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Customer-Friendly eReader Information, a 13 day success story

Columbus Metropolitan Library
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Innovation Leader: Julie Theado, Digital Strategy Director & Social Media Strategist , Jtheado@columbuslibrary.org

Problem Statement

As eReaders have become more popular, it has changed the way customers interact with the library and reading. It also has impacted staff as more and more customers ask for assistance. There’s no question that the popularity of eReaders hit an all-time high during the 2010 holiday season and Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML )needed to explain the eBook/eReader market place to customers as well as support them in their move to eBooks.

Innovation

From Strategy to Public Launch in 13 days. Realizing a need to respond quickly to the holiday demand for eReader devices, CML quickly pulled together an eReader committee during the second week of December which consisted of various departments including public service, digital services/IT, marketing, technical services, training & development and property management. The committee’s charge was to pilot and launch an eReader station by the day after Christmas - less than two weeks away. This charge included addressing four tactics: staff training, vendor demos, public programs and pilot places for customers to try various devices.

For customers, CML placed two eReader kiosks (genius stations) at Main Library and the Dublin Branch, featuring 6 popular eReader devices--a feat that was complicated by the lack of availability due to the holiday purchase demand and the need for a secured public access solution. In addition to the pilot kiosks, customers also needed step-by-step instructions as well as ways to compare devices. CML developed a comprehensive eReader website that provided instructions, tutorials and ways to ask questions.

For staff, several eReader trainings occurred; an internal blog was developed to provide “how-to” information as well as a wiki which gave plenty of resources, frequently asked questions and details that would equip staff to answer customer questions.

Progress

CML’s eReader initiative was a huge success. Not only did CML reach its goal, but it exceeded it by launching two pilot locations two days before the holidays. With the success of the pilot, eReader Kiosks are now at six locations. In addition, CML started an eReader newsletter to share the latest information with customers, a monthly Tweet Chat (#eReaderchat) is held as an open forum to discuss books, devices, publishers and even downloading challenges. A separate area of the CML website was developed to support the public’s interest in this area. There are step-by-step instructions for several eReader devices, informational videos, as well as easy access to downloadable titles. CML has been contacted by many libraries who want to model its approach and strategy. In response, CML is developing a spot on its website to help other libraries duplicate CML’s model.