Library of Texas Working Group Strategic Planning Session
October 19, 2009
Ten members of the Library of Texas Working Group and two staff met for a facilitated session to plan for the next three years of the Library of Texas (LoT). Kevin Marsh set the context by telling the group that, for this meeting, LoT should be thought of as a SERVICE, not a piece of software and that changes are coming to the Interlibrary Loan Service over the next seven years.
The group brainstormed trends that are likely to affect the LoT in the next 3-5 years. The mind map created by the group is shown in a separate pdf. The trends the group thought most important included the economy, marketing and ease of use, and standards.
Defining the primary and secondary audience for LoT is difficult because little data exists, and what data we have is a year or two old. The group determined that there were four advantages that LoT has over competitors; the primary one being that it’s considerably cheaper than World Cat or Summon. (See full list on page 2.) Therefore, the primary target audiences for LoT are:
- Librarians, especially of smaller libraries with smaller budgets.
- Librarians of smaller academic libraries will want to use LoT if we achieve excellence.
- Adult learners who grasp the difference between open web and library quality information AND who don’t have access to major university library services.
- Genealogists (they have unique needs).
The group identified a core set of elements of an excellent Library of Texas. They are:
- Ease of use for naïve and expert users (getting what you want easily)
- Convenience (it's easy to find and get what you want)
- Flexibility (scoping, sorting, relevance, dates, and faceting is all easy and intuitive)
- Responsive to a changing environment, including technology changes
- Comprehensive o User support quickly available
- Detailed statistics - users, library, support
- Recognizable to users (branding, marketing)
- Open API is a "nice to have".
The overall goal of LoT is to increase usage. The group agreed on the following four SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) goals for the next three years. Increasing use of LoT widgets is a strategy the group wants to pursue to help achieve these goals.
The group discussed changing the name of LoT – see page 3 for details. They evaluated the meeting and felt that it was very productive, that they learned a lot and were pleased that everyone participated.
a. Set up an accountability process for reports on the SMART goals back to the working group.
b. Some topics, such as user data collection, need more discussion.
c. Working group will meet 4 times a year, but not all will be face-to-face.
d. The next meeting (Feb 2010) will be face-to-face with more tactical discussion.
Detailed Meeting Notes
Context for Today’s Work
- We are looking at Library of Texas as a program that provides a SERVICE, not as a particular software tool.
- We know changes may come to Interlibrary Loan over the next seven years.
- Serial Solutions marketing efforts are getting the word out about web-scale discovery. World Cat is also.
- Google and Amazon are getting people to go to one place for search. Convenience is trumping quality.
What We Know about Current Users
- About equally split between public and academic users with a very small percentage coming from state agency libraries.
- Previous years’ data suggested that around 90% of users are students, even though we aren’t the most user-friendly for students.
- Geneologists make up about 10% of our users.
- The greatest use comes from libraries with a visible link or widget to LoT on their web site.
- Between 100-150 libraries submit searches each month.
- A year and a half ago, we had about 30 libraries who had at least 20 searches/month.
- The original target for LoT was “Texas library patrons”
- Meta-searching isn’t well understood. It may take up to 15 minutes to “get it”.
- We don’t know the locations from which they are accessing LoT.
- We have search terms logged but the numbers are huge – we couldn’t analyze them all.
- Search terms don’t have a home library associated with them.
- We’re not getting high levels of buy-in from librarians and firewalls and security are big barriers to increasing our penetration rates.
Many library patrons have and use Google.
What LoT Can Do That Other Meta-searches Don’t
- We’re cheaper than World Cat or Summon!
- You can narrow your search by certain libraries (e.g. those that are near you)
- If you don’t know what you want, you’ll get something.
- There’s a value in having one interface from post-secondary to libraries to communities. We have consistency.
Comments about Usability Study
- Do a usability study before a redesign and ongoing.
- Choose people who have never used LoT.
- If possible, select people who fit our target audience.
Pros and Cons of Changing the LoT name and Re-branding
- Some people who learned about the early interface and hated it, still think that’s what we are.
- The name doesn’t mean what it is.
- TCAL – we get blank stares and people tune us out. Many never embraced it.
- We could develop an “elevator” pitch.
- Our penetration information suggests that there’s actually very little or no brand name recognition.
- We do have some name recognition and it took us years to get there.
- Nothing means what it is, e.g. BOSS, Einstein
- Can’t spend state funds on marketing. Can do communication plans.
Other notes about Re-branding
- Branding is complex and a science and you should use a professional.
- If we could get pro bono marketing help it wouldn’t break state rules, e.g. a marketing class volunteers to help
Liked about the meeting
- Juli kept us on task.
- Everyone participated.
- As a new person I really got a sense of the complexity of the issues. We explored the breadth of it all.
- The facilitator was flexible about the agenda.
- Lunch was efficient and short.
- We like starting at 10 am rather than earlier.
Would change about the meeting:
- A little longer time for the meeting, maybe till 2:30 or 3:00
- There was too much to do in the time allotted.
- Establish next steps to go from here.
LoT WG members present:
Judith Hiott, Chair Chief, Houston Area Library Automated Network
Janice Sutton Director of Learning Resources, Trinity Valley Community College
Jeannie Colson Distance Education Librarian, Lee College
Betty Thompson Technology Librarian, Taylor Public Library
Edward J. Smith Coordinator, Abilene Library Consortium
Tracy Holtman Head of Library Automation Services, Dick Smith Library,
Tarleton State University
Margaret Sylvia Assistant Director for Technical Services, St. Mary's University
Chris Peterson (Strategic Partner Liaison) Library Liaison Officer, Amigos
Kevin Marsh (TSL Liaison) Network Services Librarian, TSLAC
Beverley Shirley (TSL Liaison) Director, Library Resource Sharing, TSLAC
Kathy Broyles Public Services Librarian, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Lewis Library