The holiday season is often considered a down time for libraries, as it can be difficult to compete for our patrons’ time and attention. Generally, we offer fewer programs and may experience a brief downturn in checkouts between Thanksgiving and New Year. Following this period, however is an ideal time to promote your library’s collection of eBooks, eMagazines, streaming movies and music.
New Toys = New Users
Tablets, computers, eReaders & smartphones are all expected to be popular gifts. Once a patron owns one of these gadgets, they become a potential user of your digital branch. With a few considerations, you can successfully convert a large percentage of potential users into actual ones.
Offer Introductory Device Classes
A patron that cannot use their mobile device cannot use your digital collection! Before you make any effort to promote your collection, ensure that you are offering patrons the opportunity to learn the basics of common mobile devices. Consider offering introductory classes on iPad, Android and Kindle Fire devices starting in the second half of January. Patrons attending these classes should be shown the basics; how to turn them on/off, connecting to WiFi, installing/deleting apps and using the web browser. All of these basic actions are the precursors to accessing your digital collection! Once the class has ended, you can hand out flyers advertising compatible collections, or engage in a short demonstration. If your library offers one-on-one appointments, you can also make them at this time if a patron wishes to know more.
Offer Live Demonstrations of Your Digital Collection
Not everyone is a tech newbie! For every patron who may have just gotten their first smartphone, there’s one who just upgraded to an iPad Air 2 from an earlier model. These patrons don’t need lessons on how to use their device–they need to know what the library has to offer them! Demonstrations, either scheduled or drop-in are an excellent way to showcase your digital branch. These can be formalized classes such as “Free eBooks on Your iPad,” “Streaming Library Movies,” or others appropriate to your collection. In the case of drop-in, set up an attractive display with posters and informational flyers. Utilize digital signage; a re-purposed monitor & slideshow, or something more formalized, like Overdrive’s Media Station. Have a mobile device or two with “dummy” accounts so patrons can see your collection in action. Ensure you have staff assigned to the display during peak hours and advertise this presence to your public.
By capitalizing on the post-holiday influx of mobile devices in your community, you can draw in large numbers of new users. By creating an atmosphere of excitement and effective tech support, you can assure these new users become permanent users!
For more information on running a successful digital branch, consider purchasing my book “Making the Most of Digital Collections Through Training and Outreach,” published by Libraries Unlimited.