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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tips from Computers in Libraries 2012 Conference

Michael Edson, one of CIL's Keynote Speakers
I'm behind in my blogging since I've just been traveling for back-to-back-to-back conferences. I know that a lot of folks do live-blogging, or write at the end of every day. (I did post brief thoughts each day on my Facebook page .) I do write immediate coverage occasionally, but I prefer to let information sink in, to ruminate about it, to follow some recommended links, and then to write a well-thought-out overview of events. (I blame my journalism training.  ;-> )  So it is that I'm just now going to tell you about the 2012 Computers in Libraries conference that took place last week. There will be a more-detailed article from me in the May/June issue of Marketing Library Services newsletter.

The theme of this Computers in Libraries (CIL) show was Creating Innovative Libraries, and there were plenty of marketing-related programs along with the tech talk that took place in Washington, D.C. Here are some of the thoughts and ideas that have stuck with me:
  •  You can do website usability studies that are simple and informal. Any data is better than no data. However, you shouldn't let the outcomes guide major change unless your study was large, scientific, and well-planned. If you do a small study (on anything), let those results guide the way that you do a bigger study so you can get truly useful results.
  •  To keep up with the future: Think big. Start small. Move fast. (Michael Edson's keynote)
  •  Many slogans are too vague to be useful (i.e., "Libraries Matter"). A good slogan or tagline will include a call to action (i.e., "Vote Yes for Libraries on Question 11"). * Telling the library's story is great, but without numbers or evidence to back it up, stories alone won't get you very far.
  •  Library systems that serve their patrons most effectively are often the systems that have taken the time to study data in order to really learn who their patrons are and what challenges they face.
  •  Make the most of your student library advisory groups. The members and their friends are happy to give you their opinions, and those opinions are vital. * Keep messages short and clear. Instead of saying, "We have lots of databases where you can find info for your term papers and homework," instead say, "Using the library can improve your grades." 
  •  Don't wait until a crisis occurs; think strategically and plan ahead.
At the very end of CIL, on March 24, I gave a 3-hour post-conference workshop   along with my most excellent webmaster, J.D. Thomas. It was called Optimizing Your Website: Better Metadata = Better Marketing. I did the marketing part and J.D. did the HTML / SEO part. Since that was its own fee-based event, I can't post the talk or the slides for you. But if you're interested in learning more or in having us do it as a webinar for your library, contact me at

As I said, I'll have a fulll-length article in the next issue of MLS. You can find other stuff from the conference at the official blog or by searching for the hashtag #CILDC. 

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