Stories are powerful: share them!

You have stories to tell. You do! Consider this: have you ever said, "boy, we really messed up," or "this software doesn't work well for us," or "this is how we fixed this bad situation." If you can relate to any of these scenarios, we'd like to hear from you. Sometimes the most valuable and useful stories are tales of challenges, not successes (although we like those, too!). We'd love to share your stories--good or bad--so that librarians can learn from your experiences. Please get in touch with us.

This month's newsletter is packed with story telling opportunities and the tools to do it well. I included some of the highlights, below. And if you haven't signed up for our newsletter yet, do it here.

Create Your Own Story @ Your Library

The 2011 theme for next week's National Library Week (April 10-16) is "Create your own story @ your library." There are many free downloadable tools to raise awareness about libraries and library services during National Library Week, including web buttons, a sample press release, and Public Service Announcement scripts. The Honorary Chair of National Library Week is acclaimed author John Grisham. You can watch and share a 3 minute video interview with Grisham on the value of libraries and librarians (he's got a great Southern accent and is pretty easy on the eyes too!). Teens can enter the Why I Need My Library video contest for a chance to win $3,000 for their library through April 18.

Create Your Own Story @ The Library




Public libraries across the country are coming up with innovative ideas to incorporate the theme in their celebrations, including:

  • The Huntley (IL) Area Public Library is enabling community members to share their own library stories by participating in a "What's Your Story?" program. Participants can use their own writing or drawing talents at the library, share on the library's Facebook and Twitter pages, and on April 13 the library will be filming, taking photos and conducting interviews to celebrate "Snapshot of a Day in the Life of a Library".
  • The Johnson County Library (KS) is hosting a writing contest, "The Curious Case of YOU – Create Your Own Story @ Your Library," with three cash prizes to be announced next week.
  • Napoleon (OH) Public Library is celebrating National Library Week during the entire month of April by not charging fines on overdue items returned during the month, their way of saying "thank you" for supporting the library, using the library, and being part of the library story. 
  • Warrenville (IL) Public Library District cardholders have a chance to win daily prizes and two grand prizes of Flip video cameras so they can create their own stories and share them online.

TechSoup for Libraries: We love sharing library stories 

open source.jpgAt TechSoup, we share your stories because you're interesting, you're smart, and because other librarians can learn from your experiences. Sarah talked about the power of technology stories in her keynote at the Library Technology Conference at Macalester College last month. As Sarah wrote in her recent blog post about the event, "I'm sure you all have encountered an issue, and at some point thought, "gosh, I'm sure someone else has done this before. I wonder how they solved it." That's why TechSoup is here: to gather and share stories of supporting and using technology so that you don't have to reinvent the wheel. But to do this, we need your help. (More on that, below.)

We love to gather your stories and share them in all types of ways, such as our guest blogger series, our library spotlights, our new Broadband: Stories from the Field section on, in webinars, at conferences, and by publishing stories in articles and our technology "Cookbooks." TechSoup for Libraries shares these stories so you can keep learning from each other, promote your work in a larger way, and advocate for your library.

Want some specific examples? We share how you can learn to tell your story digitally, communicate the value of the library's technology services, implement open source software, and go beyond lecture in your technology training. Are you are involved with a BTOP grant project? Make sure you sign up for the Broadband Now mailing list, where a lot of sharing is going on about projects and experiences.

TechSoup Product Spotlight: Products to Gather and Share Stories

Public libraries and nonprofits can request donated brand-new software and hardware at savings of 80-90% that help you tell your library and your community's stories. Stories are helpful to share for advocacy efforts, grant writing, building partnerships, and involving your patrons (plus it is fun!).

flip.jpgYou can use FluidSurveys to quickly gather and analyze informal data and stories through online surveys, forms, or polls. The Wikispaces Plus Plan offers a hosted wiki to easily set up and use this type of website that allows your staff or community members to add, remove, and edit all content. You can also share stories visually by posting photos using Flickr Pro and effortlessly creating videos using Flip cameras. You can host online storytimes, deliver staff training, and share information with any community by offering webinars using GoToWebinar or ReadyTalk. Our newest partner is SlideRocket, with a cloud-based tool for creating, managing, and sharing visual presentations. Similar to a beefed-up PowerPoint, SlideRocket lets you build multimedia slideshows. Presentations can be shown in person, presented live to up to 25 viewers on SlideRocket's website, or embeded into your own site so anyone can watch and interact with them any time.

Your U.S. library may be eligible for donation programs from these TechSoup partners and others (over 450 donated products)! Donations are available to all public libraries that are listed in the IMLS database or have a valid 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. Nonprofit organizations that support libraries, such as library foundations, friends, resource sharing associations, and library consortiums with 501(c)(3) status are also eligible.

New Library Spotlight:millingtonsmall.jpg Sherry Millington

One of our favorite ways to sharing stories is by interviewing library staff and putting the spotlight on their amazing work! This month we learn from Sherry Millington, of Suwannee River Regional Library. who has become a key player in her rural community's broadband efforts as an executive member of the North Florida Broadband Authority Board. You can also read about how Sherry set up a tiered triage system that allowed the libraries in her system to resolve their own technical issues, but also provides them support when needed. Thank you Sherry, for sharing your stories of technology success!

Monthly Survey: Collaborations

bunny.jpgEach month we have a 2-3 question survey to gather your ideas and to make sure we're offering products and services useful to you and your library. When you complete the survey, we enter your name in a monthly prize drawing. Our new survey this month will help gather stories on collaborations, especially between libraries and nonprofits that involve technology projects.

If you have a technology experience you'd like to share and would like to write a short blog post or a series, we'd love to hear from you. Don't forget that what might be "no big deal" to you may be an "aha!" to someone else! Thanks to ALL of you for your continued participation and support. Please keep in touch; we savor your feedback and contributions.

Happy Spring from Stephanie's daughter (a sweet little bunny) and all of us at TechSoup!