Skip navigation

Category Archives: marketing and pr for libraries

It is with a great deal of excitement that I offer at the bottom of this entry a database of 2D barcodes that describe all 60 Brooklyn Public Library locations and services.

A 2D barcode is an image that corresponds to a web address (the http://www.website.com is actually coded in the barcode image). Since each of the Brooklyn Public Library branches has a unique web address, I was able to use kaywa.com to generate barcodes for each of the branches web spaces.

How do you read this crazy looking barcode? With your cellphone of course. Many Nokia phones as well as the iPhone offer 2D barcode decoders. If your phone has a camera and is web-enabled you can probably do this, so don’t be intimidated. It is as easy as taking a picture! The decoder uses your phone’s camera to translate a picture of the barcode into the coded web address and then links you to that page on your mobile web browser.

I got interested in this idea after hearing that this technology is fully blown up in Japan and that CitySearch San Francisco has been using 2Dbarcodes to identify restaurants. Why not create stickers for library branches? Why not add these images to our print flyers, thus enriching an old-fashioned paper format with readily accessible web information?  Update: check out this online zine promoting 2D barcode projects and all of the exciting possibilities.

Below you will find 4 different links for each of our Brooklyn Public Library buildings. I’ve presented the barcodes in 2 different formats, datamatrix and QR. The first two links are PNG image files that can be copied and pasted into Microsoft Word docs, Photoshop, or Illustrator. Just copy and paste the barcode and you add a web page and all that interactivity to your flyer! The second two links are to PDF files of label templates. Each sheet has 6 stickers, and can be printed on Avery matte white labels size 8254, available from Staples here. Stick information about your local library anywhere! In addition I’ve added a link to PDF files of “ex libris” bookplate stickers that offer a barcode image linking you to the Brooklyn Public Library homepage. That should keep you busy and make your books look cool.

In the future, with the success of the OpenLibrary project’s goal to give every book its own web page, 2D barcodes could prove useful in offering online information about any given book. The possibilities are endless. This, my friends, is our first easily accessible, consumer-driven attempt at linking the physical world to the digital world. Well, actually that’s debatable, but I’m pretty damn psyched about this particular step. PLEASE people, USE the barcodes I’ve generated and made easy for you to distribute and stick anywhere and everywhere appropriate for the dispersal of the encoded information. You can always generate your own stickers for any site at blank.com, but I’ve made it particularly easy for you to spread hype about your local library. You’ll note that these stickers still promote the library without a fancypants barcode reader: they still say the name of your local branch on them. Promote your library yourself! Go to town with it!

Download bookplates here.

Please report any errors you may find in the database below.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Arlington

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Bay Ridge

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Bedford

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Borough Park

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Brighton Beach

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Brooklyn Heights

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Brower Park

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Brownsville

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Bushwick

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Business Library

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Canarsie

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Carroll Gardens

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Central Library

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Clarendon

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Clinton Hill

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Coney Island

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Cortelyou image

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Crown Heights

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Cypress Hills

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Dekalb

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Dyker

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

East Flatbush

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Eastern Parkway

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Flatbush

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Flatlands

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Fort Hamilton

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Gerritsen Beach

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Gravesend

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Greenpoint

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Highlawn

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Homecrest

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Jamaica Bay

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Kensington

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Kings Bay

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Kings Highway

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Leonard

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Macon

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Mapleton

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Marcy

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

McKinley Park

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Midwood

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Mill Basin

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

New Lots

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

New Utrecht

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Pacific

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Paerdegat

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Park Slope

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Red Hook

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Rugby

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Ryder

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Saratoga

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Sheepshead Bay

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Spring Creek

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Stone Avenue

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Sunset Park

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Ulmer Park

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Walt Whitman

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Washington Irving

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Williamsburgh

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

Windsor Terrace

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

—————————————————————————————

  A few days ago I was looking at my friend Jess’s blog and I ran into this:   

 

 That got me thinking.  What kind of color schemes do different public libraries use in their web designs, and what sort of “vibe” are they conveying by using the particular color palette they use?

 

There’s certainly a lot of literature out there about the psychology of colors in marketing and advertising.  I was reminded of a really fun old book on my shelf, one that I purchased mostly for the color palettes in the centerfold.  The book is “New Horizons in Color” from 1951.  They break down colors into two categories: “Decorative” and “Functional”.

 

 The scans below show those palettes, and I then sampled the colors used in the websites of a number of major public libraries.  I thought the results were pretty interesting, and they are perhaps somewhat telling of the way these libraries and library systems choose to articulate their mission and vision.

 

 Palettes that fell in the “decorative” category were Brooklyn Public Library, Queens Public Library, and Chicago Public Library.

 

 Palettes that fell in the “functional” category were New York Public Library, District of Columbia Public Library, Cuyahoga County Public Library, and the Ann Arbor District Library.

 

The images below are thumbnails, click on them for a better look.

 

 

 

Well, it’s been a long journey but I am back to the blog. I had sort of thought that my first entry when I got back would be a little some thing about the road trip to the PLA conference in Minneapolis, but I think I’m over it at this point. 9 states. The House on the Rock. The birthplace of water skiing. Fried cheese curds. I may elaborate with some pictures at some point, but suffice to say that the ride to and from Minnesota was incredible.

Let me quickly mention that there have been some great comments while I was away, and I promise to respond to all of them, particularly the good critical ones…

The PLA conference was great, but there was some kind of underlying “we can’t do our jobs that well, so lets outsource it” feeling that really irked me. It wasn’t something that was really there in just one presentation, rather it was an overall feeling, something of a sense of doom, a feeling that indeed librarians are really just voyeurs while real-life innovation goes on in other industries. I hope I can lose this feeling that librarians are innovation voyeurs, fixated on interesting books and new business strategies outlined in interesting books. I hope I can get past this feeling that public service is inherently reactive, thanks to librarians’ willingness to just read books and hire the authors to fix problems. I was told once that in interviewing librarians if they say they want the job because they like to read then you shouldn’t hire them: all they will do is read on the job and not get any work done. Maybe the proliferation of consultants is the result of too many librarians just reading books and not doing any work. Let me recap and try to explain the problem. I really don’t believe in bitching and moaning without presenting potential solutions, so maybe I’ll be able to offer a little something constructive at the end. Even better some comments will provide solutions.

I wrote briefly in the PLA blog about the Envirosell presentation. Envirosell is Paco Underhill’s consulting firm, and Paco Underhill is the author of “Why we Buy”. The workshop was titled “Why we Borrow”, and it was the story of how Envirosell adapted their methodology to understand and then improve upon the way libraries “do business”, i.e., distribute library materials effectively to their legal service communities. I didn’t have anything great to say about the presentation in the PLA blog, and now that I’m on my own little chunk of interweb I’ll be even less nice. Less nice to the librarians that hire these clowns, that is. What: you read a book about how someone else distributed products for a profit in a “branded environment” and you couldn’t learn a thing or two from the book, you had to hire THEM to use THEIR brains and put together a plan for a library. Great. Envirosell had plenty of legitimate methodology and slick presentation for the show; they understood how to make sexy graphics and present results in a coherent manner for the digestion of executives and laypeople alike. Why librarians, people with MASTERS DEGREES, people with EXPERTISE in our mission and vision, (which is NOT simply the distribution of product) should need a consultant to understand library users is beyond me.

Next, lets talk about James Keller, the admittedly badass marketing guru from Queens Public Library. Here’s a little cut from my PLA blog post/review of his talk:

Librarians, we have to remember that these marketing bigwigs work for us- not the other way around. When Keller started talking about how to create a marketing plan it sounded frighteningly like the overall strategic plan an executive director might want to come up with for their library system. Marketing and communications departments exist to help public service folks do their jobs. Don’t be fooled by glossy flyers or hot air balloons with logos on them. We run the show, not them.

Here we go again: only this guy isn’t a consultant, he’s a top-level full time employee. I don’t want to sound like some kind of control freak. I don’t want to give the impression that I believe all aspects of librarianship are secret ninja skills learned deep in the bowels of a branch library or in a classroom tower at some library school. What I do want to make clear is that in James Keller we have yet another example of a person highly skilled in some other industry honing in on and perhaps even trying to take over one of the most important skills a librarian has: understanding user needs. What happens when user needs are measured by a marketing team for the sake of positive public image rather than by librarians for the sake of positive service impact? We stop getting the right things done. Or, we get highly hailed “successes” like the Idea Stores of the UK, 90s-looking transitional architectures that mimic the feed-the-machine style retail environments that Envirosell would have us build. Keller closed with a statement about how he’d love to partner the Queens Public Library with McDonald’s. Keller said there’s more Queens Library branches than there are McD’s in the borough. He’d like to offer bookmarks that give a free Big Mac when you check out a book. Gross James. Change the Queens tagline from “Enrich your Life” to “Enrich your Life and Destroy your Body”.

The Idea Store. I really wanted to be blown away by some kind of beautiful library innovation here, and sadly I really wasn’t. No kidding, I wanted it SO BADLY, and it just didn’t happen. The panel for this particular event was really solid: Jerome Myers of Tacoma Public Library set it up (Jerome is a former colleague from Brooklyn Public Library), and sitting on the panel was Ginnie Cooper of DC Public Library as well as Martin Gomez of Urban Library Council. Maybe they were just being polite, but none of the panelists spoke of what was going through my head. The Idea Store is in my opinion the soulless, transitional learning space associated with the turn of the century, a husk that simulates service innovation in the way that a candy-store vending machine offers you a bit of *bling* in a little plastic egg for 25 cents. The Idea Store represents the manipulative possibilities associated with user-centered design, it teases and entices the patron by appealing to their inner shop-a-holic. The Idea Store is the library equivalent of putting corn syrup in every piece of library content we deliver in order to make it taste better and sell better. James Keller would love to attract people to Queens Public Library by feeding them free Big Macs, and if he fed them free Big Macs I can guarantee that circ stats would skyrocket in Queens. The Idea Store is basically offering a Big Mac. Eat it up, suckas. Sure, the usage doubled at the Idea Store when you opened up, but there’s something fundamentally wrong with equating government sponsored, democratic style, individually initiated education with capitalist consumption, isn’t there? Isn’t there?

So is this some kind of call for good ol’ fashioned library buildings? Absolutely not. Flexible architectures and flexible architectural programs are the future of libraries, no doubt about it. Agility, both in physical presence and in core services are the future of libraries. Embracing technologies judiciously as our users demand them, that is the future of libraries. Good design as a communication tool (gotta hand it to the Idea Store here: exceptional graphic design coming out of that place), attention to retail trends, marketing strategies: all of this important. BUT pandering to people’s weaknesses: not the future. Listening to our users and giving them what they want is the future, but simply looking at what they already like and buy is not the way to evaluate what they want out of a library. Libraries are about encouraging self-initiated continuing education, we want to build in our patrons the desire to learn, the desire to help themselves. This is not accomplished through trickery.

This is a long posting, but its the most important thing you are going to read on my blog. So read it, OK?

Earlier this week, The New York Daily News ran a story describing how budget cuts are preventing Brooklyn Public Library from opening an innovative new service point in DUMBO, Brooklyn. I developed this new service model with BPL over the past two years; it began as a project while I was student at Pratt Institute and became my job to pursue and develop it at the library. While the project remained an active pursuit for Brooklyn Public Library, it made sense not to discuss the details of the service model, the potential locations, and the incredible impact it could have by bringing library service to communities that have been largely neglected. Now, in light of the alarming lack of funding support from the city, and in recognition of the fact that building a 21st century public library is neither a closed nor a proprietary act, I feel compelled to share the details with the greater library community in hopes that this work can be used anywhere, by anybody. With any luck, a stand-up community figure in Brooklyn will recognize the importance of this venture, and perhaps they can find it in themselves to donate the necessary funds to support these efforts and build social capital in their neighborhood. New York Public Library received a 100 million dollar donation last week. WHAT ABOUT BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY???  We are NOT the same system!!!  10 million dollars, or even 3 million dollars given to Brooklyn Public Library could open up and staff quite a few library Outposts. Each of these Outposts would have a tremendous positive impact on their immediate community; each of these Outposts would serve to strengthen Brooklyn as a whole.

So what is this Library Outpost model I speak of all about, anyways? Here it is in bullets:

• Strategic location. The Outpost is a small space in a commercial area, a business improvement district, or a transportation hub. Rather than bring the patrons to the library, the Outpost brings the library to the patrons.

• Extended service hours. The Outpost will be open from 8AM until 10PM, giving the community access to library materials, exhibitions, and programs during the times most convenient to them.

• Collection available via online holds system. Rather than providing a localized browsing collection, the Outpost will connect users to all library materials via the catalog.

• Reference service. Outpost staff will provide exceptional reference services using online databases and internet searching strategies. All reference sources will be electronic.

• Wireless access and digital library content. The Outpost will be a comfortable WiFi zone to work in from a table or play in from a lounge chair. Through patrons’ portable devices they can access digital content via the library website.

• Programming and Exhibition space. The Outpost will feature exhibitions that pair the library’s collection and services with art related to community interests. The space will also be flexible enough to accommodate performances, lectures, concerts, discussions, even meals during evening hours.

Now the longer explanation:

Library Outposts are storefront library service points, no more than 1500 sq. ft. in size, centrally located in busy commercial districts or near transportation hubs. The storefront presence makes the Outpost agile and adaptable to the particular features of each community, providing fundamental library service and serving as a gateway to the full range of programs, classes, and events offered throughout the larger service ecology. The space is easily transformable; one moment a silent reading room, another moment a performance art space, another moment a forum for a community group meeting. Storefront library facilities have been attempted in the past with limited success, but the Outpost model takes advantage of emerging technologies to reconsider the distribution of library content and materials (you know, like books, DVDs, etc.) and invent itself as something entirely different. Presently a few libraries offer similar services: Houston Public Library has a few small, tech-heavy locations, Contra Costa Public Library offers material vending machines in the BART stations, and with the generous help of the Gates Foundation, New Orleans Public Library has opened some storefront facilities that have been received enthusiastically by the community. The Outpost model combines these practices and takes them to the next level.

With the rise of the Internet as the primary public information transfer medium, library patrons have a new set of expectations. Just as clothing shoppers size up their potential new outfits in an online environment, just as antiques enthusiasts scour eBay for the bargains they once found at flea markets, library patrons now browse online catalogs for the materials they once hunted for on miles of shelves. For many library patrons the browsing experience has already become a virtual phenomenon rather than a physical reality. While this shift emerged slowly at first, library catalogs are quickly becoming more and more user friendly. Online reserve statistics collected across the county support the popularity of this virtual browsing trend. Between open source products like LibraryThing for Libraries, OpenLibrary.org, and the Google Books API, virtual browsing is becoming simpler, access to catalog records is getting easier, and physical collections are being exposed and utilized in more ways than ever. Libraries need to embrace and welcome this change as an opportunity to provide new, unique service delivery, and we need to adjust our physical spaces accordingly.

So I’ll explain the biggest mental leap associated with the Outpost concept first, the piece that really makes it unique: the Outpost has NO LOCAL COLLECTION. Every single piece of print material (with the exception of magazines and newspapers, and those can be eliminated digitally in a different manner) is an item that was requested online for pickup at the Outpost location. This in turn frees up 1500 sq. ft. of library space for programs, exhibitions, classes, movies, concerts, community meetings, serving coffee, and virtually any community-building, social capital-creating activity. The library of the 21st Century has to maintain a physical presence, but that presence cannot always be in the form of a well-organized, publicly accessible book warehouse.

Now, before any librarians freak out and scream, “NO! People still want to browse through stacks of books!” I want to make it abundantly clear that the goal is NOT to replace all traditional libraries with library Outposts. An Outpost is just one node in a network of different physical service points. Just as the car-culture era bookmobiles didn’t replace library branches, neither will Outposts. The important thing is getting these little service nodes into the community in the right places, and giving people as much as we possibly can out of them. Location is everything in the urban environment. When I began developing this idea I was using Brooklyn as a case study, I’ll continue to do so here, and I am confident my readers will see how this can be implemented in any urban public library system.

It is also important to understand that urban communities are in a constant state of flux. Demographics in Brooklyn change rapidly and it is difficult to provide needed services with a limited budget and aging facilities in fixed locations. This presents a challenge for the library. Many of BPL’s branches were built in the first two decades of the 20th century; since then entire communities have moved, disappeared, shifted, and grown. Library facilities have not been able to follow the people as community centers and business districts migrated to new areas. Many large, beautiful public libraries are located in desolate and remote corners of their neighborhoods. Regrettably, the working adults who live and labor in the rapidly developing communities have moved out of reach of the Brooklyn Public Library. They have become potential patrons rather than active patrons. This is unacceptable; the public library’s mission as a democratic institution supporting universal self-initiated education demands a highly visible central location.

At the same time that our neighborhoods have changed physically, Brooklynites’ expectations of service hours have rapidly altered in recent years (I believe this is a safe assertion nation-wide, particularly in urban areas, as well). When banker’s hours still meant something, citizens were accustomed to waiting in line to receive necessary services. Today, we expect stamps, cash, train tickets, Metrocards, even groceries to be available whenever we want them and with minimal human interaction.

I’m going to show you a few maps of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods to use as examples of urban shift, but I’ll use DUMBO as the primary example. These communities are unique but they have each experienced dramatic demographic and physical changes in the last ten years. All lack accessible library services in their revitalized areas. It is crucial that the public library tracks these changes and serves these people, and it is crucial that the library is provided with adequate funding so that we can do so properly.

dumbomapblog7.jpg

DUMBO, for those not familiar with Brooklyn, is the area Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. It is a fascinating neighborhood known for its arts community, particularly architecture and design, but everything else as well. Just 10 years ago DUMBO was a drastically different place, filled with empty warehouses, industry, and many, many rats. The rats are probably still there, but there isn’t much empty space in DUMBO now after the enormous urban renewal effort that has occurred. DUMBO is literally a different place, and you know what their community lacks? A library. There is no library in DUMBO, and to hike to another library requires navigating through highway and bridge ramps and a solid 25 minutes of your time. An Outpost in DUMBO would give the community immediate access to the library’s entire collection, AND it would serve as a program and exhibition space for a specific audience.

Another interesting example is the area that the real estate folks are calling “Greenwood Heights”. Greenwood Heights is the fastest growing Mexican community in Brooklyn. The streets are always packed, and a major express subway hub makes for quite a bit of foot (and auto) traffic. New schools are being built. The nearest libraries, as you can see on the map are farrrrr awwwway. This is another perfect opportunity to provide a new service to a new community. Perhaps the Outpost is reconsidered as a computer center in this location? I quote this figure in every other blog entry I write, but AGAIN, the Pew Internet study concluded that 2/3 of all people coming to the library come to use a computer. A Greenwood heights technology center, combined with Outpost-style material delivery could actually give users what they need. It’s a perfect exercise in user-centered design: listen to what the users want and then provide it for them.

grwdheightsmapblog.jpg

Finally, what about Kings Plaza mall? Other libraries, for example King County in Washington State, offer services in shopping malls. What if we offered an Outpost or computer center here? Again, we go to where the people are.

kingsplazamapblog.jpg

I hope this all makes sense, if you got this point in reading you may have recognized that some of the text was cut-and-paste from the many, many iterations of this concept I’ve gone through. I really believe that this model, or similar versions of it represent one aspect of the future of public library service. I’m not even going to pretend this represents some kind of all-encompassing holistic solution to the many challenges faced by urban public libraries, but it is a start. The operating cost of one of these facilities is a fraction of the cost of operating a full-sized branch library: that alone is a solid argument for efficiency. Potential benefactors: donate to the Brooklyn Public Library, demand innovative services. The librarians have the solutions but we simply cannot afford to put these ideas into action. Brooklyn deserves the best.

Brooklyn Vanguard presents:

The Library After Dark

With DJ Rich Medina, Saturday March 8. from 8:00 until late.

Brooklyn Public Library, Grand Army Plaza.

“The Brooklyn Vanguard at Brooklyn Public Library is a dynamic group of library patrons between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-something committed to expanding the role of Brooklyn Public Library in the intellectual life of the city of New York.”

This event is going to be awesome. $60 before March 1, or $75 at the door, so get your tix now! Better yet, JOIN the Brooklyn Vanguard!  Did I mention the OPEN BAR? Yeah. There’s an OPEN BAR.

click on the flyer to download a pdf version.

img006.jpg

img007.jpg

Too many things to write about! Here’s a list of things I’ve read today or recently that have been kicking around in my mind.

1.

From the ifBook blog, an exciting new project that:

“represents a bold step by a scholarly press — one of the most distinguished and most innovative in the world — toward developing new procedures for vetting material and assuring excellence, and more specifically, toward meaningful collaboration with existing online scholarly communities to develop and promote new scholarship.”

The Institute for the Future of the Book created CommentPress, a paragraph by paragraph means of commenting on blog entries. It sort of reminds me of the track changes feature in MS Word, but of course the implications are far greater. It seems that Noah Wardrip-Fruin will be posting his book, Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies, piece by piece on the Grand Text Auto blog and we will be able to comment as it comes. The big deal is that the MIT Press are the ones who “gave it the green light”. Read more at ifBook, this is an important development in scholarly publishing.

2.

I’m really excited about this video-in-the-making called “A Renaissance Computer” that states that the current migration to digital publication is historically paralleled only by the invention of the printing press. The creator of the video called it his “toe-in-the-water” of the media ecology field, and its one hell of a big toe in a relatively small puddle if you ask me. I’m excited to see where the video will go when it is done. Unfortunately it is not on YouTube so I wasn’t sure how to embed it, so to watch it you’ll have to follow the link. It is worth your time, the research is pretty amazing.

3.

I posted the other day and referenced “Better Together: Restoring the American Community”, Robert Putnam and Lewis Feldstein, and I wanted to revisit that book and complain about a piece of terminology. The entire book is about building “social capital”, a term that I suddenly realized is kind of gross: it commodifies community building and its participants, rather than promoting healthy activity within an ecology. Why has everything got to be about “capital”? Aren’t they really talking about building some kind of network, building trust and strengthening mutually beneficial relationships?

4.

Finally, I’m totally bummed out that there are people commenting fervently on the Annoyed Librarian blog about the “death of the book” and the “death of the public library”. I’ve been working in public libraries for about 8 years now, but only recently raced through an MLS degree, and one of the things that really got me down in school was this same kind of discussion. I don’t even believe that people in our field don’t recognize just how important this institution is in our country, and just how important it is to work really, really hard to keep our doors open and keep our services relevant to the needs of our communities. WTF people??? Can we stop with the doomsday stuff and get on with it???

Ever since their first party and a big NY Times style section article, there has been a lot of buzz and controversy surrounding the library advocacy group called The Desk Set. I’ve heard about librarians hating on The Desk Set, misunderstanding them and the articles written about them. Maria Falgoust and Sarah Murphy, the brains behind The Desk Set operation, are in my opinion the best renegade, non-traditional library marketing and PR team to date, and I only wish I was in a place to hire them as consultants. Those two (and their crew) could revitalize a stale, poorly attended library system in a heartbeat. I, as a public librarian fully devoted to the idea of building communities and conversations around media and intellectual discourse, would like to take this opportunity to endorse their efforts to bolster librarians’ professional solidarity, friendship, and informal knowledge sharing.

Last Saturday during the ALA Mid-Winter meeting The Desk Set had a great party in collaboration with Authority Control at National Mechanics in Philadelphia.  I went to two other parties that night, one for Running Press Book Publishers at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Arts Historical Landmark Building, and another for Library Journal at Varelli’s Upstairs. Both of these parties were awesome, but neither of them held a candle to the energy at The Desk Set blowout. There was nothing overtly professional about it: this was really just a party, a party attended by public librarians, academic librarians, medical librarians, archivists, and anyone else that might be interested in coming.

Now I know there are plenty of readers out there scoffing at the first paragraph, thinking “intellectual discourse! What? That party was a bunch of hipster fools, and I have no time for that!” To all of you I say fine, you don’t really have to BE there if you find it all distasteful, inappropriate, crass, and alarming. But why dis such an event? Why is it that librarians, stereotypically, traditionally, have such a weird double standard with marketing, entertainment, and social activities, and why hasn’t that changed yet? This is not trivial: the future of public libraries relies on foundation departments, outreach services, marketing, communications, and politicians for funding. Why do so many librarians prickle at the thought of a party? If librarians cannot get along with each other, how are we supposed to get along with the communities we serve?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.