Lessons Learned from Implementing Rosetta Stone in a Public Library Consortium

Technology | Julie Zamostny | June 13, 2017

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Julie Zamostny, Staff Development Coordinator for Western Maryland Regional Library, shares her experiences and lessons learned/best practices for establishing a Rosetta Stone Library Solution subscription for all libraries in the consortium.

The Western Maryland Regional Library (WMRL) provides services and resources directly to the public libraries of Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties. We are not a public service library but instead we work closely with the staff in the three western counties to add POW to their WOW. One way we do this is by providing access to resources like Rosetta Stone Library Solution™.

Representatives from the three counties trialed Rosetta Stone Library Solution early in 2015; we were already subscribed to another online language learning resource but with Rosetta Stone’s strong brand and curriculum recognition, we felt we had to give it a chance.

The trial was very positive from both a front-end user perspective and from the administrative side. Making the decision to subscribe was easy because:

  1. It’s a great product (access to the full Rosetta Stone library!) and works well across multiple platforms
  2. Both EBSCO and Rosetta Stone are vetted brands
  3. Pricing was competitive with the other language learning company – our subscription with whom we subsequently dropped.

The real work came after we made the purchase and embarked on implementing, training and marketing.

Initial implementation fell heavily on our Web Services Specialist. When I asked her what she would want to tell libraries who are considering subscribing to Rosetta Stone Library Edition she ticked off three main things:

  1. Always keep in mind that you’re essentially working with two vendors: Rosetta Stone for the content, as well as the desktop and mobile interfaces, and EBSCO for the administrative business and authentication. These two distinctions are important to remember when you’re troubleshooting.
  2. For us, we have one (1) main account and three (3) sub-accounts (one for each county library system we serve) which allow us to track usage at the library level. These account numbers are integrated into the URLs and it was important to make sure at all ports of access – desktop or mobile, in-house or remote – the links were all pointing to the correct sub-accounts and not the main account. In addition to effecting usage statistics, these accounts are also responsible for tracking users’ progress. If Jane Doe signs into Rosetta Stone Library Solution under the main account one day, because that’s where one link is pointing, and signs in (unbeknownst to her) to the sub-account the next day because she’s at home and that’s where the remote authentication page is directing her, any and all progress she’s made under the main account will not show. It’ll be as though she’s not done any work in Rosetta Stone Library Solution.
  3. Currently, there is a separate mobile link customers need to use if they want to use Rosetta Stone Library Solution on a smartphone. This mobile link initiates the Rosetta Stone Languages app on the smartphone and yet tracks the progress via the library’s subscription.

Once we had Rosetta Stone Library Solution up and running in all three counties, getting the staff trained was the next priority. I worked with a representative from Rosetta Stone to schedule one onsite training in each county, and one live online training that would serve all staff across the region with a specific set of expectations:

  1. Instruction in how Rosetta Stone Library Solution works and how to use it
  2. What to concentrate on regarding patron training
  3. How to troubleshoot problems

I wanted lots of hands-on practice for as many staff as possible and that’s what we got. Staff were asked to bring a headset with a microphone to the onsite sessions. Two important takeaways from the training were:

  1. USB headsets work best but they aren’t perfect.
  2. Most of the troubleshooting involved the headsets, the microphones in particular.

With implementation and training complete, we focused on promotion. Since WMRL does not have a marketing specialist, this responsibility fell under my ‘other duties as assigned.’ I started with Rosetta Stone materials including digital files for bookmarks, brochures, flyers and press release templates – all of which WMRL would print-on-demand for the three counties by request. The libraries took it upon themselves to use Facebook to spread the word by creating posts and custom headers to announce the new service.

In addition, since Rosetta Stone has been more commonly found in CD cases on shelves, I thought we could try making ‘shelf dummies’ so customers would discover Rosetta Stone Library Solution in the stacks. The case materials direct them to the online service.

About half of the libraries (individual branches) took one or more cases to shelve in their stacks. We will check in with them in a few months to determine how they are working out. Rosetta Stone Library Solution also appears in our catalog so those searching for language learning materials will discover it there as well.

Bottom line: The new Rosetta Stone and EBSCO partnership is a wonderful thing for libraries. Implementation, training and promotion all require patience as the partnership grows and Rosetta Stone develops a better understanding of how libraries work but once you get the word out the brand will carry itself.

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Julie Zamostny
Staff Development Coordinator for the Western MD Regional Library

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