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Internet Librarian 2011: Community Embraces Online 11:1

Denise Siers, Melissa Falgout, and David Wasserman

Denise Siers gave us an overview of the King County Library System: a large system serving many people over a large geographic area.  They have 1 million card-holders, 90% of whom have used the library in the last year.  They have 10 million visits to the physical libraries, and the website has 31 million visits and the catalog has 84.5 million visits.  That’s a ratio of 11:1 – 11 times as much web traffic as foot traffic.  (Sarah’s note: I’m willing to bet that any library would find similar numbers.)  To reach all users, they need to deliver services in the library, beyond the building with mobile library services (bookmobile type stuff), and online.  Even in-library services, like summer reading, often have online components.

David Wasserman talked about his small team of web services staff (2 ½ people total, including him).  They run the social media presences, create videos for the website, and more.  Part of that is the online collections maintenance – eBooks, databases, software.  Focusing on usage-driven collections and offering staff training on key services.  In 2012 they anticipate spending even more money on eBooks than before.  They are past the phase of experimentation for experimentation’s sake.  Their big two focus areas are children’s services and digital reading.  They have a companion website called Tell Me a Story for kids.  They reach significantly more patrons with videos than they do in-person (more efficient use of staff time).  They bring talented staff into the limelight with these services whenever they can.  They’re on Facebook and Twitter and get the most interaction when they give people something worth commenting about.  They target a lot of their content toward women between 24 and 54.  He recommends Hootsuite and asking them for the non-profit rate professional account.  They also offer The People’s University through YouTube videos, web guides, NetMasters, digital signage, and social promotion.  Over 40% of their digital content (eBook) downloads go right to mobile devices.

Melissa Falgout gave us some info on what the web services team is up to.  They have the Evergreen open source catalog.  KCLS.org and their SharePoint intranet are also managed by the web services team.  Statistics show that their patrons want to self-serve, to do things themselves, so the team’s focus is on enabling that process whenever possible.  Their help desk and knowledge base is software-based and provides a professional, fully functional help solution for users.  The goal is to provide 24 hour patron control and access to library services.  They also provide on-site self-check-in stations.  Web services conducted usability throughout the process of migrating from III to Evergreen.  The upgrade cycles are continuous, and this can be frustrating for some staff and users.  They have a mobile catalog that is a mobile site (jquery based), not an app.  They have a Boopsie app too.  Their children’s catalog is a graphical access point and is still in the creation phase (Sarah’s Note: I can’t wait to see this when it’s out in beta!).  They also offer This Just In – a mobile notification system for new items in a user’s chosen interest areas

Denise Siers closed out with some interesting stats.  There are 5.5 billion mobile devices right now, which is 90% of the world’s population.  Texting is replacing voice communication.  No matter what type of library you have or where your users are from, the mobile device is replacing laptops and desktops as a primary way that people access our services.  KCLS surveyed over 5,000 patrons about their user experiences.  This developed a strategic blueprint for the library—and that really did gear their goals for the next years (e.g. Evergreen, a wayfinding program in the libraries, etc.).  They have a Future Services Strategy which looks at standard public library services, but delivering them using the 3 methods of in the library, beyond the building, and online.  Changing technology, demographics, and the fiscal outlook drove their planning.

“Internet Librarian 2011: Community Embraces Online 11:1”

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