RAILS Receives First FY2014 Payment

RAILS received a payment of $1,157,230 this week, representing the first payment of RAILS' FY2014 (July 2013 - June 2014) Area and Per Capita Grant. RAILS thanks Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White, Illinois State Library (ISL) Director Anne Craig, and colleagues at ISL for helping to make this possible.

Let's stop underestimating our customers by Dee Brennan

I am going to be venturing into controversial territory here, so bear with me.

Sometimes I feel that we librarians underestimate our customers.  (Yes, I insist on calling them customers. I know that some of you prefer clients, members or even patrons, but I use customer because the term makes it very clear that the relationship is one where we provide a product or service to be consumed/used, and so like businesses, if our product or service is not of high quality and desired or needed by customers, they will go elsewhere to get the product or service that they do want or need.

But, I digress (into a future blog topic, perhaps.)

What do I mean by underestimate?

I think most of our customers, admittedly not all, use or navigate successfully through a huge variety of technology on a daily, probably hourly, basis.  They are buying commodities online, checking their bank balances, making travel arrangements, filling out job applications and financial aid applications – these are just a few of the examples that come immediately to mind, there are at least hundreds more.  And, all of these online interactions are at least slightly different, or even a lot different, and most people cope just fine.  They have come to expect and even be comfortable with the lack of consistency into how websites function and how online transactions work.

So, for us to say that library customers can’t or don’t want to learn how to use new online products and services, such as ebooks, mobile access to library catalogs – just isn’t true.  A real life example; when the Oak Park Public Library rejoined SWAN a few years ago, we went to a lot of trouble creating introductory screens on our self check machines explaining the difference between checking out an item using RFID and an item with barcode only.  Within a week we removed the screens because customers complained about the extra clicks required to get through the checkout process.  They had no difficulty at all figuring out what to do – our solicitude and fear that they couldn’t cope didn’t help, it just irritated them.

People would perhaps prefer that online transactions and interactions were more consistent, but I doubt that they expect this to ever happen.  It’s our job as librarians to provide a full range of online products and services and to help our customers learn how to use them.  We have to meet them at their ability level, just as we always have, whether it was helping an experienced researcher navigate the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature or showing a first time customer how to use the card catalog to find the latest mystery novels.  We have always assisted customers with different needs and varying degrees of comfort with using the library – helping people with online products and services is just the latest evolution in our work.

What’s controversial about this?  Well, I think some librarians are themselves reluctant or fearful of learning about new technology and may use our customers' supposed reluctance or fear as an excuse to not offer it.

I suggest it's time to start overestimating our customers – assume that they want all the possible services that we can offer and proactively seek out new ways to serve them both remotely and in person.

Then, if we do encounter a truly reluctant customer, we will be prepared to help and encourage our customers to use all of the amazing services that libraries provide.

RAILS Upcoming Events - Fall 2013

RAILS has a busy fall calendar! We've prepared this list of RAILS Upcoming Events. You will find the date of the next RAILS Member Update videoconference, the dates for the next RAILS Board meetings, trade shows we are participating in, and the events and webinars that are associated with the eRead Illinois project.

For events requiring registration, see L2.

Update on eRead Illinois Project

There are many upcoming opportunities to learn more about the eRead Illinois project.

Training Webinars

The eRead Illinois project will include an e-book collection and an Axis 360 software platform from Baker & Taylor for RAILS members and IHLS non-Share members. Illinois libraries may learn more about this e-book platform through a demonstration webinar to be offered on:

Each webinar will cover the same content. Click on the dates above for more information. You must be logged into L2 in order to see the information.

ILA Events

There will also be an in-person opportunity to learn about the Baker & Taylor Axis 360 e-book platform and the eRead Illinois project during the Illinois Library Association conference. This session will be held Tuesday, October 15, 2013, from 10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., in room 205 at Navy Pier in Chicago.

There will also be a ceremonial check presentation to Illinois State Library grant award winners at the ILA conference's awards presentation on October 15, at noon. Secretary of State Jesse White is scheduled to attend. Conference registration is required for attendance at this event.

Deadline for Logo Designs is September 20
Logo designs for eRead Illinois are being accepted through CrowdSPRING. Submissions are due by September 20, 2013. Requirements are posted at: http://www.crowdspring.com/logo-design/project/2359495_eread-illinois-logo-design/access. (A free account login is needed to view the requirements and submit a design.) The winning designer will receive $400. The winning logo will be selected by the statewide E-book Advisory Committee.

If you have any questions, contact Veronda Pitchford, Project Director and RAILS Director of Membership Development and Resource Sharing at 630.734.5119 or veronda [dot] pitchford [at] railslibraries [dot] info.

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This information was revised to indicate a room change for the Baker and Taylor demo. The event is being held in room 205.