Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Email. It's going to be the death of us all.

A week or so ago I got a request for some demographics research for a business proposal that may be bringing a new storefront to the downtown area. Snapping into professional mode I completed the research the same afternoon, attached the appropriate documents and replied to the person. I didn't hear anything back over the next several days but I just assumed they were so busy on their end of the line that they didn't have time to reply.

Part of that assumption was true.

Indeed, they were busy. So busy that they didn't even see my email come in. They then waited until this morning to call, asking rather sheepishly if I had had time to complete the work. I had a brief panic attack but then found the message in my Sent folder and the other party was able to find the email on their end.

The delay and bit of drama could have been avoided if I had just picked up the phone and let the person know that the work was done and to contact me if they had any other questions. Problem. Solved.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Catch... and release

One of the most vexing pieces of library outreach is doing a presentation, getting people all excited about library resources, and then navigating the shoals of getting a library card into their hands. My library has an online application for city resident cards but if a person wanted (or needed) to get a library card through their business, the only option was the paper route.

Until now.

With the help of Google documents, I put together an online form that gathers the necessary information, dumps the data into a spreadsheet for easy cutting/pasting into Dynix, and voila! a new library card is born.

Here's the form:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Feedback, tough to get

until now...

When doing presentations out in the community, I have too much to convey in terms of the brilliance that is the public library to give over precious time to the solicitation of feedback and comments on the spot.

Solution: gather business cards/email contacts and afterward send out a Survey Monkey to the attendees. They then have a chance to provide feedback, should they be so inclined. When sent out a day or two after the presentation the survey also serves as another reminder of how frickin' awesome libraries are.

Problem. Solved.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Goals v. Duties

Beware: Side rant ahead.

Goals. Every library system seems to have them. Every annual evaluation that I've had has included a "What are your goals for the coming year?" component. That's great -- we should have goals.

But here's the thing: it seems we frequently confuse goals with duties. If I say that my goal for the coming year is to provide good reference service to my community, that's admirable but it isn't a goal -- it's a duty. It's part of my job description. How lame is it that we routinely are allowed to say "My goal is to adequately do my job"?

Managers out there: please give your staff members some clear guidance on the difference between goals and duties. Duties are expected and required. Goals are things that include the coordinating of pieces that lie beyond my immediate control. If I can do it today, it isn't a goal.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fans and Strangers

Seth Godin's posted the following on his blog:

Who are you marketing to?
  • Strangers are customers to be, but not yet
  • Critics are those that would speak ill of you, or need to be converted
  • Friends are those that might have given permission, or even buy now and then
  • Fans are members of your tribe, supporters and insiders
For the bulk of my outreach efforts, I'm looking for strangers and friends. Critics of the public library? If they are out there, they are a very small and/or quiet group.

If I can get strangers and friends into the library (or using our resources), I'm happy to leave the cultivation of transforming those folks into fans to the fabulous reference and circulation staff members of the Spokane Public Library. I'm coming to find that it isn't necessarily the information that folks are wowed by, it is the availability of a human to help connect them with the information they need. That's the important part.

Friday, January 15, 2010