New Insights from Weekly Events Email

I’m in charge of putting together our weekly events emails. As such, I’m interested in discovering patterns, developing hypotheses, and testing my theories. All in the name of providing a more useful experience for our patrons. Each quarter I do an analysis to look for new insights, check out the answers to my questions, and ask library stakeholders for guidance on what we should test next.

Our findings for April to June:
* Do email opens go up if we send emails to low open users on Thursdays as opposed to Friday? The six-week test showed that it doesn’t make a difference.
* Out of the two subject lines we test each week across three segments, two segments usually choose the same one.
* Opens decreased in the spring, but not as drastically as I thought.
* New subscribers’ open and click-through rates dropped drastically from winter to spring.
* Email unsubscribes and bounces decreased. The numbers are small, so it looks very impressive to say “We had a 26% decline in unsubscribes!”
* We’re gaining email subscribers thanks to the form on our website.
* People do scroll all the way to the Did You Knows. We know this thanks to the click-through rate which is comparable to items higher up in the email.

Next round I’m thinking about testing:
* Does the age category of the featured event affect unsubscribe rates? I believe the answer is yes, but am eager to see if that theory proves true.

Of course, I need to look at this from a longer perspective as well. Perhaps in December, when things usually slow down, I can compare some of my numbers loosely to the 2013-2016 numbers.

Tasks of a Publicity Manager

Next month will mark one-year since I transitioned from UX Librarian to Publicity Manager. I spent the first few weeks meeting with staff to learn what they thought I should be doing in my role. I then went on vacation for a couple weeks, so it wasn’t until October that I really began active work in my new job.

There are some differences between my work as a new UX librarian to where I am now. The most noticeable is that I used to have lots of flexibility in my schedule. If you talked to me on Monday or Tuesday, I could probably fit you in that week. I only looked one week out at the tasks I had to accomplish. Now, my schedule is filling up 3-4 weeks in advance. I’m trying to protect a precious hour every day for sudden requests. Unfortunately, those five empty hours usually get taken up a few days in advance. I moved to that system of “grace time” back in February — two months before my boss asked me if I had built in such time. :-)

I’m using Asana and Google Calendar to maintain my sanity. Thanks to the repetition of many tasks, as soon as I complete it, I add it right back for the next round for the following month. So my to-do list technically never gets any shorter.

Without further ado, here are the main tasks I do as the Publicity Manager:

* Watch and report on stats/analytics
* Look for how the Library is mentioned online and in printed newspapers
* Plan actions based upon those reports
* Meet with staff to help them develop their publicity items (and often, just brainstorm things out to their final conclusion as we look for trouble spots to take care of in advance. I did this as a UX librarian too)
* Document formal publicity plans based upon those meetings
* Create publicity items (even with the help of staff, there’s still not enough hands to fulfill all our dreams)
* Monitor staff’s progress on their projects and remind them to send me their materials
* Make content for social media (text, images, find/make gifs, videos)
* Find time to do research for my own projects
* Learn new publicity techniques and keep up with software changes

I’m curious as to how my role will continue to change in the coming year. I’ve got a few ideas on what key tasks I want to accomplish.

Note: that’s a photo of my desk from December. I now have a bulletin board covered in persona index cards, terrariums, printed out reports and projects, and inspiration pieces.

Planning Overall Library Program Themes for the Year

One of my jobs as publicity manager is to help departments find opportunities to work together on programs and services. As such, I found out their general program themes for the year. I then grouped these together in our wiki under two organizational schemes: by department and by season.

The information is pretty general so it remains flexible. For instance: Summer Reading Kick-Off: June. It doesn’t list the program theme or the actual start date. I arranged the seasonal information by ABC order. By department, by time.

I then immediately made use of the new resource by linking to it in an email for publicity planning, “Need help thinking ahead as to what we’ll be up to in this time period? View the seasonal program guide.”

Self-Evaluation on Publicity Management

I met with one of the assistant directors today about publicity. The meeting was triggered by a self-evaluation I had sent staff a month ago. When I became the Publicity Manager, I sought to find out what people wanted from a PM. I carefully took notes then typed it up. After six months, I then went through and evaluated where we stood on those requests. Outstanding issues were marked in red. Those hold ups could be because I haven’t gotten to it or cannot be accomplished due to technical, funding, or staffing reasons.

Today’s meeting was an hour long. I’m happy to say that most of the things we discussed were things I could answer with an outlined plan. Several projects were already in the works with scheduled meetings to move forward on. I’m happy that I was able to anticipate some of the requests ahead of time.

My sixth anniversary is next month, so this feels like a good place to end this fiscal year.

Understanding Our Patrons Presentation

For an internal presentation, I developed a slidedeck based on the months of work my colleagues and I did to better understand our patrons. I won’t share the whole slidedeck, but some images are included in this post as illustration.

The first part dealt with departments categorizing their users into groups which share similar characteristics. They answered some questions about what users want, how they connect with us, and how we could do better by them. The second part was for me to crunch some data. The third involved surveying patrons guerilla-style. I’m still working on that last part.

We have some travelers!

Image is from a fascinating site. Click the image to see what I mean.

Do you know about this Google feature?

Four Layouts of Summer Reading

Our library uses the incredible art of Lisa Nowlain for our children’s summer reading program. It made it significantly easier to develop the web pages which support our four programs (pre-readers, kids, teens, and adults). This week I found out that even when we print out the trees at the size of children, they still look fresh.

Courtesy of Darien Library

Landing Page
To start my work, I sketched out a bunch of layouts for the children’s page. The head wasn’t there when I dropped by the Children’s Library, but her staff choose the design. The layout is almost identical to the Darien Olympics theme of last summer. I then selected my favorite for the landing page for all four programs. It took awhile as I had to create a large PSD file and duplicate the trees across it. The original wooden sign has tiny legs. I duplicated and extended them a little to complete my desired look. The buttons below are not what I wanted. However, the little wooden signs which fill up the brochure don’t work for the web. I have no idea why. So I used the plain ol’ generic default Bootstrap button for our website. I could have chosen another color, but the blue was the best default option.

Courtesy of Darien Library

Kids Page
Likewise, on the kids’ page, I cut off the legs on the sign to make it shorter. The PDFs are massive. I tried to squish them, but it became illegible. Maybe the watercolor background contributed to that? The location of the images is a little funny in order to make it usable on mobile. The tall tree and the kids collapsible below the information. Trying to get the blocks all to the same length was frustrating.

Courtesy of Darien Library

Teens
The background image for the teens page is from another artist (I’m unsure if he wants the attention). I struggled mightily with how to handle all the information on the teen page. The photos are all public domain. The struggle on this page are those movie covers. I ended up giving up on this yesterday. There are actually two more movies. The layout is a row with three columns. Each column has a row with three columns. When I blew the code out so I could look for the problem, it didn’t make sense. There should be enough room in it for up to 12 covers. But when I add in the extra ones, the images disappear and the date wraps to the second line. After 90 minutes, I finally gave up on it at the urging of my coworker. I’m displeased with that, but every tactic I tried failed. I don’t want to have rows with five or six images in it because then the covers are too dominating for the page.

Courtesy of Darien Library

Adults
I worked closely with colleague Virginia in developing the Adult Summer Reading page. She rejected my original header image and sent me three new ones to choose from. I selected the beach chairs. The challenge here was to keep her from the burden of creating a booklist for every single item on the Book Bingo Inspiration list. I managed to find some stuff on the website that would work. Then tasked her with developing 5 or 6 new ones just for this purpose. Her funniest chat was “What steampunk novel would you recommend?” for the new genre list.

The Book Readers Festival is another iteration of reusing Lisa’s artwork in new ways. I needed to make a flyer in a hurry so it could be posted around town. I opened up Canva looking for inspiration. I spotted it right away. Then I adjusted it for the design you see. It now exists as that image + flyer + poster which hangs over the front desk.

Marketing
I’m copying the URL of the pages into a Google URL builder, setting up the tags, and then copying that link into Bitly. I look forward to seeing what the numbers look like at the end of August.

Children’s Library in the Forest

We’re celebrating Camp Darien this year. My colleague took this photo of the Children’s Department and it was then sent to me to clean up. After 3.5 hours of scrubbing (while on desk), I then dropped it into a forest background. The forest background took about 30 seconds. At that point, I could have gone on to try to make it merge better or found a better background. My colleagues are happy though, so I’ll let it go. :-)

Publicity Award Winners

My library had the great honor of receiving three awards for our publicity this past year: our website, poster, and thematic (three or more related pieces). I have, pictured here, the items which were done mostly in my hand. Krishna gave generous assistance in the development of the Escape the Laboratory poster.

Lonely Planet Bookmarks

Lonely Planet Sign

Lonely Planet Digital Sign

Lonely Planet Digital Sign

Lonely Planet Sign

Lonely Planet Shelfmarkers

Genealogy for Kids Program

Today my colleague Krishna and I hosted “Discover Your Family Story” program for children grades 3 to 6.

Participants will begin a family tree, learn how to conduct an oral history interview and learn about library resources that can help you discover your family story.

The materials took me four hours to put together. Do my research, design the program and the craft project (seen above), cut out 12 trunks and leaves and 200 nametags for the trees, and put together the handouts. The most interesting part were people texting their relatives to ask, “What were the names of your grandparents? I only knew them as Pop…”