Jacksonville Public Library
About Jacksonville Public Library
Jacksonville, Florida is the largest city by area in the United States, the largest city in Florida, and the home to the third largest military presence in the country. To best serve more than 842,000 community members, the 21 branches of the Jacksonville Public Library system offer a wide variety of products and services, including more than 3 million books and services for children, teens, and adults. Aside from English, languages spoken in the community include Spanish, Tagalog, French, Arabic, and German – just to name a few.
In 2010, Jacksonville Public Library began investigating language-learning resources to bring to the library – specifically web-based programs, since the library only offered physical resources. To choose the best resource available, the library decided to assess multiple services – Mango Languages, Powerspeak Languages, Rocket Languages, and Transparent Language Online. A team of evaluators set forth to review each of the resources, weighing the pros and cons and casting their vote.
In 2011, after reviewing multiple resources, the library decided to subscribe to Transparent Language Online. The evaluation team liked different aspects of all four language-learning resources, but the wide variety of languages offered in Transparent Language Online edged the service past the competition. The evaluators also enjoyed the conversational focus, integration of social media, and learning by repetition and reinforcement.
After adopting Transparent Language Online, Jacksonville Public Library has promoted the program with traditional marketing pieces, such as fliers and posters around the library, and also through social media and an online community newsletter. How-to classes were held to demonstrate usage of the program, but library staff members did not feel that Transparent Language Online was being used to its full potential. They wanted more library customers to take advantage of the program.
In late 2014, the library launched a pilot series of classes (comprised of three 90-minute sessions) facilitated by either a native or advanced French and Spanish speakers. The classes started with a detailed overview of Transparent Language Online, its features, and how to sign up, but expanded to include conversational use of the language, travel tips, local cuisine, and currency conversion. The class instructors use Transparent Language Online both as part of the class exercises and for homework assignments. The classes were in such high demand that five additional laptops were added to the library's classrooms, which already seated 15 students. Even with the additional support, the library had to turn away some interested customers.
With such an overwhelmingly positive response, the library has since expanded to offer classes in languages in Tagalog, Mandarin, and Hebrew. The classes move to a different location every quarter to make them more easily accessible to the entire community.
Prior to launching these conversational classes, usage of Transparent Language Online was around 250 users. In just three short months, usage more than doubled to over 600 users. Usage of the program continues to be nothing shy of impressive. In July 2015, Jacksonville Public Library had more than 1,160 users in Transparent Language Online, showing particular interest in Spanish, French, and English for Spanish Speakers. With each new class, the library continues to see new sign-ups for the Transparent Language Online. The mobile app also appeals to the library's more tech savvy and on-the-go users, with more than 21,000 lists downloads thus far.
In 2015, Jacksonville Public Library received the 2015 Top Innovator Award in Customer Experience from the Urban Libraries Council for their work with the promotion and customer experience of the language classes. The model for this marketing approach will be used for other library products and services in the future.