Proposed Friends of the Riley Library group seeks members

My name is Dena Vincent and I’ve been the librarian at the Edward A. Block Family Library at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health for over 14 years. I received my Masters in Library Science in 2003 from Indiana University.

The children’s library at Riley Hospital got its start in the early 20th century. At the 1923 meeting of the Indiana Library Association, currently known as the Indiana Library Federation after a 1990 merger with the Indiana Library Trustees Association, members of the association pledged their support for the children’s library at Riley Memorial Hospital, today’s Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.1

I am seeking people who would be interested in starting and running a Friends of the Riley Library group. The focus of the group will be to support volunteer efforts for the library and to raise funds for the library to purchase and pay for magazine subscriptions, collection updates, supplies and, ultimately, to help fund library staff. The overall goal would be to generate the necessary funds to create and support an endowment for the library and its programs and services. The proposed friends of the library group would work closely with me and with the Riley Children’s Foundation to augment the support currently provided.

Due to increasing costs and a reduction in reimbursements, many cuts have been made in departmental budgets in the last few years. Therefore, non-revenue producing departments, like the library, will ultimately be funded by the Riley Children’s foundation.

The Edward A. Block Family Library is a library for patients and families. The library is similar to a small public library offering books for all ages, movies, video games, music CDs, magazines, phone charging, computers and printing/faxing/copying. Other services include Riley Reading Time on CCTV, dial-a-story and volunteers reading to patients and delivering book carts to their rooms.

Patients and families are welcome to come to the library, however, 35 percent of our patients are in isolation and another 25 percent are in the NICU.2 If a parent is not there to provide some distraction then these children may not have any type of distraction other than nurses or doctors. The Cheer Guild provides toys and crafts for the children, but as you can imagine children need other resources, especially reading.

The library at Riley got its start with the help of Indiana librarians and with your continued support we can provide a library to patients and families well into the future.

If you would like to be a member of the Friends of the Riley Library, call me at (317) 944-1149 or email me.

If you would like to volunteer, you may fill out an application here.

If you would like to donate monies/materials, or learn more about the library, please visit our website.

1Spencer, Rhonda, and Dina Kellams. “In Conclusion: Highlighting the Indiana Library Association-1923 Meeting at the West Baden Springs Hotel.” Indiana Libraries 31.2 (2012) 56. Abstract. Library Occurrent 6.12 (1923): 427-28. Print.

2 Riley Hospital. Riley Hospital Daily Brief. Rep. N.p.: n.p., 2016. Print. November & December.

This blog post was written by Dena Vincent, librarian, Edward A. Block Family Library at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.

Lake County Public Library direct mail to non-card holders case study

Today we welcome guest blogger Jennifer Burnison of the Lake County Public Library

In the fall of 2016, the Lake County Public Library (LCPL) wanted to reach out to community members who did not have a library card. We believed if we promoted our digital library services to the 25-39 year old community, we would see more individuals in this age range sign up for a library card and then proceed to use the library’s digital resources. This age range is defined by young professionals and young parents who feel they do not have time to use traditional library services, but we believed they would be eager to use our digital library. LCPL wanted to send postcards to this group promoting the digital library, along with instructions on how to sign up for a library card remotely, but we weren’t sure how to identify individuals in this age range who did not have a library card.

We overcame this issue by using Patronlink, a powerful library marketing, analytics and outreach tool that allows libraries to analyze and communicate with patrons and non-patrons alike. LCPL was able to upload and flag their current patrons’ records in Patronlink’s database of over 270 million individuals. Using the filter tools, we narrowed the file down to our service area and selected individuals who were 25-39 years old. Finally, we omitted current patrons from the list, giving us a list of all the 25-39 year-olds in our service area who did not have library cards.

Lake County Public Library

Taking it one step further, we wondered if the income levels of these individuals affected their desire to use digital services. We knew our service area covered two zip codes with similar populations, but with divergent income levels. LCPL decided to only send postcards to the individuals aged 25-39 in these two zip codes and look at the key performance indicator (KPI) to see which sample had more individuals sign up for library cards.

The postcards were printed in-house and were mailed out at the end of September 2016. Around 3,000 postcards were mailed out using the post office’s bulk mail rate of $0.175 per postcard, for a total of approximately $525. Statistics were then gathered at the beginning of November 2016.

LCPL postcard sample

LCPL proactively flagged the records of individuals who received a postcard, so when we re-uploaded our patron list we would be able to quickly identify the individuals who had both a “sent post card” flag and a patron flag. After analyzing the results, we determined 1.8 percent of households who received a postcard signed up for a library card, while some households had multiple people sign up for cards. We consider this a successful direct mail campaign, as a response rate of two percent is expected for these types of mailings. As for differing income levels, there was no statistical difference in the number of library card sign-ups in relation to income levels; everyone enjoys low-cost or no-cost options.

For more information about the LCPL’s case study, contact Robin Johnsen, the library’s technology marketing specialist at rjohnsen@lcplin.org.

Jennifer Burnison is the marketing manager for the Lake County Public Library. For more information about the Lake County Public Library, contact Jennifer at jburnison@lcplin.org.

Video game collections in your library

Today we welcome guest blogger Eric Fisher of the Alexandria-Monroe Public Library

After doing a presentation at the Indiana Library Federation (ILF) conference this this year, I thought I’d try to answer many common questions and considerations that a collection developer might face when considering circulating video games.

First, the Alexandria-Monroe Public Library does not circulate consoles. Your average console will run you anywhere from $200 to $450, or so, and consoles do not operate like they did several years ago. They are now essentially computers with proprietary operating systems. They usually require games to be installed off of the disk and often have game patches that need to be downloaded. They are also usually tied to an individual’s game account (e.g. a PlayStation Network account or an Xbox Live account). Therefore, the console itself usually contains some level of personally identifiable user information. It would be a bit like circulating laptops to people to take home for days at a time and allowing them to be able to install software on them at their own discretion. This is not to say that you couldn’t circulate game systems, we just feel that the cost and other challenges/logistics make it more trouble than it’s worth. Just last week, however, we did purchase a PlayStation 4 (PS4) and an Xbox One S for use in the library and for programming; a practical option for us.

Video game collection at the Alexandria-Monroe Public Library

Second, we currently purchase primarily for PS4 and Xbox One, with the increasingly rare purchase of a PlayStation 3 (PS3) or an Xbox 360 title. The reason for this is that both the PS4 and Xbox One were released in November 2013, which means that PS3 and Xbox 360 systems are at the very end of their lifecycles and are getting very few new title releases now. The Nintendo Wii was replaced by the Wii U in December 2012 and the Wii U was extremely commercially disappointing with abysmal adoption rates. In fact, Nintendo is releasing their successor console, Switch, in March of 2017 partly because the Wii U was such a failure. All that being said, our collection contains PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii and a small handful of Wii U games. The games for the older systems do still circulate, so we’re not in a hurry to weed them out, but at the same time I’m interested in putting funds toward current generation games as opposed to previous generation games, especially since backward compatibility is non-existent or limited. For example, PS4 will not play PS3 games and Xbox One can only play a number of Xbox 360 titles. However, the Wii U will play Wii titles. We do not currently purchase for the Nintendo 3DS or PlayStation Vita handhelds, as their media formats are small cards, not unlike SD cards, which makes them a bit more difficult to secure. The systems we do collect for use disk-based media, so they’re very easy to secure using standard lockable cases; the type we use for DVDs. You could collect for handheld systems depending on how you plan the logistics. Some libraries do circulate handheld systems and their accompanying media.

Video game collection at the Alexandria-Monroe Public Library

Third, we collect games of all ratings. Some libraries, for example, opt not to collect games rated M (mature), which I feel is based on the misconception that “video games are for kids.” According to the 2016 Entertainment Software Association report on sales, around 75 percent of gamers are over the age of 18, with the average age of gamers being 35. An ESRB M rating is akin to the MPAA’s R rating for movies. The ESRB also has the AO (adults only) rating category, which is akin to an MPAA NC-17 rating, but just like the movie rating, you really never see any games that come out with an AO rating. Since their inception in 1994, ESRB has rated about 30 games as AO and all have been released on computer, not consoles. The report also notes that female gamers make up 41 percent of the game playing community, so it truly is a medium that is consumed by all public age and gender demographics. Our collection practices try to reflect the demographic makeup of the gaming community.

Video game collection at the Alexandria-Monroe Public Library

Finally, your collection decisions regarding title purchases and the number of formats you’ll support will rely heavily on your gaming collection budget. Games typically retail at $59.99 on release, and depending on popularity, will start to drop significantly in price over their first six months, usually settling around the $20 to $30 price point. PS4 currently dominates the console market in regards to number of titles released and number of consumers who have purchased a console, though Xbox One is a close second. Each brand has their own exclusives (e.g. Mario and Pokemon games for Nintendo) as well as versions of multi-platform titles (e.g. “Call of Duty”). I try to purchase very well-known titles/franchises at launch while waiting for less anticipated titles until the price drops a bit. It’s not unusual for the console companies to release around four “must have” titles in any given month. Some times of the year see heavier launch lists, particularly during the fourth quarter holidays. I will generally purchase those titles at launch. Additionally, many games are offered in “special editions,” as well as a “standard edition.” Most of the extra game content released exclusively in a special edition is in the form of a redeemable one use code. So, for circulation purposes, it’s usually best to purchase the standard edition. Bonus content tends to be digital downloads in the form of a code tied to the user’s game account, so it can be safely ignored. Efficient collection development of games generally requires a decent level of familiarity with the gaming landscape and the big franchises, so collections usually benefit from frequent game journalism research. That being said, big titles are often announced far in advance of release, so it’s possible to build a wish list well ahead of time and tweak it as release dates change or as previously un-hyped, but worthwhile, titles are released.

I think this post should give you a good foundation for starting a video game collection in your library. Video games have been an extremely popular collection for us. We service a community of about 8,000 people and typically our monthly game circulation is about 600. We let patrons check out up to three games at a time with a one week loan period and we allow one renewal. My budget for 2016 was about $6,000 and will be about $7,500 for 2017. You can view the documents relating to my ILF presentation here and let me know if I can answer any questions. Good luck!

Eric Fisher is the assistant director of the Alexandria-Monroe Public Library. For more information on video games in your library, contact Eric at efisher@alexlibrary.net.