Moving to the East Coast is probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I started my library career desperately wanting to be an administrator. The pay was better, I enjoy everything that comes with management and leadership, it’s where people have always told me that I should strive to be, but really… I just haven’t been as ecstatic with it as I thought I’d be. Being a library administrator has allowed to live decently and pay off my debts and buy my boat (which has always been a dream of mine since I was about 6 years old) but watching the library directors around me and seeing what it is that they do makes me wonder what I’m striving for. I don’t get to work with the public as much and I don’t really get to get my hands as dirty as I wanted, and overall I’m not sure that being where everyone tells me I should be is as rewarding as they tell me it is. But mostly, I just don’t get to do a whole lot of stuff.

The thing is that I don’t really enjoy HAVING a lot of stuff so the measure of success being money or stuff doesn’t do much for me. In fact, moving to Brooklyn, I only have a few bags of clothes, the things I need for work and sailing, and two guitars. I think I figured out that I hate HAVING things and I LOVE doing things. In fact, most of the money I’ve made in libraries I’ve spent on doing stuff in libraries like going to conferences, makingithappen.us, making donations to causes I believe in, sending people banana slicers (until Amazon stopped me), and projects like the Great Librarian Write-Out or the Story Sailboat. So with this move, I’m really excited to just try to do stuff for libraries and people as my actual job. Mostly around EveryLibrary and political action for libraries, but I’m open to doing other stuff and getting involved in bigger and better projects and finding great passionate people to work with. So, that’s my goal for the new year. DO more stuff with people who are also doing more stuff and somehow be “successful” whatever that means.

This blog was written because of Calvin and Hobbes. When I was a kid I religiously read Calvin and Hobbes. In fact, there was quite a bit of time when I almost ONLY read Calvin and Hobbes and I desperately wanted to draw like Bill Watterson or have his insight or his great use of language. But yesterday, I saw this comic and once again Bill Watterson really sums up my life and defines me as a person.

Nj3Bzcd

In the end, I’m just really lucky to even have the opportunity to make this choice and thanks to everyone in this profession who has been so good to me.

Leaving California and Traditional Library Work!

Is-This-the-Next-Big-Thing-in-Content-Marketing

Is-This-the-Next-Big-Thing-in-Content-Marketing.jpgI am making some big changes in the next month and I am really excited, scared and… well… mostly excited. I am leaving my administrative job here in Sunnyvale and moving to Brooklyn to be with my girlfriend Kate Tkacik and working for EveryLibrary full time.  Personally, I’m very excited to take the next step with Kate and start that chapter in my life, but this is my professional blog so I’ll focus on those things. If you want to get personal, feel free to friend me on Facebook.

One of the things that makes me most excited about this transition is that I get the opportunity to do something that I think is important and give back to the profession that has been so supportive and good to me. Librarianship has truly given me a lot of opportunities and I can’t possibly repay all of the great love and support I have received from so many people and organizations. I have been able to see the country and meet a lot of amazing humans that I call friends all over the United States all while paying my bills. I have really been very lucky to find such magnificent people and a profession that does such important work. I feel as though I have real opportunity and obligation to give some of that back and work to make the future for libraries a little bit better by taking on the local funding challenges by working for EveryLibrary fulltime.

In case you aren’t familiar with EveryLibrary’s work, it is the Nation’s first Political Action Committee built to work specifically on local campaigns and ballot measures for libraries.  In the last 3 years we have helped libraries win over 60 million dollars in funding through working to support local ballot committees, training campaign volunteers and library staff, and helping them win 26 campaigns all over the nation. We have also spoken at a number of conferences and given trainings and workshops to hundreds librarians in dozens of states.

I have been involved with EveryLibrary as a board member since its creation nearly 3 years ago and I have been more and more involved in the ground level work over the last few years. The political work, working with campaigns, and talking about libraries as important community causes has been some of the most fulfilling work I have ever had. This work is both challenging and educational and there is just too much to do for me to not take it on and work with John Chrastka and the team full time on it.

Of course, if you’re interested in the work that we do, need some campaign consulting, or having me or any of the EveryLibrary team members speak at your conference or workshop, feel free to get in touch with us. Of course, our work is pro-bono and only made possible by your generous support.

Since I’m leaving traditional library work, I’d love to close this out by giving a big shout out to the folks at Lincoln Public Library for starting me out with my first huge job, San Mateo County for just being amazing and supportive to work for, the wonderful librarians all over CA and CLA who have been really amazing to me and some of my best friends, and the librarians at Sunnyvale who are doing some of the most innovative work I’ve seen.

PS – I’m keeping the boat.

New Coke VS. New Libraries and Lessons Learned?

In 1985 the Coca-Cola Company realized that its market share had fallen almost 25 percent and wanted to do something new to compete with Pepsi. They decided that they would release a sweeter version of Coca-Cola that, in blind taste tests and focus groups, did far better than both Pepsi and the original Coca-Cola flavor. They called it New Coke. However, New Coke is generally regarded as one of the largest marketing and product flops ever and while millions of dollars were spent marketing and producing the product, it was quickly taken off the market. In fact, it was such a flop, that over 400 thousand people wrote letters to the Coca-Cola Company to complain about the new soda. The big problem was that while Coca-Cola did their due-diligence on the flavor and idea of New Coke, they completely overlooked the brand identity that Coke had cultivated over its long history.

Currently libraries are in a state of fluctuation where we are competing with organizations like Amazon, Google, and the emergence of eReaders. In many places libraries are rushing to catch up with new and innovative collections, exciting maker-spaces, on demand printing, and less quiet areas and proudly marketing themselves as community centers and creative spaces. However, in many cities the libraries are seeing a pushback from these changes and in some cities a strong resistance is growing. The problem is that many people still believe the brand identity of a library being quiet study spaces and entirely about books on the shelves.

What could Coke have done differently? Many brand managers argue that had Coca-Cola not tried to change their formula overnight with a large ad campaign and quick change and instead simply slowly increased the amount of sweetener and slowly changed their formula without the large ad campaign, they would have been much more successful. They might have also been more successful if Coke had also just increased their regular marketing campaign without loudly proclaiming that they’ve changed. In the end, they would have wound up with a better tasting soda and a larger market share by implementing a slower change and less marketing about how much it has changed.

It is possible that libraries are making the same mistake that Coca-Cola did with New Coke. We know through research from PEW that communities largely support libraries and that they largely support libraries based on their “nostalgia” (I would argue that nostalgia=brand identity) for libraries. When we work with campaigns in communities as EveryLibrary we often see the nostalgic idea of traditional libraries and the resistance to the new idea of librarianship in the campaign messages of the opposition. It’s possible that we could be pushing quickly for a change and boasting loudly about that change before people are ready to give up their old brand identity of the library.

So what can we do? I think we already know that libraries have to adapt and change to the needs of our community and I think we also know that we need to improve and drastically increase our marketing and advocacy. My solution is to copy what Coca-Cola should have done and use the nostalgic brand of librarianship to bring people into the library to experience the small changes that libraries have made over the years in order to slowly update that nostalgia. I think the wrong solution is to do what Coca-Cola did and suddenly and heavily advertise that the library is completely different than what people grew up loving. We have seen libraries try to quickly tell their communities that the library is different and we have seen them met with a lot of resistance, anger, and opposition.

In Sunnyvale we are doing this in large part through our Facebook Ads and our Email Campaign. We have put $100 a week (we have 140k Sunnyvale residents) into Facebook ads and we are actively building our email list. We keep a strong base in the book brand with a lot of the posts and we occasionally slip in the updated idea of libraries. We heavily promote our books and “traditional” resources while casually mentioning some of the things that people can get beyond books. We have had huge success with this model with more people coming to the library for our innovative programs, drastic increases in digital collection use, and more foot traffic in general while we also haven’t seen much pushback when we add more to the library like 3d printers, seed libraries, and louder group work spaces. If you want to see exactly what our posts are like, feel free to take a look at our Facebook page. If you need more content for your ads, check out Ben Bizzle and Jeannie Allen’s Library Facebook Images Dropbox.

Vote For My Staff’s Amazing Conversation Starters at ALA San Francisco.

11001569_10153175109823707_6698739412170076201_oI’m going to take a minute and brag and recklessly hype these conversation starters from my staff and not feel bad about it. In my library my staff are doing amazing things and I would love to have them share with the rest of the library community.  For example, they consistently have huge turnouts to our library programs because of their marketing.  They are also working really hard to get more women involved in the maker movement with the Make-HER program, creating a platform for the library to be an independent publisher of eBooks, and making our staff training activities fun.

What is a conversation starter?
Conversation Starters are lectures, panels or discussions and will take place at ALA in San Francisco on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The wide range of emerging topics, trends and innovations in the 36 Conversation Starters are what make them so powerful.  But they are made even bigger because they are the presentations that you choose through your votes.

Click on the links below to go to the voting site for these presentations.

Holy Moly, 100 Adults Came?!? WTF?
Are you tired of spending hours preparing for a program when only 10 people show up? So were we. Sunnyvale librarians discovered the secret of attracting large crowds by using marketing tools and choosing timely topics. With personal interests as sources of inspiration, we created innovative programs on such topics as starting a vegetable garden,  adults-only crafting, showcasing electric vehicles, using the 3D printer, and more. Learn steps for success, participate in a brainstorming session, and walk away with a practical toolkit to help you take your adult programs to the next level.

Spice Up Your Staff Training – Ninja Style
Got new resources? Staff? Need a reboot? Create a team challenge that brings everyone up to speed.  Through seven online challenges, Sunnyvale Public Library managers and staff worked together to become Tech Ninjas.  Managers upped the ante by pledging performance art upon completion of each task. Unlock the Discover & Go level and sing “Take a Load Off, Annie” with a manager on guitar. Conquer Encore and watch “Green Eggs and Ham” come to life.  Learn eBook basics and see a manager go blonde.   Fun, free, and customizable — learn how to Ninja-fy your library!

From Maker to Make-HER: Leveling the STEM Playing Field for Girls
How do techie girls make their way in what’s been termed a “bro-grammer” culture?  Despite advances in other fields, women still are vastly underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math professions (STEM).  Explore how public libraries can support girls and engage mothers as mentors through project-based STEM learning.  Get inspired by Make-HER instructors, discover what’s hot in the Maker Movement, and explore the practicalities of Library as Make-HER Space.  Finally, unleash your inner maker and learn-by-doing as #LadyMakers lead participants through a mini Make-HER project.

eBook Maker: Libraries as Independent Publishers
The Sunnyvale Public Library currently offers 3D printing services as well as a series of adult crafting programs, and just this year will publish an eBook anthology featuring local writers. The idea for the Bay Area Library ePublishers (BALE) project developed as a response to these “maker” programs, seeking to provide support and an artistic space for local writers. This panel discussion will feature librarians from Sunnyvale Public Library that took part in the project as they share their experiences of creating their own eBook, while providing a blueprint for libraries and librarians interested in pursuing publishing programs and platforms.

And a few for me…
Ok… A little bragging and recklessly hyping about the ones that I’m involved in too. EveryLibrary submitted a conversation starter to share what we’ve learned on the campaign trail and to help libraries learn about what they can start doing today to win elections years from now. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to ensure your library remains well funded for years to come.  I’m also presenting an interactive conversation starter on Professional Networking and Schmoozing based on my recent article in Library Journal. If you want to learn how to engage your peers and colleagues or build rapport with members of your community, you’re going to need to learn to schmooze!

SuperPAC Advocacy Hacks for your Library
Ever wonder why the nation’s largest SuperPACs are so successful at political advocacy? These organizations are well funded, well supported, and are able to convince thousands of Americans to take action to further their agenda.  But what if libraries could use the tools, tips, and tricks used by these organizations to support libraries? In this session, the folks from EveryLibrary (the nation’s first and only PAC for libraries) will share what they’ve learned from national PACs and through their political action activities in support of libraries.

Schmoozing for Beginners
Professional networking and schmoozing are two of the most important skills a librarian can have. They are not taught in MLIS programs, and being proficient at both was one of the hardest lessons I had to learn. In order to get the projects done in my community that I was passionate about, move my library forward, and garner political support, I realized that I needed to take advantage of the many professional and political social opportunities going on around me. This presentation shares many of the tips and tricks that I’ve learned that have been successful for me.

The Only Online Platforms you Need (part two)

I recently wrote about dropping everything but email and FB for your online strategy but I thought I should also mention some thoughts on everything else. I’m absolutely still advocating for your library to focus its use on just those two things, but of course there’s a bit more to it then that.

Name Registration
While you should focus your library’s resources on these two platforms, you should most definitely claim your library’s name across as many as you can. This is mostly because we may one day find a use for things like G+ and you don’t want someone else to have your name claimed. It’s also almost always free to sign up for a social media platform and at the very least capture your library’s username so why not do it. There are sites like http://www.knowem.com that will do the work for you if you want.

The other reason you should capture your library’s name is a bit more sinister. As Jason Griffey pointed out when Dale Askey was being sued by Edward Mellon Press, the law firm that was performing the lawsuit starting buying up any version of the URLs that could be associated with his name. This is just part of the due diligence of lawsuits in information age. We have also seen political campaigns buy their opposition’s URLs and claim usernames on social media as part of their counter campaign. This is not something that you want the opposition to your library or library campaign to do. Might as well get them while you can!

Using All the Others
Am I saying that you should NEVER touch another social media platform? Well, no. Not exactly. My post was about the most effective platforms for advocating for your library whether you’re in a campaign or just want to tell people about your library. There are ways to use other social media platforms that you might find useful. Here are some of the ways that I’ve seen social media platforms be used in a meaningful way by librarians-

  • Pinterest– You can find great Arts and Crafts, DIY program ideas
  • Meetup– Find local groups of people interested in specific topics that you can promote programs too
  • Twitter– Online reference. You can search by location and for people asking questions and then answer them. Think of it like digital roaming reference
  • Flickr– For the love of GOD!!! Please stop using clipart. You can find really good creative commons pictures for your signage and displays and ads.
  • Goodreads– I have seen some libraries do excellent reader’s advisory or organize book clubs
  • Instagram– It is so quick and easy to connect your Instagram account to many of your social media accounts if you want to share pictures across them. Why not?
  • LinkedIn– For your own career or to find quality and experienced presenters in your community on a variety of topics
  • Tumblr– It is a newer and younger growing community and I think it’s still best for librarians to use it for themselves as a kind of professional portfolio more than anything else at this point. But we’ll see what happens.
  • Second Life– LOL!! Just kidding.

 

PLAY!
Whatever you do, you can still play with all the others. There’s no real harm in it after all. You might find something fun and exciting to use them for and you’ll be learning some new skills and how to critically apply new tools to your library.

library advocacy 2

The Only Online Platforms you Need (right now)

I recently gave a webinar on social media and I thought I would write a bit about it even though I’m pretty tired of talking about social media. But, I think there is something new to say here. The talk stemmed from noticing that so many library campaign committees and librarians running their organizations social media have fallen into the trap of trying to identify the next big platform to use. They’ve joined everything from Snapchat to Pinterest to Facebook in search of some kind of social media nirvana that will solve whatever problem they are trying to solve. I don’t think this is a good use of our time or resources so instead of asking you to join and use more social media platforms, I’m going to ask you to ignore all the social media static and only focus on what we know works (for now). We are going to step away from focusing on being as social as possible, to being as effective as possible.

We have seen libraries ineffectually chasing social media as fast as that social media comes and goes. If you remember the clamor to get on to MySpace, Second Life, Friendster, etc… and then next big rush to get onto Pinterest, Goodreads, and G+ you’ll also remember how fast some of those faded away. This is basically the fishing net method of social media marketing. Libraries are throwing the biggest net possible and hoping that they catch something they want and throwing the rest back instead of using the bait that works to get exactly what they want.

All of this is largely because we are looking at using these tools backwards. For example, our organizations get on Twitter and then try to figure out their Twitter strategy. But this doesn’t work because there is no such thing as a Twitter strategy. Twitter is a tool to help you achieve a strategy. What is more effective is to ask what the library’s goal is in building a relationship with the community, then figure out how to measure it, then figure out which tools satisfy your requirements and use those. Remember that for an election or advocacy standpoint, our goal is to get our message out to as many people as possible as effectively as possible.

With that in mind, I’m going to argue that the only two online tools that you really need right now to win a library election or advocate for your library are Facebook and Email. These two platforms can be used effectively in conjunction to build the relationships that your campaign is looking for in a more focused and streamlined fashion. These are two complimentary tools with enough depth, scope, and longevity to take the time to invest resources in and they connect with each other in a way that supports both.

The most important thing I learned in political advocacy is that its all a numbers game. As of 2013, the only two online tools with a high enough usage to be advantageous are, in fact, Facebook and email. According to a Pew Study, around 85% of Americans have email and around 74% of Americans have Facebook. The next highest user percentage rates are less than 25% of the American Public with Linkedin at just 22%, Pinterest at 21%, and Twitter at 18%. What this means, is that if you capture every Twitter user in your area and win them over with your message and they are all registered voters and they all go out to vote, you’ll still lose the election because that is just 18% of the public. Yet, 58% of Americans report that one of the first things they do in the morning is check their email. So, where do you want to be?

A much better strategy would be to go with the tools that you know have enough market saturation to get your message out in a high enough volume to really help you get your message out. Those are email and Facebook. There are some strategic differences in how these two platforms work and how people engage with them, but that will be a post for a later day.

library advocacy 1

Sorry Librarians But Your FB Likes Don’t Matter Anymore

I know we all spent so much time cultivating the likes on our library’s FB pages but guess what? That’s so over. Facebook killed likes. But don’t worry, I’m going to talk to you about why they don’t matter and why I think that killing likes is a fantastic thing and what you need to do.

Page Likes Don’t Matter
In case you haven’t heard, Facebook throttled down the number of times people see your posts on your library’s page. This means that only around 2% of the people who like your page will see your posts. For most libraries, with around 1k-5k likes this means that only 20-100 people will see whatever it is you post. Because of this, you might draw the conclusion that you need even more likes than before to get more out of your page. Instead, I’m going to just argue that page likes just don’t matter now because the cost of boosting your post is so cheap and easy that you’re going to learn that you should have been doing this all along.

Fundamental library issue
You need to advertise. Why don’t libraries run ads? I’ll never figure it out. Libraries need to be running ads and have an in-depth marketing strategy just like every other organization in the country. For example, I’ve heard from everyone in a library from directors to pages who complain that nobody uses their databases and I always ask, well… How many people did you even tell that you had a database? The answer is typically something like, we made an 8.5×11 printer paper, comic sans, and clip art poster and scotch taped it to the stack for a few weeks. Ugh… That’s not marketing.

Now, with the magic of the internet, you can run a $25 ad a week to just about everyone in an average sized community regardless of whether or not they’ve liked your FB page. You can tell them all about your databases, your storytimes, your outreach, and most importantly… Your impact in the community. Depending on where you live and how you’re directing your ad, you can reach a couple thousand people with $25-$100. Whereas before, unless something went viral, you’re reach was just the people who liked your page. That is why like don’t matter.

But I know you’re thinking that if FB didn’t throttle down their reach that your page would reach a couple thousand people anyway. But I’m going to say that the people who like your page don’t matter that much, they already like the library. You need to reach the rest of the people in the community. The people who don’t like your FB page, the people who don’t come in every day, the people who need to be told to come in and use the library. That’s who you can reach with really cheap ads.

It’s a learning experience
What is great about FB ads is that they are so cheap and easy to manage. You can see your data in real time and see exactly who and how someone interacted with your ad. Over time you can see what makes people click like or interact with your FB page and improve all your stats. I’m not going to go over how to make your ads more effective, or how to direct them, or how to actually run an ad because I’m going to bet that there’s a book on your shelves right now that will tell you in great detail exactly how to do that.

Don’t Pay for page Likes
While I think that all libraries should pay for FB ads, I don’t think that anyone should pay for ads just to boost likes. Since, as I said earlier, likes don’t matter at all. But what if you are still really concerned about page likes? Then it’s time to start not caring about page likes. Because, running a good boosted post acts in the same way as an ad for likes anyway and there is also the outcome that people find out something about your library. For example, instead of an ad that says “like this FB page,” you’ll have an ad that says “come to the library.” Which do you think is better for the library? After all, you’re not running ads to support your FB page, you’re running ads to support your library.

The Money Issue
But I don’t have money for FB ads!! YES!! Yes you do. Instead of paying for a database that nobody is using, why don’t you drop the least used one and spend that money on an ad that will make people use the rest of the databases? Instead of spending money on a program that nobody is coming to, why don’t you spend that money on ads to make sure that people come to all the others?

But if I didn’t spend money on a database, I’d use it somewhere else because I have better things to spend it on than FB! Are you really going to tell me that you have a better and more cost effective way to tell thousands of people in your community how amazing the library is? Do you have a cheaper way to tell thousands of people how much the library matters? Have you figured out a less expensive way to tell thousands of people about how many wonderful things your library does for your community? If so, I’m all ears.

If not, good luck in the next election or bid for funding. If nobody knows about you, why would they pay for you?

To conclude

  • Facebook page likes don’t matter
  • Learn marketing from a book on your shelf
  • Run ads for your library

  • I’ll Leave You with an Ad for Kitten Mittens

    Getting the Most Out of Your ALA Experience with Keanu Reeves

    A couple of years ago I did a presentation to NMRT on how to get the most out of attending the conference. Besides all of the amazing presentations, SWAG, networking, vendors, etc… There is a lot that you can do to put yourself out there and take advantage of the many opportunities to get more involved in the profession. I’m going to rehash that presentation and give you some tips and pointers to be more successful at ALA in Vegas.

    slide-1-10241) I used to hate ALA and conferences in general. When I started my career, I went to two conferences and decided I was never going back. I realize now that this was 99.9% my fault. One of the most important things you can do at the conference is meet people and make new friends. Having friends at a conference changes everything. So get out there and meet people to be their friends and not just professional acquaintances!

    slide-2-10242) When you start talking to people, they are going to tell you about parties, presentations, ways to get involved and give you more opportunities to meet more people. In fact, the first time I had a good time at ALA it was because some great folks from Reforma invited me to hang out with them. Saying yes is how I accidently wound up on ALA Council. Aaron Dobbs told me to and I said yes. It’s also how I wound up in the ALA Think Tank house. JP asked me to try out this idea he had to stay in houses instead of hotels and I said yes. Don’t be shy about tagging along when people invite you to tag along!

    slide-3-10243) Don’t mind the haters. There is always some kinds of drama, someone speaking poorly of someone else, someone expressing some kind of negativity. Its fine, we’re human, that’s going to happen. But try to avoid the negativity. If you don’t like something, just move on. There’s hundreds of things happening at any given time so find something you like before hating on something you don’t.

    slide-4-10244) Likewise, project some positivity. Negativity gets a lot of attention on FB, Twitter, and maybe even your blog. But in person, it can be a lot different. Be sure to hype up people’s projects, thank them for their presos and time, and compliment people whenever you can. Be someone that people want to be around with your positive energy and smile and laugh a lot.

     

    slide-5-10245) Showing up is so important. There are so many things happening at ALA that you can’t be at everything but this is your chance to try. Just showing up to the after parties and engaging people has been one of the best things for my career. You can go to bed early, but you’re going to miss out on the opportunities to sit and talk with you library heroes instead of just listening to them talk at you during their presentations.

     

    slide-6-10246) Yep… After you show up, talk to everyone. Don’t be a wallflower. People WANT to talk to you. ALA is a great place where everyone will want to talk to you about whatever you’re interested in. Chances are that they’ll be interested in many of the same things you are. Librarians are all the same so if you talk about cats or Dr. Who you’re pretty much “in.” So while you’re sitting and waiting for that session to start, introduce yourself to the people around you. Ask them questions and get to know them.

     

    slide-7-10247) One key to success is just finding that first person. The one other person in the conference who you can hang out with. Its much easier to engage with people when you have a buddy to do it with. Plus, you and your buddy can come and go together to events and that makes it much easier. You can also help each other find more people or introduce each other to the people that you both know and double your network.

    slide-8-10248) What’s better than one friend? A dozen friends! Try and get a co-hort together. There are a couple of ways to do this through ALA like Emerging Leaders, running for ALA Council, but mostly its going to depend on you. If you’re having a hard time though, there are a bunch of ways to connect online before the conference. For example, follow the conference hashtags, the tumblarians on tumblr, or join one of the hundreds of FB groups for librarians like ALA Think Tank.

    slide-9-10249) It’s easy to get involved and offer your hand in services. You can try to volunteer for the conference and connect with people that way. Offer to volunteer for one of the committees or do things that help people at the conference like Erica Findley’s party map.

     

     

    slide-10-102410) Hey! You came to ALA and you put yourself out there. That’s the first risk you took. Now take another. Next year submit some program proposals, email people at ALA and ask them if you can help them with anything, do something big and exciting like organizing a meetup or a reason for a group of people to come together and do something in the networking uncommons.

     

    slide-11-102411) People expect librarians do act a specific way or live up to some kind of stereotype. This is even pretty prevelant within the profession. If you’re out to get noticed, you have to do something unexpected. For example, Steve Kemple organized a huge and loud disruption at an ALA Conference and it was one of my favorite things to happen at that conference.

     

    slide-12-102412) This one is easy. Start a blog or a tumblr or submit something to a professional journal to put your ideas out there and into the professional discussion. You have ideas and you should share them!

     

     

     

    slide-13-102413) The authority at the conferences do things a certain way mostly because that’s the way they’ve always done it. But then some people came out and questioned why and help make the change. For example, this is how the Code of Conduct came about. People came together and questioned authority and made the changes they felt we needed.

     

    slide-14-102414) People naturally gravitate towards people who aren’t afraid to make decisions. Even when those decisions might be bad ones. Of course, you’d never make a bad decision! But, if you have an opinion on something, don’t be afraid to share it. Get a dialog going and start a movement.

     

     

    slide-15-102415) This isn’t always the easiest thing to do. So many people won’t give up their seats on council or on committees and some people are on a dozen committees. But there are opportunities out there like running for ALA Council, mentoring for NMRT, or getting a seat on a committee.

     

     

    slide-16-102416) One of the best things you can do for lunch is ask around for people to join you for lunch. There is usually also a ton of great vendor socials or events for all of the meals of the day and the ones in between and you can typically find them using the conference hashtag. Or if you see a couple of people sitting around, ask if you can join them. If approaching a group seems intimidating, then try to find that guy or girl sitting alone in the dining commons and ask to join them. I’ve had some of the best conversations during lunch like this.

     

    slide-17-102417) Even if you aren’t. Guess what? Everyone else isn’t that confident either. We’re basically all faking it so fake it with us until we make it. In any case, everyone likes you so go talk to them!

     

     

     

    slide-18-102418) I’m not going to dwell on this one too much, there are SO many blogs and tumblrs dedicated to dressing for conferences.

     

     

     

     

    slide-19-102419) There are so many parties and socials and networking opportunities at the conference. Go out to them. If you’re sleeping, you’re conferencing wrong. You can sleep when you get back to the reference desk.

     

     

    slide-20-102420) No matter what you do, take this opportunity and make it happen. Whatever “it” is for you. If you’re just there to attend sessions, add to your tote bag collection, or meet John Green then don’t miss out on whatever it is you want to do.

    The Slate Article, Campaign Math, and Why that Article Doesn’t Matter

    yo JP

    yo JPOk, I saw a lot of hate on the Slate Article about what librarians look like. The hate ranged from people being upset because the people were too diverse, to it being stolen from other people, to people being “over it” in regards to library stereotype articles. Basically, I think each of these are ridiculous for a bunch of reasons. The most offensive TO ME though is the people who hate it because they are over stereotype bending articles about librarians. Let me break it all down for you.

    First, let me note that I am NOT hating on the article. I personally loved it a whole lot and this whole blog post is mostly about the fact that we need a lot more of them.

    Diversity Issues
    So these are really important things to talk about but I’m a mildly successful, middle class, fully abled, white guy with the difficulty level of my life set at “easy” so I’ll let other people make the arguments on this one.

    Theft…
    Ok, I know the article looks and sounds like a bunch of other things that librarians have done. But can we please just get over the victim mentality on this. I’m going to write a much longer blog post on this mentality now that I think about it more. It’s really so much more than I can possible talk about here. But I can sum it all up by saying that it’s all been done before. For example, there have been train libraries, there have been libraries on donkeys and on librarians backs and on boats, there are probably 30 organizations building libraries in Africa, there have been tiny free libraries before, there are a thousand blogs talking about a million things, and guess what? Your library FB page isn’t original either. So instead, how about we just give props when someone makes something cool happen even if you’re trying to do the same thing because what you’re doing isn’t new either anyway. Let’s get on the same team here people!!

    The REAL Message
    Ok, you’re probably already mad at me and I’m cool with that. But, if you got to this point, I’m going to explain why I’m REALLY UPSET by people hating on it because they are so “over it.” I hear this every time librarians try to get a new message out about our stereotypes or more honestly, try to get a message out about anything. So let me talk about why that really irks me and why this just proves without a doubt that we need a lot more political and marketing and advertising training in our profession.

    Let me start with what I’ve learned from my work with EveryLibrary and EveryLibrary California about the message in a political campaign. In every single book about campaign messaging and in every campaign message training I have ever been to, I have learned that there are three key strategies to remember about messaging.

    1) Say the message
    2) Repeat the message
    3) Repeat the message
    4) *free bonus strategy* REPEAT THE MESSAGE

    This article’s Message
    In the case of this article, it looks like there are two messages being played out in complimentary ways. I think that a first glance it appears that the message of the project is that librarians don’t look like what you expect. But when you read the actual text of the article, the message that stands out is that libraries are highly important institutions that do a diverse range of public goods. It looks to me like the pictures of these diverse librarians was meant to reinforce that idea in the text. But let’s look at the one message that everyone is talking about and the message that librarians are so over.

    “Librarians are not the stereotype”

    I think that there are a couple of truths that we need to recognize here. The first and foremost is that this wasn’t an article written for librarians to read at all. Basically, we’re talking about breaking down the stereotypes of librarians in the minds of non-librarians and not do anything in the minds of librarians. The second thing is that this conversation about changing the stereotype of librarians has been going on for a long time and it seems that most librarians want those stereotypes to change. We can debate about whether or not most librarians want that change or not, I don’t really care. But enough librarians want those stereotypes to change that it’s a conversation that we’ve been having for a long time.

    So how do we make that change?
    Well, we begin with the message that librarians are not the stereotype. Then we repeat it. In fact, we repeat it so much that we are tired of hearing it. If this were a political campaign, we wouldn’t even be discussing the fact that we are tired of hearing. In a campaign, we’re supposed to be tired of hearing the message. If we’re tired of hearing it, it means that the public is just starting to hear it for the first time. If we’re just tired or “so over” our message we’ve only just begun to do our jobs. To prove why that is, let’s do the math on that article.

    Campaign Math
    Let’s be HUGELY optimistic and say that 1 million people read that article in just the United States. That means that after the views by everyone else in the world, and minus all the librarian views, that there are one million views by the public in the states. There are slightly more than 313 million people in the United States and lets just simplify that to 300 million. This means that just ONE THIRD of ONE PERCENT of the American Population saw that message. And finally, let’s be honest and say that in reality, probably only 100k people living in the United States saw the article. Guess what? We’ve only reached ONE THIRTIETH of ONE PERCENT of the population. So in these scenarios, to reach the entire US population, we would have to repeat this message 3 THOUSAND times at the million views mark, and 30 THOUSAND times at the more realistic hundred thousand view mark.

    Now, let’s get even more serious. For campaigns, it’s widely accepted that for every 7 times a voter sees a campaign message, they register it in their mind once. At campaign trainings they also say that voters need to register it at least three times to be effective, and they need to register it ten times for it to be engrained. Ok… Are you following along? That means that we would have to put out this message AT LEAST 21 thousand times to register in the minds of US citizens just once at the million view mark and we’d have to write a similar article and put it out AT LEAST 2.1 million times at the more realistic hundred thousand view mark just to register it in their minds once. You want it engrained in their minds? Multiply those numbers by ten!!! Yes, we’d have to put out this message 21 million times to be effective.

    More Like a Campaign
    Luckily, in a campaign we typically only have to be effective with 50%+1 of the voting population. But even if we were to cut these numbers in half and add 1 to just the voting population like a campaign… Well, I think you still see how huge a national campaign needs to be. Now think of your state or town and how large even that campaign needs to be. I REALLY hope that one of the take aways you have from this is the size of a local campaign. Maybe a local campaign for your library?! This is way campaigns are so expensive and why EveryLibrary is so important.

    I’m tired just writing this
    So yes, you ARE tired of hearing messages about libraries. And you should be. And if you’re upset about a message going out once on an article like this one on Slate, just remember how little impact this one article actually has. It has, at most, 1/210th of a percent of an effect on the minds of Americans. So just be cool and praise the folks involved for getting it out there and then work on the message you want to get out. You’re going to need a lot of help on your message too.

    EveryLibrary California
    Since this is my blog, I’m going to have to throw out a pitch for EveryLibrary California and what we are doing to get the message out about the importance and impact of libraries on the lives of Californians. We are running a campaign for $50 contributions to our fight for California Funding and every $50 gets the message into the minds of up to 38 thousand Californians. Consider making a contribution today.

    P.S.
    I wrote this blog about the overall effect of this article on the profession in the minds of Americans.