Recently, I wrote a post about our Google Business Photos project, which gives people an opportunity to have a look around the library and discover what we have to offer. Since then I found spots on our website where it makes sense to have certain points within the tour embedded. That’s worked out well and I also added a sidebar block on certain pages with links to take people to different parts of the building. Take a look at our hours/location page to see what I mean.
One thing I’ve been waiting for is for the invitation to “See Inside” the library to show up on the knowledge graph profile when someone searches for “arlington heights library” (without quotes). Initially, when the tour was uploaded by our photographer, it didn’t show up but now it does. I have a feeling it has to do with claiming ownership of the Google+ Local page and filling in more details. Whatever the reason, the fact that people now see this invitation when searching for us is huge. The chances of someone discovering us for the first time or re-discovering us after some time away is greater now that they can not only visit our website but see our recently renovated spaces.
Are there any other libraries looking into Google Business Photos and improving what shows up in their knowledge graph profile? I’d love to hear more about your experience.
I might’ve been the last person on earth to hear about the video that asks the truly profound question, “What Does the Fox Say?”
Well, my (current) library just put up a testimonials page that answers the slightly more important question, “What Does the Customer Say?” Designed by my talented colleague, Brian, the page features some pretty cool stories of how the library is making a difference in people’s lives. Customers can also submit their own stories online and they may end up featured in our print newsletter and website.
On a side note, it’s a good feeling that all four stories featured thus far involve the work of Digital Services Group! Go team!
Curious to hear about other ways libraries are telling their stories. Leave a comment if you’ve got something!
Back in 2010, I blogged about leaving a library I love to accept a new challenge. A little more than three years later, I have similar news to share! I recently accepted an offer to return to Skokie Public Library in mid-October and become their Deputy Director. There are some exciting things happening at Skokie and I feel like I can make a positive impact there. I’ll also get a taste for the operations side of things and learn more about how to run a public library. Wherever my career goes from here, I think the new skills I develop in this position will be helpful.
I have to say, though, that I absolutely love Arlington Heights Memorial Library and am very grateful for the opportunities they gave me. I got a chance to work with and learn from some amazing people, and I’ll take all of those experiences with me to my new position. AHML has definitely shaped who I am professionally and I won’t forget that.
Finally, I want to publicly thank those people whom I consider professional mentors! Eva, Sue, Deborah, Brian, and Daisy, if you’re reading this, thank you for investing your time and energy in me and helping me throughout my career!
One of the best things about our recent renovation is seeing people’s initial reactions when they walk into the library. There’s a sense of pride and excitement that people experience when they see a beautiful library built just for them. We’re obviously proud of our new spaces and love showing them off to our community, but one of the challenges these days is to reach those people who might not be regular visitors of the physical library for whatever reason. Trust me, I’m all about connecting with and serving people through our online presences, but I still think there’s something special about being among others in your community in a physical space.
To help entice people to visit the library, we recently worked with a “trusted” Google Business Photos photographer to create a full virtual tour of the public spaces in the library. I couldn’t be happier with the result. Check it out below!
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Here’s more about the process for anyone who’s interested:
- The first step was to visit Google Business Photos to get some names of trusted photographers in the area.
- Next, I created a tentative path throughout the library’s floor plan to start the conversation with the photographers and received quotes for the work. The photographers are freelancers but they are also trained by Google to shoot the tours and upload them. The quotes were based on the same path.
- I still needed to get final approval from our administration so I put together a short proposal with the reasoning for doing this, information about the quotes, and my suggestions for next steps.
- A photographer, Joni Kat Anderson, was chosen and the contract was signed, but the shoot was delayed because we didn’t want our summer reading installation in our Kids’ World area to be in the shot since it’s a temporary thing. We wanted the library to be captured in its “normal” state however much possible.
- The actual shoot was scheduled for 6am (yep, you read that right!) on a Sunday morning. The thought was to get several hours where the photographer would not have to dance around people roaming throughout the library. We had a second day scheduled but didn’t need it because everything went so well. During the shoot, I stayed with the photographer the entire time to help answer any questions she had about our spaces and make sure everything looked right. We also received a ton of still photos as part of our package. We own the rights to all of the photos and can use them however we want.
- The photographer came back later that week to reshoot a couple of things that didn’t look right to her when she started to stitch together the photos. I appreciated the desire to make everything perfect!
- One week after the shoot, the tour went up!
Yesterday, I spent some time embedding specific points of the tour within our website to further make that connection between the virtual and physical. Here are some examples:
- The Studio (ability to go inside each of our digital media lab rooms)
- Meeting Rooms (great for people who are interested in reserving a room)
- The Hub (at the bottom of our teen page sidebar, we invite teens to discover the physical Hub).
Back in April, I gave a renovation update detailing the newly remodeled spaces related to Digital Services at my library. I mentioned plans to add a “gadget petting zoo” and that’s now become a reality. We’re calling it the “Tech Bar” and I’m happy to say that it’s generated a lot of interest in a short amount of time. It’s proving to be a great conversation starter to talk about the library’s eBooks, digital magazines, circulating eReaders and tablets, mobile app, and just technology in general.
We have eight devices, including a Kindle Paperwhite, Nook SimpleTouch, Nexus 7, iPad mini, two Nook Tablets, and two Kindle Fires. They’re all mounted and tethered to pedestals that are secured to the surface. There’s a slot in the middle of the tablet that allows us to store cords used to recharge the devices when needed. The table is situated right next to our Tech Help Desk so it’s easy for our staff to notice when people are exploring the devices and offer help.
During our big open house event this afternoon, we had a steady stream of people walking up to the Tech Bar wanting to know more about the devices we have displayed. It was encouraging to see people immediately get the idea that it’s okay to pick up the devices, turn them on, play with them, and ask questions about them. Since it looks similar to what people might see at a retail electronics store, I’m guessing there’s less fear in handling the devices and experimenting with them. Plus, we’re obviously not trying to sell any of the gadgets so it seems like people are at ease with talking to staff without any pressure. It’ll be interesting to see if the interest remains, but so far so good!