A Doggone Good Time: Therapy Dogs at the Library

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the title. I know….I know…

I’ve been seeing posts and pictures recently of other library therapy dogs events. Who doesn’t like to see some doggie pics? So I thought I’d throw in my own experience:

Today was the library’s 3rd annual visit of therapy dogs (technically they’re outreach dogs–dogs that have passed their canine good citizenship test). It’s something that the students eagerly look forward to (and now come expect!) as fall semester Final Exams begin. We had 16 dogs with us today and several hundred students.

It’s a great way to put a different face on the academic library: to show students we care about their mental well-being. We want them relaxed for Final Exams. We want to relieve those jitters for a little while. This gives them an opportunity to take a break from studying if for just a bit.

I blogged about the broader topic last spring – De-Stressing for Student Finals –  and a colleague and I gave a presentation on marketing and outreach activities such as this last year: Creating an Engaging Library: Marketing from the Group Up.

For the library it costs little money. The local kennel club participants volunteer their time for free. Our marketing is via the library website, Facebook, and Twitter. We spent some money printing posters. It’s also important to be in contact with your parent organization’s risk management person to make sure the appropriate paperwork and insurance forms are filled out. Otherwise, it’s a pretty easy event to handle.

Concerns about noise and allergies? Although that’s definitely a legitimate concern, we’ve heard very little comment. We’re lucky in that our library is 7 floors. For us, it boils down to this: The event takes up 1 floor for 2 hours on 1 day a year. You have to balance the reward with the consequences. For us, the reward is overwhelming: This is an event that students look forward to. Students are lined up on the floor waiting to see the dogs as they come into the building. Want to see more? Check out these pics:

Can I Quote You On That? Social Media Guidelines & Library Patrons

I’m taking the HyperlibMOOC class this fall. It’s been a fun experience: far exceeding my expectations with stimulating discussions, lectures, activities, and side conversations.

Currently, I’m working on a social media guidelines assignment for class. Browsing around the web for examples of other library social media policies, I stumbled on to one which I won’t call out by name. Their policy states:

“We reserve the right to use your comments in promotional materials, to use your stories to show others what makes [insert library name] unique and extraordinary.”

Is this standard boiler plate language? If so, what exactly does it mean?

  • Would retweeting a comment such as: Got my assignment done! This library rocks! count as part of this?

I do that at my library without really thinking about it. To me, it’s part of the ethos of Twitter.

Or, might I see your Twitter post or Facebook comment incorporated into promotional materials for the library? Like an advertisement or poster. That I have a problem with. I’m not part of tin-foil hate brigade when it comes to privacy, but I do expect a certain base amount of protection and I bristle at things that come across as pure advertising.

Let’s say I posted something on the library’s Facebook page and then saw it captured and featured on large plasma displays in the library:

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 3.00.58 PM

THAT would bug me. Without my permission? No.

I’m not exactly sure I have an answer for what IS the dividing line in terms of social media and privacy. It often seems rather fluid.

As a librarian and as a professional, I’ve always felt it was just the “right” thing to do to ASK people for their permission to use comments in advertisements and promotions. We’re inviting people to “friend” and “follow” us, I’d rather not risk that friendship just for an advertisement.

What do you think…Am I way off-base here? Is the library a business like anything else? Should we be mining our patrons’ comments and posts for our benefit without asking? Let me know!

Postcards & Therapy Dogs: De-Stressing for Student Finals

It’s that time of year: Final Exams. To help de-stress students at my academic library, we usually plan some activities to help students relax and have a little fun too.

Yesterday I tweeted a postcard that my library is giving students to send back home to assure mom and dad that they’re studying for final exams. It proved popular! At last count, it was re-tweeted 37 times and favorited 31 times.

Final Exams postcard for students to send back home.

Final Exams postcard for students to send back home.

Library Postcards

So, how did the postcard idea come about? It’s all about partnerships. Our library director, Paula Ganyard (@ganyardp), who had read an article about a similar idea, approached our university’s marketing people–they thought it was a great idea. A graphics intern in their department designed two postcards for us to give to students.

For printing and postage, the partnership continues: the library, along with the university’s advancement office (the money people!) split the cost. Now before you think we’re spending money on postcards as opposed to books and databases, we’re not. We have a small amount of funds that can be used for outreach projects such as this. As academic libraries do more outreach, having money to do things outside of the normal “library” realm becomes more important.

So, what do we see as the “worth” in doing something like this? Our library director thinks it’s something fun and different for today’s college students. Used to communicating electronically, the postcard idea is a fun, retro way to connect with mom and dad. Building on this, it’s also great way for the library to connect with parents, promote the university’s new brand, and promote the library as Wisconsin Library of the Year. But it all ties back to the students: we hope that the small things we do add to students’ overall college experience, helps to retain them, and creates a fun memory for their library and their campus.

Therapy Dogs

In addition to the postcard idea, we try to do one “big” event for Final Exams each semester. For Fall Final Exams in December, we bring in therapy dogs–which has become one of our most talked about events.

One of our librarians belongs to a local kennel club. Their dogs have all passed the “canine good citizenship” test and do outreach at schools, nursing homes, and now our academic library. On the day of the event, we block off a two hour time span on one of library floors and invite anywhere from 12-15 therapy dogs.  Response from students has been through the roof, as evidenced in social media posts (here, here, here, and here). We even made the local TV news:

UWGB students use dogs to escape exams

The therapy dog visit demonstrates the library’s commitment to not only the academic needs of students, but to their general mental and behavioral well-being. It gives students a moment to relax, recalibrate, and re-energize before the next big exam.

Complaints about allergies and noise have been minor. I think of it this way: it’s one day of the year, for two hours, limited to one floor of the library, and highly publicized. We also try to hold it right BEFORE final exams begin, to avoid any major disruptions. Also: if you want to do therapy dogs, don’t forget to check on liability/insurance issues. We had do some paperwork!

For more photos of our “furry” library friends, check out the UW-Green Bay’s Cofrin Library Flickr set.

The therapy dogs and other outreach activities we do are covered in a presentation I did with my colleague Renee Ettinger at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in October 2012.

Include “Passive” Activities, Too

Besides postcards and therapy dogs, we also try to have a variety of “passive” activities: coloring, board games, easy crafts, etc. Anything to take students’ minds of Finals…if just for a bit.

I’m interested in hearing about what other academic libraries do for Final Exams. Let me know and leave a comment!

Edible Books Redux

Last year I blogged about hosting an Edible Book Festival – it’s a great way to get your community to think about books and reading in a different light. You’re also asking your community to contribute and show off their talents. And who doesn’t like some cake? I love the cleverness and creativity associated with this event. You can even promote it with fun tag lines such as:

It’s time to cook the books!

Did you ever want to eat your own words?

Yesterday, my library held its 2nd annual Edible Book Fest to coincide with National Library Week. This year we did a few things differently. We changed some of the prize categories. This year we did:

We also relied on “celebrity” judges to pick the winners for each of the categories–with the exception of “People’s Choice.” Last year, we spent too much time trying to tally up the winners, so we let our community vote for “People’s Choice” and then only had to tally up votes for one category – this streamlined things for us.

Take a look at some of our edible entries:

Creating an Engaging Library: Marketing from the Ground Up

My colleague Renee Ettinger & I presented at the Wisconsin Library Association Annual Conference in La Crosse last week. What a fun experience interacting with other librarians from around the state!

Our presentation – Creating an Engaging Library: Marketing from the Ground Up – covered our library’s events for our university community, examined our marketing efforts and how they have evolved, spotlighted our social media activities, and how we collaborate with students and other campus groups for marketing and event planning.

Here’s the description of our session presentation:

Libraries can’t afford for marketing to be an afterthought. It’s a way to connect with your community, campus and school. Join UW-Green Bay librarians as they discuss how their library built a comprehensive marketing plan, utilized the talent of students, experts, partnered with stakeholders and designed popular events for its patrons. The end goal? Creating a vibrant and engaging environment. The session will wrap up with a lightning round, where you will be invited to share your ideas and experiences with marketing. We hope to see you there!

Below is a link to our presentation from Slideshare:

We also referenced several videos in our presentation:

If you have some great marketing ideas or cool library events you’d like to share, let me know!

Books, Food & Fun: Hosting an Edible Book Festival

Yesterday, my library hosted its first Edible Book Festival. With minimal planning and volunteers, we pulled it off. Traditionally, libraries hold an Edible Book Festival on or around April 1, to honor Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, author of Physiologie du gout (The Physiology of Taste), who is generally regarded as an early “foodie”. My library held its event today to honor our 40th anniversary.

If you’ve never planned an Edible Book Festival before, it’s easy to do and it’s a great way to get your community, school, or university involved. Here are a few pointers if you are interested in planning such an event.

  • Look around online for some examples and inspiration: Start with the International Edible Book Festival website. Here are a few libraries and organizations that have hosted an edible book event:
  • Determine categories for the event such as: Best Individual Entry, Best Group Entry, Best in Show, “Punniest,” Most Likely to Be Eaten
  • Help answer the question, What is an Edible Book? by providing an explanation:
    • “Edible books can look like a book in form and shape, be inspired by a book or author, can be a pun of a book title, can refer to a book character, reproduce a book cover, or just have something to do with books in general.”
    • Help people visualize what an edible book can be made from: “Entries may be made from anything that is edible (cake, bread, crackers, Jell-o, fruit, vegetables, candy, etc.) as long as it can sit out for an hour or two without melting, turning bad, or getting scary.”
  • Promotion: Use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to promote the event. We also created a campus flyer and got a story in our university’s daily email announcement.
  • Reach out to local groups that might be interested in the event (elementary, middle & high schools, restaurants, culinary schools, libraries).
  • We created a Libguide that displayed information for people that might be interested in the event.
  • Some libraries collect an entry fee (e.g., $2.00 for individual entries, $5.00 for group entries) and donate the proceeds to a local soup kitchen, food pantry, or charity.
  • Some institutions may have to seek a waiver from their parent organization for serving food.
  • Create an entry form (paper or electronic). Ask for: entry type (individual or group), contact info, title of entry, book/title/author that inspired the entry, special needs (like space, electricity, etc…), and whether or not the entrant plans to bring along a copy of the book that inspired the creation (otherwise the library should plan to get a copy).
  • On the entry form, emphasize the need for safe food handling practices and that the entrants should bring a utensil to cut/carve their creation.
  • Create placards for each of the entrants with the book title, name, etc…
  • Have utensils, cups, and plates for the day of the event.
  • On the day of the event: have entrants bring their creations at least 30 minutes to 1 hour beforehand, to allow for set-up.
  • Leave some time for judging. We had ballots printed up and used a popular vote methods. Other libraries use guest “judges.”
  • Arrange for certificates and prizes (if funding allows).
  • Announce the winners and “eat” the books.
  • We even got a shout-out on the local news.
Our Iceberg is Melting Punch

Our Iceberg is Melting Punch – my entry for our Edible Book Festival

iPads @ the Library

My library now has 6 iPads available for checkout. At this point, they’re pretty much still the “out of the box” version, with few apps installed. I’m working with a group of library staff and a student worker to determine which apps to install, and also to devise a user survey.

As expected, the iPads have checked out like hotcakes. If we had double the amount of iPads, they’d still all be checked out!

Students, faculty, and staff can check out an iPad on a first come, first serve basis. No reservations. We allow the iPads to leave the library. The loan period is 7 days.

Here’s the list of apps that I’m interested in installing. Do you have any suggestions?

Reference & Information

  • Dictionary.com (free)
  • EasyBib (free)
  • Epicurious (free)
  • Fandango Movies (free)
  • Google Earth (free)
  • Google Maps – comes installed
  • Google Search (free)
  • IMDB (free)
  • Kayak (free)
  • Periodic Table (free)
  • Shazam (free)
  • Urbanspoon (free)
  • The Weather Channel (free)
  • WebMD (free)
  • Wikipanion (free)

Productivity

  • Evernote (free)
  • GarageBand ($4.99)
  • iMovie ($4.99)
  • Keynote (presentations) - purchased & installed ($9.99)
  • Mail - comes installed
  • Numbers (spreadsheets) - purchased & installed ($9.99)
  • Pages (word processing) – purchased & installed ($9.99)

Utilities

  • Calendar – comes installed
  • Calculator Pro ($0.99)
  • Dragon Dictation (free)
  • Dropbox (free)
  • Mint.com (free)
  • Notes – comes installed

Social Media

  • Facebook (free)
  • Foursquare (free)
  • Skype (free)
  • Twitter (free)
  • Yelp (free)

Photography & Video

  • Camera - comes installed
  • FaceTime – comes installed
  • Instapad (free)
  • Photo Booth - comes installed
  • PS Express (Photoshop Express) (free)

Games

  • Angry Birds HD Free (free)
  • Bejeweled Blitz (free)
  • Checkers (free)
  • Chess Free (free)
  • Fruit Ninja HD Lite (free)
  • Minesweeper (free)
  • NY Times Crosswords (free)
  • Pocket Piano (free)
  • Solitaire (free)
  • Sodoku Lite (free)
  • Temple Run (free)
  • TicTacFree (free)
  • Words with Friends HD Free (free)

News

  • ABC News (free)
  • BBC News (free)
  • Bloomberg (free)
  • CBS News for iPad (free)
  • CNET (free)
  • CNN (free)
  • ESPN ScoreCenter XL (free)
  • Flipboard (free)
  • Fox News (free)
  • Huffington Post (free)
  • MTV News (free)
  • Mashable (free)
  • NPR (free)
  • NY Times (free for “top news”)
  • The Onion (free)
  • Slate (free)
  • USA Today (free)
  • Washington Post (free)
  • WBAY, WLUK, WGBA (iPad apps of local TV stations – each are free)

Entertainment/Streaming Video & Audio

  • ABC Player (free)
  • Hulu Plus (free, but user needs Hulu subscription)
  • NBC (free)
  • Netflix (free, but user needs Netflix subscription)
  • Pandora (free)
  • PBS (free)
  • TED (free)
  • YouTube - comes installed

Books & Materials

  • Amazon Mobile (free)
  • CourseSmart (free)
  • Free Books (free)
  • iBooks (free)
  • Shakespeare (free)

Note: List modified, 2/27/2012

If you have experiences with iPads in the library, let me know! I’m looking for apps that would interest our students, faculty, and staff.

Also, if you’re thinking about getting iPads for your library, check out:

Setting Up a Library iPad Program – Sara Q. Thompson, College & Research Libraries News, April 2011

Tisch Library at Tufts University has some good information for their patrons about their loanable iPads.

Circulating iPads in an Academic Library – presentation by Jodi Bennett & Jessica Hutchings at the Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians 2011 Conference.

@ Your Library – iPads! – information, handouts, and videos from L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire, WI.

Books as Art

There’s nothing more beautiful than books. Of course, I’m a librarian–so that is expected. But I love seeing how books can be used in non-traditional ways for art, sculpture, and other projects.

Kristi Edminster, an art student who is one of our library’s student workers, created this piece of book art, entitled “Booklovers’ Vows” for the library’s Miller Reading Room. The art piece honors the room’s donors and their love of books and reading. It reads:

Norman and Shirlyn Miller
spent 65 years
loving each other,
loving Green Bay

and loving nothing more
than sitting in a comfortable chair
in a quiet room and reading.

This room
reflects their love
and is gift from them
to the students of UWGB.

So, books just don’t belong in a library’s collection. They can be used as art, as sculpture–to create a very intense visual response as to what a library is all about. Here are a few of my other “favorites”–some sleek, some kitschy:

Reference desk of recycled books – not just art, but functional, too.

Library Christmas tree made of books – no needles!

Kansas City (Mo.) Public Library parking garage – ok, no real books–but book inspired. Dresses up a structure that is very utilitarian.

Isaac Salazar’s book art – amazing!

The Bittersweet Art of Cutting Up Books – And yes, some don’t like to see the cutting up of any books, but look at all of the creativity that comes from it.

Have something to share? Post it here!

Library Marketing Never Stops

Cambridge University Press announced yesterday that they will begin a new service that will allow users to “rent” their journal articles for 24 hours for $5.99. The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus blog provides a good overview.

I’m loathe to make library users pay for ANYTHING. I always tell students in information literacy sessions: “If you’re doing a Google search and find an article you like, NEVER pay for it. The Library can get it for you for FREE!”

The Cambridge plan looks like something that would primarily be marketed to faculty and researchers. And I understand its “I need it now!” appeal. However, I hope that these professionals would remember that their academic library is there to help them. They may not be coming through the library gates, but they use the online resources that we subscribe to (e.g., JSTOR, EBSCO, etc…) and we’re the real, live people in that brick and mortar library that make it happen!

Libraries need to step up their marketing and outreach efforts to both faculty and students.

A few points to emphasize:

1. Libraries must continue to promote FREE access. That’s what we’re are all about. Most academic libraries can get these articles to their users for free. Many academic libraries will have direct full-text access via their databases.

2. For those libraries that do not have full-text access, there’s always Interlibrary Loan. At many academic libraries, it’s free to their users. Turnaround times have been decreasing over the past decade. At my institution, when I request an article, I generally receive a PDF copy of the article within 1-2 working days. And it’s mine to keep–FOREVER–unlike Cambridge’s 24-hour access plan.

3. Online Connections: Library websites need to be improved for functionality. It should only be one click to instant message chat, call, or email a librarian for assistance. This info should be available on every library webpage and every database search interface.

4. We need to step up outreach to faculty. Start making connections. See if you can attend a department meeting. Send out email blasts and online newsletters informing faculty of new resources and tools.

5. Besides reaching faculty, we need to market the library as a place that helps students succeed academically. That could be accomplished through librarian embedding in course management systems or designing class-specific library guides, tutorials, etc…

6. Open access: this is admittedly a loftier goal–but I think we need to start educating faculty about open access v. traditional publishing. Budgets are shrinking. Scholarly journal costs continue to rise. Journals are being canceled. What are the alternatives to traditional publishing? This is where librarians can definitely play a part.

Library marketing never stops. There’s always something new to promote, or a service to remind people of. It’s not a battle. It’s an opportunity. What other ideas and goals do you have for library marketing? I’d like to hear them!

Creating Current Events Guides

It’s been too long since my last blog post. Too many projects!

Well, I thought I’d blog about one of those projects: I’ve worked on creating research guides at my library that focus on current events. So far, I’ve done guides on the Occupy Movement, the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, and the killing of Osama bin Laden. It’s a good way to:

  • direct patrons to trustworthy information (e.g., the Wikipedia page for Occupy Wall Street is tagged for a “neutrality” check)
  • promote the library’s digital resources
  • spotlight books in the collection, and
  • demonstrate that the library is at the forefront of the ever-changing information environment

We use the popular LibGuides program at my institution. It’s easy to create individual guides and you have some flexibility for organizing your content. Of course, you could always create a simple webpage, too.

In my current events guides, I generally try to provide the following information:

  • Brief intro to the topic
  • Latest headlines (RSS feed via Google News or Yahoo News)
  • News & Media sources
  • Embedded Video (e.g., PBS Video–particularly Frontline and News Hour clips, C-SPAN Video Library, and CBS News allows embedding of its individual news clips)
  • Background Info (e.g., CQ Researcher database articles)
  • Catalog search & a few selected book titles on the topic
  • List of relevant databases to search for articles on the topic
  • Suggested keywords/search terms
  • Primary sources

Once you have the guide published, make sure and provide a direct link from your library homepage, and promote it on the library’s blog, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. If particularly pertinent, send out an email or contact individual faculty members/teachers.

There are lots of great examples of libraries that have put together current events guides. Here are a few select ones:

Know of a good current events guide? Share it here!