As expected, Stephen Abram’s talk today was informative and stimulating. He’s an extremely dynamic speaker and a guy who has his finger on the pulse of what’s happening in libraries, sciences, and society in general. He’s very sharp, quite good at predicting trends, knows where his research needs to be, and has a great sense of humor.
Here are a couple of the interesting pieces from my notes…
An important statistic to keep in mind: 80% of librarians are text-based learners; 20% of the general population are text-based learners. What does this mean? Rethink your website, for one thing. Convey information with images. An example provided: take a look at USA Today’s (printed) weather page. What’s more useful? The long list of cities and their temperatures? Or the map that shows where it’s hot or cold based on color? Can your patrons find the information you’re providing with a quick glance? Or do they need to read long paragraphs to find it? Visual constructs are powerful.
Another key take-away: Google is very good at finding facts. But the How and Why questions require human interaction. The “Purple Cow” of the library is it’s people and the personal relationships one builds with it’s users. Information is easy to obtain. Use the library to support learning.
Take the time to research user needs. They are not the same as librarian needs.
Millenials differ from their parents’ cohort. On average, their IQ is 20 points higher than the average Boomer IQ. Do not expect their needs to be anything like yours. They seek information differently and use it differently. They’ve been taught to work in groups to solve problems, rather than to memorize facts and take a test. They’re skeptical. They also have no problem asking questions — not only will they walk up to a librarian and state their needs, they also fully expect to engage in online interaction with politicians before deciding how they will vote. In other words, they know what they want and are assertive about getting it.
Lastly, for both fun and customer service, get yourself and your co-workers some librarian trading cards! They’re fun to share with colleagues, but they’re also a useful tool to hand out to patrons. Let them get to know you on a personal level by listing your hobbies, interests, and special knowledge you might have. Creating community is important, and this is a fun way to do it. (See examples of what others are doing here.)
There was a LOT more to this conference, but it’s late so I’ve only pulled out a few of the highlights. More info coming. Stay tuned…