Latest News from Rysavy & Michalak Consultants

Library Customers & Engagement with Library Content & Services

Library Customers & Engagement with Library Content & Services

Do you think your library customers are receiving your messaging the way you intend?

Clearly communicating your services and content to library customers is something Russell Michalak and I are passionate about.

Let us know what you think about your current messaging strategies in the comments.

Are they working?

What’s not working?

Let us know how we can help!

Reflections on My Delaware Beginnings Part 1

Also known as: Why You Should Advocate for Time-Saving Solutions

I arrived at Goldey-Beacom College in November 2010, after working for a short period of time at Widener University as a part-time reference librarian, after moving from Claremont, California to Delaware in February 2010. Not only was the move, culturally, as being a boot wearing, cowboy hat, Zane Grey and Louis L’Armour reading aficionado, Westerner, challenging, but so was the transition to new a discipline challenging as well. At the Claremont University Consortium– a small nationally ranked private college, I served as a Special Collections (Western Americana Manuscripts) librarian.  Upon my employment as the full-time librarian at Goldey-Beacom College–a small regional private college in the mid-Atlantic— I served as a full-time librarian with responsibility for all aspects of the library but without the authority and support of the academic affairs department, which most academic libraries report to, but with the supervision of the Dean of Students, who was put in charge of the library due to her non-traditional supervisory role of student affairs, campus store, food service and athletics.

My first task upon being hired at Goldey-Beacom College was to count by hand the number of print periodicals we owned.  Her reasoning was the other full-time librarian (the serials librarian) had miscounted the volume count two years earlier when the college sought re-accreditation by Middle States.  I asked if we had Serial Solutions—which provides e-resource access and management services to libraries. She said no. I then requested if we could get Serial Solutions so we could use the numbers reported by this tool as a benchmark. She agreed but indicated that she would need to review a proposal. In this proposal I explained the advantages of using a tool that was considered an industry standard and the space we could save by using the overlap analysis tool, which showed the percentage of our e-resources that we owned in-print and we held electronically.  I also met with my supervisor daily explaining the process of using industry standard tools.

As we waited to acquire Serial Solutions at the start of the new fiscal year, my staff and I counted by hand the print periodicals which took a full seven months (on top of other duties) until July.  In July, the library acquired Serial Solutions.  Immediately, we ran the overlap analysis report which showed us our electronic holdings, which took us about half a day.

Because of this report, we started to recycle the print periodicals that we held in duplicate with our electronic holdings.  Five years later, the space we saved by recycling over 90 % of the print periodicals was used to add more computers in the library and a handicap seating table with a computer.

Through this process, I learned that when reporting to a new supervisor (regardless of level) with limited experience working in the library field monthly reports, daily meetings, and patience pays off.  The library was able to acquire the new e-resource and access management tool that saved my staff a lot of time.

Announcing a New Opportunity: Do you want to publish a chapter in our upcoming edited collection?

Rusty and I are excited to share that we have a CfP (Call for Proposals) out for a new edited collection with the working title, “Academic Plagiarism: Librarians’ solo and collaborative efforts to curb academic plagiarism”.

A few details about the call:

We are working with Jessica Gribble, a senior acquisitions editor with Libraries Unlimited / ABC-CLIO, to solicit chapter proposals for this proposed edited collection. The general timeline we are proposing is a completed volume by January 2020 so you would have several months to work on your contribution.

Interested in authoring a chapter?

Please complete this form by the end of the day on Friday, February 22, 2019:

Onboarding in Academic Libraries

Do you remember your last “first day at work” at your most recent or current job? Did it feel like a smooth process? Did you have tasks – both policy / required and meaningful (related to why you were hired in the first place)? Or maybe things were a bit scattered…

One of the first major projects I worked on as a graduate assistant at Penn State while in my Ph.D. program was to help the ITS Human Resources Unit establish an online onboarding program. That project really spoke to my love of all things project management, establishing systems & processes to help both new hires & managers effectively navigate the onboarding process – which truly can be a confusing maze for all involved if you don’t take the time to plan out what your new hire will be doing (and remember that your efforts ought to incorporate, or at least align, with your departmental and/or central HR office).

That’s why I’m so excited to share that we have an edited collection coming out about onboarding in academic libraries this spring with Nova Science Publishers. Learn more & pre-order by visiting the book website I set up to share details about the edited collection & our talented group of authors: Onboarding in Academic Libraries

Onboarding Book
Onboarding Book
New Uses for Tech: Increasing Student and Faculty Engagement with an Email Marketing Service

New Uses for Tech: Increasing Student and Faculty Engagement with an Email Marketing Service

New Uses for Tech: ConvertKit for Engagement

Let’s Talk Audience Engagement

How do you know if your students, staff, and/or faculty are engaged with the services and/or products that you are promoting at your institution? Are you collecting metrics? How do you collect them? Oh, and if you are collecting metrics, what are you doing with those metrics? Do you look at them? How often? 

Whether you are a higher education administrator thinking about how to promote your department or unit’s next service or product launch, an academic librarian trying to figure out how to get more students to attend and actually engage with your information literacy session, or an academic with a small business or a “size hustle” that you are working to develop into a full-scale small business, metrics, data about what your target market wants – and how those individuals engage – or don’t engage –  with your content / products after you share it with them – is crucial to increasing and sustaining meaningful engagement with your audience.

Email Marketing

One way to promote your products or services is through email marketing. You know those pop-ups you experience online that ask you to share your email for a free X or Y thing (typically a PDF download) or requests to sign up for a newsletter? Yes, that kind of email marketing. I was pretty impressed with some email marketing campaigns I came across recently which resulted in me buying products and services – and I’m a picky shopper. So I decided I wanted to learn more about email marketing for a few reasons. Back to those in a minute. Right now I’m working on learning more about email marketing from people like Jenna Kutcher, with her List to Launch Lab, and Sarah Anderson with her Pro Email Copy blog, which runs a really interesting feature called “Email Teardowns” where she analyzes recent email campaigns and talks about the hits and misses (from her perspective) from those email campaigns. 

I’m not an expert in email marketing. But what I am an expert in, however, is training, specifically educational technology (ed-tech) related training, and on best practices of integrating technology into classroom and other academic environments – like libraries, for example. One of my favorite things to do, with my love of most things technology-related, is find new uses for existing tools or multi-uses for tools I’m thinking of picking up. 

The Current Issue: Lack of Sustained Engagement with EdTech Training

The department I lead at a small private college runs educational technology training for faculty at my institution (among other duties – it’s the office of Institutional Research & Training). As with many institutions, the vast majority of our faculty are adjunct faculty, and as a result, have a variety of personal and professional schedules that make attending face-to-face training difficult. Knowing this, my department has focused on developing online trainings – first we create training guides or FAQs, as faculty feedback has taught us that most faculty tend to prefer guides over videos, but after we create step-by-step guides we create videos because sometimes it’s really just simpler to watch someone do something as opposed to read about it with screenshots. 

Recently, I really wanted to mix things up with our training. We track engagement with our training guides by looking at the analytics afforded to us by the system we use to house our trainings – Springshare’s LibGuides. As you might have guessed, LibGuides is a traditional “library” tool – a content management system (CMS) – that I share with Rusty’s library. Two departments using one system saves the college money, and there are now two directors who are experts on the system, as opposed to one, which provides redundancy (this is super critical at small institutions like ours where most people wear many hats). I noticed, by looking at the analytics, that engagement – which I track by looking at page views / hits – was going down on most of the guides. I saw a spike when new adjuncts were hired, which made sense because they were learning all the tools and systems. I noticed a bit of a spike when we had new project launches (I can easily compare dates over time using the backend analytics in the LibApps system), but I wasn’t seeing sustained engagement, sustained visits to our training guides over time. I also didn’t know to what extent the hits were returning or new visitors as LibApps statistics aren’t that granular (or frankly it’s not clear if these visits are just from faculty because the guide is open to those with our institution’s email domain). 

Similarly, Rusty and I run our Information Literacy Assessment (ILA) program – an online IL pre-test/training/post-test program we developed a few years ago and published about here and here –  with several groups of students, but the target market / audience we are struggling the most with is our graduate students. The students are invited and encouraged to participate in the program when they join the college as graduate students, but because there is no real carrot (other than the joy of learning but yes, I know the issues with assuming that will work) and absolutely no “stick”, our participation rate hovered around 10-13%, which was rather disappointing. 

What I’m Trying: ConvertKit

ConvertKit is an email marketing service similar to MailChimp, MadMimi, and ClickFunnels. ConvertKit is an online service that enables you to build a list of subscribers with opt-ins, i.e. sign up forms or pop-ups that gather new subscribers email addresses so that you can email them content. 

How I’m Using ConvertKit

I’m trying out ConvertKit in a rather untraditional way: I’ve created email “lists” with defined groups at the college: faculty (all faculty, full-time faculty, and adjunct faculty) and specific groups of students (at the moment, the new graduate students who are being invited to the ILA program and an IT course I’m teaching this semester). 

Note: A very important point about email marketing is that people need to be able to opt-out or “unsubscribe” so every email I send has the required opt-out link. 

I’ve started out using ConvertKit with what they call Sequences. According to ConvertKit, “A sequence is a series of automated emails, timed directly to when a subscriber first signs up, or is first added to the sequence by another action.”

To date, I’ve designed two complete sequences and one is in progress. The first complete sequence is for new Adjunct Faculty and serves as part of my departments onboarding strategy. Once my department receives word that we have a new adjunct hire, the adjunct faculty member is added to the New Adjunct Hire Sequence. That individual, after being added to ConvertKit as a new subscriber and is added to this sequence, automatically receives the first email in the sequence. As shown in the image below, there are then a series of four additional emails that are sent over the next 28 days after the initial email. 

New Adjunct Email Sequence

Each of the emails is less than four paragraphs long. The purpose of each email is meant to introduce something specific in a quick way. The first email discusses the required onboarding edtech training so faculty can learn our LMS, the second is a check-in that describes how new adjuncts can get help from my office if they need it (and reminds them about expectations for using the LMS), the third email explains the process for reserving a teaching lab (and why this could be helpful to new adjuncts), the fourth describes our Office 365 services, and the 5th email in the sequence explains proctoring and tutoring services offered by the Academic Resource Center (a department Rusty also supervises). All of the emails include details about contacting my office and how to set up an appointment.  

I’m not sure how the open / click rates of this email communication sequence compares to my office’s previous communications with adjunct faculty because we used regular email without that information before.

The second sequence I’ve designed is the Graduate Students ILA sequence. This sequence was just launched this past week and is one I was very excited about! As I mentioned earlier, our graduate student ILA program had minimal participation, so trying a new way to reach out to these students to inspire participation was high on my agenda. First, I rewrote the initial invitation email and changed the language to be more conversational and instead of asking students to complete the ILA, I invited them to participate in a challenge – a challenge to prove their Information Literacy Mastery! The image below shows you the 5 emails that are presently part of this email sequence.

Graduate Students ILA Program Sequence

As with the first sequence, this sequence is kicked off by adding new subscribers, new graduate students to the college, to ConvertKit and then adding them to the sequence. I learned something new with this sequence – filtering. All new graduate students receive the first email, which explains the “Challenge” and invites students to participate. Students have an option in that email to either begin the program immediately by clicking a link to read the full directions, or to wait to receive the 2nd email (Challenge accepted? Let’s get started!) the next day for the full directions. IF students click the full directions in the day 1 email they will not receive the day 2 email. Then, all students receive one week later email (How’s the ILA challenge coming along?) which is a check-in email. In the third email, as well as the fourth and fifth emails, students have the opportunity to choose to stop receiving the reminder emails with a custom opt out link (the required unsubscribe link is at the bottom of every email) by clicking a link that indicates they are finished (and sends them to a Thank you/Congratulations page on our ILA program website) and subsequently opts them out of the remainder opt out emails. 

A current limitation of this particular email sequence is that the students have to opt out themselves if they finished the ILA (or they could say they finished the ILA when they actually didn’t, but that’s another issue), the system doesn’t automatically opt them out. However, since students complete the pre and post-tests in Qualtrics, there is a possibility that I’ll be able to connect the two systems via API so I’m going to work on that. 

This compares to previous invitations in a rather exciting way. We used our online survey platform, Qualtrics, to invite students before so we knew our open / click rates, around 12%. We’ve already surpassed that with both the first and second emails of this sequence.

The third email sequence is the one in progress, the Spring 2019 Faculty Campaign. This email sequence is sent to all faculty teaching during any of the Spring 2019 sessions. So far I only have one email in this sequence and it was sent out earlier this week. It reminds faculty about expectations for using the LMS, a tip for how to use a specific type of assignment, and how to get help from my office. 

Spring 2019 Faculty Sequence
Spring 2019 Faculty Sequence

We didn’t have data for open/click rates before since we used regular email, so having any kind of data is exciting for this sequence!

What’s next

This weekend I’m working on writing out the content for a rather (to me) complicated sequence for the Spring 2019 Faculty Campaign. In the next email, which will go out Tuesday, I’ll share a few more LMS tips, remind faculty how to get edtech help if they need it (see a pattern?), and then give faculty a multiple choice quiz that asks them to indicate which topic they’d like to learn more about next. Based on each faculty member’s choice, they will then be opted into a series of emails specifically about the topic they chose – an email course of sorts that’s designed to peak their interest in the topic selected and will ultimately lead them back to our EdTech training website for basic or advanced training depending on their needs. 

Have you used an email marketing service like this?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and feel free to share any questions!

Scholarly Activity by Monica Rysavy and Russell Michalak in 2018

Scholarly Activity by Monica Rysavy and Russell Michalak in 2018

2018 – What a Year!

It seems like every where you look online there are “Year in Review” or “Annual Review” posts being shared right now, so we thought we’d join in and share our version of a “Year in Review” post, academic-style! Something we often hear from other academics is that the publication process can seem to take…. so….. long. Rusty and I first start working together in 2015, and had our first publication and presentations in late 2016. We very intentionally plan out our current and future projects because we remember how long it took to get the ball rolling with writing and publishing when we first started working together and don’t want to be in a spot where we want to write but have no data. Completing an annual review like this is a great way to see that you are actually making progress on your scholarly goals and definitely demonstrated to us that we started hitting our momentum in 2018!

First, let’s take a look at our scholarly activity in 2018, by edited collections, articles, book chapters, and presentations.

Next, we thought it might be fun to compare each year of our scholarly activity to see our output: 2018 / 2017 / 2016. Note, as I mentioned earlier, we first began working together in 2015, but had our first outputs in 2016.

Have you completed any annual review of your scholarly activity?

We’d love to check it out! Share your links in the comments!

Making time for your own professional development – NEAIR’s Summer Drive-in Workshop on Tableau

Do you ever find it difficult to make time for your personal professional development? As someone who was originally a high school teacher, I often miss the 2.5 days in the fall and the 2.5 days in the spring of required professional development time (though in all honesty, I’m not sure if I was so grateful for them when I had to attend those days at the time!). Looking back on those days now, it was a great way of providing solid blocks of time (they were typically all day) to learn something new or to improve upon an existing skill. It was also a time to network with like minded colleagues that you didn’t necessarily see very often.

While Rusty and I present at conferences as much as we can, and certainly consider those to be professional development since we are attend workshops and sessions as well, it’s not the same as having several hours in a row to practice a specific skill (without the associated preparation stress of getting ready to present your own session!). That’s why when we see local workshops offered as professional development, we jump at the opportunity if they are (1) semi-local (i.e. doable in a work day by driving) and (2) affordable. We recently drove up to Temple University in Philadelphia (less than hour’s drive for us from our institution) to attend a Summer Drive-in Workshop which was held by the North East Association for Institutional Research (NEAIR). We joined the Visualizing Survey Data in Tableau workshop, as our institution recently picked up Tableau.

Are you using Tableau in your academic library or department?

We’d love to hear about how you are using it to help you analyze your data and make decisions! 

After arriving to Temple University, the Tableau workshop began with,

NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshops

I’m kidding! Sort of. The workshop didn’t begin with this cute bagel hut, but our day did! How could we not stop at this? It helped that it was also on the way out of the parking lot – so you’d feel guilty if you didn’t stop to pick up a $1 bagel.

The workshop was held at Temple University’s Tuttleman Computer Center which was literally right next door to the parking lot (and bagel hut!) which made it super convenient to get to (good pick, NEAIR!).

NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshops

After a warm welcome from members of NEAIR (it was great to see you again, Annemarie!), we headed to our workshop.

NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshops

Temple’s IT facilities were quite nice – they reminded me of the ITS Training Services area where I worked at Penn State.

NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshops

Check out their computer lab log-on screens – our institution needs to add more of the college’s branding to log-ons like this! It’s a simple, but nice way of including your brand elements in places where people frequently see them.

NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshops

Rusty and I were particularly interested in checking out how Temple University Libraries had set up their web presence as we are always making updates and style improvements to our LibGuides pages (I’m always surprised by how many institution’s use LibGuides, but Rusty frequently informs me that it’s very common). Now that we are incorporating an Ask a Librarian! form as an embedded page in all of our institutions’s course sites within the LMS, I’m always interested in checking out how other institution’s are wording similar resources. I really liked how Temple’s University Libraries explained the purpose of Subject Librarians for students who might need research help.

NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshops

Our Tableau workshop was taught by Craig Abbey, Associate Vice President and Director of Institutional Analysis at University at Buffalo.

NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshops

We recently completed a week-long online training with Tableau (a live training that was held via WebEx), and to be honest, if we hadn’t completed that training, I think this workshop would have been difficult. That being said, the pre-reqs for the course indicated that basic working knowledge of Tableau was expected (however, anyone else ever attend training that they might not be ready for? Hand up over here! When I’m excited and ready to learn, I learn!). Rusty and I were fine with our skill levels though and found ourselves mainly keeping up with Craig.

We picked up many tips and tricks during this workshop – like clicking on the drop down arrow next to measures to change your calculation quickly to a percentage and how to make simply adjustments to visualizations so that they would be easier to read (adjusting the auto text for what you see when you hover on elements, for example.

NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshops

I think my favorite tip, though, was shared with us by another attendee, Alexandra Yanovski-Bowers, Assistant Director for Undergraduate Strategic Initiatives at Temple – she shared with us that you can use the CTRL key and drag an existing measure onto the Detail Marks card to create a duplicate of your measure, remove the current calculation of percentage so that your new measure returns to counts, and drag that new measure out to your visualization (in my case yesterday – typically tables) to include both the percentage of responses for a particular category AND the n (counts/how many people responded in that way).

NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshops

This made me extremely excited. Think all the excited emojis! Seriously. It will save us so much time now that we know how to do combine counts and percentages in the same visualization. I was combining two different worksheets before to get the same result. Thanks, Alexandra, for sharing your tips!

The NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshop Visualizing Survey Data in Tableau was a great event and we’re glad we attended. Definitely looking for more opportunities like this in the future from them.

But back to you…

How are you using Tableau in your academic library?
Are you using it to analyze assessment data from your instructional sessions?
Reviewing your acquisitions history?

Let us know! We’d love to chat with you about it.

Tableau is a powerful tool that’s fairly simply to use once you’ve had a few tips and training sessions.

We’re happy to share our new found knowledge.

Share your Tableau experiences and questions with us by commenting on this post, reaching out via our Contact Us page, or you can find us on LinkedIn too (Monica / Rusty).

Outreach in Academic Libraries

My first encounter—that I can remember in vivid detail—at an academic library function with faculty was at a lecture on penguins.  I was about eight years old. A faculty member my Mom (former University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill Assistant Vice Provost / University Librarian Sarah Michalak ) knew who worked at the University of Washington (where she also worked) was scheduled  to deliver a lecture about his expedition to Antarctica.  In his presentation, he spoke about his research on the habitat and behavior of penguins.

I was intrigued when my mom said she was going to the lecture, so I asked if I could tag along.  I remember how excited I was to hear about penguins! But what was truly neat was to see the librarians set up the room for the lecture at the Allen Library.  Furthermore, the library had made bookmarks for to market the event. In my eagerness to remember the event, I took over 50 bookmarks.  How do I know this? Well, I still have them.  I just gave one to my  daughter; she loved it.

The details of the lecture have been lost on me. But what I do remember the most was my mom, a librarian, introducing the speaker and the lecturer walking like a penguin. One of the best parts of the lecture was the venue, the Allen Library at the University of Washington.

By the end of the lecture, as we were walking to the car, I asked if we could attend another lecture at the library. I told my mom I wanted more bookmarks.  She smiled and said sure.  I thought quietly to myself—it would be neat to introduce, like my mom, a variety of speakers when I grew up. Librarians can be an important part of faculty’s scholarly processes by offering opportunities for them to speak and providing inviting venues where they can speak.


Rysavy & Michalak Consultant’s blog is authored by Monica D.T. Rysavy, Ph.D. and Russell Michalak, MLIS. We are academic directors with a combined 28 years of experiences working in higher education institutions. Learn more about us by visiting our About Us page.



Meet with Us!

Click the below Book Now button to select a spot on our calendar to meet with us to discuss your needs.


Our Research Online

You can find our recent publications on our Publications page, or you can check out one of the several author profile services we both utilize, including:


Monica D.T. Rysavy, Ph.D.

Russell Michalak, MLIS


Google Scholar

Monica D.T. Rysavy, Ph.D.

Monica’s Google Scholar

Russell Michalak, MLIS

Russell’s Google Scholar