Lima Public Library’s Teen Advisory Group

The teen advisory group (TAG) at Lima Public Library currently consists of about 15 teens in grades 6-12 from a variety of area schools.  Working with the teen librarian, they plan nearly all the teen programs, help with selection of materials, and have even planned and presented programs for kids. 

The TAG was formed four years ago.  To start the group, the teen librarian invited several regular program participants to meet to brainstorm program ideas.  The teens seemed to enjoy the idea that they could have input on what programs were offered.  By scheduling and planning programs with teen input the library was able to increase the average attendance at teen programs from 5-10 to 20-30. Those initial members invited friends to join the group, and the group expanded.  TAG members have an application to fill out with their information, why they want to be a part of the TAG, and what their hobbies and favorite classes are.  The current TAG members vote on new members and have never turned anyone down to date. 

Members are expected to attend the monthly planning meetings. One unexcused absence results in a warning.  Two puts them on probation and a third results in their removal from the group. Excused absences do not count against them.  A typical meeting includes about 60 minutes of program planning, 30 minutes of talking about various topics including what they’re reading, favorite music, movies, tv shows and books, and 30 minutes of program preparation and setup for the monthly special program that follows the meeting.

At the planning meetings, programs are planned several months in advance.  Lima Public Library offers a Creativity Lab program after school twice monthly, a Teen Tuesday evening hangout weekly, a monthly movie night, and a special program one Saturday a month.  A small group of two to four TAG members are assigned to each special program. The whole group selects a theme for the program, and the small group plans what activities will occur at that event.  They provide the teen librarian with the activities planned, materials needed, and a setup plan for the Teen Spot Lounge.  The teen librarian works with them to modify plans as needed to fit the library’s needs and the programming budget.  The planning group then presents the program to participants.  Recently they’ve hosted a series of fandom-related programs including Nerdfighters, Sherlock, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Marvel Comics.  On several occasions they have planned and presented programs for kids as well.

A group of members who are voracious readers are given the opportunity to write reviews of books they’ve read, provide input on materials that are selected for the collection, and read ARCs as well. These readers also help to pull materials for a variety of display topics selected by them as well as the teen librarian.  These materials fill the four display areas in the teen collection and are rotated on a monthly basis. Book reviews are completed on a form provided by the teen librarian and include a 1-2 sentence book talk that is shared on the library’s teen Facebook page.

In return for their work planning programs and giving input on materials selection, TAG members are rewarded with a yearly overnighter program.  They get to come to the library at 6:00 on a Friday evening and stay until 8:00 the next morning.  They fill the night with games and activities of their choosing including some that can’t be done while the library is open such as flashlight tag, beach ball volleyball on the main floor of the library, and human Battleship.

For more information about Lima Public Library’s TAG, how it operates, or about their programs, contact teen librarian Steve Moser at mosers@limalibrary.com or 419-228-5113 x121.

Steve Moser is the Teen Librarian at Lima Public Library.
www.facebook.com/LPLTeens
www.limalibrary.com

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Lima Public Library’s Teen Advisory Group

The teen advisory group (TAG) at Lima Public Library currently consists of about 15 teens in grades 6-12 from a variety of area schools.  Working with the teen librarian, they plan nearly all the teen programs, help with selection of materials, and have even planned and presented programs for kids.

The TAG was formed four years ago.  To start the group, the teen librarian invited several regular program participants to meet to brainstorm program ideas.  The teens seemed to enjoy the idea that they could have input on what programs were offered.  By scheduling and planning programs with teen input the library was able to increase the average attendance at teen programs from 5-10 to 20-30. Those initial members invited friends to join the group, and the group expanded.  TAG members have an application to fill out with their information, why they want to be a part of the TAG, and what their hobbies and favorite classes are.  The current TAG members vote on new members and have never turned anyone down to date.

Members are expected to attend the monthly planning meetings. One unexcused absence results in a warning.  Two puts them on probation and a third results in their removal from the group. Excused absences do not count against them.  A typical meeting includes about 60 minutes of program planning, 30 minutes of talking about various topics including what they’re reading, favorite music, movies, tv shows and books, and 30 minutes of program preparation and setup for the monthly special program that follows the meeting.

At the planning meetings, programs are planned several months in advance.  Lima Public Library offers a Creativity Lab program after school twice monthly, a Teen Tuesday evening hangout weekly, a monthly movie night, and a special program one Saturday a month.  A small group of two to four TAG members are assigned to each special program. The whole group selects a theme for the program, and the small group plans what activities will occur at that event.  They provide the teen librarian with the activities planned, materials needed, and a setup plan for the Teen Spot Lounge.  The teen librarian works with them to modify plans as needed to fit the library’s needs and the programming budget.  The planning group then presents the program to participants.  Recently they’ve hosted a series of fandom-related programs including Nerdfighters, Sherlock, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Marvel Comics.  On several occasions they have planned and presented programs for kids as well.

A group of members who are voracious readers are given the opportunity to write reviews of books they’ve read, provide input on materials that are selected for the collection, and read ARCs as well. These readers also help to pull materials for a variety of display topics selected by them as well as the teen librarian.  These materials fill the four display areas in the teen collection and are rotated on a monthly basis. Book reviews are completed on a form provided by the teen librarian and include a 1-2 sentence book talk that is shared on the library’s teen Facebook page.

In return for their work planning programs and giving input on materials selection, TAG members are rewarded with a yearly overnighter program.  They get to come to the library at 6:00 on a Friday evening and stay until 8:00 the next morning.  They fill the night with games and activities of their choosing including some that can’t be done while the library is open such as flashlight tag, beach ball volleyball on the main floor of the library, and human Battleship.

Contact Teen Librarian, Steve Moser at mosers@limalibrary.com or 419-228-5113 x121 for more information.

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Creating an Awesome Ground Breaking Event, Brick by Brick

Newsletter Ad and Facebook Post

Newsletter Ad and Facebook Post

Normally when you attend a ground breaking event there’s …..well, there’s ground to break. So what happens when you have to organize a ground breaking event that’s taking place indoors?

This was the challenge facing the Helen Matthes Library in December 2014, when work would finally begin on the refurbishment of a former bank building into a new 26,000 sq. ft. library facility for the Effingham community.

We set our objectives for the event.

  • It needed to be visual and active – both for the audience attending and for the media who we hoped would cover the event.
  • It needed to be kid friendly. (We’re a public library!)
  • It needed to showcase what we do for the community to potential library card holders, potential donors and the Effingham business community.

With all its furniture removed the bank building was a dreary back drop to the project. There would be no blue skies to brighten things up but then again weather would not be a worry as we organized the event.

How would we make it a community and media worthy event?

Almost immediately we knew we wanted to incorporate our weekly story time into the event. Story Time is the program most associated in people’s minds with the Library, and also one of the most fun. So we let that set the day and the time for our event; Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Our Youth Services jumped on board with a Construction themed story time. We planned to take over the story time rug which would help brighten the room. At very little expense, we were able to purchase yellow plastic construction hats which we decorated with our Library Logo. Each attendee would get a hat. We were already starting to visualize the event and just how much fun the kids would have.

At this point our contractor let us know that they would be able to construct a wall that would be “broken” by the dignitaries during the official ground breaking. They would also supply the hammers and construction hats. One less things for us to worry about……and it gave us an idea for the kids.

The kids would get their own wall smashing ceremony. Thanks to 2 local preschools and donations from staff members we were able to gather enough colorful cardboard play bricks to create 15ft long wall for the kids.

Our vision for the event was really taking shape, and tying in so nicely with our fundraising campaign but how would we deal with children getting bored with the speech making and how would we deal with grown-ups getting bored with too many pre-school stories?

We set up the timeline for the event.

  • 10 a.m. Opening with Story Time Song followed by construction themed story time
  • 10:05 a.m. Kids ground breaking ceremony.
  • Youth Services lead the children and care givers to a glass fronted room for crafts and play with Lego and construction toys.
  • 10:10 Speeches
  • 10:30 Official Ground Breaking
  • 10:30 Refreshments

With just a few short weeks between confirming the bid winning contractor and the date for the commencement of demolition work we quickly chose the date of Tuesday, December 2nd. Dignitaries, speech makers and the invite list needed to be finalized and marketing needed to kick into gear.

Borrowing heavily from our fundraising campaign, artwork was finalized for the invitations, program of the event, flyers, and an ad for the December Library Newsletter, a Facebook Page Cover Image and Facebook post. The press release was finalized and sent out to an extended media list. Family Read Night was just 12 days before the event allowing us to promote the Ground Breaking further to families in the community. Artwork would also be used in a Constant Contact promoting the event. There was no budget for paid for advertising but we would still get word out about our event.

We decide to close the library for one hour during the ceremony; we hoped it would also encourage more patrons to join us for the event. This would be a big day for our staff and we wanted them to be as much a part of it as our community.

Responsibilities were shared out and timelines produced showing what needed to be done and by whom in the run up to the event, during the event and post event. Floor plans were drawn up showing where each part of the ceremony would be. Walk-throughs were done with key members of staff involved in the event so everyone could visualize and know what would be happening and what to expect.

What was our last minute thought…..”How do we stop the kids knocking down the wall before the right moment?” This was quickly solved with some colored spots placed discretely behind the wall. After their story time, the children marched single file behind the wall and despite some temptation all stood on their circles as asked. We did a little count down and then let them loose on the wall. It was the moment we had all been waiting for.

In the end we couldn’t have been happier with the way the event went; from showcasing Story Time to older patrons and the local business community, to the grandson of Mayor Gillenwater, speech-bombing the mayor just as he was talking about how important story time had been in the life of his children and grandchildren (thank you Mrs Gillenwater!), to the coverage by local media which included video footage of the children’s demolition and the feedback from all who attended. The event was a success.

http://youtu.be/fJtngDVAk7Y

We had shown our community that we are a fun, educational and creative establishment at the heart of this community and we can’t wait to get into our new building and show our community just what we can do with the space that you are giving us.

Check out the results below and see the attached event planning checklist:

Story Time Area, with Kids Wall and Branded "Construction Hats"

Story Time Area, with Kids Wall and Branded “Construction Hats”

Story Time begins

Story Time begins

Ready to break the wall down

Ready to break the wall down

As Mayor Gillenwater spoke on the importance of Story Time in the lives of his children and grandchildren, he was "ambushed" by his grandson.

As Mayor Gillenwater spoke on the importance of Story Time in the lives of his children and grandchildren, he was “ambushed” by his grandson.

The "Official" demolition.

The “Official” demolition.

Even the catering used the construction theme.

Even the catering used the construction theme.

After everyone had gone home, we let our staff loose on the wall.

After everyone had gone home, we let our staff loose on the wall.

Catherine Bailey is the Marketing and Adult Services Coordinator for the Helen Matthes Library.

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Part Two: Helen Matthes Library “Synopsis of Training Session “

First Impression

To a customer, YOU are YOUR Library and you may be one of the only contacts he or she will have with the organisation. From first impressions made through personal and telephone contact, all of your customers will come to a conclusion about what kind of person is serving them and the perception of your business is based upon the impression YOU create.

 Creating a positive first impression

  • Make sure you are appropriately groomed
  • Always greet customers as soon as they enter your building
  • Keep workspaces, entrance and public areas clean & tidy
  • Never make assumptions
  • Treat your co-workers the way they would like to be treated
  • Be aware of your posture, poise and facial expressions
  • And SMILE!

Three Parts to the Communication Process

  •  Verbal 7%
  • Vocal 38%
  • Non-verbal 55%

Making Conversation

Knowing how to start a conversation is vital in the service industry. A conversation can help a visitor feel welcome and more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment. It may help YOU gain the information you need to solve a problem or serve the customer’s needs

Use Open Questions

  • Who, what, where, when, which and how (5W, 1H)

Avoid Closed Questions

  • Can, does, do , will , would and “yes” or “no”

Telephone Skills

Professional telephone techniques are essential skills for ensuring continuity of service. Your customers will form an impression of your organisation based upon how every single one of you sound on the phone.

The Cost of a Dissatisfied Customer

1 unhappy patron + 26 other unhappy patrons = 27 unhappy patrons

27 unhappy patrons tell up to 10 others = 270

270 people have heard about a bad experience with your company!

Listen

  • Remain calm
  • Give encouraging responses
  • Mirror feelings
  • Clarify facts
  • Work together

The Art of Service Recovery

  • Take ownership
  • Have a positive approach
  • Apologize
  • Listen
  • Thank them
  • Keep your promises
  • Follow up

Now it’s up to you!

GEM
Going the Extra Mile is easy… once you have the directions.

Catherine Bailey is the Marketing and Adult Services Coordinator for the Helen Matthes Library.

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Part One: Helen Matthes Library “Our Customer Service Rules!”

Once a year the entire staff of our library, the Helen Matthes Library has the opportunity to come together on Martin Luther King Day for a training day. This year we gathered with excitement and in trepidation as we look forward to moving into a new library building later in the year. As a library known in its community for exceptional customer service we want to make sure this tradition continues when we move into our new building, so we made it the focus of our training day.

We know that not only will we be looking after our current patrons as they (and ourselves) get to know a new building, with a new layout, multiple floors, new services; but that we will also be dealing with many new patrons and potential patrons who have possibly never used us before or in a very long time and are not aware of everything that we do and how we do it. We expect to be very BUSY!

So how do we maintain our high standards and levels of customer service through the biggest period of change our organization has ever had to deal with? We called in an expert!

With the help of a grant from The South Eastern Illinois Community Foundation and thanks to a connection with a member of staff we were able to go completely outside our community and our service sector to bring in an exceptional trainer.

Our trainer, Stephanie Berkley, was the former marketing manager of one of Ireland’s top visitor attractions, W5, the interactive science museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland. W5 is the winner of multiple marketing and tourism awards and known for its customer service. As Berkley explained to us, customer service is the delivery of the promise you make in your marketing communications and that is why it is vital you get it right.

Berkeley was impressed that we had already made “Service” one of our three core values (along with Culture and Technology). And that all staff members are judged on their customer service skills in the very first part of their annual appraisal. As we talked through our current and future environment and staff concerns, it became obvious that we needed to show our staff just how well they already did, reinforce and enhance their skills, and give them the confidence to believe that they had both the skills and support to handle the new environment.

We brought in an improvisation workshop from St Louis to move us all outside of our comfort zones and to show us just how quickly we could react and support each other in weird and wacky situations. This then led nicely into our customer service training session with Berkley which we were able to do by Skype.

In an interactive session we were tested on the knowledge of our mission statement and values, just how different first impressions can be, we considered opening and holding conversations to acquire knowledge and reminded ourselves how just one tale of bad customer service experience can spread like wildfire through a community.

By the end of the day our staff felt their confidence in their customer service skills had increased and they understood that they had the knowledge, skills and support to deal with all the new situations and questions a new building will bring.

Our Customer Service Rules!

  • Acknowledge every patron
  • Observe 10′ rule
  • Be an owner, not a renter
  • Stay informed
  • Be kind and treat everyone the same
  • Follow through to solve a problem
  • Person in front of you first
  • Keep asking questions to make sure you and they know what they really want
  • Be efficient AND be accurate

Part Two will be posted tomorrow so stay tuned!

Catherine Bailey is the Marketing and Adult Programming Coordinator for the Helen Matthes Library.

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Demonstrating Your Library’s Value to Your Community: A Library Sales Kit

A recent LinkedIn group discussion asked “Does anyone have examples of sales kits or media kits for their library they could share?” While I hadn’t thought to call it a “sales kit,” we, at Quincy Public Library, recently gathered material in order to highlight the value of library offerings to our elected officials, the media, and other interested community members.

Having a background in sales and marketing, rather than formal training as a librarian, allows me to approach this effort in a different manner: more along the lines of marketing a for-profit company, considering the library to be the company and the brand, and the many library programs and services as products.

The first step in our process was to review library offerings, to make sure we understood the entire scope, and to group together related services for ease of explanation in future discussions.

Next, we reviewed our constituent groups to make sure we understood what they were looking for within the library. We knew that discussions with city council would necessarily center on cost. Other groups were interested in scope of services or individual library programs.

Several documents were created. The first was a PowerPoint presentation, detailing the many programs and services, the scope of community needs the library serves through those programs, the cost to taxpayers, and testimonials from community members who use the library.

Next I created a one-page “Leave Behind” to give to audience members as a reminder of our discussion, as we left the presentation, and one additional document, showing library services that was deployed as a follow-up a few weeks after our initial effort.

I also made a series of testimonial ads (Ad #1, Ad #2, Ad #3, Ad #4) featuring the different library patrons who were shown in the PowerPoint. These ads ran in our local paper during National Library Week and were incorporated in the library’s Facebook page, website, and on digital display boards within the library.

After reviewing the PowerPoint with library staff and boards, Library Director Nancy Dolan made appointments with Quincy’s mayor and our city council members to sit down with them. We invited any interested board member or staff member to also attend these appointments along with us.

The information within the PowerPoint was also made available to local media and serves as the basis for presentations to civic groups or others interested in learning more about the library.

In all the presentations we made, we found that people (including our staff and boards) were surprised that the library offered so much at such a reasonable cost to taxpayers. The presentation also served to bolster the idea that the library was still a vital component of a strong community, despite the rise in e-readers and digital entertainment.

This campaign utilized what I feel are important components in library marketing:

1. Understand the scope of library programs and services.

2. Understand the needs of the community in which you work.

3. Show and tell how library programs and services support or enhance shared community goals.

4. Highlight patron testimonials to put a friendly face on the library. Nothing works better to show community members that their friends and neighbors enjoy using the library.

I believe this campaign served to show people the scope of services Quincy Public Library offers and helped to mitigate what could have been a severe budget cut, impacting library staffing and hours. We continue to work toward the goal of providing our community with evidence of the value of the library.

Efforts such as this work best when they are incorporated into daily and weekly planning and are repeated on an ongoing, regular basis. It takes repeated exposure to information to bring about awareness and understanding.

Ruth Cuthbertson is the Marketing & Events Librarian at the Quincy Public Library.

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What I know about how marketing can help libraries in a nutshell

It’s always difficult to determine the return on investment in a public library setting. To a large degree, it’s subjective. Decreased circulation doesn’t necessarily mean that your library isn’t important to your community. High or low program registration and attendance can be chalked up to weather, other community events, or the time of day. I think the main question to ask is how your organization determines success. Is it, indeed, circulation? Is it program attendance? Is it database usage? Is it bodies in the library? Is it the passage of a building referendum? For the Eisenhower, it’s how people feel about the library. We know we won’t get everyone to visit or even use our virtual resources, but we do want every person to know that the Library is an integral component of the community. Part of making that connection is helping people recognize us and who we are. That’s where marketing comes in.

Based on that concept, it is obviously important to define your organization. What is your focus? Of course as a public library, our primary focus is getting people information in whatever form that takes, but what is it that makes you unique as a library? For us, it means establishing trust on an individual level with members of our community. We want people to know our librarians by name. The communities we serve cover a relatively small footprint, and community members rely heavily on word of mouth to inform their decisions about everything from the plumber they call to the flowers they order for weddings or funerals. It takes quite a bit of time with repeatedly positive contact to make that kind of impression but once someone is positively disposed towards someone or something in our community, they are loyal. We definitely strive to establish a trusting relationship with members of our community. The question then becomes how to establish that trusting relationship with people who visit infrequently or never.

For us, it has been all about creating a recognizable brand and making sure that every marketing piece, every contact, every outreach effort conveys that brand and supports the image we want to convey. This is even reflected in the furnishings we selected for the building. We want people to think of our library environment as a well-appointed den – comfortable, inviting, clean, and esthetically pleasing without being ostentatious. It sends the message that books are still the focus here, but we also want people to feel comfortable hanging out and enjoying the company of fellow community members. We felt it was important that our brand conveyed the same message – smart yet accessible, idiosyncratic yet self-aware, classy yet comfortable.

A good branding and marketing message can effectively convey these things in print, virtually, and through staff representation outside the building. Even the contacts you make and the ways in which you decide to present your institution outside the library should be driven by your brand. If you are defining your institution accurately and – more importantly, in my opinion – if how you define your library is a reflection of the community you serve at its core, then you should be able to move easily between chamber events and farmers markets without anyone becoming confused about your message. The most important thing is to be authentic. If you try convey an image that your institution simply does not “own,” people will know and it won’t be effective.

Our marketing strategy has done many positive things for our organization. A few of these benefits have been:

  • It helped us organize our communication efforts both internally and externally.
  • It has provided us with a clear message to convey to the local press.
  • It helped us create a recognizable brand that truly reflects what makes us unique.
  • It informed the redesign of our website into an online presence that matches our image and gels with the feeling of the building.
  • It has driven our outreach efforts and encouraged creative thinking with regard to where we place ourselves in the community outside of the building and the ways in which we do that.
  • It guided the redesign of our newsletter, which is still the primary source of information about the library for our community.

Ultimately, what is our return on investment and how do we measure it? Truthfully, we are still figuring that piece out. However, I can tell you anecdotally that I have had more people approach me in the last year and say something to the effect of, “I didn’t know what a great library this was until I saw the newsletter/your website/you at the farmers market/you at the mall” etc., than I have in the previous 7 years I worked here. That cannot be a coincidence. The number of times our local newspaper has featured a story about the library has gone up. Definitely, that can be directly credited to our marketing strategy.

We recently established a “How are we doing?” box for people to give us feedback. Nearly every comment we’ve received – and we’ve received many – mention a staff member by name and how deeply appreciative the writer is for all of the help that staff member provided. In the end, that tells me that we are succeeding in sending the right message.

We’re here to help. We want to know you. We can’t wait for you to come back.

Stacy Wittmann is the Library Director at the Eisenhower Public Library District.

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