Encourage Action For Your Library With The “Problem, Agitation, Solution” Model

This post is the fifth post in a series on tools from political campaigns that can be used to arm librarians in the face of growing opposition during the Trump era where anti-tax and anti-government sentiments have a much stronger voice than ever before.

problem-solution-magnifyI am often asked about writing compelling emails and messages to support library issues. Many campaigns are looking for an answer that tells them exactly what they should write to get people to take action for their library. For the most part, I try to refrain from giving specific advice about which message is right because different messages and languages work well in different communities or when delivered to different audiences. In fact, there are dozens of factors and many different data points that are considered when creating an email that includes an ask or that attempts to move people up a ladder of engagement. However, I do have a favorite structure that I use for many of my emails and blog posts that encourage some kind of action or next steps.

The problem, agitation, solution communication structure is often used by marketing companies, activist/advocacy groups, and almost everyone that is interested in getting people to take some kind of action. It relies on the ladder of engagement structure that I talked about in this previous post by making them aware of a problem, getting them interested through agitation, and then giving them an opportunity to engage in a solution. If you are on campaign email lists you can often see this pattern in many of the emails that you receive and some of the best performing Facebook ads, fundraising scripts, presentations, and blog posts that encourage action also follow this structure.

If you are looking to engage an audience in fundraising, taking action, or getting more involved in your library, you can follow this basic outline.

  • Identify THEIR problem

When working to encourage other people to take action for your cause its always most efficient to start where they are. This means identifying how the problem that you are trying to solve affects their lives or is a problem in their life. For example, if we are interested in engaging with an organization, individual, or audience that values economic development and we want them to support libraries, it would be best to first frame libraries in the context of a problem in the economy. You would start this conversation by talking about how important the economy is in the community.

  • Agitate the problem

Once their problem is identified, then its times to agitate that problem. You can talk about how there are some serious economic issues in the community like high unemployment, low entrepreneurship, almost no structure of support for budding business owners, etc… Talk about how bad it is (or could be) to not have that structure in place. Highlight how the community might fail due to this lack of support for businesses and business owners. Take the time to play to strong emotions in this step.

  • Present the solution

Once they are engaged and ready to take action, it becomes an easy step to present your solution as a means for them to take action. In this case, you can talk about how the library offers a network of support to small business owners, or databases that help entrepreneurs gain a competitive edge, or even co-working spaces and high-speed Internet for new startups. More simply, you present the library as the solution to those problems that were presented in first step and then you ask them to take some kind of action.

Do not forget the action!

I can’t stress enough about how important it is to give them the opportunity to take some kind of concrete and tangible action as part of the solution. The entire reason you gave them the solution was to allow them to release the tension you built through action. There’s nothing more dangerous than drawing a hungry crowd. Even if it’s as simple as signing up for the libraries email list, a pledge of support for libraries, or a petition. Depending on their level of interest you might be able to make an ask for more high level actions like making a donation, volunteering, or speaking on the library’s behalf at city council.

If you are interested in having EveryLibrary conduct a training to build political skills for librarians or speaking at your conference or staff development day you can get more information here. Or for information about my training, workshops and consulting, please view my speaking page.

How to Build Audiences to Effectively Engage Your Library Community

This post is the fourth post in a series on tools from political campaigns that can be used to arm librarians in the face of growing opposition during the Trump era where anti-tax and anti-government sentiments have a much stronger voice than ever before.

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Let’s talk about building audiences for library campaigns. Whether you are working with a ladder of engagement or building and testing messages for effectiveness, the key is to start with strong and well defined audience. Professional political operatives, fundraisers, and marketers spend millions of dollars building audiences for their campaigns because starting with an effective audience is the most efficient way to win a campaign. So often I see libraries sending broad messages to entire communities and then being disappointed with the results. If your audience is too large or broad, you will waste money messaging people who don’t care about the issue and your ROI will drop. Remember that you should only spend resources on putting your messages in front of the people who are most likely to care about it. If your audience is too narrow then you’ll miss people who are likely to take action for your campaign. Or, if you are working with a ladder of engagement (which you should be creating for each audience) then you want to make the most of your resources by starting with an audience most likely to be moved from one rung to the next. Starting with the most effective audience is one of the best ways to ensure success and efficiency for your campaign.

Of course, there are many different ways to build audiences for a campaign, but here are three of my favorite audience sources.

Voter File
A voter file is easily one of the most obvious audiences and it is available fairly inexpensively from your board of elections. This is, of course, the best list to use to build political power in your community for your library.  However there are many nuances to a voter file. A standard voter file often includes name, address, party affiliation, voting history, phone number and occasionally email addresses. You can buy enhanced voter files from companies like L2 that have a lot more consumer data or issue data or more accurate phone numbers (phone numbers on voter files are notoriously inaccurate). While a voter file includes everyone in a community who is registered to vote (often referred to as a universe), it isn’t often effective to target an entire voter universe. Instead, you can break down the voter file to target individuals who are registered with a specific party, or you can target the high propensity voters, or voters who live in various areas of the community.  You can target conservatives in your community with messages that resonate with conservative voters or target progressives with messages that resonate with progressive voters. In the long run, targeting these voters with effective messages will help build up the political capital you need when your library goes to the voters so start targeting them years before you ever have to ask them to vote for your library.

*Please remember that it is illegal to use a voter file as a fundraising list.

AtoZ databases
AtoZ Databases and ReferenceUSA are two of my favorite audience building platforms that are freely available at many libraries. This is one of the best list sources for likely donors although there are many different audiences you can build here. At EveryLibrary we often build donor lists and lists of large companies in a community so that we can target them for fundraising for library initiatives. Because the data is fairly robust and decently accurate, you can find out someone’s household income or value or find people who have a history of donating to a political or charitable cause. In Sunnyvale library we were able to download a list of residents by area code and then compare that to our list of users in that same area code from our ILS. By deleting any of the duplicates, we were able to come up with a list of non-library users in Sunnyvale. We could then run a direct mail campaign that targeted non-users to encourage them to come to the library. Of course, we could also upload those lists to Facebook and target them with ads or run a phonebanking campaign. With decent GIS software, we could even map out our areas of the highest number of non-users. The benefit of starting with AtoZ databases or ReferenceUSA is that you have the lists available to you with phone numbers and addresses and these lists are great for fundraising. My next audience builder is far more powerful and accurate, but you are left to find a way to cultivate the contact information for any follow up contacts.

Pro-tip – You can often find the email addresses and phone numbers of the executives of many of the major fortune 1000 companies in these databases to help you make the first contact.

Acxiom
Axciom is easily the most powerful audience building tool for Facebook and many other digital platforms such as Twitter, Yahoo, MSN, eBay, and a few others but I primarily use it to target audiences on Facebook. These lists are best used for engaging community members in taking action on a ladder of engagement that starts with social media. Acxiom is a data company that allows you to request audiences by various behaviors such as buying habits, donations, consumer data, lifestyles, etc… You can request an audience from the Data Guru who then creates that audience in the platform that you are using or you can use their first person audience tool. In either case, this service is completely free because Acxiom makes money from you paying for ads on these platforms. The big drawback is that you don’t get an audience in a format that allows you to view names, addresses, phone numbers, or email. In other words, you can’t see who is specifically in the audience so you have to wait for their interaction with your data collection platform to get that information from them. If someone signs a survey or a petition for example, you then have their contact information for follow-up contacts. The benefit of Acxiom is that you can get a highly targeted audience of people that is extremely accurate. The are people who are most likely to sign a survey or a petition for your specific cause or issue and that can greatly reduce the cost of signatures through ads.

Targeting
Once you have these audiences it’s up to you to decide how best to target them. For some audiences, you can simply upload the CSV with name, address, and phone number into your library’s Facebook account and start targeting them with ads and follow up with more contacts later. For other audiences it might be best to start by running a phonebank campaign and call each of them. In other cases you might have to knock on their door or send them a piece of direct mail. While I made some suggestions here, you’ll have to look at your audiences and make your own decisions or feel free to ask me in the comments below. No matter where you get an audience, try to build ladders of engagement for each one by understanding your goal with each of them.

Sometimes it helps to work backwards from your goal. For example, if you want more people in your community who are likely to vote for your library, then of course, start with a voter file. Or, if you want more donors, you can start with local likely donors from AtoZ databases. And, if you want more volunteers, you can have Acxiom upload a list of non-profit volunteers into your Facebook account and you can target them through Facebook ads with links to your VolunteerMatch page. These highly targeted audiences are the key to bringing you the highest ROI for your initiatives.

Other Audiences
I have only barely scratched the surface of building audiences for library campaigns and initiatives. Major political parties, PACs, and causes, spend billions of dollars on cultivating the most accurate audiences they can and use data sets, voter models, test messaging, focus groups, etc… to win campaigns. One of EveryLibrary’s big initiatives is to build a lot of these datasets and audiences. But these are just three of my favorite ways to build an audience to start a campaign quickly and easily. We’ve worked with many political operatives  who have their own tools and techniques for their own campaigns and initiatives. I know that there are many other sources for audiences and I’d love to hear where you like to get your audiences from or how you like to build data on top of your audiences to make them more effective.

If you are interested in having EveryLibrary conduct a training to build political skills for librarians or speaking at your conference or staff development day you can get more information here. Or for information about my training, workshops and consulting, please view my speaking page.

Librarians Need to Show Up

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Many libraries conduct traditional outreach like tables in front of Starbucks, storytimes at the local parks, or showing up at community meetings. These are great ways to get out of the library and into the community at large. But, what if we extended these traditional outreach programs into opportunities for networking with community leaders, politicians, professionals, and entrepreneurs? How would we develop relationships and what could we do with them?

While working for EveryLibrary on political campaigns for libraries I’ve noticed that the better connected a library is to these groups, the better funded they are, the better positioned they are to win their campaign, and the better supported they are in their community. Often, this level of influence in a community is due to only one or two well-connected employees. Typically, this is the library director or assistant director who has spent time and energy building relationships with city council members, attending Kiwanis or Rotary Club meetings, or some other social group. Through these relationships the library is able to gain access to grants and funding opportunities, or establish partnerships to provide bigger and better services, and enjoy the benefits of pro-library political climates. Also, by extending the sphere of influence of the library, there are simply more opportunities all around.

If your library doesn’t have a well-connected administrator, one of the ways to begin is to start providing more services to those with money and power and influence in their communities. Libraries do a good job providing and marketing their services to children, community members in need, the middle class, and many marginalized communities. These services are outstanding and terribly, and unfortunately, much needed across the country and in every town and city. But we also need to reach start-ups, entrepreneurs, unmarried men and women in their late 20s and early 30s, build relationships with local businesses, and maybe even create partnerships with other non-profits and influence politicians. Some people might argue that those people don’t need libraries, and that might be true, but I would argue that libraries need them. I would suggest that libraries need these kinds of community members in order to continue to have the resources and social capital we need to survive.

Because they don’t come into the library, and because we don’t always do a very good job doing outreach in their networks, many libraries might not know how to reach them. In fact, there are only a few ways to get into these networks. The most important and most impactful way is to show up and librarians should always show up. There are few places that librarians can show up, and I’ll just talk about two of them.

If there are any community meetings happening, a librarian should show up. These are opportunities to meet the influential people even if the community meeting has very little to do with the library. There are almost always a wide range of people who attend these meetings and many of the people who show up are the ones who are most committed to the community as well as many local politicians or people with political aspirations. These are some of the few people who actually show up to the city council meetings and speak on behalf of a local issue. The librarian can make many connections with the most politically active community members by showing up to these community meetings and introducing themselves, hearing about their issues, and discussing ways that the library aligns with their beliefs. The best part about working in a library is that there is almost always some way that the library aligns with every local issue even if it just providing books and collections that deal with that issue.

network-after-work-85310445Besides community meetings there are almost always networking events and social engagements throughout the area or nearby. If you live in or near a larger city, one of my favorite networking events is called Network After Work and has large networking events happening across the country at very low prices. I always tried to attend as many as I could or send my librarians to the ones happening nearby. If you don’t have a Networking After Work nearby, try looking for events on Facebook, Meetup.com, or even Craigslist. These kinds of events are filled with people working in start-ups, entrepreneurs, bankers, and new or early professionals who want to work on projects. One of the big things I always came away with where a handful of cards of people who wanted to do something in the library like debut their documentary, host a financial literacy fair, or provide some other program. But, the most important outcome was the opportunity to talk about the services that the library can provide to these kinds of individuals who don’t usually use the library as well as find people who want to help the library through donations, volunteerism, or other engagement like speaking or writing in support of the library when you need them to.

My biggest issue is that I’m an introvert. This is something that I wanted to be able to work around so I have spent a lot of time learning how to be social in these situations and I’ve spoken and written about how to fake being an extrovert until you get the hang of it. You can watch the talk in the video below.

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.

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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.

WTF Was I Thinking Last Year?

Well, I’m kinda over blogging on my own blog in general but I’m going to write this one anyway. It’s my, “WTF was I thinking last year?” blog post. Basically, I’m just going to talk about all the stupid crap I did last year and then promise to try to do better this next year.

1) Internet fights and generally being a dumbass
Ok, this is the biggest and most on my mind and that’s why it’s first…. I’ve only gotten into internet fights with a VERY few people (like, less than 5). In the end, they were dumb, I feel dumber, and I feel bad about myself as a person. I also feel bad about anyone I made feel bad. Sorry about that, if I see you around in person, I owe you all a couple of beers (or whatever you’re drinking/eating) and/or at the very least, an apology in person for sure. Of course, none of you have to forgive me or be my buddy or anything crazy like that, just know that I plan to try to not be such an asshat in the future.

So, this next year, I’m just going to do my best to let it go when something that irritates me on the Internet happens. People do what they do based on their own experiences and it’s not my place to judge them especially when I have no idea what their experiences are in the world. So yea… No more Internet fights. Let’s just go back to having some drinks and hanging out, making things awesome, and living our lives.

2) Hating and Hating Haters who Hate
I kinda slipped into becoming this and living in this area of the world a little bit towards the end of this year. I let things get to me that shouldn’t have gotten to me because, honestly… Well, in the end it doesn’t matter at all.

So, instead of spending time and energy on hating things that I hate, I’m going to spend my energy on hyping the things that I love. Honestly, I’m worried it will be hard to start moving in that direction because I’m worried it’s become a habit. So, if you see me hating, call me out on it.

3) Being a better manager/librarian in my job
Honestly, this year has been rough for me personally and as a consequence of that I haven’t done as good of a job in my job as I would have liked. There are a bunch of things that I failed at for all kinds of reasons. I failed at looking at the details of some projects and I didn’t motivate my staff as much as I wanted to. To put it plain and simply, I didn’t do an awesome job like my amazing staff deserves.

So, in case you don’t know…. I’m a branch manager in charge of two branches in my library system. I easily have a better staff than just about any manager I have ever talked to. I never have to worry about my libraries and they just kinda do an amazing job all the time and they make me look good. What more could I ask for? They are the reason that I have been able to go to all these conferences and do the things that I do outside of my library branches. I should do better for them and that’s my plan in the next years going forward. I’ll start by publicly saying thank you!

4) Organize
Right this second, I am terribly organized. I have a disturbingly messy office with parts of projects scattered around and things stored all over it. Basically, it’s a disaster and I’m not sure how I got to this point but this next year, I’m going to take some time and figure out how to be better organized not just in my office, but in my whole life. Ugh… this one will take a LOT of work….

5) Do Something Awesome
Ok, as a guy who honestly has a lot of privilege in the world, I feel like its my responsibility to not just sit on the winning lottery ticket but do something meaningful and good and awesome with it. Of course, I’m not sure what I should do just yet. So for now, I hope to just try to suck a lot less as a person and see what that does. I’m totally open for suggestions if you have them though.

6) Follow Through
There are a couple of things that I failed at following through on this last year. There were a couple of promises I made that I didn’t keep, or didn’t get to in time, or that let people down in the professional world. If you were one of them, I’m sorry about that. This is going to go back to numbers 3 and 4 and 5 but anyway, I’m going to do a much better job and following through on my professional promises…. Umm…. I promise?

Well… Dang… OK, there are like ten more things to talk about but I feel like you’re done reading and I’m kinda done writing another blog post. See you next year.

Worst Library Survey Ever

I don’t know if you heard about the plight of Kentucky Libraries. In case you haven’t, basically the ‘any tax is a bad tax’ organizations started a lawsuit to roll back library funding across most of the state to funding levels from anywhere between 10-30 years ago. In almost all areas this will devastate the state’s libraries. As part of… well… As part of whatever it is that they’re doing in KY to open up a discussion about this, they made this survey to determine the need for libraries most horribly titled;

ARE PUBLIC LIBRARIES STILL VALID IN THE 21ST CENTURY?

There are some real gems of a question in this survey that show the agenda or ignorance of whoever made it. My favorite is number 9 that only allows you to give ONE answer-

9. What purpose do you see libraries holding in the future?

  • A place to borrow traditional books.
  • A place to borrow digital media.
  • A place for community members and families to come together and share new experiences.
  • A place that hosts computers and technology for those who don’t have access for educational or job-search purposes.
  • I don’t think libraries will be relevant in the future.
  • So even if you don’t want to take it, just looking at the questions will help you see what libraries are up against in KY and also across the country.

    You can bet this survey spurred by the any tax is a bad tax organizations is being passed around those online forums across the country and being filled out by just about every one of them with an agenda. If you’d like to take it and restore balance to the force, here it is.

    https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NKYForumLibraries

    This war in Kentucky is going to gear up to be one of the biggest fights in librarianship in years. If the libraries lose the lawsuit, there are going to be dozens of ballot measures to regain funding across the state and we need to be armed to fund those fights. If you want to know what else you can do to help, here are a couple of suggestions.

    EveryLibrary is watching the outcome of this debate in KY very closely and we are getting ready to take action as soon as an action becomes clear. So, you can sign-up to continue to get information about what EveryLibrary is doing here or, even better, you can support EveryLibrary with your contributions here.

    The best thing you can do is actually attend the meeting in Campbell County Kentucky to show the relevance of libraries in the 21st century. Libraries and Librarians NEED to have a voice at this forum. We need you to attend!

    Otherwise, you can share this survey or this blog post with your library supporters to ensure that the voice of librarianship gets heard over the grumblings of the anti-tax crowd.

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    The big list of things everyone should do at #ala2013

    Think tank

    Once again, we have the obligatory blog post about what you need to do at this year’s ALA Annual Conference. If you want more information you can check out the official ALATT party list from Lauren Bradley and my partner Jp Porcaro already put together his list of things to do at ALA so check that out too.

    You should also just come and party with me and JP all over this town. We’re gonna have a really great time like we always do. We’re also doing tons of interviews with awesome librarians (again, like we always do) so come out and hang out with us!

    I’m excited about this year because we have the return of some great programs and events that started last year and we have some longer running programs and events that just keep getting better! So, if you’re wondering what you should absolutely go do at the conference, here they are!

      Thursday (Night)

    ALA Think Tank Thursday Night Meetup
    8pm-?
    Citizen Bar 364 W Erie St
    For all you early birds who Made It Happen and want to start out the conference with the party, this is your opportunity to come and party with the folks of the ALA Think Tank. Basically, it’s our bi-annual face-to-face meeting at the conference where we can have some drinks without having to post them to the FB page.

      Friday

    EveryLibrary Board Meeting
    9am-11am
    8 S. Michigan, Suite 2010
    This is the bi-annual public meeting of the first and only national political action committee for libraries. One of the biggest and most important things to happen to effect library funding and campaigning on behalf of libraries. Come hear what we’re working on across the country for libraries at the ballot box.

    Emerging Leaders Poster Session
    3-4pm
    McCormick Place Convention Center S405
    Come and see the outstanding projects that the future leaders of our profession have been working on all year. You’re sure to see something great!

    ALA Dance Party
    10pm-?
    311 W Chicago Ave
    There’s something else going on at this time, but this is the big party that happens every year! But as JP says- “the lifeguard librarian hooked us up with an hour of complimentary vodka at this one sooooo you decide which dance party to attend”

      Saturday

    Daylight hours: Interviews.
    From JP’s list of things to do – “please find me at any point at this conference and get a business card. i’ll be scheduling times for people to come up to where i’m staying and do a video interview with me and/or sweeney. we’re doing a sorta documentary on making-it-happen in/around libraries. we wanna interview only the young folks. we probably aren’t even gonna ASK anyone without a tumblr since they old, lol.”

    Ignite ALA
    Every afternoon Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 11:30-12 JP and I are hosting the Ignite sessions at ALA. These are great five minute presentations that will inspire and engage you.

    ALATT For Council Shwarma Meeting
    1-2:30
    Oasis Cafe 21 N Wabash Ave Ste 11
    Join us to celebrate or commiserate the election of Caucus members Erica Findley, Mel Gooch, Martin Garnar, and Coral Sheldon-Hess to Council, Kate Kosturski to two other ALA offices, and commiserate over everything else.

    Stand out and Be outstanding Convo Starter
    4-4:45
    McCormick Place Convention Center S102d
    This is the highest voted session of the conversation starters!

    What does it mean to lead and be recognized as a leader in the library profession? And what exactly is a rockstar librarian, anyway?

    This session will spark an exchange of ideas about what it means to stand out- and be outstanding- in the library field. A panel of motivated librarians who have participated in California’s Eureka! Leadership Program and/or the ALA Emerging Leaders Program will share their innovative paths to leadership, including strategies for being a leader in any position, taking risks, and balancing personal and professional priorities.

    8th Annual ALA Tweetup
    7:30-9:30
    Elephant & Castle 185 N. Wabash Ave, Chicago
    These tweetups have been going on 8 years? Man… I remember my first tweetup. This is your chance to meet your twitter friends IRL.

    Tumblr Meetup (set phasers to internet)
    I don’t have the details on this one but its 7-9pm somewhere in Chicago. Its where the cool kids are or so I’m told.

    ALA2013 After Hours – Local 22 – EveryLibrary and Librarian Wardrobe Party
    9pm-2am
    Blue Frog’s Local 22, 22 E Hubbard
    Bigger and better than a no-show celebrity rap party bar fight, ALATT After Hours is THE place to meet, greet, and strut your stuff at #ala2013. Hosted by Librarian Wardrobe and EveryLibrary on Saturday June 29th from 9pm – 2am at the Blue Frog’s “Local 22” at 22 E. Hubbard St. Chicago, IL 60611. Bring some cash and help fund political action for libraries. Bring your sass and show off your best dressed for fun and prizes.

      Sunday

    ALA Council
    8:30-11
    Come and visit me at ALA Council. I’ll be real bored and want to talk to someone. But, if you come, I’ll probably ask you to run for council too. I won’t be there until 10 this day because of the meeting listed below

    ALA LibraryLab Meeting
    8:30-10:00
    Join the ALA LibraryLab Member Interest Group business meeting to learn how you can get involved in any of our projects. Find out more about us at http://connect.ala.org/librarylab.

    Ignite Sessions
    Every afternoon Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 11:30-12 JP and I are hosting the Ignite sessions at ALA. These are great five minute presentations that will inspire and engage you.

    LITA Happy Hour
    5:30-8
    Fado Irish Pub, 100 West Grand Avenue
    Please join the LITA Membership Development Committee and members from around the country for networking, good cheer, and great fun! Expect lively conversation and excellent drinks

    GLBTRT Social
    6-8pm
    Ann Sather 909 W Belmont Ave
    Come mix with the membership of the GLBT Round Table. $5.00 recommended donation accepted at the door.

    BiblioFollies
    8-10
    The Backroom 1007 N Rush St,
    This is the event that made the California Library Conference worth attending. The burlesque dancers are amazing and… Not to give it away… One girl does this thing with a book scanner… You gotta come!

      Monday

    ALA Council
    8:30-11
    Come and visit me at ALA Council. I’ll be real bored and want to talk to someone. But, if you come, I’ll probably ask you to run for council too.

    Daylight hours: Interviews.
    From JP’s list of things to do – “please find me at any point at this conference and get a business card. i’ll be scheduling times for people to come up to where i’m staying and do a video interview with me and/or sweeney. we’re doing a sorta documentary on making-it-happen in/around libraries. we wanna interview only the young folks. we probably aren’t even gonna ASK anyone without a tumblr since they old, lol.”

    Ignite Sessions
    Every afternoon Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 11:30-12 JP and I are hosting the Ignite sessions at ALA. These are great five minute presentations that will inspire and engage you.

    ALA Battledecks
    5:30-7
    McCormick Place Convention Center N229
    Who will reign supreme in the 4th Battledecks competition at ALA annual? This year we will feature two rounds by having the first ever tournament of champions precede the regular battle. Who will become the Grand Pooba of Battledecks by winning the tournament of champions? Who will come out on top during the battle and win fame and glory? This is truly going to be a highlight of your conference experience as these courageous individuals compete for the honor of being crowned the next champs of the deck.

    Que(e)ry: Leather Bound in Chicago
    9pm-?
    Subterranean 2011 W. North Ave
    The NYC-based Que(e)ry is Chicago-bound for the American Library Association Annual Conference, and the library is open late for this dance party for queer librarians and those who love them, co-hosted by Chances Dances. Que(e)ry will feature DJs from Chances Dances, along with queer go-go dancers and a Librarian Realness Contest, with a live performance by Chicago-based queer rapper Big Dipper. Proceeds will benefit the Leather Archives and Museum and the Critical Fierceness Grant.

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