September is Library Card Sign-up Month. The American Library Association (ALA) provides a standard list of ways to celebrate—such as tweeting, creating a public service announcement, putting out a press release, and putting up posters—but if you’re looking for something special to do, here’s an idea: Sign up for Koios.
Koios, named after the Greek Titan of resolve and intelligence, is a library marketing software startup co-founded by Trey Gordner in 2015. Gordner, Koios’ CEO, had worked in special collections during college and became involved with his local library while working at an advertising startup. “At some point, I just saw a possible opportunity between online advertising and libraries,” he says.
How Koios Works
Libraries can use the Koios browser extension to create a permanent connection with their patrons by becoming more visible online. “We guide users to all of your resources,” according to the Koios website. “When patrons are searching for items and services that you offer, we’ll redirect them to you.” When libraries sign up with Koios, they can specify which sites to use with the service, including Amazon, Google, and Barnes & Noble. Then, for example, when a patron searches for a book on Amazon on a computer that has enabled the Koios extension, the Koios bar will pop up announcing that the book is available at the library. The patron can click through to borrow the book instead of buying it. (You can view a video of the process on YouTube.) Gordner calls it “a comparison borrowing experience.”
Currently, the service promotes a library’s books, ebooks, and audiobooks, but Gordner says Koios looking to expand beyond promoting content holdings. This fall, it will be making announcements related to its SEO product. “[W]e’re working with libraries to find some interesting ways to promote databases and services through the extension as well. So if someone were to go to rosettastone.com, for instance, they might see a notification telling them that they can use Mango Languages through their library for free. Or if they went to monster.com, for instance, they might see some information about their local library’s career center,” he says. And if someone Googles “learn Spanish online free,” the library’s Mango offering would pop up then too. This product won’t require a library to invest in new data infrastructure; it will plug into its existing ILS or discovery layer, typically via an API. Koios can create other options for libraries with older systems, says Gordner.
Promoting Koios … and Library Content
Libraries can let patrons know about the Koios extension in a few different ways. “One is to place bookmarks about Koios in their holds. That’s the one we’ve really seen some good traction on so far. Anyone who reserves a book online, presumably most of their book discovery and their transactions at the library happen online already, so they’re the early adopters at any library,” says Gordner. Another way is to install it on all of the library’s public computers so patrons doing research at the library see the Koios bar pop up when searching. And yet another option is in the works that can be tied into Library Card Sign-up Month—helping patrons sign up for Koios on their own when they get a library card. “[W]e think that seeing our library links and library suggestions pop up on Amazon and any of your Google search results will actually lead to better retention in the long term,” he says.
Gordner says Koios is opening up new spots in its beta partner program this fall. Libraries can contact the company to apply. And to learn more about Koios, request a demo.