Many patrons come to the library but have no live interaction with library staff at all. They search for items online, place holds, get notified by text, voicemail, or email when the item is ready, come to the library, walk up to a hold shelf, and use a selfcheck system to check out their items. Yet the library has much more that might interest the patron—how to let them know?
3M took this into consideration when developing their new Self-Check Quick Connect Interface. They addressed this with two new features: Recommended Reads and Patron Promos. You may have heard about the Recommended Reads option.
3M has partnered with EBSCO to use NoveList Select to help patrons discover similar books to the ones they are checking out. When patrons check out a book, the NoveList Select option comes up on the right of the screen with up to six suggestions that are in the library’s collection. If they are interested, patrons can look at a brief description of the book and choose to place it on hold, print out the information, or receive the list via email.
The other new feature, which is exciting and can really help the library create awareness of their events, is Patron Promos. When patrons are not actually checking out an item, but are entering their barcode, or viewing their account, the area to the right of the screen can display key library events or community messages. 3M has created templates for popular library events such as summer reading, book sales, and workshops. The library can insert details such as day and time, or upload their own banners customizing the self check to reflect the library’s messages and look. Another nice feature is that a library with multiple machines can have different messages displayed that are relevant for specific locations.
The System Manager makes it easy to customize the self check and update the Patron Promos. If a library has multiple machines, a staff member can update all the self checks from a PC or tablet.
Other features include the ability for a patron to enlarge the type and receive assistance on every screen with the library having the option of a have a pop-up notifier on a staff computer if the patron needs personal attention. There are up to fifty languages available, enabling the library to select the primary languages in the community. All instructions and the receipt will print in the selected languages.
The interface for the R and BC self-check series was released February 1 and the interface for the V series self check will be available in a few months.
BookBrowse recently launched a new look improving their navigation and optimizing the site for devices small and large.
BookBrowse is an online magazine about books that includes reviews, previews, read-a-likes, and author interviews as well as book club advice and reading guides. Not every book is in their database. BookBrowse’s selections are highly curated and handpicked covering over 3,000 books and 2,000 authors.
Library subscriptions provide access to all of BookBrowse’s read-a-like suggestions and offer patrons greater search filters to help them find similar books. The subscription includes BookBrowse’s “Beyond the Book” back-stories for their featured books. Beyond the Book explores topics from the book and answers questions the reviewers had after reading the book.
Also included in the subscription are: on-site and remote access, usage statistics, the ability to brand and customize the website and “brought to you by” emails for your library, one-click links for each book to your library’s OPAC, free support for both librarians and patrons, free posters, bookmarks and tent cards to promote the service as well as graphics and text links for the library’s website.
AtoZ has been adding enhancements to their site; the most exciting is that as of February 2014, AtoZ is available in Spanish. They have also added the ability to do background searches and to show neighbors when doing a person search as well as map-based searching.
AtoZ is a marketing tool that lets you find businesses, jobs, and people. In addition to searching for a specific business, job, or person, there are seven databases that let you select numerous variables to help target your search. These databases are Business & Executives, New Business, Healthcare Professional, Residents, New Movers, New Homeowners, and Universal which searches all the databases.
One of the variables in these seven databases is map-based searching. The map-based searching lets you pull up a map of the area you are interested in and then lets you select a shape, to completely customize the area you want to cover, or you can define a radius around an address or zip code, you can define a boundary, or you can define a drive route.
The new background search lets you search for a person or a property. When searching for a person, results will show a person’s current and prior addresses, phone numbers and prior phones numbers, suggested relatives, neighbors and prior neighbors, as well as name variants. When you search for a property (address), it will show who owns the property versus who lives there.
The search to find a person will show the person’s current address and also the ten nearest people who currently live around the address; it will include multiple people in the household.
While not new, but a great asset worth mentioning is AtoZ’s email marketing feature. AtoZ partnered with JangoMail, a web-based email broadcast and email marketing system that allows you to create, send, and track email campaigns. Through AtoZ patrons can send up to 500 emails for free each month.
Making Your Patrons Smarter
There are a lot of products out there that will help your patrons become smarter. Or at least, will train them in a particular area. For many people, the library is a source of computer information; both for those learning basic skills (i.e. “how do I type a resume?”) as well as the more advanced patrons (“I’m trying to brush up on my C++”). For those more advanced patrons, there are a number of options.
Safari Tech Books Online
ProQuest offers the Safari Tech Books Online subscription, a combination of two of the world’s most prominent technology publishers, O’Reilly Media, Inc. and Pearson Education.
Safari Tech Books Online provides access to more than 21,000 digital books and videos on topics ranging from programming to IT networking to project management to graphic design to business strategy. The content includes code snippets, certification preparation materials, practice exercises, training videos, and much more.
Books24x7’s IT Pro collection from Skillsoft is a similar product, with thousands of searchable e-books and videos from publishers including John Wiley & Sons, Microsoft Press, Apress, McGraw-Hill, MIT Press, Intel Press, Wrox Press, Cengage Course PTR, and many others.
Lynda.com has long been known as a leader in training materials for individuals learning how to do everything from build a website to develop an app for the Amazon Kindle Fire. Now they are offering tools for libraries as well; both for training staff, as well as kiosks so patrons can learn in the library. While they have been hesitant to offer remote access in the past, it seems as if they are going to start moving in this direction, offering pilot libraries the chance to have remote access. Hopefully these pilots go well, and they will start to offer the remote access option as a matter of course. The branding behind Lynda.com will be a big advantage, and should be a company that your patrons who are searching for this information will recognize.
Another newcomer in the library space for training is Treehouse, which launched in 2011 to the public at large with the goal of teaching people how to code for the Web, iOS, and Android.
I currently have a trial of Treehouse because we at Califa are looking to put together an offer for our member libraries with them. When I first log in, I can choose various tracks, such as web design, iOS development, WordPress development, or starting a business. Once I choose a track, the recommended courses are available for me to go through in order. Clicking on the web development track brings up courses like HTML, CSS Foundations, Build a Simple Website, Build a Responsive Website, and Illustrator Foundations, among others. As I go along through the course, I get points (instantaneous feedback that I love!) and can see other students who have taken similar courses.