Online Services and Programming Librarian
State Library of Kansas, Topeka
Coursework toward MLS at Emporia State University; BS, Emporia State University, 2003
State Library of Kansas Digital Book eLending: kslib.info/digitalbooks.html
Photo by Candace LeDuc
When Lianne Flax joined the State Library of Kansas (SLK) as online services and programming librarian in late 2011, SLK was a year into a battle to break its contract with OverDrive to work with multiple digital content vendors—and avoid a 700 percent increase in administrative costs. SLK eventually won, a success that was part of the inspiration for LJ to name state library head Jo Budler Librarian of the Year in 2013.
Flax has been key to the transition from OverDrive to the four platforms now available through the state library’s Digital Book eLending services, which include 3M Cloud and Freading (ebooks), OneClickDigital (audiobooks), and Tumblebooks (read-aloud and read-along ebooks for younger readers). She provides direct support to patrons and Kansas librarians on the digital book platforms and trains librarians in how to use them.
During the rollouts, Flax managed platform and user testing and tried to anticipate questions both librarians and patrons might have. She continues to create a range of instructional materials, including webinars, online tutorials, and demonstration videos to help library staff and end users navigate the various platforms.
“The biggest thing with rollouts is having all patron-side instructions and any possible ‘help’ notes I can think of ready,” says Flax. “For example, with Tumblebooks, sometimes patrons have trouble just because they need to update Flash on their computer. For Enki [a library ebook lending platform primarily for self-published authors and small presses], I used Articulate Storyline to create a self-guided tutorial instead of making individual videos to post to YouTube.”
Beyond creating, editing, and maintaining the Digital Book eLending website, Flax manages technical troubleshooting and customer support and oversees digital collection development, day-to-day communications with vendors, and data collection and analysis.
Despite having multiple platforms now, the library receives many fewer questions and help requests per week than it did before the switch, says Flax.
Her colleagues at libraries around the state recognize how lucky they are to have Flax. They call her creative, imaginative, patient, flexible, attentive to detail, on the ball—“qualities not necessarily easy to display when dealing with constantly changing…sometimes troublesome systems…and numerous upset users,” says Heather Braum, NExpress coordinator and resource sharing librarian at the Northeast Kansas Library System. “The road has been bumpy at times…but without Lianne leading the way…the project would never have run as smoothly as it has.”