Two amazing members of my team, Andrea Nicolay and Jenny Arch, wrote this great article for Library Journal that describes our process of moving to a wireless service model, including what lessons we learned along the way and the successful outcome of the project.
During this past month of February, we issued a Library Card Sign Up Challenge to our neighboring communities. Belmont, Lexington, and Somerville accepted the Challenge. We hosted a wonderful press conference at the end of January in our beautiful Robbins Library Reading Room to issue the Challenge, and it was covered by all of our local media, including ACMi, the Arlington Advocate, the Boston Globe, and YourArlington.com. It worked like this: the library that had the highest percentage increase in new library card registrations in February 2013 compared to February 2012 would be the victor. There was more than just pride at stake. A platter of baked goods would be delivered to the winner from the losing communities’ favorite local bakeries. Additionally, if Arlington didn’t win, I declared that I would visit the winning library’s storytime dressed as Clifford the Big Red Dog!
We partnered with the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and several local businesses to promote the Library Card Sing Up Challenge. Library cardholders were able to get discounts on products and services by simply showing their library card at participating businesses during the month of February.
While we didn’t win the Challenge, it was a tremendous success for all of the communities and businesses that participated. Below is the thank you letter to our community I posted on the Robbins Library blog, which also went up within the library and was sent to the Arlington Advocate. The amazing results of the Challenge are listed in the letter:
The results of the Library Card Sign Up Challenge are in, and I am proud to report that Arlington nearly tripled new library card registrations in February! While we didn’t quite come out on top in our friendly competition with Belmont, Lexington, and Somerville, we did manage to increase new library card registrations in February by 183% compared to February 2012. While we were very close to the lead going into the final week of February, Somerville pulled away in the end with a 320% total increase, followed by Belmont with a 186% total increase.
While we really wanted to be first in the overall standings of the Library Card Sign Up Challenge, we are thrilled with the overall results. Among our goals of this friendly competition were to promote the tremendous value of the library card and promote the many fantastic services our libraries offer in all of our communities, and it is very clear we successfully met these goals.
Somerville’s prize for winning the competition includes platters of baked goods delivered to them from the best local bakeries of Arlington, Belmont, and Lexington, in addition to a visit from me dressed as Clifford the Big Red Dog. I will share with everyone the details of my visit to the Somerville Public Library dressed as Clifford once it is scheduled in case you would like to come and see it for yourself!
I am so pleased with the tremendous support we received from you, our amazing community, and our many great partners which helped make this campaign a success, including the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and the 27 local businesses that worked with us to promote the Library Card Sign Up Challenge. Thank you so much once again for helping us make this campaign such a success.
The 2012 NELA Annual Conference was fantastic. Not only did I give a presentation discussing our experience as a partner library with Library Renewal, but also I had the chance to sit on a great panel and give a presentation on some of our successes using social media to connect with patrons and promote library services. You can check out my slides on social media, essentially the top ten guidelines for connecting through social media (learned through a few successes and several failures) below:
Ever since I saw my first Xtranormal video I wanted to make one. And I finally did get around to making an Xtranormal video to promote 1book4summer. Check out the final result:
Making videos with Xtranormal is easy. If you can type, you can do it! It probably took me about two hours to make the video above, and most of that time was spent writing the script! Of course, now that I have made one, it will go much faster the next time. Either you can make one online directly through their website or download Xtranormal State and create the video through this program on your computer. After you register as a new user, you get 300 Xtranormal points that allow you to unlock certain scenes and characters. If I had been willing to purchase more Xtranormal points, I could have unlocked some really fun characters and scenes. However, I think the ones available with the free initial 300 points will serve most users just fine. After I created my little movie on Xtranormal State, I did add a title page and credits to the video using Windows Movie Maker.
I had a blast making this video. If you haven’t used Xtranormal before, you should do it. It is a great tool for making videos to promote library events. I think it would also be an awesome tool to use for a children and/or teen film making program. What other ways do you think libraries could use Xtranormal?
The Tampa Bay Rays were once the worst franchise in baseball. They always finished last in their division, the AL East, very few fans would come to their games, and they didn’t make a lot of money. They were the joke of baseball. To make matters worse, any chance of becoming a winner and turning around their sorry franchise was next to impossible because they played in the same division as the two most powerful teams in baseball, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. How do you compete against two teams that have some of the most loyal and rabid fans in all of baseball? How do you compete against two teams that generate nearly double and triple the money that you do? How do you compete against two teams that can afford to pay two underachieving pitchers $16.5 million per year and still have a boatload of money to go out and acquire any other player (or players) they desire? Easy, through effective leadership that was willing to analyze every aspect of the team’s operations and bring Wall Street strategies to the organization. It is all covered in The Extra 2%. If you love baseball and business, The Extra 2% is a great read. Even if you aren’t interested, here are some points I took from the book that we all can apply to our libraries:
1) You need the right leader in place (with the right leadership style):
The first owner of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays was Vince Naimoli. Naimoli was an extremely successful businessman and instrumental in bringing baseball to St. Petersburg, Florida. According to the book, he was known as a fixer, one of those guys that acquired failing businesses, turning them around during their time of crisis, and selling them for a nice profit. He did this by using a very coercive leadership style. As you might remember from this post, coercive leadership is great during emergencies and when organizations are falling apart, but it isn’t an effective leadership style long-term. When Stuart Sternberg bought the team, he put effective leaders in place, such as manager Joe Maddon, guys that knew the right kind of leadership styles to use and when to use them.
2) For that extra edge, wipe out your weaknesses:
When you have so many factors stacked against you, if you become at least average in your weak areas, you can gain that extra 2% edge that might make the difference between success and failure. This is what the Tampa Bay Rays believe. They do this across many areas, whether they are using the most cutting-edge statistical analysis to evaluate players, bringing in sports psychologists to work with players, or spending time doing drills on how to improve bad base running. Many of these areas the Rays focus on are areas that other teams in baseball ignore.
3) If you use creative marketing, they will come:
One of the first things that Steinberg’s leadership team did was drop the “Devil” from the “Tampa Bay Devil Rays” to become the “Tampa Bay Rays”, complete with new colors and uniforms. This was a great move as this allowed the organization a fresh start and a way to distance themselves from Naimoli’s Devil Rays. The Rays’ also started to schedule big-name performers for postgame concerts in order to attract more fans to games. Inspired by the popularity of SNL’s “More Cowbell” skit featuring Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken, Steinberg had the idea during the Rays’ 2009 postseason run to distribute cowbells at games. They completely caught on and became synonymous with the Rays. Other quirky and creative ideas the Rays introduced to bring in fans included “Senior Prom of Senior Citizens” night and a “Friday Nightclub” complete with postgame dance music and indoor fireworks!
I really could relate to the Tampa Bay Rays as I read this book. After all, they are facing some fierce competition, kind of like libraries! What do you think? Are there some other lessons we can learn from baseball’s worst to first franchise?