Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Netflix for Online Catalogs?

We read Publisher's Weekly at work, which reviews books several months before their release. In addition to looking for books to add to my library's collection, I also keep a very lengthy list of books to read. If it's a book by a popular author, or something that has gotten a lot of press, I check to see if the public library has it in their catalog as "On Order". If they do, I put it on hold.

Inevitably, 6 books come in at once. And I don't have time to read them all. So I have to return them and reorder them. Ad nauseum.

I really wish there was a more sophisticated mechanism for limiting the number of books waiting for me at one time. Like a Netflix for books. But free through the public library and more advanced, because it would need an override option for books you want to get as soon as they come in. Like the latest book by your favorite author. Or the slew of Halloween music CDs and Halloween decoration books I just ordered from the public library (I'm sure they love me right now).

Anyone know of anything like this in the works? How about you, Innovative Interfaces? Or you, all you open source catalogs out there? I'd love to see this option, but have no idea how difficult it is to implement from a technical perspective.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


ALA Presentation: PR Forum: Diversity @ Your Library: Broadening Your Audience and Engaging Communities
Speakers: Eric Friedenwald-Fishman and Maria Elena Campisteguy from the Metropolitan Group

This presentation addressed the 8 Principles of Multicultural Communication, which are:

1. Leave your assumptions at the door: They recommended that you get the facts about other cultures and recognize that you often think you know what you actually do not. You can get facts by scanning news media for articles about trends, challenges, and opportunities.

2. Understand the cultural context of your audience: You need to be aware of the norms, traditions, dialects, and other cultural nuances that are unique to the audience. Be as specific as possible when defining the desired audience. It is also important to understand historical experiences and attitudes that may impact communication with that audience. Then, identify and build on the cultural strengths and assets.

3. Invest before you request: Create community-centered partnerships: This was a good point - to treat community members as partners with whom you wish to engage, not as a tool for you to use. Get them involved early on. Don't try things out on them, ask them what they want instead. And then maintain that communication.

4. Build authentic relationships: Maintain a long-term perspective: Go to the community and work with trusted allies. Don't become a one-hit wonder - keep at it.

5. Build shared ownership: Engage people, don't just involve them! Make sure there are seats at the table for members of your audience to have input.

6. Walk your talk - Lead by example: Examine your organization and be honest in your examination. Do what you say you believe others should do and deliver on your promises.

7. Relate, don't translate: This one really stuck with me. You have to do more than just translate existing ads into another language. The values you may be drawing on may not be highly valued in the culture you are translating the ad for. Make sure the ad appeals to that culture.

8. Anticipate change: Be prepared to succeed: Recognize that your process and approach to the work may change. Continue to build infrastructure to support multi-cultural success.

In addition, for more PR information, check out the PR blog Visibility @ your Library or join the discussion list

Cats in Libraries?

While I like the idea of cats in libraries (I like cats, I like libraries, why shouldn't they go together?), I always wonder about the wisdom of such a decision. Cat allergies are very common.

Perhaps one cat in a large library doesn't have much of an impact on allergies, but watch out for the cat's favorite chair or shelf of books. I know my cat finds it rather entertaining to climb on top of the books on one of the bottom rows of my book shelves.

For a map of libraries with cats (both alive and statue/stuffed animal), check out Iron Frog Productions' Library Cat Map.