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Identifying Customer Personas

Do you know what your users really want? They trust us and expect us to help them, but we face many challenges in filling that role as connectors. Keynoters Mary Lee Kennedy and Stephen Abram spoke to a rapt audience this morning of their ambitious project to identify the personas of library customers. By seeing the world through the lens of the customer we can create opportunities to increase customer satisfaction and have clear and achievable directions and goals.

Kennedy started her work on identifying personas in 1999 while at Microsoft, with the goal of understanding company demographics, employees’ challenges, and information seeking behaviors. Key factors were found to be length of employment, age, and mobility. Personas are hypothetical representations of natural groupings of users that can be used to drive decision making for projects. Personas are discovered by gathering data, observing behaviors, and from patterns that emerge in narratives.

Abram and Kennedy are now working on their Public Library Pilot Project, which is recording stories of users in public libraries in the northeastern U.S—rural, urban, and suburban—and then putting them into a database with pattern recognition software. This data on personas will also be combined with data on transactions from 3,500 public libraries (from the Normative Data Project of Sirsi Corp. and Florida State Univ.; and with census and geographic databases.

Abram and Kennedy plan additional phases for the Project, with studies planned for college and academic users and others. We look forward to seeing the results of this Project, which they say will be reported at next year’s CIL and possibly sooner. Their groundbreaking work on this should help us all design products and services for the future.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief
Information Today, Inc.

Librarian Bloggers at CIL Make CBS News!

We’ve made CBS News, or at least the CBS Marketwatch web site. Seems they’ve discovered that not all librarians fit their low-tech stereotype. When you hit this link for the article, the top story you may see is a different one about bloggers, but scroll down a couple of postings, for the real news—about the Computers in Libraries conference and librarians who are way cool and get it!

See you all at the keynote this morning!

Nancy Garman
Director, Conference Development
Information Today, Inc.

Check Out LISNews

Blake Carver’s LISNews site has been a labor of love, and a catalyst for change within the library community since late 1999. An online community and collaborative weblog for librarians, comprised of news, blogs, and articles, LISNews made news itself when it provoked and then responded to the recent Michael Gorman LJ article, Revenge of the Blog People, about blogs and bloggers.

According to Carver, about 30-40 people have author permissions to LISNews, although only a few post on any given day. He mused about how many is the right number for a collaborative blog, discussed pros and cons, such as issues of consistency, varying styles, the lack of editors, and concluded that some of the LISNews strengths are also its weaknesses.

This session was a don’t-miss for me, since the conference blog you are reading right here is also a collaborative effort, although very different from LISNews—we are working as a project team, and are professional editors and reporters exploring a new publication medium.

The LISNews bloggers are pros. Add it to your list of sites to watch!

Nancy Garman
Director, Conference Development
Information Today, Inc.

Tips for Keeping Up

The session on Tips for Keeping Up that I heard on Wednesday afternoon didn’t share quite enough tips to make it possible for me to get this report up until more than 24 hours after it happened. Clearly, I need more advice on keeping up than just the tips the speakers (Genie Tyburski, Steven Cohen, and Gary Price) shared with the audience. Here are some highlights from my scribbled notes.

Genie said:
– Set limits – on how much you read and monitor
– Control your email (use disposable email addresses for temporary projects and use RSS)
– Keep backups, more than one, and be prepared for disaster
– Try using TrackEngine to monitor changes to web pages
– Her favorite tools are: Bloglines, Yahoo Mail, TrackEngine, a jump drive, and an external drive

Steven gave his 10-step program for keeping up, but I couldn’t keep up fast enough to write it all down. Check the CIL web site for his presentation to get all 10 steps. He said, don’t browse, make the information come to you. Use RSS, but more important, use the methods that work for you, whether it’s RSS, IM, email, print, and then use the technology. Remember who you work for and why, and then prioritize your work and your life.

By the time Gary reached the podium, I lost all hope of keeping up! But his presentation will also be posted on the web site, with plenty of links to help you, too, keep up!

Lots of luck!

Nancy Garman
Director, Conference Development
Information Today, Inc.

More Notable Quotes, Day Two

“[Someday] Google could be the academic library—that’s certainly how our students see it.” —Laverna Saunders, discussing the possible future of academic libraries.

“Patching is a good thing.” —SUNY’s John Patti on trying to educate students about keeping mobile computers safe for use on wireless networks.

Kathy Dempsey
Editor, Computers in Libraries magazine

“Library Girl” MPEG

You have Scott Brandt (Purdue University Libraries) to thank for pointing out this student-produced (?) mpeg video called “Library Girl.” I tracked it down by searching Yahoo!

Dick Kaser
ITI VP, Content

Bloggers, Bloggers Everywhere

Marydee Ojala (right), author of ONLINE Insider, takes a look at a cool site
on the laptop of Andrea Mercado, author of Library Techtonics and whose business card officially reads, “Librarian for Hire.” Both of their Weblogs are linked from the top of this page.

Looking on is Tom Ipri, a conference delegate.

Dick Kaser
ITI, V.P., Content

Name that President’s Wife

Portraits from the Hilton Hotel’s Hall of Presidents . . .

Well, that’s clearly Abe Lincoln on the right, but who’s the woman on the left who bears such a striking resemblance to him?

It’s certainly not Mary Todd Lincoln.

For those attending Computers in Libraries tomorrow, check out the Hall of Presidents to find out who this woman is.

There’s no prize (i.e., so don’t e-mail me the answer). But I will announce her name and Presidential affiliation sometime after the opening keynote tomorrow.

UPDATE . . . drumroll. The answer is . . . Eliza Johnson, wife of President Andrew Johnson, successor to Lincoln, 1865-1869.

Dick Kaser
ITI V.P., Content

Walking with Presidents

Delegates to Computers in Libraries find some of the main sessions by taking a stroll down a curved hallway that the D.C. Hilton has named, “Hall of Presidents.”

This is the same route, no doubt, that President Bush took the other night when he spoke in one of the ballrooms that this hall connects.

The path is lined with not only portraits of the Presidents of the United States, but also the women in their lives.

It makes for a fascinating stroll through history if you stop to note who was married to whom.

Dick Kaser
ITI V.P., Content