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It's a self-service world. ATMs, airline check-in machines, and self-serve gas stations are all part of everyday life. And survey data show that many customers like the sense of control that self-service brings. That means that the time is right for libraries to explore new ways to provide effective assistance to the independent user.

In this class we'll look at a variety of ways to help the public serve themselves using different media, including written materials, audio, and video. Did you know that

  • Written help materials can be greatly improved by following simple format and content guidelines?
  • Changes in recording techniques and equipment for both sound and video have made it possible to get good quality audio for under $100, and good quality video for under $200?
  • Even inexpensive recording devices are compact and easy to use, no longer requiring additional cords or special memory cards?
  • Anyone can put audio and video files on the web for free, even without one's own web server?

Creating effective self-service user guides is an excellent investment in quality customer service. Making it possible for your users to complete routine tasks successfully without direct staff intervention can help you find the time you need for more complex customer contacts and other library work.

Workshop Description: In this all-day, hands-on workshop, attendees will brainstorm, learn about, and see examples of good instructional materials in written, audio, and video form. Through individual and group exercises, attendees will create materials designed to allow the public to serve themselves, developing written material, creating an audio file, and exploring video. The instructor will provide recording devices for you to use hands-on in small groups. By the end of the day you will have created an example of instructional material that you can use at the library immediately. The class will also produce a short video.

Pre-workshop assignment: Please bring an example—in print and in digital form (on a flash drive) if possible—of a piece of written instructional material you'd like to work on. If you have a digital audio recording device and/or a video camera, and cords to connect them to a computer, feel free to bring those as well.

Preliminary Course Outline

  • Getting the Public to Use Your Printed Instructional Material
    • Creating user-friendly handouts
    • Theming your instructional material
  • Instructional Writing Techniques
    • Correct use of bullets and numbering, titles, and spacing
    • Using screen shots
    • Adding boxes and arrows to Word files
  • Ways to Use Audio to Allow the Public to Self-Serve
    • Brainstorm ways to use audio
    • Hear examples
    • Produce a short audio tour of your library that can be translated into other languages
  • Ways to Use Video to Allow the Public to Self-Serve
    • Brainstorm ways to use video
    • Look at good library examples of how to use video
    • Produce a one- to two-minute script for a video that would help users self-serve
    • Produce a short class video

Workshop Instructor: Cheryl Gould