Meet Relationship Manager Lead, Mary Elliott

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Axis 360, our ebook and audiobook mobile platform, has grown tremendously over the past few years, largely in part to our dedicated team of Relationship Managers, or RMs for short. Mary Elliott recently took on a leadership role within the team as RM Team Lead. Learn a little bit more about what Mary does behind the scenes and outside of work with this Q+A with her…

 

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Q+A with Amandeep Kochar, Executive VP of Digital Content and Software

Aman Kochar BT_20MEET AMAN—Baker & Taylor’s Executive Vice President of Digital Content, Software Products Services & Sales. He’s passionate about all things digital circulation, from Title Source 360 to Axis 360. Learn a little more about the people behind the scenes at Baker & Taylor with this Q+A with Aman.

 

 

What is your role at Baker & Taylor? 

I am responsible for the Sales of our Digital Circulation Platform Axis360 and all software products like CollectionHQ, ESP, Collect & Connect and Content Café. In addition to my sales responsibilities, I am also responsible for the Product Management, Engineering and Technical  Services for all of Baker & Taylor. Lastly, after our acquisition by Follett, I’m giving guidance for some inter-company projects across B&T, Follett Higher Ed and Follett School Solutions.

Why did you choose this industry? 

Well, I’m an engineer by education and a business professional by accident. I’ve never chosen industries but let them choose me. I started out in computer sciences and then gravitated towards media and entertainment. Finally the plunge into publishing then education technology at McGraw Hill and finally here at Baker & Taylor. There were a few entrepreneurial stints in there too.

What do you love about your job?

Everyone dreams of finding a job that keeps them challenged and has a “feel good factor” to it. I get to jump from a product development meeting thinking of new features for our platforms into an engineering meeting trying to figure out complex issues and then into inter-company projects at Follett to learn about new businesses—this keeps me busy, excited and enthused. However it’s the feeling of enabling a library to provide equal access to all individuals in a community that makes me truly happy. I believe “we can’t control where we come from but can definitely control where we end up,” and so no matter your situation if you have resources like the library that you can depend on, you can be whoever you want to be. And we play a small role in helping libraries achieve that.

What makes our software great?

For Axis 360: We were late to the ebook/e-audiobook party for public libraries, so we had to catch up. It’s easy to have a “me-too” attitude when you are trying to catch up but we kept our own identity. We have always focused on equal access regardless of a user’s situation. From this year on, we have started an Innovation lab within this group to integrate newer technologies and content in Axis 360.

For Title Source360: We call this a library’s ERP (enterprise resource planning) system for acquisition of materials. This truly is the crème da le crème of acquisition systems of books, with millions of books, audiobooks and audio visual material to search, acquire and integrate with a library’s workflow. In all my years of dealing with complex systems, this one would be on top shelf hands down – from the number of sources of data we ingest to the differentiated experience a librarian or retail user can have based on their profiles is special. It is also open in the sense that it integrates with all the ILS partners for a seamless experience to the library staff.

And now with the integration with ESP (Evidence based Selection Planning)—a predictive algorithm from collectionHQ—TS 360 is able to predict the right books and right quantities at a branch level for all the libraries assisting them  in improving efficiency to serve their communities better.

Favorite past-times?

I’m very close to my family and I’m lucky to have my wife as my best friend so most of my time is spent with them. I also enjoy various physical pursuits whenever I get time. Travel would have to be top of the list.

Favorite book? Movie? Music?

Books: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Fountainhead, Kite Runner, Exit West (most recent), Train to Pakistan

Movies: The Bird Cage, Patch Adams, The Graduate, Godfather, Oceans 11 and 12, Monsoon Wedding, The House of Flying Daggers, Enter the Dragon, Die Hard, Terminator 2, Shrek 2 and many more.

Music: I’m old school so Led Zeppelin, Linkin Park, Aerosmith, Beatles, Bryan Adams

Cat or dog person?

A self confessed dog nut!

Favorite travel spot in the world?

A tie between the Turks and Caicos Islands and Las Vegas. If I could settle down anywhere, it’d be Barcelona, Spain though.

Where do you see Baker & Taylor’s software products 10 years from now?

A deeply intuitive set of products driven by AI and machine learning to prescribe the best course of action for librarians to achieve their community engagement goals. Think voice activated commands asking TS 360 “Hey B&T, can you pick books for my African American history month for the branch on the upper west side” and Title Source 360 provides an instant list based on the demographics, past buying patterns and other data like age, education level of that community.

I also see these products being completely open to be able to integrate with newer forms of content and more immersive experiences

I’m extremely passionate about building a culture of constant transformation and positive energy. One of my recent favorite quotes from Peter Drucker “Culture eats strategy for breakfast!”

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Sharing eBooks Means Caring

communityshareA vast majority of Americans—85 percent, according to the Pew Research Center—want their libraries to work more closely with local schools. Strengthening the link between public and school libraries is challenging, yet necessary for the well-being of our communities.

Using our digital lending platform, Axis 360, Baker & Taylor revolutionized a way to achieve closer relationships between school and public libraries: the Community Share program. Baker & Taylor’s Community Share program creates a connection between a public library’s ebook collection and their local system, allowing schools to access ebooks and digital materials from the public library’s digital collection. The result is a deeper connection between public and school libraries that allows them to share material, improve circulation and enrich their community in the process.

During a Library Journal webinar on June 6, Baker & Taylor and our customers had the opportunity to talk about the Community Share program at length. Michael Bills, director of sales and marketing for Axis 360, represented Baker & Taylor in the hour-long conversation along with librarians from San Jose Public Library, Indianapolis Public Library and Johnson County, KS Library to share their success stories. Matt Enis, the senior editor of technology at Library Journal, moderated.

Throughout the session, we shared how opening a public library’s digital media library for direct access by area students at school optimizes the library’s investment in digital content and benefits the entire community.

Sharing digital resources across the community has demonstrable impact and is a progressive step toward meeting this goal. So join in–sharing is caring.

View the Webinar here.

Visit Us at ALA Annual!

_MG_2619.jpgNo rest for the bookish during trade show season. Next up: ALA Annual in Chicago starting tomorrow, June 22, until June 27. Baker & Taylor has a jam-packed schedule of author signings, panels and giveaways. We’ll be at Booth #2218!

Author Signings

wewereliars

Friday, June 23 at 6 p.m. – E. Lockhart, We Were Liars
Spending the summers on her family’s private island off the coast of Massachusetts with her cousins and a special boy named Gat, teenaged Cadence struggles to remember what happened during her fifteenth summer.

Sunday, June 25 at 11 a.m. – Marie Lu, Warcross
In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

Sunday, June 25 at 12:30 p.m. – Chris Appelhans (Illustrator), A Grayhound, A Groundhog
A tongue-twister picture book by the award-winning author of Toys Meet Snow and the award-winning illustrator of Sparky! follows the whimsical wordplay that ensues when a greyhound and a groundhog meet.

Monday, June 26 at 12:30 p.m. – Dianne De Las Casas, Captain Deadeye
Dianne de Las Casas’ newest book co-authored with John Couret is Captain Deadeye: The Bully Shark, illustrated by the talented Stefan Jolet. It is the first part of an anti-bully pirate chapter book series!

Panel

Saturday, June 24 at 10:30 a.m. – Executive Perspectives Panel
Follett Chairman Todd Litzsinger is participating on the Executive Perspectives Panel at McCormick Place W185BC.

Sunday, June 25 at 3:30 p.m. – How to Move the Needle on Diversity: An Idea Huddle with We Need Diverse Books and Kirkus Reviews

In August, Baker & Taylor will be launching a partnership with Kirkus Reviews on a promotion of a collection of curated diversity centered titles. They will be teasing this launch in our booth with signage and collateral and a Diversity Huddle on Sunday. Presenters include Dhonielle Clayton, COO and Senior VP of Librarian Services of We Need Diverse Books and Meg Kuehn, CEO of Kirkus Reviews. The session will be moderated by Vicky Smith, the Children’s and Teen Editor of Kirkus Reviews.

Booth Activities

Win a 32GB Kindle Fire HD 8! – Tell us a few things about your library’s eContent services and receive a stuffed Baker or Taylor plush cat as a thank you. Plus, be entered to win a 32GB Kindle Fire HD 8!

Youth Media Award Posters – Stop by to pick up Youth Media Award posters, while supplies last.

bakerandtaylortradeshow

Take a pic with Baker and Taylor! – Our beloved cat mascots will be out and about during ALA at these times:

  • Friday, June 23 ~ 5:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 24 ~ 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, June 25 ~ 10 a.m.

minuteclinic

Axis 360 Minute Clinic! – It’s time for your annual checkup! The Axis 360 Doctors are in town to help librarians improve their Axis presence and check up on your Axis 360 Digital Collection. For your prescription—or clean bill of health—visit your Relationship Manager.

See you there!

Community Sharing: Learn more at our TLA session on April 21!

The Texas Library Association, TLA, annual conference is just one week away. As you pack your bags for San Antonio, don’t forget to save space on your schedule for an interactive session about Community Sharing hosted by Houston Public Library, Baker & Taylor and Follett.communityshare

Two heads are better than one. This tried and true piece of wisdom is the basis for Baker & Taylor and Follett’s groundbreaking Community Sharing program. This program gives new life to the way libraries circulate digital content by connecting communities with the schools they serve through the simple art of sharing. When public and school libraries work together, good things happen.

Houston Public Library is one system that saw all the good Community Sharing can do in action. They’ll share their experience with the program and how it has and will impact their community at the session. Presenters from Houston Public Library, Follett and Baker & Taylor will lead the session on Friday, April 21 from 2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. in room 205 of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. RSVP below!

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Proof is in the App Store Ratings

Climbing the App Store Charts with Four Turnaround Tactics

In the beginning of 2015, Baker & Taylor introduced the Axis 360 mobile app. Available from both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android, Axis 360 opened the door for library patrons to browse for eBooks and digital audiobooks, check taxis360-logohem out, and read or listen to them on their devices. Just one problem—the user feedback.

Fortunately, as a venerable library distributor with roots dating back 180 years, Baker & Taylor had built an enormous reservoir of goodwill with libraries. But while B&T’s longtime library customers were willing to give Axis 360 time to find its footing, media-savvy and especially younger patrons weren’t so patient or forgiving. They bombarded the app stores with brutally honest reviews, citing frequent crashes and a non-intuitive design that didn’t fit their real-world needs. In short order, Axis 360 was in a deep hole—1.8 stars out of 5 on Google Play, and an even lower 1.5 out of 5 on the Apple App Store.

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