KM Today

Montreal at Play

mtl at playA few weeks ago I hosted, with Ken Haycock, an event called The Future of Libraries: Do We Have 5 Years to Live.  One the most lively conversations was around the library’s uniqueness — what made them different or distinct from other organizations in their communities.  This post is about one area and how their libraries saw an opportunity to exploit the dynamics of the gaming industry in their community to promote awareness of their resources and services and showcase their uniqueness!

I just heard at the Canadian Library Association annual conference, a great story about public libraries in Montreal (Les Bibliothèques de Montréal, OCLC/CMD Innovation Award Recipient) who were motivated by a teen death as well as the fact that Montreal hosts the largest video game industry in Canada to create a city-wide event, Montreal Joue,  It’s all about games and play.   Not just video games, but also board games since there is a rise in modern board games.  Earlier this year they held their second festival, Feb 22-Mar 9.  The public libraries of Montreal hosted nearly 400 activities in 45 libraries and 16 other venues including Concordia University’s Research Lab (including a workshop), high schools, video game studio visits, and more.  With $100K from 32 partners supporting the event, more than 14,000 people participated.  Many of the activities only required a Montreal library card.  The libraries had several spokespersons including a young area actress as well as the Mayor of Montreal.  Activities included a zombie night in the library (tickets were actually scalped!), visits to video game studios, gaming events in the libaries, Food & fun at City Hall.

The goals of the libraries: promoting their collections (the video game collection has grown to almost 10K), showcasing a diversity of activities, reaching out to new communities and members, providing an inclusive place, and developing partnerships in their community.  They wanted to package a new experience for their customers and attract new groups while tapping into the gaming industry in Montreal. With their very successful event, the libraries are expanding their activities to include monthly video games clubs in some libraries, the growth of their collections, and now they are working on a gaming arena — now in beta.  Bravo!

CLA Poster: Whatcha mean, what's a zine?

Whatcha mean, what’s a zine? Introducing Zine Collections and Small Press Publishing into Your Library Collections

Poster developed by: Matthew Murray; School of Library, Archival and Information Studies,  UBC / ALA Zine Pavilion

A zine is a self-published magazine, comic or book. Frequently of a small size and print run, they are usually photocopied and stapled by the creator or “zinester”.  Zines can be traced back to the science fiction fanzines created in the 1930s. These early small press publications were printed using mimeogprah machines, hectography, and other techniques. They allow fans to communicate with each other, and more than a few writers, artists, and editors cut their teeth working on them. In the 1970s the punk movement embraced zines as a way to discuss music, politics, fashion, and lifestyle choices that they felt were ignored by the mainstream media. In the decades since then the cheapness of photocopying and the widespread use of computers has allowed zines to grow into a medium as diverse as any other. You can find zines about travel, dating, fiction, candy, single parenting, herbal medicines, fitness, and DIY everything!

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CLA Poster: Apps for Libraries: Using App Inventor to Make an App for Instruction Registration

Apps for Libraries: Using App Inventor to Make an App for Instruction Registration

Poster Developed by: Nancy Young; Ontario Student Chapter

Apps and mobile devices are endemic to our society but few library personnel have the expertise to make them. So many libraries either do without or use expensive outsourcing. However, there are new tools that allow someone with minimal training to create an app. The Google-MIT collaboration, App Inventor, is free and open-source. The objective was to determine if a library app could be made by someone with minimal programming skills using App Inventor. An app was made and refined. Examples of code from YouTube users were incorporated with App Inventor Tutorials. The resulting app could be used to determine whether a professional app should be commissioned. App Inventor’s very ease of use decreases the creator’s freedom to add more functionality, more visual appeal and versatility. However, App Inventor is primarily intended as a teaching tool as a bargain apps go, you cannot get much better both for price and time spent.

Apps-For-Libraries_App-Inventor-Poster_N Young_2014

CLA Poster: Bachelor of Information Technology - Information Resource Management

Bachelor of Information Technology – Information Resources Management: a joint initiative between Carleton University and Algonquin College

Poster developed by: Emma Cross; Carleton University Library and Helena Merriam; Algonquin College

Carleton University and Algonquin College are collaborating on the development of a new joint degree program, the Bachelor of Information Technology – Information Resource Management (BIT-IRM). This unique 4 year program will enable students to graduate with both a Bachelor of Information Technology degree and a Library and Information Technician diploma. The BIT-IRM will provide a carefully designed multidisciplinary program, including courses in web interface development, programming, metadata, business, information management, database theory and development, legal issues in information technology, communication skills, French, Library software, marketing, special collections and network technology.

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CLA Poster: TRU Reads: Popular Reading in the Academic Library

TRU Reads: Popular Reading in the Academic Library

Poster developed by: Wendy Lehar; Thompson Rivers University

Many university students are faced with a crushing load of course readings- so where does that leave reading for pleasure? Thompson Rivers University has embraced the idea that leisure based reading contributes to large scale information literacy, and promotes lifelong learning. This year the library launched “TRU Reads”, a new popular reading collection located in the House of Learning Library. The main purpose of this collection is to enhance student access to leisure reading materials, where previously they were largely concealed amongst the sprawling stacks of the academic library. Previous studies suggest a correlation between leisure reading and academic success; through this initiative, TRU Library intends to contribute to our students’ success and well-being in a new way.

Wendy Lehar TRU Reads Poster

Influencing Advice from Effective Influencers

This is the best collective advice I’ve seen regarding relationship building with influencers and with customers. Yes, these are different individuals – different audiences. But there is advice in this infographic for both. This is particularly useful because those advising are viewing influencers through the lens of experiences and content — quite apt for libraries.

Ken Haycock and Wendy Newman, both of whom have taught hundreds of librarians about advocacy and influencing will be delighted, I’m sure, to see many of these quotes, such as Lee Odden’s “Grow your influencer network long before you need them. The day to create an army of influencer advocates isn’t the first day of the war. Find common interests and develop rapport.”

And Moe Hosseini-Ara? Here’s a great quote for our course at #clavic14 on Wed May 28th from Joe Pulizzi, “Have an influencer strategy. I would say 99% of businesses (or libraries) say that they want to partner with influencers actually have no strategy. Start with why you are engaging with influencers. What is it going to do for the business? (library?)”

2014 - Did You Know? You should...

Finally! a current version of Did You Know? Use this video to start staff, Board, stakeholders thinking about the world around the library – and spark conversations regarding what this means for the library:

CLA Poster: Culling the Herd in Hard Times

Culling the Herd in Hard Times: Implementing an Evidence-Based “Big Deal” Cancellation Support Tool at Vancouver Island University

 Poster developed by: Jean Blackburn, Dana McFarland and Kathleen Reed, Vancouver Island University

Consequent to a series of tightening post-secondary budgets in British Columbia, Vancouver Island University librarians recognized the need for an evidence-based tool to support decision-making regarding cancellation of major package deals and resources. Librarians must be able to decide with confidence and to justify our decisions to renew or cut resources to ourselves and the wider institutional community. To assist in this process, VIU librarians recently designed and implemented a collections rubric that examines factors beyond traditional usage metrics and price. Previous to the implementation of the rubric, collections decisions were based on commonly-used, generic factors and were not formally situated in a broader information context. This made it difficult for librarians to get a holistic picture of collection development and to make thoroughly informed, well-documented decisions regarding specific resources and their relation to greater objectives.


Reed - Culling the Herd - CLA Poster



“Libraries – Have a sense of urgency”

By now you’ve probably seen the TedX Charleston video of BibliLabs CEO Andrew Roskill talking about libraries. If not, here it is.  Seeing libraries through the eyes of those in business is, and always has been critical. We look at libraries as libraries, as public institutions, as inherently beneficial for communities.  Yet how easily the public positioning of libraries can – and IS – being corroded. Look no further than the UK and the US where funding has been severely cut. Severed, in fact. And while no public libraries have been closed here, we work in a vast array of libraries throughout Canada and see the constant negotiating for funding, especially in small or rural communities. Libraries compete every day for people’s attention. Jane and I have talked for years about the need for libraries to think, plan and act as businesses: in how they operate, build relationships, measure and report.

So does Roskill.  He compares Publix to Whole Foods, pointing out that while Whole Foods does not have the selection or pricing of Publix, it does have the appeal, service and elegance that attracts and retains customers.  “Be the Whole Foods” he says to libraries. YES!  “Have a sense of urgency,”  he encourages. YES!  He then looks at how libraries can be an essential element in helping people cross the economic divide by building their digital skills – the digital literacy so important to work and live today.

How can libraries regain their prominence in communities and in people’s ‘attention’?:

  1. Be mobile
  2. Ensure services and spaces are easy, elegant & engaging
  3. Focus on content not available else, the “green fields” that people can’t explore elsewhere, from local authors, small presses, etc.
  4. Curate. Oh thank you Roskill! YES! Curate by building collections that put content, images, and sounds into context — particularly context that is tailored to your unique community
  5. Leverage your physical presence.  This is what Amazon and Google don’t have. Physical places where people can work, read, study and gather.  Host special events that bring people in, and amaze them with what you have when they arrive.

Roskill’s concluding remarks should underpin any library’s relationship building and positioning.  He encourages the audience to go to their library, “This is your tax dollars at work, and usage drives priorities.” True.  Too true.  There’s a sense of urgency to drive the usage and lift the priority.  It isn’t enough for people to “think” public libraries are important (see the Pew Research).  Their experiences with public libraries need to demonstrate that libraries are important. 

There are all kinds of opportunities for you to draft a plan for your library that seizes this sense of urgency and builds on Roskill’s 5 points:

At CLA’s conference in Victoria, participate in Driving Change for Community Impact –  for $65 (which includes lunch) on Saturday May 31st;  register onsite or contact

At SLA’s conference in Vancouver, participate in Building the Future: Thinking, Planning, Doing on Friday June 6th; register here.

And to draft the measures your library needs to drive those priorities join Moe Hosseini-Ara (Director of Culture for City of Markham and Director Service Excellence at Markham Public Library) and I to work on your Strategy, Influence & Measures: Practical Tools on Wednesday May 28th; register onsite or contact

In the meantime, here’s Roskill:


Why Libraries Matter: thank you The Atlantic

An incredible video from The Atlantic’s video series on “a day in the life” of New York Public Libraries. Nine minutes of absolute bliss on library programs making a difference and changing lives, and no makerspace is in sight. Any public library can use this approach. Thanks to NYPL and to The Atlantic. This is a library system in action. Made me so proud to be a librarian.