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Sacramento Public Library's Digital Library Festival

Sacramento Public Library
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Innovation Leader: Gary Shaffer, Director of Communications, Sacramento Public Library, gshaffer@saclibrary.org

Problem Statement

Sacramento Public Library patrons are mostly unaware of the myriad of E-services and resources the library offers. Many Sacramento area residents do not use the library, because they believe it is primarily a place from which to borrow old books. Their attitude is all information they need is instantly accessible to them via the Internet.

Innovation

Use the visit of the Overdrive Digital Bookmobile on March 24, 2010, as a central attraction to the Digital Library Festival. Branded as Your Library 24/7, the digital library festival involved the closing of a downtown Sacramento street, adjacent to the Central Library, and included 27 information booths. Each booth featured a different library branch that promoted a different electronic resource, along with the Digital Bookmobile, which demonstrated downloadable e-books, videos, and music. Topics included: genealogy, self-help law, consumer health, job help, home improvements, parenting, 27 libraries-1 collection (holds/reserves), etc. Booths were grouped into four sections: Business, Lifestyle, Do-It-Yourself, and Homework Help.

Progress

An estimated 1,250 people attended the festival, 50 of them signing up for new library cards. Considering this was a weekday event (Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., because of the Bookmobile’s schedule), library management was pleased with the number of visitors. To staff 27 booths in the middle of the Library system’s open hours, every Sacramento Public Library branch was asked to staff a booth -- the end result: all 27 branches were involved in the festival. Volunteers from the City and County of Sacramento, along with Americorps, helped with the festival, spawning new or stronger partnerships. Staff had a laptop in their booth to conduct side-by-side reference with patrons to showcase the related databases. The library’s IT department was very innovative, expanding Central Library’s Wi-Fi signal to encompass the closed downtown street where the festival was held allowing unfettered access to the databases. Additionally, they used the library’s integrated library system to check-out the laptops to staff, and then rotated them during the day to keep the batteries charged.

The library received coverage of the event and services in the local daily paper, as well as on FOX TV and Univision. Staff members were surveyed immediately following the event. The number one comment heard during the day was, “I had no idea the library offered this service. I can’t wait to tell my friends/family about this!” It is still too early to get tangible results on the effect on database traffic; and part of the festival’s goal was to create word of mouth, so results could take a while to grow. However, library staff members truly enjoyed the event and were definitely excited to be doing what they do best, helping the community to be better every day!