Tweeting customer service

I’m impressed.

I stayed at the Washington Hilton recently while attending Computers in Libraries. I tweeted that I had checked in and got a response from the Hilton, welcoming me to DC. Nice touch.

When I got home and looked at my credit card bill, I realized there were two additional charges on my card that weren’t mine. I tried calling the hotel itself and getting it resolved, but not only do they have one of those über -annoying voice-mail menus, but I couldn’t get any help. Frustrated, I tweeted my annoyance.

Almost immediately, Hilton tweeted back. How could they help? They asked me to follow them so we could direct message. I did, and was contacted by Fran, who asked for details so she could resolve the problem.

This is serious customer service.

Twitter is sometimes dismissed as a fluffy venue for people to post about their lunch, or how much they want coffee, or complain about the weather.  Guilty as charged. However, it can be used as a terrific way to monitor your business reputation – or that of your library.  How wonderful would it be to be able to resolve a customer service issue for one of your library patrons?  If that patron is like me, they’ll be impressed and spread the word.

There are two great lessons to take away from this experience. The first was the welcome tweet. If you’re monitoring your library’s Twitter feed (and I’m assuming you are) you can respond to any patron who checks in, or mentions that they’ve visited. It’s a nice way to let them know you’re listening, and to appreciate them for their patronage.

The second is the customer service interaction. If a patron has a complaint, you can not only help to solve the problem, but you can keep the problem from escalating by dealing with it as soon as possible. The patron will be appreciative, and the resulting good will is priceless.

I must say, this has made me impressed enough with Hilton that I will go out of my way to stay at one of their hotels in the future. Good job!

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Super Searcher Tips

Mary Ellen Bates

Motherpipe: search engine based on Bing, with servers in Germany.

Million short: remove top 100 to 1 million search.Long tail research.

Wikipedia different in different language versions.

Social-Searcher : search specific social media with different filters; analytics.

Twitter has improved its search function. find related hashtags on Twitter. Find top influencers, see popularity trends.

Use Pocket while searching. Browser extension. 1 Click saves pages, assign labels. Can push articles to phone.

Google Scholar Library: saves your cites in one place.  Can add labels to sort.

Searchonymous: anonymous Google while logged in. Firefox addon.

Find lists with Google: “top 10..30 tips” keyword.

Google maps gallery: Browse or search. World Bank, census, etc.

Google autcomplete: find alternatives to a product or service. something vs.

Google’s new site info card: learn more about the site before going to it.

Google images has added CC  filters.

Google media tools:

Google hack for job search, for jobs not listed outside their website.  intitle:career librarian Weird glitch: use (intitle:career OR intitle:careers)  gets many more hits.

Great presentation!

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I’m in Washington DC attending the Computers in Libraries conference. It’s an interesting mix of librarians with little experience in techie things (I helped one get set on Twitter) and the super-geeks who can hack the world. I’ll be blogging and tweeting as the day goes along, so stay tuned.

For those of you who aren’t interested in library stuff, I apologize for the chatter. Feel free to tune out.

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April Fool

I hate April Fool’s Day.

I never was that much of a fan, either of pranking or being pranked. But my freshman year of college was the death knell for any joy I would get from the day.

On March 31st of that year, two college friends were in a fatal car accident. They both were movers and shakers in our small college campus; everyone knew them. One was the editor of the campus newspaper. They were both charming and funny and much, much too young to die.

I had the unfortunate timing to come across the accident just as the emergency medical crew was frantically working on one of them; he was pronounced dead on arrival. The other friend died two days later, on April 2nd.

We – the friends who had learned of Kirk and Pat’s accident and subsequent death – now had the unenviable task of relating the news to the rest of the campus. On April 1st.

Imagine telling someone news like that, only to have them chide you for trying to pull such an awful April Fool’s prank. And you reply no, it isn’t a prank. And they insist it is. And so on.

It made the awful job of relating such news that much more awful.

And so, while others share silly “news” stories with glee, I will be remembering Kirk and Pat.  I hate April Fool’s Day.

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I’m a voracious reader. Always have been; I’ve been reading whatever I could get my hands on for as long as I can remember. (I can actually distinctly remember the moment I realized that the symbols on the page were words.)  I’m a confirmed bibliophile, and have, at last count, nineteen bookcases at home.

Ironic that I’m the librarian at a virtual library.

I digress. As many voracious readers do, I imagine, I’ve often thought to myself that I could certainly write one of these things. I mean, I’ve read enough of them. How hard could it be?


I have not written the great American novel. I haven’t written at all.  However, DBF has actually done so. She has written a terrific novel about friendship, and life in a small community, and how a woman can make a life for herself. And there’s a goat.

It really is a wonderful read, and it’s now available for pre-order on Amazon and will be soon at Barnes & Noble.  Trust me.  You’re gonna love it.  In the meantime, visit her blog.  You’ll find some terrific writing there, too.


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There’s a new survey that’s getting a bit of attention from “mature” librarians.  It’s not good attention.

The survey is for The Mature Librarian, and purports to uncover the challenges we mature folk have doing our jobs as librarians. Interestingly, none of the challenges I face are included. Instead, the possible problems are insulting at best. To wit:

4. What do you feel are the four greatest challenges to you as a mature librarian? Please rank them with 1 being the greatest, 2 the next greatest and so forth
1 2 3 4
Keeping up with technology
Working with younger employees
Keeping track of meetings, trainings, appointments and other library business.
Feeling obsolete
Participating in work related travel
Attending meetings
Adapting to new initiatives, such as “makerspaces”, “learning commons”, etc.
Learning new procedures
Other (please specify)
Oh, sweetie.  You really don’t want me to fill in the “Other (please specify) box.
The survey goes on to ask whether mature librarians should retire, so that younger librarians could take their place.  The survey invites you to elaborate on your answer, should you choose to do so. I would do so, but I try not to use that kind of language in public.
What the hell? This kind of ridiculous stereotyping is unhelpful at best, and vicious at worst. I am, as many of my “mature” counterparts are, rather skilled in using and adapting to new technologies, thank you very much. (And by the way, just what generation do you suppose invented all this stuff??)
I am not alone in my disgust.  It will be interesting to see how long the survey stays online.
Update: The survey is being run by two librarians, one at Belmont University in Nashville, TN and the other at Jackson State Community College in Jackson, TN.  Here’s the program description for which they’re conducting the survey:
"The story of the mature librarian will be discussed. How can the 55 and over librarian remain relevant? How can the older librarian keep up with new technologies and work with much younger colleagues? Learn how to stay current, cope with all the changes that are taking place in the workplace and remain vital  to the organization in which you work if you are over 55"
Update, part two: Some librarians are having great fun with this.

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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."


DBF is a beautiful writer.

This has always been one of her talents, whether it’s a letter or a thank you note or a beautifully crafted speech. She has a way with words, and I have been nudging her for years to jump into blogging so that we all might enjoy.

It has finally happened. North of the Tension Line is her new blog, with some exquisite essays posted that she wrote a few years ago. (Note: tissues may be helpful. Trust me.) And by the way, North of the Tension Line is the name of her new book,  which will be published by Beaufort Books in September. You’re gonna love it.

Wander on by and visit.

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It’s brutally cold here in the upper Midwest. The high today in Minnesota is supposed to be -15. Dangerous windchill factors. Blowing and drifting snow. Bleah.

I’m blessed enough to have a home that’s warm and snuggly, and a job that has me indoors. However, there are lots of folks out there that don’t have one or the other – or either.

When I was the public library director in western Nebraska, we would have patrons that would all but live in the library in the scorching hot days of summer, taking advantage of the air conditioning. I can’t help but wonder whether there are people in the life-threatening cold we’re experiencing that take advantage of the library and its warmth.

Random strangers rarely wander into my library these days, as it’s an academic library in an academic setting. Those of you in public libraries, though, are serving an additional purpose in this weather. Blessings be upon you.

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The 23 Things has morphed into 23 Mobile Things.   Back in the day, I was one of the people helping to coordinate the 23 Things.  Now that I’m at another POW, I’m not in the loop on these things, though I do try to keep up.

In any case, I thought I’d officially see if there aren’t a few things I can still learn about this stuff.  My suspicion is that, yes, I can.

I’ll keep you posted. If you follow along on Twitter, watch for the hashtag 23ThingsMN.

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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Techie stuff

Failure to present

I’m looking at the program for Computers in Libraries and considering whether I will attend.  As I’m reviewing the program titles, I’m struck with the notion that I could be presenting at this conference, given the topics.   For instance: “Solving common issues with innovative collaboration.” That’s what UMR is all about.

What’s my holdup, I wonder? In my day-to-day work, I don’t think about whether what we’re doing here is special, or different, or innovative. Yet  MPOW has been written up in publications ranging from the Chronicle of Higher Education to, most recently, Forbes

I struggle to think of how I can present what we’re doing here at UMR, since it feels….routine. Yet, when I look at conference programs, I realize that we’re already doing some of the things that other presenters are talking about. I sometimes  sit and listen to presentations and wonder why I didn’t think to develop some presentation that talks about these things.

Part of it is a question of what topic I would present. How to create a library from scratch? How to talk to students about information literacy when you don’t have a physical collection? How to collaborate with the faculty on everything from information literacy to acting workshops?  

I’d love to hear from you. Would any of these interest you? What would you like to know about UMR and its virtual library?


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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Me and mine