Friday, May 29, 2015

8 Free Ways to Boost Your Library's Facebook Reach

Social Media has turned into a full time job, but not many libraries can devote many resources to it. How to stay relevant online despite trying to do everything else that needs to be done for the library? Here are eight tips to help boost your Facebook reach that do not cost any money!

1. Join the Shareable Clique FB Group

We started a Facebook Group called The Shareable Clique for librarians. Over 400 members share their posts that have gone viral. It is a great way to see what works with patrons, to recreate the great ideas and to reshare quality content/images that has done well. Come join us!

2. Schedule Shares of Viral Content

Facebook did not make it easy to schedule shares, but Susan from Oh My! Creative found a way around that. You click on the image to get a special URL that you can then use to schedule on your own page. As we discussed in a previous blog post, 10 Facebook Tips Patrons Wish Their Libraries Knew, you should be posting two times a day, seven days a week for maximum reach. One should be serious and one should be fun since people are on Facebook for work and play. Sharing viral posts from other pages is a great way to reach that fun quota, AND Facebook will give you kudo points, showing your content to more fans because it is proven to be quality content. But it is hard to do this daily, so it helps to schedule shares ahead of time.

3. Utilize Facebook's List Feature

One of Facebook's great underused features is the ability to put pages into lists, essentially curating specific newsfeeds that will show you ALL posts from the places you want to see. This is perfect for finding great content to respost and it doesn't clog up your current newsfeed. Put all of your favorite pages with quality content and images into a list and then visit that list when you're looking for great things to reshare onto your own account. To get you started, I created my own Viral Content for Libraries List that you can subscribe to and copy.

4. Use Google Alerts and Facebook Notifications

Google Alerts allows you to set up notifications so that when a specific word is mentioned online, you'll get an email (which can be instant, or in a daily or weekly digest). Make alerts for your community and books so you will have fresh content to share, outside of your library. As we discussed before, the social media standard is to post 1/3 your content and 2/3rds outside content -- but the trick is, that outside content has to be something that interests your patrons. Low reach, it'll hurt your next post's reach.

Same for Facebook Notifications. Any page that you follow, you can click on the down arrow next to "liked" and mark it for notifications. I do these for our city and schools since they do not post often on social media, so I always miss the announcements. Anything relevant and viral, I reshare on our page.


There is a website called If This Then That (IFTTT) which puts the internet for work for you. It will connect accounts together so, for example, if you publish a blog post on your website, it will automatically be posted on Facebook and Twitter. It is really handy for the busy librarian!

To get you started on using IFTTT, here are some published recipes that real libraries use: (my personal account, for other fun ideas)

6. Create Events

Facebook is revamping how they do events and I'm super excited with the changes! Events will be treated differently than posts. More will be showing up in the newsfeed as well as event recommendations. And you can now send invites to nonFacebook users, which increases your reach without having to do more work.

7. Get Facebook Event Subscribers!

Facebook now allows people to subscribe to your events. I wouldn't post 100% of your events online, but the major ones that people would be disappointed to miss would be good. All subscribers will get notifications of your events and all you need to do is upload them. You can also share your list of events (perfect for Summer Reading programs) with a click of the button when you're on your event page.

8. Embed a Facebook Post in your Blog and Online Newsletter

You can now embed a Facebook post which is perfect for libraries with online newsletters and blogs. Including Facebook posts outside of Facebook will allow you to get more mileage with your posts, catching those who might have missed it or nonFacebook users who click on the link to check it out. If they click on it, it'll help your reach!

Like this post? Check out:

8 Free Ways to Boost Your Library's Facebook Reach

10 Facebook Tips Patrons Wish Their Libraries Knew

Friday, May 22, 2015

Why Your Library Needs A Mascot

Publicity is a wonderful thing, but blatant self-promotion is seen as a negative trait. What’s a library to do? One of the easiest ways to publicize your library is also one of the silliest: get a mascot, and have it do the work for you.  Here are some tips to help make the most of a mascot.

Make it Memorable

My library has a turtle; her name is Spike, and you will see a lot of her in this article. I have also worked with frogs, stuffed dogs, and a wooden alligator. This mascot will be one of the faces of your library, and one of the goals is to make it a recognizable symbol of the work you do. What makes it special enough that people will remember that this creature belongs to your library? Even if it’s just a generic teddy bear, taking photos of him in a library setting will help people associate him with your library. This photo is a great example; here, Spike rests next to a stack of books.

Make it Fun

This is also the time to experiment with costumes and accessories.  Here, Lucky Dawg shows off his tie dye in preparation for the annual Tie Dye Party at the Lawrence Library in Pepperell, MA. If you are using a live animal, I find it’s easier to tape a piece of paper to the tank or cage and then position the camera to look like they're interacting with their environment, than to actually try to get them to wear an outfit. 

Make it Timely

The library wishing you a happy spring is nice. Your mascot in sunglasses, soaking up the sunshine, will get noticed. There is literally a holiday for every day of the year, so there is not a single day that you couldn’t post a mascot photo if you didn’t have an idea already.  Here, George Frog wishes everyone a happy Talk Like A Pirate Day. Silly? Yes. Memorable? Also yes.

Be Active on Social Media

Studies have shown that the use of mascots in social media content will boost the number of likes and shares on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites. This is likely because people would rather interact with a cute, memorable creature than a “faceless” marketing person, particularly if the mascot is acting as if it’s a member of the staff. (I call this the “He Thinks He’s People” Effect.) Tallulah and Blanche, the gerbils at the Cambridge Public Library, have a Facebook page. Fred, the turtle at the Framingham Public Library, has a blog. Our turtle, Spike, has a series of posts on the library Facebook page that each tell fun facts while reminding patrons of upcoming programs and holidays. Even if there is no specific news, just the appearance of the library in your patrons' news feed will remind them about the library, and perhaps start a conversation.

Make News More Exciting

Have your mascot interact with its surroundings; on a slow news day, perhaps your mascot can check out the New Books shelf, play with the toys in the children’s room, or listen to an audio book. Instead of posting a reminder that you have a movie screening at 6, perhaps post a photo of your mascot sitting with a bowl of popcorn, with a comment that they can’t wait for the movie.
This photo was posted on Facebook to drum up interest in a big announcement we had for new circulating items. It was so popular, we actually had several patrons pop by the library to ask what was in Spike’s box; it’s doubtful we would have had this response had we just said, “we have some new items coming soon!”

Revitalize Waning Interest

Is there low attendance at your story times? Is your reading challenge not getting many participants? Try making it mascot-themed! Our turtle-themed children's reading challenge had over 100 participants (in January!), and turtle-themed story time got a whole new crowd into our monthly Pajama Story Time. I have even done the same program multiple times, but with a mascot theme. A Back-to-School Ice Cream Party got a respectable number of people, but turning it into George Frog's Birthday gave it a whole new life. 

All in all, a mascot can do wonders for your PR. If done right, it can revitalize lagging social network traffic, create interest in under-performing programs, and show the lighter, more fun side of your workplace, causing a subconscious link in your patrons between the library and happiness – the ultimate end goal.

A Few Tips

  • Because we do so much with Spike, I took the time to make a small album of photographs of her. In some of the more generic poses (as opposed to standing next to books, eating popcorn, or wearing sunglasses), I erased the scenery, so Spike is isolated on a white background. It makes crafting posters with her image so much easier!
  • This blog has sung the praises of Canva before, but it bears repeating. By creating a template with her photo in it, we have made it simple to use her likeness on posters, social media posts, and the like. 
  • If you do get a live animal (see below), be sure to learn everything you can about their species - not only to give the best care, but also to answer the myriad of questions you will get about them. Posting an FAQ is always helpful.
  • Have fun with it!

Considering a live animal? A few things to think about.

There are several pros and cons of having a live animal in your library.  On the plus side, live animals are a huge draw, particularly for children. They are more likely to want to visit the animal, and therefore visit the library, and you will start to hear, “we just wanted to see how [Mascot] was doing.” The novelty of the animal is great for public relations; our turtle has gotten us television and newspaper coverage, and is the first thing new visitors comment on.

There are considerations, though. First and foremost, the care of the animal must be a priority. The animal must be taken care of even when the library is closed for weekends or holidays. Will it be okay alone, or does it need to go home with somebody?  Also, allergies have to be taken into account in any public building, which is why our library decided against any pet that has fur. There is also the issue of mortality. With a smaller pet, like a fish, you might be able to replace it without fuss, but a larger or more unique animal will be harder to hide, and the issue may have to be dealt with publicly. On the other hand, some animals, like our turtle, can live to be 50+ years; that's a huge commitment! You have to make sure your library staff and director are on board with this choice.

Does your library have a mascot? Tell us about him in the comments!

Update: We recently wrote a follow-up article of all the mascots we heard about on our Facebook post. 

Check out the different ones here: Library Mascots, Part 2.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Ready to Go Book Display: Road Trips

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go!" Book Display. Once a month, we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group (Adults, Teens and Children) that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. 

Get ready for a summer trip on the open road , grab your keys or travel from the comfort of your living room.

Recommendations for Adults:

In it's 7th edition, Jensen includes mile-by-mile highlights celebrating major cities, obscure town, popular attractions, roadside curiosities and more.

Time Flies by Claire Cook (June 2013)
A recently separated woman faces her highway driving phobia and takes a road trip with her best friend to their high school reunion.

Food Truck Road Trip: A Cookbook by Kim Pham (Nov 2014)
Shares recipes from popular food trucks stationed across the U.S. that represent a range of cuisines.

Driftwood by Elizabeth Dutton (Nov 2014)
After the death of her rock star father leaves her with a stack of enigmatic letters, Clem embarks on a California-wide road trip to discover the truth about her father and the meaning of family.

Whether you travel these routes by car or through the pages of the book - countless wonders await you.

A Long Island psychiatrist describes her year-long odyssey around the country in a converted bus with her wilderness-loving husband.
Recommendations for Teens:

Kissing in America by Margo Rabb (May 2015)
Sixteen-year-old Eva and her best friend, Annie, concoct a plan to travel to the West Coast to see Eva's romantic hero again. As they road trip across America, Eva and Annie confront the complex truth about love.

Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown (July 2012)
Seventeen-year-old Kendra, living in the shadow of her brother's obsessive-compulsive disorder, takes a life-changing road trip with him.

Damaged by Amy Reed (Oct 2014)
Numb after the death of her best friend, Camille, Kinsey starts to shut down but Hunter, Camille's mysterious boyfriend, has other ideas and whisks Kinsey off on a multi-state road trip to forget the ghosts of their pasts and their own fears.

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (May 2010)
After the death of her father, Amy, a high school student, and Roger, a college freshman, set out on a carefully planned road trip from California to Connecticut, but wind up taking many detours, forcing Amy to face her worst fears and come to terms with her grief and guilt.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (Sept 2006)
Having been recently dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine, recent high school graduate and former child prodigy Colin sets off on a road trip with his best friend to try to find some new direction in life while also trying to create a mathematical formula to explain his relationships.

Going Bovine by Libba Bray (Sept 2009)
In an attempt to find a cure after being diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob's (aka mad cow) disease, Cameron Smith, a disaffected sixteen-year-old boy, sets off on a road trip with a death-obsessed video gaming dwarf he meets in the hospital.

 Recommendations for Children:
Road Trip by Jim Paulsen (Jan 2013)
A father and son embark on a road trip to a distant animal shelter to save a homeless border collie puppy.
Embarking on a summertime road trip with Papa Dad and Daddy after surviving the ups and downs of their first year in junior high, Julie and Lydia use their Powers of Observation to catalog the traditions and oddities of each new location they visit before confronting uncomfortable truths about sensitive family dynamics.
Drive Me Crazy by Terra Elan McVoy (April 2015)
When Lana's and Cassie's grandparents marry each other, the girls find themselves stuck together on a crazy summer road trip that will change the course of their friendship and their lives.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney (Nov 2014)
The Heffley family road trip starts off full of promise, then takes several wrong turns - with everything from a fender bender to crazed seagulls - but even the worst road trip can turn into an adventure.
Ten-year-old Amelia keeps a journal of the summer car trip she takes with her mother and sister to Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and their California home town to visit Amelia's best friend.
Clara and Clem Take a Ride by Ethan Long (Oct 2012)
When Clara and Clem build a car out of blocks, they have no idea where it will take them. But with a little imagination, the two take the trip of a lifetime down winding roads, up tall mountains, and across the sky.
Recommendations for All Ages:

In this entertaining follow-up to Find Momo, the canine Instagram superstar travels across America, visiting iconic landmarks and unique off-the map marvels where he hides in a vast array of fun locales.

Friday, May 8, 2015

50+ Ideas for Summer Reading Swag That Will Make Your Patrons Dance

It's almost time for Summer Reading! If you're like me, you've had the programs and projects booked and planned for months (who can wait?), but you're just now thinking about prizes. Of course, there are as many ways to award prizes as there are prizes to choose from. Do you do raffle prizes, weekly picks from the Treasure Chest, or a combination of both? Here are some favorite items that have been given out in libraries around the country.


I'm not talking about the Children's Room Treasure Chest (that's later); these toys are more popular with teens or adults. Any of these items can be personalized with your library name or logo, and given out as weekly incentives or door prizes at programs.
  • Books of sticky notes; some nicer ones, like these, have a notepad, sticky notes, and sticky flags in a plastic cover.
  • Note pads - always useful, especially if they come with a pen
  • Flash drives (perhaps in bracelet form, though those are a bit more expensive)
  • Screen cleaners that stick to the back of your device (genius!)
  • Flashlight keychains
  • Travel mugs
  • Tumblers or other drinking glasses
  • Water bottles - many options available! I used to prefer the aluminum ones to the plastic ones, but lately I'm a bigger fan of these neat collapsible types that take up almost no room at all.
  • Tote bags. Never under-estimate the appeal of a good-quality reusable tote bag. I personally can't resist them, and neither can most teens and adults. And you can always go with the theme.
  • Laptop bags or tablet cases
  • Can koozies
  • Headphones or ear buds
  • Lip balm. One library reports having great success with this, to the point that people would come in asking for the lip balm and ultimately end up getting a library card.
  • Stress balls, especially in unique shapes
  • Electronics chargers, like this multi-charger or this portable Power Bank
  • These amazing book-themed buttons, sold on Etsy

Treasure Chest Loot

But speaking of the kids, the Treasure Chest is great for the kids who want a prize now. In my library, kids can earn either a Treasure or a raffle ticket to use for a chance at a larger prize. These treasures include:
  • Finger puppets
  • Super bouncy balls
  • Small plastic toys or characters
  • Keychains
  • Plastic sunglasses
  • Bubbles (especially the ones that smell like ice cream)
  • Stickers or temporary tattoos
  • PEZ dispensers are a big hit, and come in both DC and Marvel
  • Art supplies, like crayons or colored pencils
When you want something a bit more substantial as a prize, maybe as a raffle prize, you might want to go a bit bigger. (In some cases, a lot bigger.) You can put together a Bag O' Swag, filled with any of the above items, or you can get something different entirely. There are a few different genres of prizes to choose from.

Unique Items

For the "where did you get that?!" factor, try something a little bit different.
  • Giant candy, like this 5 lb. gummy bear
  • Or this 1 lb. York Peppermint Patty
  • Or this huge Snickers bar
  • Or this gigantic Box of Nerds
  • One library we spoke with makes their own 3D printed awards - how cool is that?!
  • These Water Dancing Speakers are a big hit with teens
  • The Create Your Own Superhero Kit is perfect for this year's theme
  • Board or card games, like Superfight!, the superhero card game
  • Posters, like this awesome one, featuring minimalist superheroes
  • Again going with the theme, try action figures, like the ones by FunKo - good for all ages!
  • LEGO sets are always popular, and come in countless designs
  • For the kids, try something to get them outdoors, like this Plasma Car
  • Groups of smaller things work well, too. Try a stuffed Curious George and a couple board books for the smallest library patrons, or some coloring books and Super Heroic Crayons. For some reason, getting a bag of prizes - even if it's all little things - makes it seem more special.
  • Signed books
  • Cosplay items, such as this Link hat from the Legend of Zelda (bonus points if you get the shield, too!)
  • Jewelry from popular manga or anime series
  • Anything to do with Minecraft will have a following, like this foam pick-axe

Gift Cards

Money is always good! Local businesses will often donate gift certificate for a prize or two if you ask them nicely. We have gotten coupons for free ice cream cones, free rounds of Mini-Golf, etc. Last year, Chipotle gave us coupons for free burritos! Or you can always go with:
  • iTunes
  • Toys R Us
  • Simon Malls (or your local mall)
  • Comic book or music stores, like Newbury Comics


Because everyone wants the latest toys. 
  • Kindle Fire or other e-reader (why the Fire? Because it's also a tablet, so it's an e-reader, but it's also so much more!)
  • Samsung Galaxy or iPad
  • One library is raffling off an Apple Watch! That's one way to get noticed.


Things are nice, but it's nicer sometimes to have an experience than an item. Whether it's a trip somewhere or a party at your library, these prizes make memories that will last far longer than plastic finger puppets ever will.
  • Tickets to movies, aquariums, museums
  • Tickets to amusement parks, like Six Flags or Cedar Point
  • Games at local arcades, mini-golf courses or bowling alleys
  • A pizza party at the library
  • An all-night lock-in at the library
  • Moving to #1 on the hold list for a book or movie of their choice

Thanks to ALATT, Programming Librarians and Teen Librarians Facebook Groups for your insight and experiences!

What prizes can your library patrons win? Tell us in the comments!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Management 101, Part 2

Last week, we shared the first half of the Management 101 list that we compiled from librarians all over the world on the ALATT Facebook Group. Today, we're going to talk about the harder parts of management.

A Manager Should Not...

  • Don't micromanage.
  • Don’t take any of their BS personally.
  • Don't assign your staff to do anything you wouldn't do yourself.
  • Don't be passive aggressive. 
  • Don't call people out in front of others. Always take the time to pull the person aside to talk about any problems. 
  • Don't feel you need to answer requests or communication immediately; take the time to think about it before you answer.
  • Don’t befriend anyone on your staff, ever. You are never, ever off duty. 
  • Don’t bring your ego to work. The folks you manage are the experts at their roles; don't micromanage their work. Facilitate it.
  • Don’t put anything surprising on a person's annual review.

A Manager Should Know Sometimes...

  • Sometimes, you will just be the bad guy and you have to suck it up.
  • Sometimes, you just need to listen and not necessarily take action.
  • Sometimes, you don't know the answer. It is okay to not know everything!
  • Sometimes, your staff is talking and whispering about you. It comes with the position. Sometimes it is good, though.

A Manager Should Remember...

  • Remember you have an obligation to the people you work with and to the mission of your institution. Look at both when making decisions and do your best to balance them.
  • Remember that it is not your job to make them like you but to respect you as a professional and as their supervisor; however, that respect works both ways.
  • Remember people will be people. Managing people will likely be the hardest part of your job.
  • Remember the focus of your work is no longer direct service provision but the *people* who provide the direct service. Support them, guide them, include them and good service will follow.
  • Remember almost no one shows up to work each day intending to screw up. If they do, there was usually a reason. Assume good intent and follow up from there.
  • Remember when you become a manager, it's no longer about you. Take your place at the end of the line - it's the mission and your people first.
  • Remember you can change behavior but you can't change personalities. 
  • Remember clear communication is the key to happy living.
  • Remember constructive criticism is a gift, done out of love for their institution and a desire for it to be the best it can be. Don't just dismiss those concerns, even if you can't actually do anything about their suggestions.
  • Remember you can admit to being human.
  • Remember to listen, really listen, when people talk to you and make sure you hear all of what they are saying.
  • Remember, always remember, you don't manage people, you manage things. You work with people.

Don't forget to check out our Management 101, part one post, for the "What to Be" and "What to Do" list.