Saturday, May 3, 2008

Audio Books

I have a bit of advice to all libraries looking to offer audio books as a new service. After you settle on the digital media product the next step is to consider its diversity and how your users will understand how to use it. Case in point is my public library. I was so happy to discover that my library was offering digital audio books, it was just in time for me with summer travel on the way. I assumed that a smartphone such as a Blackberry would be one of the compatible devices. That was instantly shattered as I investigated the list of compatible digital devices. Unfortunately for me the library choose to use a digital media product for audio books that does not support Mac products (no real shocker) and supports only a handful of cell phones. I became frustrated when I discovered none of my devices would work.

And then........

I became very angry. Not because my devices weren't compatible but because of the lack of information on the library's website. There was no note pointing me, the happy excited user, to check the product's website first for device compatibility. I had to figure that out on my own. How is this providing a service to patrons? Thankfully for my sanity I was bright enough to take the link to the product's website and check everything out first. How many patrons are going to do that? My guess is that the average patron will download the book and try in vain to load the book on their device only to become frustrated and angry. How many people are going to be content to sit at their PC to listen to a book? I'm a big lover of libraries and this, among other things with this county system, is getting under my nails irritating.

I am fed up with libraries MISSING the point of PROVIDING a good service. This upsets me because I spent a good portion of my career in Access Services and this is something that should have been considered. If you spend time and money promoting a new service and you KNOW that it has limitations then you SHOULD make an effort to communicate that to the patrons. It's a wonder why libraries are confused when citizens get upset about libraries wanting more money to provide services. This is an example why. As a public library you MUST really think hard about what kinds of technological services you will offer. Failing to do so will result in causing your patrons to endure all sorts of negative emotions. Can public libraries continue to do this over and over? Not with all the competition out there. You have to do things that will dazzle your patrons. Do not give citizens another reason why they think libraries are not worth supporting.

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