It could have been a lot worse, but with so many people expressing their empathy, I thought I would take the time to blog the story of my library being flooded. I will blog later about the implications further down the track.
Yesterday in Melbourne (Thursday 26th November), a severe thunderstorm came through, causing widespread damage across Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. I had seen the warnings via Twitter and had warned library staff, but we didn’t expect the impact that we got.
At about 3pm, the sky went so dark that our carpark lights came on automatically. The area also went very still – trees stopped moving, as did many birds. At 3.05pm the wind started really moving and a few minutes later the rain came down. The best way I can describe it was cyclonic. I was watching from the staff room and it reminded a little of those TV reports you see live from cyclone affected areas.
The children's area at the time of recarpeting
Moments later, we heard the fuss out in the library and raced out to discover a waterfall running down from the roof, near the windows in our children’s area – along a length of about 20 metres. You can see the windows in the background of the picture here, this one taken at the time of recarpeting.
Fortunately, most of our children’s shelving is on wheels, so staff had quickly moved it out of harms way in just moments. However, rain was still pouring outside and still waterfalling inside. Every bucket and bin we could find was placed under the downpour, but it didn’t make much difference, the amount of water coming in was too great.
Fortunately, 10 minutes after the storm had begun – it stopped. The storm front moved on and we began the process of assessing the damage and clearing up as best we could. We dug around for equipment to help, finding a couple of mops, a stiff brush and a long armed window washer (which is great not only for windows, but only for squeezing water out of carpet tiles).
Calls were made to the Council and to our HQ for assistance and direction. Unfortunately, due to the state of other Council buildings in the area, there was not much assistance available from Council, so we got to work ourselves.
We were concerned about the state of our roof tiles, especially after hearing the news of roof collapses in the nearby shopping centre, Council offices and swimming pool. Ours held.
Flooding at Narre Warren Library
The clean up involved sopping up the extra water, which had spread close to our front desk, with the mops and using the brush and squeegee to push as much of it out the emergency exit as possible. Once there was no longer a flood on top of the carpet tiles, the next job was to try and squeeze the excess water out of the sopping ones. Fortunately, as we had only been recarpeted a year ago, the tiles were still relatively clean. Still it meant, shoes off and pants rolled up – not the usual library staff look.
In the meantime, other staff were checking for other leaks (none fortunately) and removing stock which had been affected by the downfall. Much of it just needed a quick wipe down, but even with the speedy response by staff, there was some stock damaged (I’d estimate up to 100 titles), so they took them out the staff area to remove the excess water and set them up to dry, in the hope of saving at least some of them.
Drying out water affected stock
The library did not close at any time during this whole affair and we were able to provide access to at least part of the childrens collections during that time.
After all that, a reassessment of the flooded area and some more judicious shelf rearranging, staff were able to reopen access to all of the children’s collections, whilst leaving the flooded areas and a good safety margin, roped off to all access.
When I left work at 6pm, the cleaners had arrived, with equipment to sop up even more water, before putting the blowers to work on drying out the tiles.
We were very lucky. Even though it was a short storm, because of the leak’s location and the quick action of staff, major damage was averted.
Will report more on the aftermath next week, when I know more about what we’ve lost in terms of collections and the condition of the roof.
Unfortunately for the organising commitment, they had a second last minute cancellation, but were fortunate enough to have a couple of people step up and show what they were doing at their library. Danny was first.
Their website redevelopment began about 18 months ago. Advice for anyone who has a website – take your website content, print it out as pages, put them on the floor and see if you can navigate between them easily.
Its all about content, content, content. It needs to be coherent, accessible, and minimal.
Everything on Darebin website has been developed in HTML or XML. No plugins required. You need to be sure that anyone can access your site, without needing the latest software versions etc. See W3C guidelines.
Firefox has a HTML validator plug-in which will validate your code, against the W3C guidelines. If there are HTML or CSS errors in your website, then Google will drop you down in search results.
Need HTML fonts that anyone can read and contrasting background colours.
Social networking will only work for you if you have a great, well working website. The social networking aims to bring users back to the library website, so you have to get that right first.
They use a content management system for their website, Convoy CMS produced by Roadhouse, customised for Darebin. Roadhouse also developed the new PLEASED website for public libraries on disability topics.
Vision Australia has a free toolbar to validate your website.
Their redevelopment is going live in March 2010. They are going with the Biblio Commons Discovery layer to bring the catalogue into the website. Keep the branding and the menus consistent with the website, even when it moves into the catalogue on doing a search.
You can create collections, mark for later and create lists, which can be public or private. You are able to share and bookmark using a wide variety of Web 2.0 tools.
You can send messages to other users through Bibliocommons, follow them etc. Can also block them.
It all looks very interesting. The Bibliocommons website takes you to customer websites to check out.
Pam Saunders and Elwyn Murray - Talking about my generation – giving perspective on what their generation is interested in.
Pam Saunders is gen X and she has 10 library cards – a library junkie. No one library gives her what she needs. She lives in the city and the country. She carries these cards in a wallet which also contains reviews, notes, recommended books, etc that she wants to get from her library. She looks to which library can get it and which will get it to her the quickest.
Her first point of contact will be the library website. Her impressions of library services, their reputations, will come from this. The best websites will be presented the same way that a house for sale is. Pruned down, uncluttered. Some libraries have other features that she is not aware of, because they havent sent them to her or she hasnt seen them on the library website.
Facebook – you can overload people with information that is not always relevant, so be careful about how much you dish out. Don’t make her have too many user names and passwords. Can find out interesting statistics about your Facebook users from Facebook itself.
Doesn’t like a big sign saying that you can pay your overdue fines online – not as a first thing. Put the positive things online, the not so delightful things should be tucked away – not unfindable, but not in your face.
Gen Y – Elwyn – uses the power of the Net to drive personal interest. Used Facebook to promote an event and got an unexpectedly good response.
Elwyn agreed with Leith’s earlier assertions, when you engage with people, you also engage with their networks. People attend events because they have an interest, because they know someone who is in it or because they know someone who is going.
You need to be personal in your approach, even if its in a broadcast medium like Facebook. Viral marketing plays a big role in promotion.
Tends to shy away from institutions on the internet – wants to hear individuals’ opinions, not the company line.
Does a lot of buying online, reads a lot of blogs, doesn’t listen to the radio anymore.
Is he a library member?
Why did they publish a hard copy of their book, rather than just online?
Easy to digitally curate things, but there is a different status level to a printed copy. If you can buy it, it is a way of showing appreciation and a way to own the content, which is different to the online. Had a grant to do it.
So that was the day. It finished with the LibMark Marketing awards – one of which was one by my library, for our teen blog Quicksand. Woohoo!
Thanks to the LibMark Committee for an insightful and interesting day. I will chasing up more than a few things for my library.
After my last post, it seems only appropriate that this one is my notes taken from a marketing seminar.
LibMark, which is the marketing subcommittee of the Public Libraries Victoria Network, ran a full day seminar on Digital Marketing and Libraries on Friday 23rd October. From here on in are my notes from the day, which was great – I came away with a lot of ideas and new perspectives. Hopefully these notes can give you some too.
Australians are generally early adopters of technology. We have one of the highest rates of mobile phone ownership in the world. 3/4s of Australian online adults use soical media and 1/4 have created their own content (Forrester Research). Our largest online demographic is the 35-44 year olds (Gen X), followed by the 25-34, then the 45-54 and then the 18-24s.
Marketing has changed, it is now pull not push, many to many not only one to many, its about conversation now not just a message, its peer to peer not organisation controlled and its generative not static. Marketing is no longer fully in our hands to control and we need to be aware of this and to learn how to make the most of it.
Social media comprises:
connection – which enables people, data, events and issues to meet u
community – there is a lot of power in self-organising groups, which have represent an identity, have common purpose, trust and representation (See Seth Godin’s book Tribes)
context – where you can interpret, find, personalise and complement content that you find -
co-creation – take existing content, change it, add to it and more, then share it again
When talking about new forms of value, He gave us a quote from jeff Jarvis (2005) in “Who wants to own content”, which in its purest form says “The value is in relationships. The value is in trust.”
The new values in today’s social media are sharing, reputation, collaboration, attention, transparency, trust, authenticity and openness.
So what is the challenge for public libraries?
Connect your with your community via Social Media (highlighted Boroondara’s blogs)
Provide access to open data, tools and APIs (he gave examples from the Gov 2.0 Workforce)
Build engaging user communities – our own tribes around a common purpose (WePlan Alpine and Open Austin)
Enable crowdsourcing – so our users can feel involved (NLA Digitisation – OCR checking)
Facilitate the acquisition of new literacies – help our users to learn and interact with today’s online environment
Libraries are rich with social objects – books for one, other items, that people can gather around, around which tribes can be built. We can provide the right conditions for tribes to flourish.
Libraries are only going to become more important as our communities look to use for our informational leadership.
Matthew Van Hasselt from the State Library of Victoria (SLV) gave an excellent presentation on email newsletters and why they still have a place in our emarketing strategies.
SLV’s communications needs is to communicate broadly their range of offerings to geodemographically diverse audiences. They do this through traditional paid media advertising, in-house promotional materials, signage, website, editorials in media, social media and through their email newsletter. They use multiple solutions so that the message is communicated as widely as possible and so that they can ensure it is received by as many people as possible.
Email is considered by many to be old hat, a thing of the past, so why use it for marketing? Email has many things in its favour, including: its a long standing communication tool – accepted and stable, its cheap and fast, measurable, understood, more formal than social media and more widely available – its not blocked by filters and more people have email addresses than social networking accounts.
One of the problems with social media is knowing which of the many tools out there to invest your resources in. There is also the question of longevity, not only in the tools themselves, but in people’s dedication to them. Whereas email has proven staying power and high use.
So how do you market via email?
Always ask permission – NEVER spam
Understand what your users want
Decide how you will give them what they want
Keep it simple, clear and to the point
What to consider in design? Matthew gave us some information from Nielson’s “Surviving inbox congestion”, including:
Average time given to an email newsletter after opening is 51 seconds
Only 19% of content is fully read
Content is mostly scanned
35% of users only skim a small part of the content
Important stuff we need to be aware of before immersing ourselves:
Have a straightforward subscribing and unsubscribing process
Offer both text and html options – for equality of access
Strip formatting from the text option – it can much it up otherwise – use Notepad to do this
Make sure all images have tags – for accessability
Check all links twice, more if you can
Have someone else proof read your work
Use a clear sender address ie. the name of your organisation
Create brief and relevant subject lines that will engage your reader
He recommend the Inverted pyramid of writing, where the information the reader must have for the communication to be successful is first, then the helpful but not crucial information, then lastly the bonus but not necessary content. You want to be sure they get the important stuff if they only read for a short time.
Always give your users the option to view the enewsletter in a browser and include all the important links at the bottom of the newsletter.
For more examples, check out the Australian Writers’ Guild (awg.com), Empire Online (empireonline.co.uk), BabyCentre.com and DailyOm.com.
Software services that offer email newsletters include MailChimp, iContact, Vertical Response and Mail Out.
Subscribe to your newsletter and test the experience
Don’t build your newsletter in email software
Get advice from someone already doing it
Learn some basic HTML for tweaking if needed
Keep it simple from the start
Be happy with the limitations of the medium
Leith Baggs stepped in on the day to replace a last minute cancellation and did a great presentation on viral marketing. (her presentation is available on the LibMark blog at http://libmarketing.blogspot.com/)
Viral marketing is a broader form of word of mouth – as new internet tools give us a way to spread the marketing message indirectly as well as directly through our users. Each person online has on average a network of 8-12 people in their close network – people who they would pass important messages onto.
Using such networks, a message’s exposure could grow exponentially, whilst being sustainable as well as cheap to distribute once the product has been created – after all its your users doing all the work of spreading the message!
Tips for great viral marketing:
Stand out from the crowd
Make it emotionally charged enough that people will send it on
Include something unexpected, weird or naughty to gain attention
Tell a story that people will want to share
YouTube is a great place to load your viral marketing product.
Creating a video is easy and YouTube is free for posting.
Homemade videos are fine and should be no longer than 3 minutes (shorter is better)
Descriptions should be clear and specific (shouldn’t be hard for librarians )
Don’t use fake customer insertions – product placement is OK though
Invite your communities to submit videos
Tell everyone about it
Make sure bloggers know about it
But most of all, have fun and experiment.
Viral marketing can also be about a simple email that meets the tips above. Make sure you personalise it so that it comes from a familiar source (ie. your library name). However, beware of being a spammer and respect the privacy of your users – you must get their contact details from them directly.
The next session was Katie Dawson on Accessible Online Places for your Events. Unfortunately I lost my notes on this session, but I can advise you to check EventBrite as a potential event booking tool for your library. I know I will be.
I will post the rest of my notes from the afternoon in Part 2, coming soon.