This Facebook Ad Campaign Might Save Your School Library

John Chrastka is a BOSS! This is a guest post from him about his campaign to get signatures on the White House Petition on School Libraries

On Wednesday, January 25th, a call went out for donations to help support a targeted advertisement via Facebook in support of the White House Petition on School Libraries. Quick creative, keywords, and copy were built about the petition and fielded to an initial audience of 3.8 million people. By 10pm that evening, 34 individual donors pledged $1,250 in support of this outreach. The initial ad targeted Facebook users people who have keywords on their profiles indicating that they were supporters of libraries, reading, and books, or were professionally involved in the library field. From 2pm CST on 1/25 through 2pm CST on 1/27, the ad was seen at least once by 255,000 people.

It quickly became apparent that the funding could be used for more targeted advertising to a wider audience. Within the first 24 hours, ALA’s Office for Library Advocacy created a special post on the I Love Libraries Facebook page to support this project. By Friday at Noon CST, five new ads with extensive, targeted keywords were fielded to the following groups out among the public: Libraries, Books and Writing, Education, Parents, and Friends of I Love Libraries Fans. A 6th group, ‘Civic Minded’, is ready to roll in case we need it. This phase of the campaign has a potential audience of 44 million people and will direct them to the special ILL page. The keywords and creative for this phase are attached and available to you open-source for future use in local, statewide and regional campaigns.

As the campaign wraps up after February 4th, a full set of statistics about the efficacy of these keywords will be available for you to benchmark your own projects.

This ad campaign is not the only thing helping this petition along nor is it the only driver. We could have $10k to spend but with our run way we need word of mouth and friends and family to help us deliver as well. We have 7 days (through Feb 4) to make it happen across the library ecosystem as we use our networks to get the word out. Help light a fire yourself by posting and sharing the petition and the I Love Libraries FAQ.

Thanks to Jaimie Hammond for her social media skills and creativity, Marci Merola at ALA OLA for her leadership on ESEA reauthorization and school libraries, and the ALATT crew for stepping up when it is needed.

Thanks to PC Sweeney for the guest post. (no John, Thank you!)

John Chrastka | |

Reference is Dead, Long Live the Enabler

At the time of writing this blog post, I’ve read two articles on the death of reference. The first was called “Is Reference Service Dead?” by Mathew Ciszek and the second was by Michael Stephens and it was called “Stuck in the Past.” Even I wrote a reference is dead blog post once many years and two other blogs ago. So, if reference is so dead, and it’s been written about as long as I can remember, why are we still talking about it? I think there are four choices.

1) It’s not dead
2) We haven’t come up with something better
3) Folks refuse to let it die
4) Students in Library School who think it’s something new to write about

Here is where I tell you which one of the four that I think is true. The truth is, I don’t know. I’m pretty sure that it’s a little of all four but my thought is that mostly its number two. I think there is something better than reference services and it ties into a future post that I’m working on. But, here is the reference version of that future blog post.

Eli Neiburger of the Ann Arbor Library District argues that armed with Google and an internet connection, the need for reference librarians has diminished. “Travel agents were outmoded because people felt they had better access to the information than they could get from the travel agents”, he said, and just as travel agents have become a thing of the past, so will the anachronistic reference librarian. With everything on Google, who needs them? (from Ciszek’s blog)

My thought is, he’s right! Who does need them? Lonely seniors and folks who can’t or don’t know how to access Google might need them but for the general public, the crap they dreg off the bottom of the information sewer on Google is good enough for them. Even though it might be wrong, or poorly written (like this blog), or out-of-date, or an ad for a guaranteed weight loss solution, they are satisfied with what they now “know.” Really, and I hate to break this to folks, but it’s all about perception. If the perceive that they have what they need, then that’s all it takes.

I’ll add in as a side note, that I do wholeheartedly disagree about the whole IT hiring frenzy thing though

But don’t worry; I’m not about complaining I’m about answers and solutions. So, here is my solution –

Reference is dead, long live the enabler.

Before I get more into my thoughts here, I can’t even begin to tell you how important it is for librarians to watch this video. So please, I’m begging you to watch it. I blogged about it once before, but here it is again.

So if we don’t have reference as a core service, then what do we have? We have the ability to enable people to live more fulfilled lives. We can do this by providing answers (some forms of reference), materials for better lives (more extensive collections like guitars, tools, seeds, gaming, augmented reality), a third place (a quiet work or relaxation place away from kids and husbands and wives), and a place to learn with the resources they need to learn (isn’t this really what we are about at the end of the day?). Hey Michael, notice I didn’t mention books?

What I’m saying here in a round and about way, is that we need to continue what libraries have always been, and that is to be enablers to those who want to learn and provide the resources that enable our communities to learn. It’s not reference, its enabling our patrons to live more fulfilling lives. After all… By answering reference questions wasn’t that the real goal anyway?

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Starting an E-Reader Lending Library

This is my grant narrative for the East Palo Alto E-Reader Lending Library. This opportunity arose because a neighboring library had a friends group with unspent funds from a grant. The money needed to go towards the implementation of some kind of technology. Basically, I know that a few other librarians have started some kind e-reader lending library and I wanted to jump into the e-reader fiasco sooner rather than later (we saw what happened to borders) so I put this grant idea together.

Short Description –
A set of E-readers with high-demand subject-specific content pre-loaded to check-out to community members.

Long Description –
The East Palo Alto Library, as a branch of the San Mateo County Library, seeks to create innovative and exciting collections to engage our users in ways that meet their changing needs. We have established unique collections as part of the East Palo Alto Library that includes a Seed Library, circulating laptops, and a newly implemented Guitar Lending Library. By expanding our unique collections to pre-loaded and high-demand subject-specific e-readers we are seeking to engage the public with resources that they may otherwise lack access to. Some of these non-fiction resources would include career- and job-seeking guides, as well as cooking, entrepreneurship, business management, and travel guides. Besides non-fiction, the East Palo Alto Library has a high demand for some genres and authors of fiction materials as well. Some of these include many urban fiction series, mysteries, thrillers, and various authors within these genres. These kinds of collections can help adults with their educational and recreational resource needs.

Besides providing e-readers with content that is exciting to adults, some e-readers would be pre-loaded with many titles and genres that would interest children and teens. Children are growing up in the information age and are considered information natives in the ways in which they interact with digital mediums. With this understanding we can appeal to the techno-appeal of digital environments by providing student resources, picture books, early-readers, and fiction materials for both teens and children.

It is also becoming increasingly evident that seniors are re-discovering the joys of reading through the use of e-readers. These devices are becoming more simplistic to use for those older adults not familiar with digital media and as the boomers (who are techno-savy) age, we are seeing an increase in retirees with strong computer skills who are enjoying reading on digital devices. Also attractive, is that the easy-to-read e-ink text on the devices can be effortlessly increased in size for easier reading for individuals who may have hardships of sight.

E-readers also lend the library with interesting and new opportunities for collection development. The “collections” kept on the e-readers can vary widely and because an e-reader can hold up to 3,500 books, many varied collections can be kept on one e-reader. These collections are easily and cheaply interchanged if needed and can be supplemented with many of the free e-book resources found online as well as through access to the library’s Overdrive digital book resource. These kinds of innovations will allow the library to continuously interchange collections while not being forced to throw away or weed existing collections thereby creating a greener organization as well.

My big questions that remain are…

  • What percentage of funds do I put towards the pre-loaded e-reader collection?
  • What percentage of funds do I put towards e-readers?
  • And most importantly, which e-reader do I purchase?
  • The third question seems to be the most difficult one to answer. Do I go with popularity (Kindle), ease of use (Nook), more exciting for children (Nook Color), and there are so many other variables that I really don’t know where to begin to start researching this. So I purposefully left out, which device I’m planning on purchasing.

    More info…
    If you haven’t followed ALL the e-reader debate in its all encompassing and over-passionate glory (neither have I, it’s just too overwhelming) here are some good places to start.

    Stephen’s Lighthouse
    Amazon to Launch Library Lending for Kindle Books

    Heather Braum
    Discriminating Against Libraries 26 ebook Circs at a time

    Jason Griffey
    EBooks Dominate as Most Popular Format?

    Librarian in Black
    Questions we should be asking about Kindle Library Lending

    Librarian by Day
    Some Questions for Overdrive and Amazon about the Kindle Lending Library

    Agnostic Maybe
    Houston We Have a Problem

    Librarian in Black
    EBook User’s Bill of Rights

    Librarian By Day
    Publishing Industry Forces OverDrive and Other Library eBook Vendors to Take a Giant Step Back

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    Punk-Ass Book Jockey
    Librarians Against DRM
    The Dark Ages Began With Closing A Library

    My #Library Outreach Idea to Local Businesses

    I read a great article about businesses starting their own libraries of business books in the office and it spurned a thought that I wanted to share with anyone in a community with a large number of businesses. It’s pretty simple and I’m not sure it requires an entire blog post dedicated to it, but I need to write something here anyway and I want to write this idea down before I forget it. Basically the idea is circulating business book bins. (Self-explanatory! That might be all you need to read here. But if you want more, please continue)

    So, you know how libraries circulate those subject specific boxes for schools when the school is doing a big research topic on something like reptiles? Well… What if we did the same thing, but for local businesses? These bins, or boxes, or bags, would be filled with books and resources for businesses big and small to circulate to employees. Each bin could have a different subject in it such as marketing, leadership, management, etc… In fact, we could even have bins for folks who are starting up their own businesses that could be filled with books about start-ups that could include things like NOLO Guides and books on business plans and models. *Thus the library could be the source for renewed entrepreneurship in America, eventually saving the American Way and Dream, the American economy, and in fact, America itself!!

    Anyway, I think it would work something like this. The library would put together these various bins and send letters to local businesses advertising this new service listing the various business topics. Each bin would have a collection of books on a specific topic, but only the bin would need to be barcoded because they’re checking out that subject collection in total. There would be a list of materials with a checklist included in the bin to ensure they all get returned. The business would call the library and request a specific topic bin and the library could drop it off. I would love to have the business determine the length of the checkout (which leads to another blog post on check-out lengths later) so they could ensure that they have enough time to have each of their employees read the material. This would be important because businesses of different sizes can have any number of employees and it would take differing amounts of time to circulate the materials throughout the business. At the pre-determined due-date the library would pick up the bin of books. And that’s it. Super easy.

    Of course, we might have to make someone from the business come to the library to get the bin instead of going there. I understand those kinds of time constraints. But! I think that, by going to the business, we have the opportunity for a new kind of outreach like we do in schools where we can have a stronger presence in their organization. When we go to the business we can do a small presentation to the staff on other resources that the library has to help them with their jobs. This would almost be exactly the same thing as a school visit but for adults!

    Ok… Here’s the part where you tell me what you think… And go!

    *Alright, maybe I get a little carried away. But I still believe that libraries are one of the most important institutions in the United States and do actually have the power to vastly improve the state of the country.

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    My Inspiration for the Beginning of a Redefinition of Librarianship (Part 1) #library

    This is going to be the first of what will hopefully be a long set of blog posts. In the last couple of months I have been struggling with idea of libraries as a concept. It started with a presentation I did for our librarians in the library system where I work. The presentation ended with me questioning what it is to be a library. Here began a long list of experiences that are forcing me to rethink what a library is. I am going to begin by sharing some these experiences with you. The first is (while not really the first, but the most meaningful) was meeting Sarah at ALA Annual in DC. Sarah is the Itinerant librarian and goes by the name @librarian on Twitter.

    The Itinerant Librarian was one of the most inspiring people I have met at a conference. This is a person who travels the world with a “library” in a briefcase. The story she told me is that previously she had no library experience and just thought one day that the world needed a traveling librarian. So, she left her home and had no job, no money, no financial support, no “real” library backing her up and created this “library” of books that she carries with her for people to check out. I truly regret not having my flip camera on me and recording the amazing conversation we had.

    She explained to me that the concept of the library is that she goes to a coffee shop, restaurant, park, etc… and puts out the books she has in her briefcase on the table and signs people up for a library card. People can check-out the books as long as she is there. When she is ready to leave, you have to return your books and she moves on to the next place. When she needed a place to sleep she used to find a place to sleep and when she was hungry sometimes she had to each out of rubbish bins (she’s English and has a great accent and I could listen to her say “Rubbish Bins” to me for days on end). She has a uniform and the library has a set of rules and regulations that all the patrons have to follow to get a library card.

    You can read the rules and regulations here at the “library’s” official website:

    And her blog (that is no longer being updated) here

    Follow her on twitter:

    When I refer to this as a “library” instead of a library, I mean that as a compliment. I mean that this isn’t a library as we think about them in the United States. The rules are different (better), the concept is brilliant, it totally challenged my concept of what a library is and can be, and her project has set in motion hundreds of thoughts and ideas for me.

    Most importantly, it made me realize the importance of libraries as a concept and the little importance that a building, management, money, organization, rules, etc… have on what it means to be a library. In fact, this might be the most pure form of librarianship that I have encountered.

    So Much To Do… What Should I do First?

    So I’ve been complaining about not knowing what to do next. I have my personal life goals sorted out as in this post, and I’m still figuring out my professional goals, but I’m just not sure where to start within my library system because there is so much that I want to do. There are quite a few large projects that I want to take on at the branch I work at right now, but I have no idea what I would do first. So I created this list because people asked me what it was that I wanted to do and also as a way for me to keep track of all my ideas. Let me know what you think!

    Volunteering Program
    Fully develop a volunteering program that establishes job roles and duties and outlines a training program. Implement this program to create a “staff” of volunteers to relieve staff of some of the day-to-day duties of maintaining the branch to allow them to perform larger duties with more significant results.

    Graffiti Arts
    The library needs some more modern art… Badly. Currently, the art on the walls was put there in the 80s but its from an African Art collection from far earlier and its representative of the culture of the community as it was about 25 years ago. Since then, the community has drastically changed and some new art needs to be displayed. The Police had a program that encouraged young graffiti artists to use their skills more positively. I would love to partner with this group to paint a graf mural on some of our blank walls.

    Establish a Friends of the Library Group
    This library has not had a FOL group for approximately 10 years. There are a number of barriers to establishing the group but I believe the need for community outreach and the ability to expand programs and services far outweigh the hardship of the barriers.

    Create a Community Newsletter
    A community newsletter could help to bring in more patrons for programs and services that are offered as well as notify patrons of new programs and services.

    Improve Wayfinding and use of Space
    The current configuration of the library does not currently lend itself to efficient wayfinding for patrons. Movement of furniture and better signage can create a useful library space as well as allow access to some of the “hidden” collections.

    Simplify the Organization of Digital Information in the Library System
    Currently the library system uses a wide number of information systems for communication. For example- staff email, Blogs, Servers, Websites, are all provided via different methods and therefore require a number of different passwords and access systems. Are each of these necessary? Can it be simplified?

    Centralized Ordering
    Develop and implement a plan for standardizing and centralizing the office supply ordering. The savings to the library system could be significant through the purchase of supplies in bulk and through re-negotiated contracts for larger orders.

    Development of instrument collection and system wide music programs
    The library could work to provide a collection of musical Instruments for check-out. Specifically, I was thinking guitars but this could be expanded or changed. For example in the library it might be hugely successful to check out Ukuleles. These check-outs would be in conjunction with a series of group classes lasting 8 weeks, during which time the students would have the instruments checked-out to them.

    Roaming Reference and Mobile Devices
    Develop and implement a plan to utilize mobile technology such as PDAs, smart phones, and other hand held electronic devices to assist in roaming (mobile?) reference and check-outs “on the go.”

    Development of a Social Media campaign
    Create a more robust online profile for the library system utilizing many of the online social networks and static sites to increase the library’s level of Online Social Capital. This could be done through the creation of a plan at the branch level to increase community involvement, or by creating one larger profile for the entire system.

    Text Book Collection
    There are a number of schools in the surrounding community served by the library. The library should establish closer partnerships with these groups and provide the services and materials needed by the students. These materials include research, book reports, and textbooks.

    QR Codes
    So, I’m not sure where I got this idea but I’m pretty sure I didn’t come up with it. I want to place QR codes around the community in significant areas where people can scan the codes to find more information about that place (or activity that occurs in that area) in the catalog. So, for example, books on hiking on mountain trails linked to a QR code placed at the head of the trail.

    My tour of Loyola Marymount University’s #library

    Outside of LMU library
    Outside of LMU library
    After CLA in Pasadena I was invited by Carmen Mitchell who I had met at Internet Librarian the week before to take a tour of the new Library at Loyola Marymount University. This is a gorgeous academic library on the campus of a private Catholic college. However, because it’s a new library and has only been open a few short months (in fact, this the first semester) there are a number of the typical new building issues that I’ve experienced and that I’ve heard from other librarians who have had the opportunity to build a whole new library. I’m going to pass over these issues and focus on a few of the great aspects of the library space.

    Information Screens
    Information Screen
    The building itself is an amazing piece of architecture. Built in the shape of a circle, it defies the stereotypical library building focus of straight lines, columns, and rows that I see both inside and outside of libraries. Immediately, it is set apart from many of the other boxy academic buildings surrounding it. The entrance is wide and allows for a great decompression zone that separates the library and creates a defined boundary from the outside world. The design of the building is actually an outside circle surrounding an inner square that contains many of the working features of the library. Within the square are the offices, storage spaces, and working areas of the library and around the outside they’ve create a “Living Edge” with seating and study rooms. In between these two spaces are the books and materials for circulation.

    There isn’t much to say about the materials in the library and the way in which they are organized as I felt it was fairly standard. Nor were the staff spaces (with one exception, that I will explain later) out of the ordinary. However, I was very interested in the working spaces for the students that they had created, what worked, what didn’t, and how the students adapted.

    Reference Desk with two screens
    Reference Desk with two screens
    As I walked through the library with my tour guide I noticed that the library using the Mac platform almost exclusively. These computers also had Windows loaded on them but every computer was a Mac. Each of the computer stations used large flat screens at angles that appeared to lend themselves for students to work in pairs if need be. In fact, at the reference desk there were two computer screens that allowed the student asking the reference question to see what was being done at the reference librarian’s computer without having to share on screen and turn it back and forth.

    The large table workstations and study carrels themselves were one of my very few complaints. The tables lacked any data and power ports and students who were using their own laptops or other technology were unable to plug those tools into the space that they were working in without an excessive amount of effort. The study carrels were small and didn’t allow for students with multiple books, laptops, and notebooks that many students are using for class work. I didn’t notice very many students using these spaces, but did notice the way that the students had adapted to the spaces and created some of their own workspaces as in the photos below.

    Student at work
    Student at work
    Student at Work
    Student at Work

    My favorite feature of the library was the study rooms that were built around the edge of the second floor. These spaces were enclosed, with a table and four chairs designed for group work and students could reserve the rooms

    Study room with whiteboard walls
    Study Room with Whiteboard walls
    online or at kiosks in the library. Also, in these spaces were flat screen TVs that students could use to view many of the various forms of multimedia that is available to them. The walls of the rooms were completely made from a surface that was designed for use with whiteboard (dry erase) markers. These kinds of features seemed to lend themselves for more interactive and collaborative work without being restricted to the size of a standard white board.

    My other favorite feature of the library was a staff or faculty workspace. This area contained many of the latest and most advanced research technologies with some of the older technologies blended seamlessly together. The entirety of the walls was coated in the same dry erase material that the student study room walls were made from. There were also a number of projectors and interactive equipment that encourages collaborative work in the space.

    Overall I was very impressed with the building. Aside from the few complaints here and there that seem to stem from the construction of new buildings and the uneducated faculty and deans about the uses of libraries in the new millennium I feel that the library is a successful addition to the college campus and has potential to lend itself to many of the changes in the ways that people and students or faculty use libraries that are coming in the next 10-20 years at least.