February 6, 2016

Stephen Grubb | Movers & Shakers 2014 — Change Agents



E-services & Marketing Manager
Broward County Library, Fort Lauderdale, FL

MLS, University of South Florida, 2009

@stephenkg; www.broward.org/library

Photo by Steve Vink, Broward County Library

Librarian Without Walls

Stephen Grubb is always brainstorming ways to use technology both to promote and improve library services. He started experimenting with the use of custom QR codes that can be scanned with a simple smartphone app while he was in charge of programming at Florida’s North Regional/Broward County College Library. First, he used the codes to promote library events, but later he became much more ambitious, working with them to bring 34,000 public domain titles to readers on the go via a partnership with the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport.

Since becoming the Broward County Library’s e-services and marketing manager in 2011, Grubb has continued to come up with creative uses for the technology, such as a “QR Quest,” which involved library users in a scannable scavenger hunt. Grubb says the quest served to gauge users’ knowledge of library services but also helped promote a more tech-savvy image, especially for “digital natives.”

“If we are outdated and extinct in their eyes, we will have a serious problem,” says Grubb.

That’s why Grubb led the transformation of “Broward County Library” into “BCL WoW,” which stands for “Broward County Library Without Walls.” The massive rebranding effort started with a fresh logo and went on to the creation of a new website, library card, welcome brochure, and social media strategy. The makeover won the library several awards, garnering plenty of publicity in the process.

But marketing alone only goes so far.

That’s why, when Broward County librarians are asked to promote a single service each month through the “WoW of the Month” campaign, which Grubb helped develop, they are each given training, a palm card, and a suggested script with which to work. “If customers come in with a new ereader, and staff are uncomfortable assisting them, we are obsolete,” says Grubb. “Libraries should be leading the way and telling our customers what’s new and what’s coming, not the other way around.”

Grubb has worked with the library’s IT team to launch a range of new tools, including an innovative app that allows users not only to browse the library catalog but also to scan any book they discover outside the library to see if it’s available from the library.

According to coworker Catherine McElrath, Grubb’s push to create the library of the future has, at the very least, “forever changed library services in South Florida.”

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