David Lee King

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Updated: 2 hours 24 min ago

Why Do you Love Your Library? – Advocacy Video

Tue, 2015-09-22 09:30

My library’s Foundation held a fun after-hours event, and I helped by making a video. I asked people to answer a simple question: I love my library because [fill in the blank.]. Then I had them share their answers in front of a camera.

That simple question was answered in some really fun ways. Watch the video to hear why people in Topeka love their library!

Categories: Library News

Treehouse just asked our customers for Money

Mon, 2015-09-14 18:19

My library has a subscription to Treehouse, which is a cool service that provides coding and app development tutorials. Cool stuff, and our customers really like the service.

Here’s what I don’t like. They recently changed the way we are charged. They were operating on an annual flat-rate site license subscription, which is normal and makes sense.

They have moved to a weird “tiered seat model” for pricing. That means that we pay per “seat” or user, and have to buy so many seats per year. OK … it’s cheaper, so that’s a good thing.

It’s also a very manual process for us, which is not a good thing. We have to basically set up user accounts manually. Here’s how one library has set this up. Sorta clunky, I think – and not the library’s fault, but the vendor’s.

I get it. They’re a newish company, and the library market is new to them, too. They still trying to figure out pricing models that work for them and for their customers. I’m not sure what libraries they worked with to come up with this pricing model … I can’t imagine anyone would say “yeah, that sounds workable.” Because it really isn’t a good option for libraries.

But even better – Treehouse just emailed our current customers with library Treehouse accounts (even though we have already emailed our customers, letting them know about the changes). Here’s what Treehouse’s email said:

“We’re writing to let you know that Topeka & Shawnee County Library is no longer providing your Treehouse subscription. Although a membership through Topeka & Shawnee County Library is no longer possible, we would be delighted to have you continue your membership with Treehouse directly.”

“In the next 24 hours we will move your membership to a two week free trial for our Basic plan. All of your learning achievements will be saved. At the end of this period, you may provide payment information to either continue with your Basic subscription, or upgrade to Pro.”

You see the problem, right?

  1. It’s not accurate. A membership is definitely still possible – they just have to contact the library.
  2. They asked for money. Treehouse just told our library customers that their only option to continue is to buy a pro account. Again – not accurate, and not cool.
  3. They got our name wrong. We’re Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library. Minor quibble, I know. But still…

So yeah – it looks to me like Treehouse just lied to my library’s customers, and asked them for money, too.

Not cool, Treehouse. You build amazing products – surely you can do a better job when you email my library’s customers!

Categories: Library News

3 Simple Steps to Make your Ebooks Rock – new article for Emerald Group Publishing

Thu, 2015-09-10 09:01

I have a new article up at Emerald Group Publishing that talks about three simple ways to improve your library’s ebook marketing efforts.

In the article, I talk about buying enough ebooks to meet demand (most libraries don’t do this), provide some ideas for promoting them, and making sure staff know how to use the various ebook apps out there.

Give it a read, then share innovative ways your library gets the word out about ebooks!


Categories: Library News

712 Innovations and the Library

Tue, 2015-09-08 09:30

My library has a really cool partnership with 712 Innovations, and I wanted to share.

712 Innovations is a combined makerspace and coworking space in Topeka, KS. The idea for this space came out of two separate groups of entrepreneurs in Topeka. One group wanted to create a coworking space, and another group was really interested in creating a makerspace.

The two groups realized they’d have more of a chance if they merged, and … ta-da! 712 Innovations was formed … with the help of a bunch of local organizations, including the library, a local university, the city, and a couple of non-profits, among others to help work out organizational and start-up funding issues.

712 Innovations is pretty unique, since it’s a combined makerspace and coworking space. The goal is this:

  • Creatives in makerspaces have really cool ideas about the stuff they’re making, but have no idea about how to start a business or market what they make.
  • Creatives in coworking spaces might not know how to make stuff, but they know how to market and create businesses.
  • What if someone brought the two sides together in one shared space?
  • If the goal is met, there will be new Topeka-based businesses springing out of 712 Innovations.

Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library is a sponsor of 712 Innovations. Here’s what we’re doing:

  • We helped plan the space.
  • Gina Millsap, our Library’s CEO, is on the board of directors for 712 Innovations.
  • We have an embedded librarian working in the space about 12 hours a week. We hope to act as a business librarian for people using the space – answer questions, help with research, maybe eventually help write business plans!
  • Daypasses – our customers can check out a 712 Innovations daypass at the library.


Pretty exciting stuff happening in Topeka, KS!

Categories: Library News

Newest Pew Report on Social Media for 2015

Thu, 2015-09-03 09:30

Pew Research Center recently posted their newest report on social media – Mobile Messaging and Social Media 2015. Like most Pew reports, it’s focused on American adults, aged 18 and older.

It’s an interesting report on the “face” of social media and mobile messaging for 2015. Go read it! Here are some highlights and observations from the report:

General Internet and smartphone use:

  • 85% of American adults are internet users
  • 67% are smartphone users

Me: Think about your customers. Does your website work great on a smartphone? Because most of your customers have one at this point. So what’s holding you up?

Mobile Messaging:

  • 36% of smartphone owners report using messaging apps like WhatsApp, Kik or iMessage
  • 49% of smartphone owners age 18-29 use these types of apps.

Me: Messaging used to be easy. It was email, web-based chat, and texting. Now, it’s still all those … plus Facebook Messaging, Twitter, LinkedIn messaging (just overhauled their messaging service), and apps like WhatsApp or Kik. 

How are you asking customers to interact with you? Do you need to change anything? Definitely something to look into.

Social Media Growth:

  • Facebook – 62% of adults use it
    • 70% log on daily
    • 43% log on several times a day
  • Pinterest – 26% of adults use it (more women than men)
  • Instagram – 24% of adults use it.
    • Really popular with non-whites and young adults, slightly more women than men
    • 59% of Instagram users are not he platform daily!
    • 35% visit several times a day (guilty!)
  • LinkIn – 22% of American adults
  • Twitter – 20% of American adults.
    • More urban than rural, more popular with younger adults.

Me: Facebook is still HUGE. People are logging on several times a day. Do you have new content there for them? Focused on your library (in an interesting, fun way)? How about Instagram? Who’s on “Instagram duty” at your library?

Again – really good report. Read it, digest it, share it with your colleagues. And give some thought to how your library needs to adapt as your customers adapt.

Photo of a phone by Nicola


Categories: Library News

Failure Leads to Success

Thu, 2015-08-27 09:30

Here’s a photo I took a few days ago (bigger photo here). I wanted to play with my new olloclip lens.

Olloclip makes really cool lenses that clip on to an iPhone. Mine includes two macro lenses, a wide angle lens, and a fisheye lens. You can buy one here, if you’re interested (they’re pretty cheap).

Anyway, this photo. I took the photo, then realized something looked … funny. I thought there was a smudge on the lens, so I turned the phone around to look at it … and discovered that I had left the lens cap on.

So this is a fisheye lens photo … looking through my olloclip lens cover. Big fail!

And that’s ok. In fact, if you look through my older videos and photos (and website designs, and articles, and project plans, and music projects, etc), you will find lots of experimentation. Some improvements, some trials-and-errors, and yes – some fails.

That’s how I learn – that’s how I improve. I need time to play with a new tool. To figure it out, to make it work, to read about it and try what I just learned.

For me anyway, failure eventually = success. Because every failure leads me a little closer to where I hope to be.

Experimentation is a great way to learn social media, too. For example, if someone doesn’t have a Twitter account, doesn’t understand it, and wants to learn, I’ll suggest these steps:

  1. Set up a Twitter account.
  2. Follow 50-100 people. These can be friends, colleagues, or people you share a common interest with (i.e., hobbies, career track, etc).
  3. Hang out on Twitter for 10 minutes each day. Read the posts, add your thoughts. Share your own posts, focused on your interests.
  4. Do this for a month.

At the end of the month, I’ll guarantee the person will have a better understanding of Twitter. They might not like it, but they will “get it.”

Hence my photo experiment with the olloclip lens (and lens cap). Experiment, fail, experiment some more, and improve.

How about you? How do you learn and improve?

Categories: Library News

6 Steps for Social Media Success – an article for LIANZA

Tue, 2015-08-25 09:30

I just wrote a blog post for the Library and Information Association of New Zealand (LIANZA). You know, because LIANZA is awesome and all.

In the article, I discuss 6 steps for social media success. Here are my 6 steps:

  1. Listen to the chatter
  2. Respond when it makes sense
  3. Friend your community
  4. Be visual
  5. Be speedy
  6. Consistency is a must

Go here to read the whole article – let me know what you think!

Categories: Library News

Instagram Hacks that will Drive Sales … I mean Checkouts

Thu, 2015-08-20 09:30

I recently saw an article on tips for using Instagram to Drive Sales. A lot of the tips are actually pretty relevant to libraries. Let’s look through the tips, and see if anything’s useful for us!

1. Create Call to Actions. Definitely useful – a call to action certainly doesn’t have to be limited to sales! Instagram gives you one actual website link, and it’s found in your profile. Point to things other than your main page sometimes.

Then, in the description box of your image post, ask people to click the link in your profile to … register for the program, check out the book, etc.

2. Increase Exposure by Placing Call to Actions as a Location Extension. This one seems to have limited usefulness to me. Not even sure I really understand it…

3. Add Line Breaks to Your Instagram Captions. This is a way to get your profile to stand out more than other profiles, mainly because the text in your captions looks different. Again, limited usefulness here, since mostly people are scrolling through a bunch of images. But still – every little bit helps.

4. Get More Instagram Followers. Nothing wrong here! We need more followers. The author’s ideas are fine. But we have a built-in audience, so … just ask for them! Use Facebook and Twitter, share a photo, and ask people to Like your Instagram feed. Put up hashtag signs in the building. Mention your account at the beginning of events.

5. Why your “Thanks for following” Test Just Won’t Cut it Anymore. This one seems a bit excessive to me. Direct video messages thanking people for following you? Really? I’d unfriend you. What do you guys think about this one?

6. Add Line Breaks to Your Bio. Another way to get your profile to stand out.

7. Track Your Call to Actions with bit.ly. This is a cool idea. Then again, since Instagram gives you only one link, you can also find conversions simply by using Google Analytics. Check to see if anything came from Instagram. The bit.ly idea will give you an accurate count of clicks, so it’s definitely useful.

8. Talk your Target’s Talk. I definitely agree here. The translation for us is to not use marketing-speak or jargon. Figure out what customers you want to target with your Instagram account, and then use the language they use.

David’s #9. What’s missing in this list? The actual content! Work to make your content compelling enough that it leads your customers to the library, the website, a new service. Visually show off the awesomeness that is the library.

What’s missing? I’d love to hear your thoughts – share them in the comments! And … I’m on Instagram – friend me!

Categories: Library News

Facebook Events Don’t Work for Organizations

Thu, 2015-08-06 09:30

Maybe I’m missing something here. But in my experience, Facebook Events don’t work all that well for libraries. Or for many organization-based Facebook Pages.

Why? Because you can’t invite your Facebook Page friends to the event. The “Designated Host” of an Event (usually the creator of the Event) can only invite people from their personal Friends list.

See the problem here? My library’s Facebook Page is friended by 13,000+ people who live in Topeka. I’d love to invite them.

Instead, I have to invite my personal Facebook friends. Which are a weird mix of you guys, my family, other librarians, high school and college friends, some local friends, some vendor acquaintances, and some people I work with.

For the most part, not people living in Topeka.

Sure, once created, I can Share the Event on the library’s Facebook Page. I can even pay for ads for the Event (which is what Facebook really wants you to do with Events).

Does that make sense? Nope. Not really.

Instead of creating a Facebook Event, do this instead:

  • Create a normal Facebook Page post that includes a link to the Event page on your website.
  • Pay a little money to Boost the post.
  • Pin the post to the top of your Facebook Page.

And have fun at your event.

Cute baby pic by Branden Williams

Categories: Library News

What’s the Most Visited Part of your Library?

Tue, 2015-08-04 09:30

Do you adequately staff the busiest parts of your library? For example, if you have a busy reference desk, you probably make sure there are staff to meet demand.

If your circulation desk gets busy in the afternoons, you probably put another person there to help.

But what if your digital branch is the busiest part of your library? What then?

Here’s what I mean. Take a peek at some annual stats from my library:

  • Door count: 797,478 people
  • Meeting room use: 137,882 people
  • Library program attendance: 76,043 attendees
  • Art Gallery visitors: 25,231 visitors
  • Reference questions: 271,315 questions asked

How about website visits? We had 1,113,146 total visits to the website in 2014. The only larger number is is our circulation count (2,300,865 items).

The busiest part of my library is our digital branch – our website. More visits than meeting room attendance. More visits than library classes and events. More visits than our art gallery.

More visits than our physical building.

I’ll guess your library is similar. So how do we staff for this? I know, I know. Website visits are different than a person visiting the building. Building visitors will most likely stay longer, will need furniture to use, will step on carpet that needs cleaning, and will use computers that need to be maintained. While a digital branch visit might only last for two minutes.

Still … do you see a potential disparity here?

So I’ll ask my question again: Do you adequately staff the busiest parts of your library?

Image by Mervyn Chua

Categories: Library News

My Trip to the Apple Store

Thu, 2015-07-30 09:30

A few weeks ago, I dropped my iPhone and cracked the screen (see accompanying picture of my poor iPhone).

I don’t use a smartphone case (I know, I know), but I also haven’t dropped my phone in 8 years. So I was bummed.

Oh well – time to visit the Apple Store! I found out that they’ll replace your broken iPhone screen (for $109+tax). That was cheaper than other smartphone-fix-it places in town, so I decided to go for it (after pieces of screen started flaking off in my pocket).

Here’s what happened during my trip to the Apple Store.

First, finding information on Apple’s website about the repair process was really easy to do. At Apple’s website, you simply click Support, then iPhone, then Repair. Then choose the huge button that says “Screen Damage” (guess I’m not the only one who drops their phone).

I love what this page says: “Accidents happen. Sometimes a screen can get cracked or shattered. We’re here to help.”

After that, I was able to choose Make an Appointment. The only bad thing about that is that there are no Apple Stores in Topeka, KS. So I drove about an hour to the Kansas City area, and visited the Leawood, KS store.

Interrupting my own story for a sec. So far, my “visit” has been online, and it has been excellent. No clicking around, no confused hunting for stuff. Nothing worded weird or lingo-y. Everything made sense, and I was quickly able to follow the trail to my “destination” – the “Make an Appointment” page.

And they reassured me about dropping my phone by saying “accidents happen … we’re here to help.”

OK – back to the story. The in-store experience was just as good.

When I was about 5 feet from the store entrance, I received a notification (see the image) welcoming me to the store, reminding me about my Genius Bar reservation, and telling me what to do next (check in).

Remember my articles awhile back about iBeacon technology? Apple Stores use it, so I was able to see it in action.

On the other side of the door was an Apple Store employee, ready to greet me and help me figure out what to do next (i.e., check in). Once checked in, I browsed around the store for awhile … and then another Apple Store employee was able to find me (via my iPhone – iBeacons in use again).

She walked me through the process, took my phone …. and told me it would be a 2 hour wait (it was a really busy Saturday at the Apple Store!). So I goofed off at a nearby Guitar Center for awhile (and played a sweet bass guitar), then went back to the Apple Store.

My phone was ready, so yet another Apple Store employee brought my iPhone out to me, made sure it worked fine, and then helped me pay, right where I was. I didn’t have to go stand in a line.

My iPhone is back to normal. Yay!

Here’s what I noticed. At the Apple Store, the experience was built around me:

  • I received a reminder about my appointment right at the door.
  • I was greeted by a friendly Apple Store employee.
  • Apple Store staff were easy to find, because they all wore matching blue shirts.
  • I could browse around the store until they were ready, and then they found me.
  • When it was time to pay, I paid right where I was. I didn’t have to stand in a line or go up to a check out counter.
  • The website provided a similar experience – it was designed to move me to the information I needed, when I needed it.
  • And of course, they did pretty much everything using an iPad. Without an attached keyboard.

I think libraries should be more like this! Think through my story, and compare it to your library:

  • Are your customers greeted at the door?
  • Are your staff easy to find, or do they blend in?
  • Do staff approach customers, or do customers have to approach staff and a desk to get help?
  • When ready to check out, can customers do it anywhere, or do they have to stand in a line or approach a desk?
  • How about your website? Is it designed to move customers to the right place at the right time, with the best information? Or is it more of a jumbled mess of information and services?

No, I’m not necessarily suggesting that libraries buy matching shirts for everyone. But I DO think we can learn a thing or two from the Apple Store. And I think we can make our in-library and on-the-website experiences better than they are now.

Categories: Library News

Your Digital Branch has Unique Content

Tue, 2015-07-21 08:21

Did you know that Emerald Group Publishing has a Special Features part of their website? They have some really useful articles there … one of them being an article from me!

I just posted this – Your Digital Branch has Unique Content. What do I talk about? What the title says – the fact that your library’s website – your digital branch – has some very unique content. Think ebooks, or the full catalog vs browsing the shelves for stuff not checked out.

And some other ideas too. Go read it!

Categories: Library News

Serving People Who are Different Than You

Tue, 2015-07-14 09:30

I just read the book Crafting the Customer Experience For People Not Like You: How to Delight and Engage the Customers Your Competitors Don’t Understand, by Kelly McDonald (that is one long title!).

I read it around the same time I attended ALA’s annual conference in San Francisco. There was a lot of discussion about diversity, as there always is at a library conference. Which is awesome.

When we talk about diversity at one of those events, usually “diversity” means minorities, gender, and sexual preference.

This book had a slightly different take on that. Kelly says this (on page 7): “I define diversity as “any way that I can be different from you.” For example, if you have kids and I don’t, we’re likely to have different priorities and face different pressures. Your entire focus shifts when you become a parent, because it has to. Parents think about and evaluate everything differently from people who aren’t parents. But that difference has nothing to do with race, ethnicity, age, or even gender; it simply has to do with whether or not you have children.”

Then Kelly goes on to talk about the customer experience, both physically and online (primarily through social media), and discusses serving “people not like you.” She includes generational differences, women and families, Hispanics/Latinos, different racial and ethnic communities, and GLBT customers.

I really appreciated this slightly tweaked explanation of diversity, since I’m usually the white married dude sitting in a large sea of women talking about creating a more diverse workforce in libraries. Just sayin

So – interesting book. Give it a spin!

Categories: Library News

Make your Website UX ROCK

Thu, 2015-07-09 08:30

I recently spoke at the New England Library Association’s ITS Spring Event in Portsmouth, NH. Fun day, cool people!

I spoke about library website UX, and provided some tips on making library websites easier to use. They made a video of my talk – here it is!

Here’s another talk from that day. This panel includes two case studies of library website redesign projects, from Andrea Bunker and Sarah Leonardi. They have different perspectives – so watch this one too!


Categories: Library News

Social Media Best Practices

Tue, 2015-07-07 09:30

Ever wish a social media company like Facebook or Twitter would tell you the best way to post on their site?

Well – you’re in luck! Most social media companies want to embrace the business user (that’s you), and have some sort of best practices that they share.

Here’s a listing of current Best Practices for popular social media sites:

Now you have no excuse – read up, and make those posts ROCK!

Tips image by Rachael Voorhees

Categories: Library News

Books is Not Your Brand

Tue, 2015-06-23 09:30

Businesses and organizations have some pretty recognizable stuff. McDonald’s has their hamburger. Nike has their swooshy logo and their “just do it” tagline. Google has their search engine. Apple has the iPhone.

These things – products, logos, and taglines – aren’t brands. They are products, consumables, and marketing projects. They are things the company produces.

But what’s a brand? Here are some definitions:

  • “A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization” (from gist brands)
  • “… your brand is a story, a set of emotions and expectations and a stand-in for how we think and feel about what you do” (from Seth Godin)
  • “The perceived emotional corporate image as a whole” (from JUST Creative)

So when I hear someone say that a library’s brand is books, it irks me a bit. Because it’s simply not true. Yes, books are a very recognizable thing that libraries have; a major “product,” if you will. But having a collection of books is just one thing we do out of many.

And these days, you can get books pretty much anywhere: at Walmart, at the grocery store, or through a click on my Kindle app. Having access to a bunch of books isn’t really a unique thing anymore.

I love what Blackcoffee says about brands and products in their blog post, A Product is Not a Brand:

“Many companies fail to achieve their branding goals because they mistake their brand for their product, service or technology. Simply put, a brand is none of these! A brand is an experience that lives at the intersection of promise and expectation. Your products are a way to deliver upon that promise. Forget features, concentrate on the unique experience you can provide.”

Don’t mistake a major product – your book collection – as a brand. Because it’s not. Even better – go the extra mile (or two, or three) and work to define your library’s brand. Then see where that takes you!

More information on Branding:

Book image by Dawid Palen

Categories: Library News