Category Archives: Services

CMLE Resources: Gamification

CMLE is here for you with all kinds of resources and information. Each week we will share a look at another piece of that information, to help draw some attention to resources that may help you as you serve your community.Gamification techniques 5

Gamification Resources

Libraries can be leaders in gamification. You can use these tools to help your staff and patrons to build skills, to learn about your resources, to explore information literacy, or whatever else you want to accomplish!

Gamification is not “just” playing games; it’s a strategy to learn things, try things, and to practice things without so much pressure to avoid failure. Want to encourage people to try something new or hard? Gamify it!

Thinking that learning needs to be dull, or done in a specific way just because it has been done that way, is limited. Expand your possibilities by gamifying your library!

We provide several resources for you to read on this page, and are happy to chat with you about gamifying work in your own library!

Linking Our Libraries Podcast: Episode 210 Customer Service

Customer service photo

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Contents of our information page:
  • Introduction
  • Background
  • The Basics
  • A Few Stories from the Front Lines!
  • Books We are Reading
  • Conclusion

This week we are talking customer service in your library: the good, the bad! Patrons, customers, or whatever you call those people who use your services, are the heart of it all – the reason our jobs exist. At our very foundation, we only exist in our jobs to serve these people. Some of them will absolutely be the best part of your job; they will make you happy to come to work, they will fill you with that positive glow of happiness in doing a good job, and will general be a delight! There may even be homemade snacks involved!

Other patrons will make you question your job, your reason for being in a library, and your very will to get out of bed in the mornings! When, not if, that happens to you, try to focus on taking a deep breath and remembering that this too shall pass. Go back and listen to our episode #206 on Conflict Management, and look through our material on handling stress in the workplace.

But don’t let the few lousy patrons be too big a part of your job! Actively keep your perspective focused on the great things you are doing to build community, and to enjoy the customer service aspects of your job! We are not going to overlook the tough parts of this skill, but we do not want to dwell on it and overshadow the good stuff too. So sit back, relax, and let’s talk about some good customer service procedures you can implement in your organization to make things flow better. And we will share a few stores from the real-life side of working with patrons all day!


Next Week:  we talk about technology training in your library, with Guest Host Angie Kaltoff!

CMLE Scholarship: Digipalooza!

This is a guest post written by Sarah Hawkins, Resource Librarian at East Central Regional Library Cambridge. Do you need a scholarship to attend a conference? Check out our Scholarships page!

In early August, I attended the OverDrive Digipalooza Conference in Cleveland, Ohio.  It was an exciting conference, because it managed to be both inspiring and future-focused and practical and applicable to current workflows, in equal measure. OverDrive staff and presenters were energetic, innovative, and happy to share their love of literacy, libraries, OverDrive, and Cleveland with all attendees.

A common theme throughout the conference was that building digital collections is not all about selection, but equally about what we do with what we select and the mantra: if you build it, they will come. The most immediate takeaway that I applied to my workflow immediately as a result was a hack shared by Mike Hawkins from Sno-Isle Libraries for turning OverDrive Resource Center lists into Curated Collections.  Curated collections help keep your OverDrive front page fresh, which in turn keeps your users coming back and happy.   Any trick to simplify this process and encourage librarians to create Curated Collections more frequently is a win!

The hack:  Curate from an OverDrive Recommended List

OverDrive provides a collection of lists curated by their Collection Development librarians in OverDrive Resource Center. Any of these lists can be converted to curation mode, but it requires a hack of the URL.

  1. Find and click on a list in OverDrive Resource Center that you would like to curate on your OverDrive site.
  2. Select the OneCopyOneUserAndMeteredAccess portion of the URL in the address bar.
  3. Replace OneCopyOneUserAndMeteredAccess with Curate in the address bar and hit Enter.
  4. From there the list can be curated as outlined in the How To Create a Curated Collection instructions.  

Other curation tips include: change the display settings to “Show all, but available first” so that the first items your users see are immediately available for checkout and developing collections around community events. Ultimately, the goal is to have patrons leave our websites having borrowed something.  Happy customers also leads to happy librarians!

The inspirational side of the coin included reflecting on Cuyahoga County Public Library’s mission: reading, lifelong learning, and community.  If only all of our mission statements were as succinct! Looking towards the future also included the OverDrive project roadmap with the new Libby app and forthcoming features (including getting a library card instantly in the app), magazines soon being available in OverDrive, the availability of the cost per circ model, and OverDrive’s new status as a Certified B Corp.  

Other great information included collection development, social media marketing, train the trainer, using data, outreach, and Reader’s Advisory. Plus, we were lucky enough to see a live recording of the Professional Book Nerds podcast with author Kelly Corrigan.  The video is on OverDrive’s Facebook page; I highly recommend you check it out.

At the end of the conference, I left feeling inspired to get back to work and do my part in Creating Reading Happiness!

Digipalooza fun fact: 57% of people said that the place they listen to audiobooks most is relaxing at home.

Graphic Recordings from the Sessions:

Day Fifty Eight of the CMLE Summer Fun Library Tour!


Library staff are often doing great things! Sometimes it’s hard to see in our daily routines, because the things we do in libraries seem so ordinary to us – but still we touch lives and make our communities better places. Never doubt this is entirely true! Your community is a better place because you and your library are contributing to it. (Tell your funders and stakeholders, so they will know too!)

And sometimes it’s easy to see the contributions to a community that a library makes – even when it’s a secret in the moment!

The Librarian Who Guarded the Manhattan Project’s Secrets

While dodging accusations of communism, Charlotte Serber made the nuclear bomb possible.

“Nestled alongside the massive Los Alamos lab—which Lisa Bier in Atomic Wives and the Secret Library at Los Alamos described as emanating an “aura of utilitarian haste” with its unpaved streets and barbed wire gates manned by guards—the library appeared quite bleak. The photos that exist today show a small space crammed with books, shelves, file cabinets, and a Ditto machine (an early copier). Because the library was expected to be demolished after the war, everything was built from cheap wood.

The library had two sections: the main area, pictured at the top, and the document room—a locked vault containing reports and designs from Los Alamos and the other Manhattan Project sites. The library’s all-female staff—a mix of wives and Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps officers—needed to catalog, secure, and distribute thousands of books and manuscripts in a matter of months.

“But if library work was among the most tedious on the Hill, the award for the most unenviable job likely belonged to its head librarian: Charlotte Serber, a University of Pennsylvania graduate, statistician, and freelance journalist who at one point interviewed Frank Lloyd Wright for The Boston Globe.

“Here is a puzzle. You have no library experience, and you are tasked with a) heading a top secret facility, b) devising security protocols to ensure the U.S. military’s greatest secrets stay hidden, and c) importing thousands of documents to a site in the middle of nowhere—all in a vanishingly small window of time as World War II unfolds. How do you do it?

The answer, according to Serber: work over 75 hours per week.

Upon accepting the position, Serber taught herself the Library of Congress and Dewey Decimal classification systems,* and teamed up with Oppenheimer’s secretary to develop a pass system for accessing the library’s secure vault, requiring that each scientist present a “typewritten letter” bearing Oppenheimer’s signature rather than a badge.

Tasked with apprising all of the scientists of any new breakthroughs in the labs, Serber and her staff had to familiarize themselves with obscure science in order to accurately record and distribute news across the Hill.”

(Read the rest of this article here!)

Day Forty Seven of the CMLE Summer Fun Library Tour!

Okay, this video technically has nothing to do with libraries. But – look how cute it is! We can all use a couple of minutes in a busy day to have some stress-relieving panda video fun. And if it happens that these adorable little guys remind you of any patrons, well that just highlights how cute our patrons can be and how resilient library people can be, always with good humor, in getting work done despite any obstacle!

Are you doing some fun library work? Share the video and tell us about it!