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Landline and Wireless Trends

This is something that libraries will need to address quickly and urgently:

The Slow Death of the Landline: Quarter of U.S. Households are Now Wireless-Only

What does this mean for libraries?

1. There is a world of difference between and personal mobile phone (smart or not) and home or family line. We need nothing more than to review the issue of the polls in the last U.S. electin where it was unlawful to poll cel phone users without permission. The polls were often worng due to the fact that younger people (voters) are more like to have mobile only phones.

2. Mobile phones are personal devices and don’t usually serve as contact points for households and some household members do not use the landline even if there is one. You also cannot depend on other people in the household to pass on v-mail messages.

3. Most libraries have traditionally collected home phone line information for library card registries. Some registries have not been updated in many years and the dynamics of the ways in which we can/may contact cardholders has changed.

4. The dynamics of what we can do with our cards has changed too. We all know they’re not just for borrowing anymore. Indeed, they are truly gateways to the whole world of information – beyond borrowing books and videos to databases, broadband access stations, wireless access, virtual reference and support, and downloads of audiobooks, e-books and more.

5. And we have need to contact our members/users/patrons with targeted information about programs. It seems wiser to actually target older folks for genealogy programs or retirement information sessions and younger folks for gaming tournaments. Families might be better targets some programs and some folks might like research skills and homework helper sessions better than others. It might be better to avoid contact fatigue by not sending everything to everyone.

So, we know that the majority of public library use comes from users who visit at least once every 60-90 days. It is probably time to update our user/patron/member registry files. This is a fairly easy campaign where you put your front line staff to work for just 90 days updating your library’s contact information files:

Name (did they change it through marriage or divorce, etc. …)
Address (Did they move?)
Telephone number (Landline, cel, etc.)
e-Mail address
Text messaging permission
Birthdate (including year to target programs or filters)
Family links to minor children for “family” cards
Caregiver permissions (Can nannies and grandparents use the card?)
Will they choose to be your Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter friend?
Can you have there permission to be contacted by their trusted local library.

Most modern ILS systems support these data.

Most fields can be optional but staff can be trained to speak positively about how service can be improved by knowing more about librray cardholders. You will also want to make sure that your own privacy and confidentiality policy is up-to-date and staff are trained in this policy. Do’t be caught off-guard in this hyper-vigilant world today.

Now, think about if your library budget is challenged. It’s happening and it’s scary. Some libraries are at high risk of have a damaged positive impact on their communities. It seems that it would be wise to have updated contact information in order to educate your communities about the situations as they arise. Voters in elections, polls, bond referenda, and propositions need to be well informed about the issues. That’s difficult to do with old and outdated contact information.


Posted on: May 17, 2010, 5:08 pm Category: Uncategorized

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