Solving the Interest Problem – Kelly Czarnecki & Cliff Landis

Cliff started with a quote from the ‘net from someone asking if there is some kind of rental store for books – is this the user or the library failing. Bookswim is competition for us – we don’t trust our own users so we don’t do this. Users are willing to pay for this kind of service. Valdosta, where Cliff works, just did some user testing and found that things that are obvious to us are obviously not obvious to the library’s users. Sex, drugs & disease – gets attention and interest immediately. Beware the super-user ego-hug – really grateful and really heavy users of the library – watch out for assuming that everyone can figure things out just because they have. We also forget about the “out” part of outreach – do more advertising to people who aren’t already in your building – have a conversation with your non-users. Find out why they aren’t using your stuff!
Cliff is talking about teachable moments – I had one of those last night. The security at the karaoke bar was talking about getting a computer soon and being able to find the pictures online – once he got his computer – of us crazy library-types. I told him to get his butt down to the Monterey Public Library and do a Flickr search. Teachable moment!! Next he mentioned that we need to remember to ask our users for how they want to be contacted, etc. Picture of a porcupine with a tube on its head and the caption “utube – ur doin it wrong” got some big laughs.
Talking about user studies – use Jing or something to record their screen.
Kelly started talking about her library’s “Mobile Literacy Vehicle” equipped with laptops and staff to go out to underserved neighborhoods to do programs and such. Their other project is outreach to incarcerated populations – they do have some who come to the library after they’ve served their time. They also do these through virtual outreach – some of the kids have access to computers so they meet there occasionally. They also have an account with OPAL ( where they offer information and outreach for their – and other – libraries. They stream some of their programs so that they are available for people even when they are unable to attend. Ustream ( helps with that as well. They are also developing an Alternate Reality game to advertise their “one book” program.
Take homes:
• Market the library outside the library
• Find out what your (non)users want and need
• Are you doing it right? Measure and find out
• Involve staff in fundraising efforts of the library
• Develop out of the box partnerships
• Blend the traditional/nontraditional
• Create blogs and sites that are interactive
• Hire non library staff for programs and other perspectives
Question time!
How are they developing their alternative reality game ? It’s still being developed, but they’ll have a blog (written by one of the main characters in the book, To Kill A Mockingbird) that will be the main “starting point” for the game. They’ll have phone numbers that will have messages that will help people get farther into the game. Puzzles and clues will branch out from there.
What kinds of user behaviors did you see during testing? Cliff said that he noticed about 2 minutes of attention, then they’ll skip over to Google
How do you respond to a website that is imposed on you? Valdosta’s library goes wild – within the constraints that the University gives ‘em
What is the best way for a library to learn about their users’ interests? Cliff said that conversations are the best – he pays attention to the patrons and occasionally just sits there and smiles at folks and strikes up conversations with them instead of working and appearing busy at the desk. Kelly gets to play with stuff at her library and that play gets teens and kids interested and
Kelly asked if there are any success stories from folks in the audience.
Susan, an audience member, said that they provide books to kids who are waiting to see their incarcerated parents
Eunice gives away dictionaries (used & picked up a garage sales) to anyone who asks to use the library’s dictionary.

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