To Follow This Blog:

FeedMyInbox is no longer available as a blog feed.
You could use Blogtrotter or Google Reader instead.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Library Legislative Day 2014

Does your voice matter?  Why should you go?  What can YOU do?  
Have you heard the name "Library Legislative Day" but just disregarded it because it didn't sound like something you'd want to participate in?  Me too.

Last year I got involved because it was part of my job.  I was apprehensive about going. At 6am I climbed the steps into the school bus leaving IFLS along with several others - many whom I did not know.  What a surprise I got when we started mingling and planning our groups and getting hand outs on talking points.  I was not alone and would be meeting with my legislators with a group of well-spoken people.  It was fascinating to wander the capitol beforehand and it felt really good to be part of something that might make a difference for libraries.  Even the bus ride back home after was full of conversation and laughter and maybe a little snoozing - what a great day it had been.  

Stepping off the bus at 6pm, my feelings toward Library Legislative Day were really different from just 12 hours earlier.  It felt great to have been a part of it and I was already looking forward to going again next year.

If you have any inkling go - I encourage you to do it.  Ride the bus from IFLS if you can or at least meet up with the folks coming from the IFLS region when you are there.  

Here is a link with lots of good information including the webinar  Demystifying Library Legislative Day.  

Remember to register so an appointment will be made for you. 

Kathy O'Leary,  Indianhead Federated Library System 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Affordable Care Act: Resources for the Health Insurance Marketplace

In March 2010, President Obama signed comprehensive health reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), into law. Health Insurance Marketplaces, also known as Exchanges, have been set up to facilitate a more organized and competitive market for buying health insurance. 

The Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment starts October 1, 2013 and ends March 31, 2014. Coverage can begin as soon as January 1, 2014 (if enrolled by December 15, 2013). Marketplaces will primarily serve individuals buying insurance on their own and small businesses. Federal subsidies in the form of premium tax credits will be available to consumers meeting income requirements to make the coverage more affordable.


This is the website for Wisconsin that you will use to apply for coverage, compare plans, and enroll. Questions?  Call 1-800-318-2596, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY users call 1-855-889-4325.

EspaƱol Spanish Language Materials for Service Providers Native Americans


Want to learn more about how it works? Watch these videos:

6 minute video about the Health Insurance Marketplace APPLICATION
This video introduces an interactive online application process for health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace on HealthCare.gov. Using an example of a single man from Arizona, images of computer screens from the application unfold while a narrator explains the content of each screen. The program concludes with a printable summary of the application and an explanation of what benefits will be received.


4 minute video about the Health Insurance Marketplace ENROLLMENT
This video introduces the Marketplace enrollment process for health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace on HealthCare.gov. Using the same individual from the Marketplace Application video as an example, the scenario continues, as he follows step-by-step instructions on how to find and enroll in a health plan. Images of computer screens from the Marketplace enrollment process unfold while a narrator explains the content of each screen. The program concludes with a successful completion of all enrollment steps, and how to contact the health plan to submit payment.

What key dates do I need to know?

Follow this link to learn the important dates regarding the Health Insurance Marketplace.

The Wisconsin Legislature approved the rejection of an optional Medicaid expansion under federal health care reform. How does this effect me?

Are you a Veteran? Visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs page VA, Affordable Care Act and You.

Printable forms:

Family Application Form - For families who may need help paying for coverage


Individual Short Application Form
- For single adults who may need help paying for coverage

Individual Without Financial Assistance Application Form - This form is for anyone. It does NOT let individuals apply for subsidies or tax credits to pay for costs

Marketplace Application Checklist - A checklist of information that will be helpful to gather ahead of time. Page 2 is a form for people who are eligible for insurance from their employer, but want to apply on the Marketplace anyway.
Quick facts about the Health Insurance Marketplace:
  • The Health Insurance Marketplace is for people seeking insurance or who are uninsured. Generally, people who currently have insurance through their workplace, who have insurance through Medicaid/KanCare, Medicare, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Tricare or the Veterans health care program are not the target of this open enrollment period. 
  • Most people will be eligible for health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. 
  • The Marketplace is a new way to find quality health coverage. It can help if you don’t have coverage now or if you have it but want to look at other options. 
  • The Marketplace simplifies your search for health coverage by gathering the options available in your area in one place. You can compare plans based on price, benefits, and other features important to you before you make a choice. Plans will be presented in four categories – bronze, silver, gold, and platinum – to make comparing them easier. 
  • Insurance plans in the Marketplace are offered by private companies. They cover the same core set of benefits called essential health benefits. No plan can turn you away or charge you more because you have an illness or medical condition. They must cover treatments for these conditions. Plans can’t charge women more than men for the same plan. Many preventive services are covered at no cost to you. 
The Public Library's role in helping people find insurance in the Marketplace?
The Affordable Care Act includes sweeping changes and a number of options in healthcare coverage. There are a wide variety of resources available online that provide information about these options, and how to choose what is best for you. The staff at many public libraries can direct patrons to those resources.

Making the correct healthcare choices requires an understanding of each person’s or family’s unique health and financial circumstances. Library staff are not trained or licensed to provide advice or to assist you in selecting a specific health plan, but can provide information and direction to public resources about the Affordable Care Act that will help you make your own choices.


This information in this post is borrowed from Arrowhead Library System's website http://als.lib.wi.us/AffordableCareAct.html

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Librarians and the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act is coming down the pipe, and the public library will play in important role in assisting people to understand and explore their options.

As part of the Affordable Health Care Act, U.S. citizens and legal residents will be required to have qualifying health coverage by January 1, 2014.  In preparation for this, a health care exchange (a place where consumers can purchase subsidized health insurance coverage) will be available on October 1, 2013.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced a partnership to help libraries get ready to respond to patron requests for assistance in understanding and navigating new health insurance options in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

You can view the archived webinar from August 21st presenting an overview of the ACA and how it relates to Wisconsin Public Libraries by CDT, Stephen Johnson from the Ebling Health Sciences Library at the University of Wisconsin, along with Terrie Howe and Tessa Michaelson Schmidt from the Public Library Development Team at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.  The link to the recorded webinar: https://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/jwsdetect/playback.jnlp?psid=2013-08-21.0742.M.105C64666809901538318B594784D3.vcr&sid=2012293 or http://tinyurl.com/lquvjds

The federal exchange will open October 1, 2013. If an individual wishes their health insurance to begin January 1, 2014, they must enroll by mid-December. Open Enrollment will close March 31, 2014. 

More information can be found here: http://pld.dpi.wi.gov/pld_aca

So, get on your marks and be prepared for Oct 1st.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Popular Software Tutorials - Free!

Popular Software Tutorials from LearningExpress are now available to all libraries in Wisconsin....at no cost to the libraries!  

These tutorials are from basic to advanced and self-paced for the most commonly used applications and operating systems.   The tutorials include fully interactive multimedia, including sound, animation, visual demonstrations, along with quizzes and hands-on practice lab simulations.

Here is a list of what is offered:
Adobe Dreamweaver Courses
Adobe Flash Courses
Adobe Illustrator Courses
Adobe Photoshop Courses
Corel WordPerfect Courses
Microsoft Access Courses
Microsoft Excel Courses
Microsoft Outlook Courses
Microsoft PowerPoint Courses
Microsoft Project Courses
Microsoft Publisher Courses
Microsoft SharePoint Designer Courses
Microsoft Visio Courses
Microsoft Word Courses
Windows and Mac Operating Systems Courses
This additional content is integrated with BadgerLink, so you can access it through existing links to LearningExpress Library through BadgerLink (http://www.badgerlink.net). 

Technical support will be provided by Resources for Libraries & Lifelong Learning’s BadgerLink Technical Support Team. Contact information for support can be found here: http://rl3.dpi.wi.gov/contact-badgerlink

Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds were awarded to WiLS for this project from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.  LSTA funds are provided by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Online Hub for Digital Literacy Support and Training








Here is a website with free learning tools to help folks feel comfortable and confident with technology. They offer short free online "classes" at the website: digitallearn.org

DigitalLearn.org is a site devoted to helping everyone to effectively use digital technologies through simple online training modules. It is also a home for those who want to help others with digital literacy.

If you are new to computers, haven't used them for a while, are a little unsure and uncomfortable, or just need a bit of a refresher, here are the tools to help you tackle technology at your own pace and gain the confidence you need to succeed.

  • Getting Started on the Computer
  • Using a PC (Windows)
  • Using a Mac (OS X)
  • Basic Search
  • Navigating a Website
  • Intro to Email
Ready to help others? The site also offers an online community of individuals working to support digital literacy for all.

The Public Library Association's new site, DigitalLearn.org, is an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant-funded project to create an online hub for digital literacy support and training. The site launched in June 2013 and is intended to build upon and foster the work of libraries and community organizations as they work to increase digital literacy across the nation. DigitalLearn.org is being undertaken in partnership with ALA's Office of Information Technology Policy and Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, as well as bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders including representatives from national agencies, state libraries, public libraries, community organizations, and many others. Included in DigitalLearn.org is a collection of self-directed tutorials for end-users to increase their digital literacy, and a community of practice for digital literacy trainers to share resources, tools and best practices.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Does Your Library Website Feel Authentic, Refreshing, Consistent and Inspiring?

An organization’s brand is everything it stands for – its vision and values, and the emotional connotations it inspires in everyone who comes in contact with it.
Since your website is likely the primary way in which prospective audiences and donors learn about your organization, it’s your best brand ambassador. The information on your website should be presented in a clear, unambiguous way so supporters are engaged, not lost and confused. That information can be conveyed in two ways, primarily: through words, and through visuals. And both types of content need to be consistent and resonant with your nonprofit’s brand.
Brand benefits
It’s easier than ever to use cheap or free technology to get a good-looking website, logo, or email newsletter. However, there are more than 1.5 million nonprofits currently in the U.S., and a lot of their websites look, feel, and sound the same. “Organizations may see themselves as distinctive because they are caring, sympathetic, trustworthy, and all that other nonprofit goo,” claims Adrian Sargeant at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University – but his research finds that many other nonprofits share these traits as well. Instead, strive to stand out by being authentic, refreshing, consistent, and inspiring.
Establishing a nonprofit brand is an investment that can, admittedly, take time, effort, and money. But it’s well worth it – strong nonprofit brands enjoy expanded visibility and improved fundraising results. Most importantly, it will help you stand apart from the crowd – so people ‘get it’.
Strategy first
The question to ask before proceeding with any element of your online brand is, do you have a strategy for what you’re creating? Whether it’s your website, email newsletter, video or annual report, while working on these items, ask yourself, which of these designs and messages most accurately reflects our positioning? This makes the process strategic, not something subjective, such as,“I like this because I like this shade of orange”.
Heath Shackleford, of goodmustgrow.com says, “Strategy leads to things like a distinctive and authentic point of view, the creation of compelling content, and the development of engaged communities. Without strategy, you are just making stuff that may or may not “look pretty.””
Where design fits in
Flashy graphics seem compelling, but unless they relate to your brand’s personality, they won’t resonate with your audiences. Having said that, studies from the Visual Teaching Alliance show that 65 percent of the population are visual learners, and that 90 percent of information that comes to the brain is visual.
While a brand is so much more than a logo, a logo is a very important part of a nonprofit’s brand. Nonprofits especially benefit from having a strong logo and tagline that communicates a clear brand promise and serves as the foundation for all marketing – especially on a website.
Other design elements such as color, typography, placement and graphic style all play a substantial role in how your brand is conveyed on your website:
  • Color. Develop a consistent color palette that can be used for the logo as well for other marketing, fundraising and communications materials
  • Typefaces. Adopt a system of typefaces that can be used for all of your marketing materials. Set guidelines for using them in a variety of typical layout formats, including:
    • Large headlines
    • Text
    • Subheads
    • Callouts
Donor-centric
When it comes to creating successful nonprofit websites, it’s not really what feels right to you, the board, and staff (and definitely not about the Executive Director and her love of the color orange). Start with your audiences’ needs and preferences. For most organizations the biggest chunk of people you’re looking to connect with are those giving you money. As Jeff Brooks says on his website Future Fundraising Now, “It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them.”
With this is mind, here are some tips for keeping your donors happy on your website:
  • Make sure the donation page is easy to find and doesn’t require extra clicks to get to
  • The design of donation buttons are an important call to action. Make sure these buttons project sophistication or are compelling in some other way that is commensurate with your brand. If yours look like clip art from 2001, improve their design to instill in people a greater sense of confidence in their giving choices
  • This handy infographic depicts the key elements of an effective online donation page.
Here are 6 additional suggestions for keeping your website – and all your online communications – in line with your brand:
  • Identify your Brand Attributes. Your brand personality should set the tone across all communication vehicles. Are you serious or fun? Quiet or loud? Cutting edge or conventional? Grassroots or establishment? Hi-tech or homemade? Subdued or bright?
  • Evoke Emotion. Infuse your writing with feeling. Studies show that nonprofit brands that stimulate an emotion—anger, or laughter, for example—provide differentiation that can increase the size of donations
  • Avoid Jargon. Not sure if your writing is free or full of jargon? Check out this great jargon finder.
  • Stick with a Content Management System. Since most NPO brands are in a constant state of evolution – adding programs, partners, expanding, contracting, changing focus, direction, audiences, etc – your website should be dynamic and evolve too. Use a CMS with an easy-to-use section for administrators
  • Employ Calls to Action. Encourage visitors to do stuff on your site. These ‘calls to action’ should be evident on each page. For example, at The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, “donate”, “fundraise”, and “participate” are all clearly positioned on the homepage and other calls to action are evident on most pages
  • Use Images to Tell Stories. Good photos and videos tell stories, and stories are engaging. Consider how images can be employed strategically to communicate a specific point, not just as decoration. Kiva uses compelling photography to tell their members’ stories
As the perfect vehicle to convey your nonprofit brand, your website should be based on solid strategy and above all, feel authentic, refreshing, consistent and inspiring. A strong nonprofit brand sets you apart from other organizations in your sector; helps you communicate better (both internally and externally); and increases an understanding of the great work you’re doing to make the world a better place.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On Men, Elevator Speeches, and Market Segments

from Illinois Libraries Matter blog  post on May 10, 2013


At the 2012 ILA Conference in Peoria, a librarian told me about a frustrating experience she’d had.  She’d tried to convince a young man in his ’20′s that the library had relevance for him. She was unsuccessful.  She told me the story, and turning to me, she asked, “What’s the benefit?”"What’s the benefit?” is a phrase that comes to us from advertising, and I think what she meant was, “what could I have said to this young man that would have persuaded him to come into the library?”  I’m afraid I was completely unprepared for this question, although I shouldn’t be:  it seems to come up every so often.
On another recent occasion, I found myself making conversation with the man who helped me when I ran out of gas. I asked him about his reading, and he said that he had a Kindle, that he liked to read W.E.B. Griffin, and that he saw no need for libraries in the future because everyone would be using an e-reader. I should have said something to contradict him, immediately, but I didn’t.  I didn’t have an answer, or “a benefit,” for him, either.
Laura  Brad reading The Spymasters
Poplar Creek Public Library’s Laura Brad reading W.E.B. Griffin’s The Spymasters.
 After some thought, I’ve realized that thinking about market segmentation for guys in creating an elevator speech is a way to respond to these particular challenges.  For the kinds of real-life encounters I’ve described, it’s good to be prepared with an “elevator speech,” a list of two to three items you can talk about at a moment’s notice.   To create this ready-made answer, it’s important to think a little about market segmentation.
Market segmentation is a marketing strategy that involves dividing a broad audience, like the users of a library, into subsets of customers with common tastes or needs. Having a teen department is an example of market segmentation.
Identify the library’s market segments and identify the products most likely to excite that segment.  In the case of preparing an “elevator speech,” it’s even more important to think about the male segment.   Men are more frequently not users of libraries, so it is more important to be prepared with a short list of items likely to appeal to men.
I should have suggested to my colleague at ILA that in a similar situation she could offer an elevator speech of two to four items, something like, “There’s a lot for guys your age at the library:  videos, CDs, video games and graphic novels.”
I should have suggested to the man with the Kindle that, with a librarian as his guide, he might discover many other authors that might interest him. I might have said to him, ”If you enjoy Griffin you might enjoy knowing you can “check out” Griffin books on your ereader for free from the library website.” If he were a commuter, he might enjoy listening to Griffin on audiobook. And if he ran out of books to read, he could turn to his librarian for suggestions for new, but similar, authors to read.
One of my favorite examples of market segmentation I learned about from Building a Buzz: Libraries & Word of Mouth Marketing. The director of a library in Wyoming visited car shops in her community, distributing posters and stickers on the Chilton’s car repair database that featured the “Mudflap Girl” of truck mudflap fame, now shown reading a book. The guys in the repair shops found it funny, while some librarians questioned its taste. But it sparked a lot of discussion, and the uses of the Chilton’s database jumped to 800 a month.Use market segmentation to think about who your audience is and make your marketing appealing and accessible to that segment. When I organized a job fair for my library, I asked myself where I could find job seekers and then publicized the event at the unemployment office and the Township’s job club.
WY_libraries
Men and boys are often underrepresented among the users of libraries, and perhaps are the most likely to believe that the library has nothing for them.  Considering them as a market segments will be the first step in converting them into regular users.  Identify the products that appeal to them, and get your elevator speech on –  promote those products for given in ways that are likely to reach them, and enjoy the pleasure of bringing library patrons together with the things they love!
I would love to hear from you in the comments! Let me know what kind of elevator speech you use to promote your library?  Do you have more than one?  Which has proved to be most effective?
Elizabeth Neill is the Outreach Librarian at the Poplar Creek library.