In this age of the customer where every business is investing majorly in analytics and big data to understand who their users are, why and how they use their products and services, libraries have to follow suit. The kind of statistics that libraries produce and track needs to change. How can libraries know who is using their websites/catalogs and various digital content platforms they spend so much money on? The truth is, the systems libraries use today hold all this data, but the problem is the tools and skills needed to mine this data is lacking in many of our libraries. So where can libraries start?
Libraries pay big bucks to their ILS vendors and other service providers. Libraries should start demanding these providers give them the kind of robust reporting tools that will allow them to make informed evidence-based decisions. Currently, libraries interested in getting more insights into how their collections are being used and by whom, are spending tens of thousands of dollars on tools such as Analytics on Demand from Gale Cengage, collectionHQ from Bridgeall Libraries LTD, or Decision Center from Innovative interfaces, and the list continues. After paying premium dollars for the ILS and third-party discovery systems, I find it disturbing libraries still guess about who their users are and how they use them. The chances are, that by not having deep insights into your user base, you are completely missing out of serving an entire segment of your population.
This blog post is not meant to endorse any one vendor, but Gale Cengage’s Analytics On Demand Apps are some of the types of tools libraries should be using to serve and meet the needs of their communities, and also reach out into the community and bring in new users. A library that uses a tool like this will not be able to say “I don’t think my Hispanic community uses our website or digital products” without the data to back this up.
It is also important for us all to remember that library users are also consumers that use Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, and enjoy the personalized recommendations they provide by tapping into the power of data. ODILO, being the innovative company it is, would love to provide these same conveniences to our library customers but understand the privacy constraints. However, we have been providing these features to some of our customers in state and local governments with our SmartCities initiative. ODILO is providing location-based services, by leveraging the beacon and mobile technology, to push specific content to citizens’ mobile and smartphones based on where they are visiting in the city. The Analytics that ODILO provides to our customers goes beyond checkouts; providing information that helps the city with event planning and the types of amenities to offer, based on how much time people are spending in specific public venues.
Another example of how we add ‘insight’ value to our customers is with our Travel and Fidelity program. We connect some of our customers’ CRM systems with the ODILO Digital Content as a Service (DCaaS) platform, allowing them to connect to customers and prospects with customized digital content in order to improve customer loyalty and improve sales.
So what are a few things libraries can do to better understand their customers?
- Know and master your patron demographics and segments
- Provide personalized products and services
- Monitor your website and catalog activity
- Keep your patron database up-to-date
- Leverage real-time patron behaviors
If a library makes this a strategic focus, ODILO believes libraries will greatly benefit from these kinds of deeper understanding and engage. To learn more about the ODILO Digital Content as a Service (DCaaS) suite of products, contact us today!