Planning for emerging technology
Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:
Our intention as a public library serving a small lake village in South Eastern Wisconsin is to engage and include our entire community in our offerings and be more transparent. Per Casey and Savastinuk (2007), “External blogs are open to your community of users, providing information and often inviting participation and feedback” (p. 82). Casey and Savastinuk (2007) go on to say that “broad purpose front page blogs serve as your library’s first point of contact with library customers online. Instead of simply pushing one-way content to them via announcements or calendars, we can now post this information and accept comments and questions in response” (p. 84). So, our plan will introduce an external blog linked from our library website and our Facebook page that will invite comments and questions, and will:
- support transparency of the inner workings of the library.
- publicize/advertise library activities and events.
- publicize/advertise the library collection: print and digital.
- highlight staff members.
- ask library users to express their vision for their community and their library.
- make us more connected to our community.
- support community activities and events.
- support local schools and the historical society.
- engage the community as guest bloggers (this is suggested but not set in stone).
Description of Community you wish to engage:
Williams Bay, Wisconsin is a beautiful lake town in Southeastern Wisconsin. Located on the shore of Geneva Lake, it is a destination for vacationers from all over the united states and other countries. The following information is from (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012):
Population as of 2010 Census: 2,564
Median age: 43.5
Breakdown by age:
|Under 5 years: 125||45 to 54 years: 369|
|5 to 17 years: 459||55 to 59 years: 192|
|18 to 20 years: 67||60 to 64 years: 209|
|21 to 24 years: 96||65 to 74 years: 249|
|25 to 34 years: 270||75 to 84 years: 139|
|35 to 44 years: 317||85 years and over: 72|
We are a library of one director, two full-time professional librarians, one full-time IT librarian, and four part-time professional and paraprofessional library staff. We have 2 to 4 adult volunteers and 2 to 4 teen volunteers at any given time. We have an active Friends of the Library organization and an active Teen Board. As a small library, we are fortunate to not have large departments creating a silo-effect. Michael Stephens (2012) states “Often times, it’s the marketing department that feels the need to control the library’s story – in an age where the message has long since passed to the people. PR speak, filtered voices and stifled projects lead down the wrong path for open libraries. Think of all the staff, all their enthusiasm, and all their creativity being set aside because none of it was in a prearranged marketing plan. Or it’s the IT department holding tight to any technology initiatives.” This has not been a problem for us. We are not a large library; we wear many hats. It makes us mighty in spirit and creativity. Our plans are a team effort.
Action Brief Statement:
Convince Williams Bay Public Library director and employees that by creating and managing a blog they will engage the community which will broaden outreach because the community will have greater opportunity to engage with the library.
Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:
Our committee investigated the following successful library blogs for ideas for our own blog.
Ann Arbor District Library’s Director Blog:
Freemont Public Library supports both a youth and a teen blog:
New York Public Library manages multiple blogs addressing multiple topics:
Seattle Public Library’s Blog:
See references below for additional sources reviewed for this technology plan.
Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service:
Mission statement and intention for our library blog is to engage and include our entire community in our offerings and be more transparent.
- Blog posts should be 500 words or less. We want to convey information in a concise and succinct manner. In other words: less is more.
- We are aiming for 4 blog posts per month during our “beta” period which will be 6 months beginning on July 3, 2017.
- Our maiden voyage blog post will be from our library director. After that, the library director has kindly agreed to provide one blog post per month.
- Consider your target audience when you are creating your blog post. Make sure that your language and writing style is appropriate.
- Staff should check the blog site regularly to ensure comments and questions are addressed in a timely fashion. Familiarizing oneself with blog topics will be helpful when encouraging library users to engage.
**Blog Policy for Library Staff (internal) and Library Users (external):
- The Williams Bay Public Library is a welcoming and supportive environment. Our blog will reflect this.
- Blog materials should be original. We respect copyright and intellectual property.
- The blog should be reviewed frequently for comments and questions.
- Comments and questions should be addressed within 24 hours of when they are posted. 48 hours when there is a holiday or weekend.
- The Williams Bay Public Library is a welcoming and supportive environment.
- Commenters must provide their email address before their comment is posted. Commenters must have one approved post before their posts will automatically appear. Commenters are asked to review policy before commenting.
- Offensive posts and/or offensive language will not be tolerated.
- Please respect copyright and intellectual property.
**See above links to example blog policies.
Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service:
No new funding is necessary for this project. We will use the free WordPress, Inc. blog platform. It includes a plugin for statistics and basic security features. Vaaler & Brantley (2016) chose to use WordPress, Inc. because “it is an open source online publishing platform that supports multiple authors, making it a suitable platform for [their] collaborative blog…. Installing WordPress software on [their] library servers made [their] blog a cohesive part of the library’s website” (p. 15). After the initial 6-month trial, we can revisit additional features offered by WordPress, Inc. There are two hundred dollars available in the marketing budget if needed. Those marketing dollars can be used to publicize our blog and for fabulous prizes to encourage the community to check it out. Our intention is to not use these funds until after the “beta” period.
Action Steps & Timeline
From Michael Stephens (2012) we are determined to follow his recommendation to “let ‘beta’ be your friend. Let your users help you work out the bugs of that new service. Admit openly that whatever you are planning is new and there may be a few kinks. Share plans and prototypes. Be sure to interact and reply/respond. Make changes accordingly.” Our first official external blog post—by our library director—will address this. Feedback for the internal “sandbox” blog and from the external blog after rollout will be integral to our official blog’s success. We do not anticipate any “no” responses from staff to our plan. We were transparent from the beginning. Before we proceeded to make this plan, we surveyed our staff as to whether they wanted to introduce an external blog to our community. The staff (including our director) overwhelmingly agreed to “beta” test this endeavor. We will continue to be transparent throughout the planning process. Our plan allows for comments, questions, and input.
March 24: First meeting of the blog committee is comprised of the IT librarian, two professional librarian staff and two paraprofessional staff. The IT librarian manages our library website and Facebook page and will consult on the technical issues with the introduction of the blog. A secretary is designated to take minutes. The plan is introduced. Questions and comments are welcomed and noted. Committee and staff will review the plan over the coming week and bring suggestions for any changes or improvements to the next meeting. Minutes of meetings are to be completed and delivered to the committee and library staff within two days of the next meeting. All staff will receive a copy of this plan with the first set of minutes. Going forward, minutes from prior meeting will be reviewed and approved at the beginning of each meeting.
March 31: This meeting will finalize any changes or improvements to the blog plan, mission statement, guidelines, and policy. The committee will ask for a volunteer to format the blog mission statement, guidelines, and policy and ready it for review by the library director and the staff. Comments and suggestions are welcomed. The marketing plan will be included with the guidelines. Ideas for the Burma Shave style marketing signs are welcomed as well ideas for a name for our blog. Ideas can be submitted until April 14 when final verbiage will be decided. We need to allow a minimum of a week for our sign maker to produce the signs.
April 7: This meeting will take any comments and suggestions from the library director and other staff regarding blog guidelines and policy and make necessary changes. The finalized guidelines and policy will be distributed to the library director and staff.
April 14: This meeting will review the verbiage ideas from the staff for signage, library website banners, library Facebook page, and the library lobby monitor. Verbiage for signs will be finalized and submitted to the sign maker. Our IT librarian and a committee volunteer will create the banners for our website and the slides for the library lobby monitor. Teaser posts will be placed on our library Facebook page as well. Since this will be our first blog, we have determined that using WordPress, Inc. is optimal as it is free. Our IT librarian will determine how the blog can be incorporated safely into our website.
April 21: In this meeting the committee will establish the internal “sandbox” blog. An outline for in-service training will be created. A power point and a demonstration will be presented to staff. Our sign maker will deliver the signage in time for our next meeting.
April 28: Our marketing materials will be ready to go. May 1 the first set of signs will be placed by the roadside and the website and lobby monitor marketing will be installed. On June 1, the second set of signs will replace the first set of signs and the website, Facebook page, and lobby monitor will be updated. Training materials will be finalized for the in-service. IT librarian will present how the blog will be incorporated into the website. The “sandbox” internal blog will be finalized for staff to use after the in-service meeting. At that meeting, a sign-up sheet will be circulated for staff to have time to tinker with practice blog posts on the “sandbox” blog.
May 1: The committee has elected that I give the Power Point presentation. Our IT librarian will demonstrate the WordPress, Inc. “sandbox” blog. Throughout May and June, staff are encouraged to sign-up for a time to create blog posts. The IT librarian will choose a blog theme that best matches our website. We will ask that staff do not change the theme. Marketing materials go live on this day.
May 26: The committee will review the “sandbox” blogs and discuss any issues that may have surfaced. On this date, a sign-up sheet for our external blog will be posted in the staff-room. Blog posts must adhere to the guidelines and policy. The library director will create the first blog. Reminder to exchange the second set of marketing materials to be installed on June 1.
June 23: Committee members will review the theme of the external blog. The library director will create the first blog post. On July 3, the blog will go live. The IT librarian will test links to ensure that the blog is ready for the July 3 rollout date.
July 3: Committee meets to see the blog go live. Should be exciting!
August 4: After this meeting, we will not meet again until the end of the 6 month “beta” trial period unless there is a need to meet earlier. Next scheduled blog committee meeting is scheduled for January 8, 2018, when we will review evaluation materials to determine the impact (if any) of our “beta” blog. Of course, we will address any questions and concerns from staff and/or community members during the “beta” period.
Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service:
Time will need to be allotted to those employees responsible for creating a blog post. This will require some planning and assembling. Blog entries should be short and to the point. Since the initial blog will have 4 posts per month, we estimate two hours per each blog. This equates to 8 hours per month. Hours of service are 9 am to 7 pm Monday and Wednesday, 9 am to 6 pm Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday 9 am to 4 pm. Having reviewed our reference statistics, we have determined that there are several times during the week that reference desk activity is low enough to support a staff member to work on a blog post while at the reference desk. Those days are Monday from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm, Friday from 4 pm to 5:30 pm, and Saturday from 2pm to 3:30 pm. The equates to 18 hours of potential. We realize that occasionally those times will be busy. Those 18 hours should support our initial goal. As far as monitoring and answering comments and questions related to the blog. That will also be included in the 18 hours allocated to support the blog initiative.
Training for this Technology or Service:
We are rolling out this plan to coordinate with our annual employee in-service day on Monday, May 1, 2017. The five members of the emerging technologies planning committee will create and administer a training. An internal blog is established as a learning tool. After the initial training, access to the internal blog will be available to the staff for practice. Each staff will contribute a minimum of one practice blog following the guidelines established by the blog committee.
Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service:
To market and promote the library blog, we will use a Burma Shave style marketing strategy. Before roll out, we will employ signage along the main thoroughfare on library property* the library website, and the library lobby monitor.
*zoning issues have been addressed with the village of Williams Bay. We can place the temporary signs.
The two sets of four signs placed in order along the road in front of the library are displayed during the months of May and June. Set one will display in May and set two will display in June. A local sign maker will make the signs for us at no cost. His wife and children are very involved with the library, so he is happy to help. The first set of four signs will say something like:
Extra! > Extra! > Read All > About It!
Second set of four signs:
Read! > Enjoy! > Comment! > Library Blog & Web Address!
Note: These are examples. The committee is open to creative suggestions from the staff.
Banners on the library website and Facebook page will mirror the Burma Shave style signs. Since we have a monitor in our lobby, it will also display the verbiage of signs. The signs on the road will be displayed over two periods of time: May & June. Our marketing will target those who use the website and Facebook page, those who visit the library, and those who drive by the library on a regular basis. So, just because a community member does not go to the library or go to the library website or Facebook page, it does not mean they will not know what’s going on at the library. We hope to pique interest with our marketing.
Per Stephens (2008), “it takes front-end work to evaluate services properly. Well-defined expectations and goals and a written statement regarding some measurable return make the evaluation process more effective and worthwhile. Also, get staff and customers/patrons on board for the review process. Let everyone know that, eventually, you’ll evaluate every service you roll out. This lends more transparency to your planning process.”
We are confident that our plan will enable us to effectively evaluate our “beta” blog at the end of the 6-month trial period.
We will survey our staff and our community after the initial 6-month trial of a minimum of 24 posts. A survey for the staff will be anonymous and ask for their opinion on allotted time to create blog posts and whether they believe the blog was effective in meeting its desired outcomes. They will also be asked what changes could be made to make the blog more effective. We will ask library users via a link to an anonymous survey on our website, our Facebook page, and via an anonymous paper survey in the library to answer several questions about the blog. Did they read it? Did it they attend a library event because of it? Did it make them use or check out library materials they would otherwise not use? Did they learn something new about library they didn’t know before the blog?
Other methods of evaluation will be to monitor comments. Look at event attendance for events that were publicized via the blog. Compare attendance numbers to those from before the blog. Look at blog hits via the stats feature on WordPress, Inc. or clicks on the link from the website.
And finally, Edelstein (2010) stated “consumers help define your brand and they want to feel valued. Make sure to ask questions and listen to opinions. When appropriate, implement and share your community’s ideas. This can result in not only great content but even stronger brand loyalty.” Our library has a very successful brand. We have a loyal patron base. Think of how much stronger it will be when we expand our means of connecting to them and them connecting to us.
This plan is open to comment, suggestions, and changes. However, it is important that we adhere to the set timeline. This is a “beta” test. We will have the opportunity to make ongoing improvements after the rollout. At the end of our “beta” period, we will determine the future of our blog. We are optimistic that this will be a worthy endeavor.
Go team Williams Bay Public Library!!!!
Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Medford, N.J: Information Today.
M Edelstein (2010, June 25) How to: Evaluate your social media plan. [Web blog entry]. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2010/06/25/evaluate-social-media-plan/#7.O53VU.N5qC
M Stephens (2012, May 30) Taming technolust: Ten steps for planning in a 2.0 world. [Web blog entry]. Retrieved from http://tametheweb.com/2012/05/30/taming-technolust-ten-steps-for-planning-in-a-2-0-world-full-text/
M Stephens (2008, April 15) Measuring progress. [Web Blog Entry]. Retrieved from http://tametheweb.com/2008/04/15/measuring-progress/
U.S. Census Bureau. (2012, December). Wisconsin: 2010 Summary Population and Housing Characteristics 2010 Census of Population and Housing. (Report No. P 52-53) Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/cph-2-51.pdf
Vaaler, A., & Brantley, S. (2016). Using a blog and social media promotion as a collaborative community building marketing tool for library resources. Library Hi Tech News, 33(5), 13-15.