Thoughts on the American Fork Public Library, in Utah

By Colleen B. Eggett, American Fork Public Library DirectorAmerican Fork Public Library

Sperling’s Best Places describes American Fork, Utah as a wonderful, happening place. The growth rate is rapid and it’s a marvelous place to raise a family.  There is room to grow. There are two major universities nearby, outstanding natural resources, and it’s close to absolutely everything while remaining unaffected by much of it. That makes for a great recipe for success.

So, I am the new American Fork Public Library Director. It is such a great opportunity.  I am grateful every day.

I would like your ideas on what would make the Library great.  Please tell us your ideas in this short survey. Or, use this QR code to access it. aflibrarydreams

Here are some of my thoughts for how our library can evolve.

  • Keep doing those key functions of the library that are so important in the community.
  • Continue to build our image and presence in the community. Everyone will know us and benefit through the library.
  • Understand better than anyone else what the community wants and needs from us. Use Abundant Community Planning to determine the needs.
  • Continue to grow the American Fork Library in dynamic ways that keep up with current technologies, using best practices from other Utah and nationwide libraries.
  • Use technology to increase cost efficiency within the available resources and keep up with growth, as well as to enhance collections, programs, spaces, and services.
  • Collaborate freely in the North Utah County Library Cooperative Library Services, using our collective experience to help us all.
  • Build the American Fork community. Get involved in the community and get the community involved in the library, reading and literacy.
  • Work with others to secure funding for expansion of the Bryan McKay Eddington Learning Center. Use great design and appealing features in creating a new space. Keep a close connection between the Learning Center and the Library.
  • Completely value Sheena’s great contributions to the community and the library in the many years she was here. Build on what she and the staff accomplished.
  • Use and promote the incredible resources that we already have at no cost to us through Pioneer: Utah’s Online Library. Customize it to the American Fork Library.
    • eBooks and e-Audiobooksiphone
    • Online local newspapers
    • Heritage Quest genealogy
    • Auto repair manuals and service tips
    • Learning Express GED, SAT, ACT, GRE tests, more
  • Continue to make our online presence dynamic and evolving.
    • Use social media and our website to inform and engage the community.
    • Use online registration (free) for Storytime, Programs, Summer Reading.

The four most powerful words in our language are, “Tell me a story.” I can never overestimate the importance that libraries play in people’s lives. We hope to do the same for you.

eBooks and eAudiobooks: What the Vendors Didn’t Tell Us

By Colleen B. Eggett

What should librarians teach their customers about the eBooks and eAudiobooks iphonethat they provide through various vendors such as OverDrive, OneClick Digital, 3M Cloud Library, Axis 360, and others?

I recommend that you teach

  • That you have the eBooks
  • The details of your library’s program:
    • How many items can be checked out at a time
    • How many holds can one have / no holds needed
    • How long is the checkout period
    • How they get in from your library. Does it take a library card #? An access code?
  • What’s included:
    • Genres/ types of books (Romance, Mystery, Biographies, Nonfiction, Children’s books, YA)
    • Software that’s needed (EX: Media Manager, Adobe Digital Editions)
  • Demonstrate how it works
    • Start at your own website
    • Download the media manager
    • Browse
    • Check out
    • Download
  • What help is available
  • Tips for success
  • Common Questions

The audience may be different for reading eBooks and listening to eAudiobooks


  • E-book readers may be younger readers, who need to physically read with their eyes for school
  • Also tech savvy people with an iPhone, Nook, Kindle, or iPad


  • Audiobook readers may be older and don’t want to use their eyes—the print is becoming small
  • They may be on the road a lot for work or play, or they live in rural areas and it’s all spread out

What you need to know:

  • If one person is logged into a computer then logs out, then another person logs in immediately after, they may get an error message: “unable to log into this account.” If so, use a different browser (EX: Firefox rather than IE, or Safari, etc.)
  • Make sure the last person’s browser isn’t still open on the computer
  • Turn the device off then on
  • Clear the cookies
  • Find answers to problems by looking on the vendors’ websites, emailing the support desk, Googling the question

What your public needs to know:

  • Don’t plug in your portable device to your computer until you’re ready to transfer. If it’s plugged in while you’re downloading you’ll get tripped up
  • Make sure your portable device is adequately charged to transfer. If you’re out of battery you’ll be unsuccessful
  • If something doesn’t download, your computer freezes, you run out of battery, you lose internet connection, or whatever, delete the part that got stuck and download that part again. Then download all the rest

How can we be successful in offering downloadable books?

  • Shift more of our budgets to buy more digital content. Library Journal reported in 2014 that eBook integration into the library world is just about complete, with nine in ten libraries now loaning eBooks.
  • James LaRue, former Director of the Douglas County Library in Colorado, said that in the next year, 20% of public libraries’ budgets will go to eBooks and audiobooks, and by 5 years from now, it will be 50%. From which budget will we shift funds? Reference and nonfiction are possibilities
  • Promote your eBooks and audiobooks
    • Talk, talk, talk
    • Make sure your staff knows about them
    • Get the word out on your website
    • Get the word out in your building. Put up:
      • A sign in your audiobook area
      • A banner outside your library
      • Signs / flyers at the your checkout area
      • Put it on your website
      • Marc records for the titles in your library catalog
    • Be proactive. If you’ not happy with your eBook or audiobook service, talk to the vendor. Your voice is important as the eBook industry evolves
    • Try something new and let people know how it worked: sharing knowledge is a library value

Learning 3.0

I am considering ways to make learning in libraries more meaningful.


The Serious e-Learning Manifesto published in March 2014 sparks both thought and action. It is the brainchild of Michael Allen, Julie Dirksen, Clark Quinn, and Will Thalheimer, national e-learning gurus. One truth discussed in the manifesto is that most e-learning fails to live up to its promise.

There are 22 principles in the Manifesto and the question is, where are we in relation to them?

Principles that I am most comfortable with are:

  1. Do Not Assume that Learning is the Solution. We do not assume that a learning intervention is always the best means to helping people perform better.
  2. Do Not Assume that e-Learning is the Answer. When learning is required, we do not assume that e-learning is the only (or the best) solution.
  3. Enlist Authentic Contexts. We will provide learners with sufficient experience in making decisions in authentic contexts.
  4. Provide Guidance and Feedback. We will provide learners with guidance and feedback to correct their misconceptions, reinforce their comprehension, and build effective performance skills.
  5. Provide Realistic Consequences. When providing performance feedback during learning, we will provide learners with a sense of the real-world consequences.
  6. Diagnose Root Causes. When given training requests, we will determine whether training is likely to produce benefits and whether other factors should be targeted for improvement. We will also endeavor to be proactive in assessing organizational performance factors–not waiting for requests from organizational stakeholders.
  7. Iterate in Design, Development, and Deployment. We won’t assume that our first pass is right, but we will evaluate and refine until we have achieved our design goals.
  8. Use Rich Examples and Counterexamples. We will present examples and counterexamples, together with the underlying thinking.
  9. Enable Learners to Learn from Mistakes. Failure is an option. We will, where appropriate, let learners make mistakes so they can learn from them. In addition, where appropriate, we will model mistake-making and mistake-fixing.
  10. Respect Learners. We will acknowledge and leverage the knowledge and skills learners bring to the learning environment through their past experience and individual contexts

Principles that I must further develop are:

  1. Target Improved Performance. We will help our learners achieve performance excellence; enabling them to have improved abilities, skills, confidence, and readiness to perform.
  2. Provide Realistic Practice. We will provide learners sufficient levels of realistic practice; for example, simulations, scenario-based decision making, case-based evaluations, and authentic exercises.
  3. Provide Realistic Consequences. When providing performance feedback during learning, we will provide learners with a sense of the real-world consequences.
  4. Adapt to Learner Needs. We can and should utilize e-learning’s capability to create learning environments that are flexible or adaptive to learner needs.
  5. Motivate Meaningful Involvement. We will provide learners with learning experiences that are relevant to their current goals and/or that motivate them to engage deeply in the process of learning.
  6. Aim for Long-term Impact. We will create learning experiences that have long-term impact–well beyond the end of instructional events–to times when the learning is needed for performance.
  7. Use Interactivity to Prompt Deep Engagement. We will use e-learning’s unique interactive capabilities to support reflection, application, rehearsal, elaboration, contextualization, debate, evaluation, synthesization, et cetera—not just in navigation, page turning, rollovers, and information search.
  8. Provide Support for Post-Training Follow-Through. We will support instruction with the appropriate mix of after-training follow-through, providing learning events that: reinforce key learning points, marshal supervisory and management support for learning application, and create mechanisms that enable further on-the-job learning.
  9. Use Performance Support. We will consider providing job aids, checklists, wizards, sidekicks, planners, and other performance support tools in addition to–and as a potential replacement for–standard e-learning interactions.
  10. Measure Effectiveness. Good learning cannot be assured without measurement, which includes the following:
    1. Measure Outcomes. Ideally, we will measure whether the learning has led to benefits for the individual and/or the organization.
    2. Measure Actual Performance Results. Ideally, an appropriate time after the learning (for example, two to six weeks later), we will measure whether the learner has applied the learning, the level of success, the success factors and obstacles encountered, and the level of supervisor support where warranted.
    3. Measure Learning Comprehension and Decision Making During Learning. At a minimum, during the learning, we will measure both learner comprehension and decision-making ability. Ideally, we would also measure these at least a week after the learning.
    4. Measure Meaningful Learner Perceptions. When we measure learners’ perceptions, we will measure their perceptions of the following: their ability to apply what they’ve learned, their level of motivation, and the support they will receive in implementing the learning.
  11. Support Performance Preparation. We will prepare learners during the elearning event to be motivated to apply what they’ve learned, inoculated against obstacles, and prepared to deal with specific situations.
  12. Support Learner Understanding with Conceptual Models. We believe that performance should be based upon conceptual models to guide decisions, and that such models should be presented, linked to steps in examples, practiced with, and used in feedback.

It feels that I am getting some realistic ideas that can springboard library learning in Utah.

Albert Einstein is one of my favorite people in the universe

Albert Einstein is one of my favorite people in the universe.


No, I didn’t meet him personally; no matter my current age I was way beyond his time. When I first had an awareness of him I was in high school, or maybe junior high, and he was gone.  I’d heard about him, studied him and his theories, dreamed of making that next great discovery. And taken in his thoughts about how the universe was ordered.

A long-time friend of mine knew him intimately in Princeton. So one time over dinner, I asked him, “What was Albert Einstein like?” He told me he was just like his pictures. He had long untamed hair, walked around town with shorts and sandals, and was socially aloof. When invited to dinner or social invitations but usually turned them down, preferring the quiet solitude of his own home. Yet he had causes that he cared deeply about and would get out on a limb to support things he felt were justified.  My friend felt that if Einstein were more socially engaged it would have helped his causes. My friend told me the story, which I’d read about before, of the time that Einstein was out walking near a soy field. The person he was walking with asked him what the plant was that was growing. Einstein replied, “I can’t know everything.” Einstein wasn’t particularly religious. He had an underlying belief in a creator of the universe but wasn’t too worried about religion as a matter of daily thought or practice. Yet he was so thick in his science that he did things and discovered things that were amazing. He was all about innovation. He was a genius.

Maybe it was lack of social consciousness that gave him the courage to try and make mistakes and try again. He just didn’t care about what others thought of him or what he wore or the looks of his hair. At least towards the end of his life.

Maybe it was his native brilliance.

Maybe it was his ability to look at failure as one piece of the process of discovery.

Some of my favorite Einstein quotes:[1]

  • “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Quoted in interview by G.S. Viereck , October 26,1929.
  • “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” —Albert Einstein to Carl Seelig – March 11, 1952.
  • “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” —Albert Einstein  to J. Dispentiere – March 24, 1954.
  • “It is not a lack of real affection that scares me away again and again from marriage. Is it a fear of the comfortable life, of nice furniture, of dishonor that I burden myself with, or even the fear of becoming a contented bourgeois.” —Albert Einstein to Elsa Löwenthal, after August 3, 1914.

And one more, though I have no idea where it came from nor where it’s headed:

  • “The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.”  -Albert Einstein.

In many ways, Einstein reminds me of my dad.


Questions upon questions

I am teaching an online course on Library Surveys for Success soon. Here are some questions to be considered when writing survey questions (echo alert).

After designing your survey take a second look and think about the following:

Survey design

  • Did you give clear instructions?
  • Are demographic questions asked that are useful to your project?
  • Is the survey brief? (Less than 10-15 minutes to complete)
  • Does the survey look professional and esthetically pleasing?
  • Does the survey describe how the results will directly affect them? (EX: Improving services)


  • Are the questions consistent with your survey goals?
  • Do the questions use simple and clear wording?
  • Are positive adjectives or phrases used?
  • Do the questions ask for only “need to know” and not “nice to know” information?
  • Does the question lead to a particular response? (Is it a leading question?)
  • Is potentially offensive language used? (For example, sexist or racist wording)
  • Do any questions contain technical terms or jargon?
  • Have you used double negatives?


  • What will be the value of a response? If 95% say, “Yes,” would this affect decision-making?
  • Might the question prompt a vague answer? Make sure you ask directly for the information.
  • Will respondents have the information they need to answer the question?
  • If a scale is used for responses, is it balanced (for example, 1 to 5, with 3 being neutral)?
  • If responses are provided, are they mutually exclusive?

Running your survey

  • Did you do a pre-test before sending the survey out?
  • Are you sure you’re reaching your target audience?
  • Did you provide an end date?
  • Do you plan to keep the survey live for a couple of days after the end date?