September 10, 2014, 4:04 pm
The mission of our Library Student Advisory Board is to help us gain a better understanding of the student experience at our university. We talk about a lot of different ideas and issues. I want to share three that surprised me.
Photocopying? We were talking about printing and I asked the students if they ever photocopied (we have all-in-one machines that do printing, copying, and scanning) and the students were silent. After some strange looks someone finally asked what’s a photocopy?
Apparently everything is a print these days. Reproduction of a page of paper doesn’t seem to be a very common activity. I explained what it was and felt like I was describing a telegraph. I guess with journals migrating to predominately digital formats that most undergrads do not need to photocopy articles. Most of their own content is digital as well — so there is no copying notes, forms, or…
May 9, 2014, 7:20 pm
Finals kicked off today at Virginia Tech. I have to admit that I actually like this time of the semester because of the intensity that students bring. I love being surrounded by mass-productivity!
I was looking through our school newspaper this morning and found a library-themed bingo card. There are a lot of tongue-and-cheek elements, but it was nice to see this unexpected and unsolicited shout-out for the library. I think they could have done some more unusual things (like someone spinning) but we’ll take the free publicity. Enjoy:
Blog Break: I have a handful of posts in the works but I’m planning to take a short hiatus. I hope to get back to blogging on June 1… if not sooner.
January 29, 2014, 6:26 pm
Last summer I posted about our aspirational identity project. We started with a long list of words and explored many concepts. We wrapped that up just before winter break and officially launched yesterday.
This is what we came up with:
We design pathways to information, access, ideas, and discovery.
We partner with people to produce, disseminate, preserve, and use information and data.
We enable people to design, make, and express their ideas.
We bring people, ideas, and resources together.
We ignite people’s curiosity and sense of possibility.
We stimulate creative, cultural, social, and intellectual endeavors.
Obviously these are very broad—that was our intention. We wanted to keep one hand in the past (ideals of librarianship) while stretching the other hand out toward the future. The qualities are all very…
January 21, 2014, 6:40 pm
The theme of language keeps popping up in my conversations. I’ve become very conscious with how we communicate with users – not just the content, but the tone as well.
A recent interaction with Google stimulated by thinking. They offered me a Glass upgrade and this was their confirmation message:
I was struck by the informal conversational nature of the email. It’s totally on brand for them, but it made me feel happy. Obviously getting free hardware is a positive occurrence, but the whole sequence of transactions left me with a good memorable experience. They want me to feel excited about their product and my ongoing relationship with them.
Lauren and I have been talking about this concept. Could you craft a personality for a library? A common voice for all written transactions? An experiential brand that manifests through text? Think about how you would want to be treated…
January 6, 2014, 3:41 pm
The future of libraries… actually looks like an Info Commons from 10 years ago?
You’ve probably seen the press about BiblioTech, the first bookless public library system in the country. It is being hailed as a “big success” and “the future of libraries.”
While I can appreciate the marketing tactic they are using, I actually think they are doing more harm than good. This library has been hyping the “bookless” concept for a while now. In fact, I’ve had faculty and administrators on my campus forward me renderings/press and suggest that we move in a similar direction.
My primary concern is that this might (or already has?) create false expectations of what “all libraries” should become. It’s setting a precedent. The key issue for me is funding. Why do we need a library anymore? Let’s…
December 17, 2013, 7:09 pm
I’ve always been interested in reaching out to students as soon as possible. Conceptually I like that space in the summer – the metamorphosis from high school senior to college freshmen. It feels like a prime time to engage and cultivate a positive relationship.
I use to consider the traditional route. Devise a fun print piece and have that item included in a welcome packet or other mailing. Of course incoming students receive a barrage of info and you’d really have to standout. They also have immediate (deadline-driven) needs like financial aid, housing, course selection, meal plans, and football tickets.
Facebook groups are another possibility to start the conversation. I wrote about making a good impression on incoming freshmen several years ago. Students form groups (i.e. Class of 2014) and interact with each other on social and academic matters. I’ve engaged with…
December 10, 2013, 7:48 pm
Like many libraries, we do a lot of things for students during finals. We give away food. We bring in therapy dogs and cats. We add extra tables and chairs. We’ve done mindfulness (and related) programs. We’ve done games and gaming. We’ve done bubble wrap. Our folks are always looking for new ways to help students during this challenging time.
My new favorite thing: Stress Confessional Photo Booth.
Virginia Tech has a portable photo booth that pops up at different campus locations; it’s a great value-add for events. Pretty straight forward — students snap their photos and print them out for free.
We’ve hosted the booth in the library before and it always gets a good reaction. This time we added a creative thematic element: stress confessional. The idea incubated via a Fast Company article How Selfies Are Re-Energizing The New York Public Library and we mashed that…
September 13, 2013, 1:37 pm
This is what social media looks like when it works right:
Thanks Scott for managing this. It’s not just about us pushing out content but about us listening and engaging when appropriate. I’m planning to tweet this student next week to make sure everything connected okay.
Another social media project that I’m glad we hosted was #firstdayvt. This was a VINE contest inviting students to submit super short videos based on their first day of school. Not a huge response, but this was my favorite.
What I like about this effort is that it wasn’t the hey-we-have-JSTOR style of marketing that I often see from libraries. In fact, this wasn’t about promoting the library at all. This was an opportunity to organize and serve as a campus-wide platform for expressing the stress or excitement associated with the new year. I really like that we can step beyond just “being a…
August 20, 2013, 5:56 pm
I had an interesting conversation with a faculty member last week that went something like this: “Brian, I want you to know that it’s getting harder for me to get students to use the library— especially the databases— anything beyond three clicks is just too many.”
In some disciplines this would not really shock me, but it was a historian. This is someone who is passionate about the library. This is someone who advocates for primary resources and through research. This is someone—who from what I can tell—is a very sophisticated database user.
If our super users are frustrated with database interfaces – what does that mean? Many of us spend a lot of time promoting library resources to students, but if faculty stop encouraging (or requiring) usage—what then?
The assignment is actually straightforward. Explore historical events by comparing coverage…
June 26, 2013, 7:53 pm
We’re revisiting our mission, vision, and values. It feels like we are in the early stages of a transformation—physical, virtual, philosophical, etc. This is very apparent in the types of positions that we’re hiring: Research Environments Librarian, Visual Literacy Instructor, Web Developer, and so forth. The whole concept of what we do (or what we can do) as an organization is greatly expanding as new capabilities are being added.
This summer we are exploring a big concept that I’m calling our aspirational identity. What words and images do we use internally to articulate why our library exists? What moods, feelings, and energy do we want to project outward? How can we support and amplify that Virginia Tech brand? It’s really about reframing the identity of the library and making a statement: this is who we are now. I’m drawing inspiration from The Container Store and …