Service vs. Experience

Doing "service" well means being able to shower every customer with individualized attention and cater to personal interests and needs.

Doing "experience" well means being able to engage the customer in a personal encounter that exceeds expectations.

Both create loyalty and provide customers with a reason to return.

OK --- That was my brilliant Seth Godin-like thought for the night. Now for my question ... On a scale of 1 to 10, how well does your organization/company/library do either of these? Just think of the impact that libraries could make if we did just one of these well? It's has me pondering ...

Public Library leads researchers in finding a cure for Cancer

Yup, that's the headline I would love see in print one day and given the most recent feedback that we've received from the coordinators of the World Community Grid project, Team PLCMC is actually not far off from this reality -- seriously!!!!

Those of you that read my blog may recall that I've blogged about this project before. But I just to have to share it again for it's hard for me fathom that in less than 8 months, the computers within our library system have already contributed over 36 years worth (yes! that's right 36 years) of computing run time towards helping to solve some of the world's most critical medical needs. Problems such as fighting AIDS, curing Muscular Dystrophy, defeating Cancer, understanding the structure of human proteins, and helping to unravel the mysteries of the human genome have been assisted by computers within the PLCMC system providing the equivalent in processing time of a several small supercomputer centers.

How have we done this you ask? Simple. by participating and partnering in the World Community Grid Project and configuring our public access computers to run the grid agent during the hours that our library is closed or our PCs are sitting idle.

As of our last report, PLCMC ranked #82 out of over 294,000 registered and given the rapid contribution that our organization has been able to make towards this worth while effort, we've been asked to help IBM test some new computing grid arrangements that would be suitable for large organizations, like ours, that frequently re-image their PCs.

Interested in participating in this humanitarian effort yourself, either as a library or an individual?

The steps are easy .

  • As a library or organization - simply click here and fill out the form and a representative from IBM will contact you. (Note: These instructions come direct from the World Grid IBM team - & they will contact you!!) Set up your own Team, recruit others, and we'll see you in the rankings! Perhaps we could even have a Library-WCG 'throwdown'! :) Anyway, if you're at all interested in details about PLCMC's involvement, you can contact Frank Blair at fblair(at) He's done an awesome job in getting this program off the ground for PLCMC.

  • As an individual - simply signup on the World Community Grid site and download and install the grid agent. That's it! When you are not using your computer, it can be busy crunching data and working to benefit people all over the world. If you like, you can also join the PLCMC team when you do! :)

The World Community Grid project is a completely not-for-profit endeavor that IBM and more than 15,000 teams from other organizations have contributed to. More information on this endeavor can be found here,

Libraries a have always had a strong reputation as leaders in efforts to fight illiteracy, but with our combined computing power and participation in the World Community Grid project, we also have the opportunity to lead humanitarian efforts in other areas all over the globe!

Why not join the effort? Can't you just see the headline now ...

Libraries unite and lead the way in finding a cure for Cancer.

Very cool!!!


A reason to try Blurb BookSmart

Just a quick wave to those of you who've been wondering where I've been for the last week and half ... I'm back!

Had a wonderful time (and have photos to prove it). It's always hard to come back to the routine after being away from it all for a while. But one of the best bonuses about this vacation with the family was that I finally have a great set of photos to try out's BookSmart.

I started working on this in Paris and completed it on the plane ride home. :) Just need to add some text and send it off for printing -- it's so easy and fun!

PS: Flickr set of some Chateau pics here. And if you're curious where we vacationed, it was at the Chateau du Pin where we were lucky enough to be guests of a family friend.


Lots to share ... what a great day!!!

Yesterday I had privilege of hosting PLCMC's 2nd Technology Summit on Virtual Worlds, Gaming and Beyond and we couldn't have asked for more dynamic speakers. Lori Bell (with Second Life colleague Rhonda Trueman) kicked off the event, which offered a 45 minute gaming break -- Yes, we had staff play with Wiis, DDR, Guitar Hero, networked laptop games, Second Life, and ImaginOn's animation station for a full 45 minutes (see the Flickr shots) -- before Stephen Abram wrapped up the day with his always entertaining words of wisdom and futuristic forecast.

For myself, this was both the kick-off and culmination of weeks and months of planning with two very important and exciting programs finally kicked off. And as if things couldn't get better, Matt Gullett made the day even more fanastic by adding a 3rd and very exciting announcement:

  • Learning 2.1: Explore... Discover... Play! is a long overdue continuation of Learning 2.0 and is something that staff have asked me about for months. Much like the original program, the emphasis in on play and discovery! However, this time instead of having 23 predefined things to explore, the program will be ongoing with guest bloggers rotating and taking the helm each month as Learning Guides. To help staff members (or for that matter participants all over the globe) connect, we've also set up a Learning 2.1 Ning network and for those of you who aren't into the whole sn thing, there is also an easy to use wiki so you can let other people know you're participating. Check it out and feel free to join. - mashing up 21st century skills with lifelong learning. :)

  • PLCMC Technology Scholars Program - This one was one of those ideas that was born in the shower as I was pondering how to add an emphasis to our library system in the area of new and emerging technology that could benefit all staff. Like many libraries, we have staff (especially on the front lines) that have great ideas; its just what they don't have is time or resources to make their ideas fly. The PLCMC Technology Scholars Program is answer to this dilemma and provides the opportunity for four staff members a year (two every 6 months) to take up to a 6 month leave from the regular daily grind and focus their attention on a technology project that they wish to lead. I'm really excited about this program because I feel it's just the type of thing we need to be doing more of within all our libraries - giving staff members the ability to fly with their ideas - and I can't wait to see some of the great ideas that are proposed and the results (both good and bad) that are created. If you're interested in how we've set this program up, here's a pdf of FAQs I developed for staff.

  • PLCMC Experimental Gaming Lab - This exciting announcement was also shared yesterday by Matt Gullett, PLCMC's Emerging Technology Manager which establishes a partnership between PLCMC and Syracuse University School of Information Studies' Gaming Lab, University of North Carolina, Charlotte (UNCC) and Youth Digital Arts Cyberschool and someone else that I'm forgetting. The lab itself will be located at the Main Library in the Virtual Village (our 100 PC internet lab). Since I don't have all the details on all that this new lab and partnership will detail, I'll just have to point you to Matt's blog. If you don't have it added to your RSS feeds yet, I would recommend it. I'm sure he'll posting updates as the lab develops.
Anyway, as you can see, it really was a great day! And hosting Stephen Abram and Lori Bell for the day was really the icing on the cake. Thanks so much to you both!!!

Since I was so busy coordinating things, I didn't have an opportunity to blog any notes. However I did see a few staff in the audience with laptops, so I'm sure there will be something to point you towards soon.

PS: Sorry for the long post. I know I'm generally not this wordy... but as you can see I had a lot to share. :)

PPS: On vacation for the next week and half. Yup, after all this, I need some time to decompress and relax.


Transformation Lab

Long time readers of this blog may recall that I’ve commented several times on all the innovative stuff that the Aarhus Public Library (in conjunction with Centre for Interactive Spaces and the University of Southern Denmark) have been doing with their Transformation Lab. And now thanks to a new video (in English) you can see some of it yourself...

BTW: My question is still active… if anyone has a spare ticket to Denmark, let me know. I would love to not only see this space and library for myself, but check out also this upcoming conference on the Networking Library. Doesn't it sound to good to miss? :)

PS: Thanks to Alane Wilson over at It's All Good for blogging this and to Darlene Fichter for highlighting it in the first place.


Web 2.0 Awards

SEOmoz announced its line up of Web 2.0 award winners for 2007 today. I'm glad to see that several of my favorites are already on the list, but with several new categories and lots of new sites, there are plenty to add to the future "play list". :)

InfoPeople Webcast

Apparently we maxed out the online classroom's allowable number of participants this afternoon during my webcast for InfoPeople titled Web 2.0: What Managers Need to Know. But do not to fear…if you couldn’t get in, the webcast is already up and archived. :)

Anyway, it was great to help InfoPeople (and the California State Library) kick-off their own 23 Web 2.0 Things program, which officially begins today and runs through October. The program is open anyone in the California library community and their twist on the program includes Twitter, Google Maps and participation in a FREE InfoPeople Web 2.0 event.

To assist participants in following my slides, I’ve created a account with links to all the websites and tools I reviewed in my introduction.

Thanks to all who attended and to those of you taking up the web 2.0 challenge -- have fun and PLAY!!


Rules for Innovation

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to hear Lois Kilkka, Library Manager at ImaginOn, speak on the subject of innovation with a group visiting librarians. What Lois shared made me smile soooo much, that I asked her if she mind if I blogged her rules. Of course she said “yes” … so now you can read and smile too!

Ideas for Innovative Programming

  • Golden rule of innovation: Say Yes!!!
  • If you hire creative staff, every person is a programmer
  • Double the fun - work with a partner
  • Take advantage of your location – unitize your location's strengths
  • Take a risk – say yes first, figure out the other stuff later
  • Change the rules – reverse the restrictions (food in libraries, after hours events, etc.)
  • Listen to your customers – offer things that fit their needs, not ours
  • Let your customers do the programming – you don’t have to do it yourself
  • Use what you have – be creative. You don’t need a huge budget to make a huge impact
  • Creative technology – beyond online resources and MS Office
  • Think big in creating experiences
  • Think small in building relationships
  • Jump on trends
  • Share generously (in staff meetings, with visiting colleagues, at conferences and workshops, on websites)
  • Steal shamelessly
  • Old dogs, new tricks – take a new look at spaces & things
  • Get the word out

I completely love the golden rule ... say YES! :)

Thanks Lois for letting me share these (generously & shamelessly). As always, you rock!!

Photo: Andy Welsh


Lessons learned from an online mall...

This past week I had the pleasure to attend MLS/NSLS staff event on Web 2.0 and several excellent break out sessions by member libraries talking about their innovative uses of technology and web 2.0 tools. In one session on IM, a participant commented. "We use IM and answer it at the desk but find it frustrating when we're busy and get "grrrrr's" from users because we can't answer their IM right away. We do tell them that we'll be with them in moment, but by the time we get back to them they've left the session.” She went on to imply that IM was not a good model for reference because users expect immediate service and are rude when they don't receive it.

Upon hearing this I had an immediate flash back to last week when I received this email from an online shopping site:

Dear Ms. Blowers,
Thank you for you interest in personalized gifts from! We are in receipt of your order, but upon closer review we noticed it was not completed.

If you would still like to place this order, simply return to the store, where your same shopping cart will be waiting for you, and enter code "complete20" (without quotes and no space) at checkout and you will receive 20% off your order. (excludes items already reduced at sale prices)

In addition, if I can personally help you in any way, please don't hesitate to email me directly at or call us at 1.866.386.8300. I'd especially like to know if by chance you experienced any problems, technical or otherwise. We look forward to serving you soon Ms. Blowers!

Kind Regards,
Jean M. Randolph
Customer Relations Manager

When I found this email in my inbox I was both pleasantly surprised and impressed. Here was an online vendor that not only followed up on abandoned purchases, but also offered me an additional 20% off to give them a second chance. Yup, you guess it, I took them up on the offer and was pleased to see that it more then covered the $7 shipping cost which had initially caused me to abandoned the order in the first place. :)

So… going back to the IM comment yesterday… are you wondering how these two are connected?

The frustration that the librarian felt when she finally was able to get back to the IM user and they had left the session is natural. But in viewing disconnect only as rude inconvenience, she was missing an even bigger opportunity to “surprise” the customer. Using the IM chat log she could have easily reinitiated contact with the IM user (through their IM id on the screen) who left the session in frustration too. The end result might be an even better customer experience and, like my email from the online mall, would have surprised them in unexpected ways.

Anyway… that’s my takeaway from last week’s email. Turn lost connections into pleasant surprises and don’t let missed opportunities turn your customers away.

MLS/NSLS Presentation

As promised, here are my slides from the Metropolitan Library System and North Suburban Library System's joint staff workshop, Library 2.0: Delivering Twice the Value.

All in all, a great day! It was pleasure to meet and talk to so many staff during the this event and I especially enjoyed getting to meet superpatron Ed Vielmetti and Blue Skunk blogger, Doug Johnson, for the first time.


TICCYL - Play!

Sitting in my gmail account the other night was this email greeting from a reference librarian stationed at Anderson AFB in Guam ...

"Hi Helene
Your Sirsi Dynix presentation inspired me but I took a somewhat
different track as I send out emails with daily lessons. I have about
200 recipients including 40 other Air Force Librarians. I encourage
people to pass them on and have gotten good comments. Here they are:"

Upon first look at RA's blog, I just had to smile. At the end of every post, he ends the dicovery with one word - Play!!

Anyway, if you're looking for a blog that can offer you a lot of discovery ideas, here's one to add to your RSS feeds... The Internet Can Change Your Life. And with that, I'll end this post with one word ...



Learning 2.0 around the globe

Thanks to Minerva Shelved there's now a Google Map of the locations all over the world that have launched a Learning 2.0 program. For those that curious, a quick scan of my email folder indicates over 147 inquiries during the past few months about the program. Ans although there's a few dozen on the map so far, I know of several programs still in development that are planned to launch soon (including translations in Danish, Spanish and Italian).

Anyway, It's exciting to see libraries and organizations all over the globe improve upon and spin the Learning 2.0 program slightly differently for their respective staffs. But the neatest thing for me is seeing how all this growth is helping to transform learning environments from the traditional "knowledge expert" model (i.e. instructor led) to a peer-to-peer "knowledge player" ecosystem where every participant in the experience can both benefit and add to the community's learning network.

Current list of organizations (that I know about) that have launched a Learning 2.0 program.

Got one to add? Just let me know.

PS: Be on the lookout for news here shortly about a new learning initiative for PLCMC staff that will offer those who want to continue the journey more ways to explore and have fun!