This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Contact to report an issue.

Yesterday I participated in LYRASIS’ Ideas and Insights series. It was a really good event. The theme was Positioning Your Library in the Mobile Ecosystem: Content and Delivery. It was a rather small group, 25, but two were from out of the state, and for this time of year it wasn’t too bad.
I was honored to be on the speaker list along side Jason Casden, Tito Sierra, and Lori Reed. My talk was QR Codes, Location Based Services, & Augmented Reality for Libraries, which you can see here:

Since we had a smaller group I shifted from giving a talk to talking and facilitating discussion. There was some real enthusiasm for the topic, which was fun.

Jason Casden and Tito Sierra spoke on “Mobile Enhanced Access to Archives and Special Collections” and also gave tips for planning mobile initiatives. Their presentation was dense with really solid and interesting information. NCSU has been working in mobile since 2007 with their first mobile site, designed for classic mobile phones. They updated this to NCSU Libraries Mobile in 2010, the same year they came out with WolfWalk (the amazing, location aware web/iphone app that I’ve mentioned in the past). They’ve also worked to integrate QR codes into their exhibits to build rich online content that isn’t constrained by the physical limitations of space and link the two together. They showed a picture of a recent 4H exhibit and the corresponding smartphone screenshot.

The lessons learned were really interesting: first they pointed out the often skipped step of thinking about why an app should be mobile (and not something people would use a computer for or a kiosk) and that we need to rethink content for mobile devices. They discussed the differences (and how to choose) between web-based and device-based apps, but also pointed out that presence in the app market drives adoption. Finally, they had practical tips such as thinking of the robustness of the wireless connection in your building, think about how to deliver content in a way that doesn’t compromise the user experience, and preparing for the unexpected.

Finally, they had several really cool non-library specific things to discuss:

“You have to poke your finger at everything that is coming out to actually understand it. It goes back again to how you do things. If you are nimble, you should be able to test everything quickly and cheaply… That’s where you need to be.”

If you’re interested in their presentation, they also posted it to SlideShare and it is available here:

Next up, Peter Murray discussed LYRASIS support for technology. They’re about to do a push to support open-source. He also facilitated a discussion about mobile in libraries discussing topics from who is using it to the role of the library in mobile tech, to loaning out devices to patrons, to mass digitization. The group was small enough that everyone was able to participate, which was very nice.

Lori Reed was the final presenter and spoke on “e-change: creating a movement for patrons’ virtual 2 cents.” She told the story of Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library budget cuts and discussed how the library used social media to get the word out. Before the budget cut, PLCMC was known to be one of the best systems in the country. They won numerous awards and individual staff members were nationally recognized. One year they faced significant budget cuts where all “low hanging fruit” were eliminated. The next year they were told to prepare for a 50% reduction. In response to this they were very intentional with creating accounts, using hashtags, scheduling tweets, and live tweeting board meetings. In parallel Lori set up to help get the word out about any library being cut. The library did not come out of this unscathed, but came out better than expected. However, the core structure has changed and some units have been folded into the county (HR, tech, maintenance). Her presentation isn’t on SlideShare yet, but it probably will be.

The core message I took from Lori’s presentation was the importance of linking the library mission to the larger organization’s mission. When I first started library school, I didn’t understand that. I was a bit idealistic in my thoughts about libraries and how they could run. Then, as I learned from our strategic planning process, Lynn’s leadership, and the way we work here I had fully bought into the idea of aligning missions. I still mostly felt that was important in an intuitive way, though. Lori’s talk gave me a practical example of why it’s important and a conceptual model to show the importance of explicitly proving relevance to the larger organization. It’s such a sad story, though. I hate that it has become an example in this way.

All in all, it was a great day with a strong series of talks. All just a little bit down the street. If you want to know more about any of the sessions, just let me know, and I’ll share my notes!

(Cross posted to the personal blog.)