Archive for March 2009

CIL2009 – School Libraries + Public Libraries, Partnering for Technology

Tasha Squires talks on school/public library partnershipsTasha Squires — author of Library Partnerships: Making Connections between School and Public Libraries

Started as teen librarian, local school library had flooded, donated a bunch of public library books that they had weeded because they were out of space.

Found had relationship, but no collaboration — when she found Walter Dean Meyers was coming to school the day before he came, could have collaborated because she served more kids than one middle school, didn’t get him to share at PL, w/ entire community, only one school benefited. If had collaborative, not personal relnship, maybe could have worked something out.

Middle schools lacked a lot — only got online catalogs in 2004, some still had card cats.

Question to audience: How you become school librn? Public to school, parent volunteer, social worker…

Not nec. know all services PL can offer.

Why collaborate?

Serve same clientele — school libs have during day, PLs have at night. Same community. Lots of overlap. Same revenue sources — can save a lot of money by working together/sharing resources.

Instead of thinking “why bother,” start thinking “why not?”

Share info — blogs, wikis, podcasts, youtube, myspace, e-flyers.

Change your thinking — how can I bring in my partner from the PL?

Collaborate on a blog — helps solve crunch in keeping up to date. PL saves you time. Esp if you are alone in your library.

Tasha Squires with giant book sign

Wikis: Any assignment you use wiki for students, project w/teachers, ref. or research project, curr. dev, bring in PLs. PLs are based on numbers — database hits, ppl in door, program attendance, circ stats — get PL to help, brings kids in, brings their numbers up — incentives for them to help. Up their ref stats.

Curriculum development — want PL collection to align w/ school curriculum — esp. if school libs less well-funded. If you’re kicking around new curriculum, talk to PL about it so they can get resources to support.

Podcasting — new teachers, new books, booktalks by students, by genre, library news, programs, admin. Sit down with PL, make a podcast, say what available for teachers in school library, public libn can talk about what available in PL — teacher cards, etc.

PL if collaborate with you know that they need your support so will be uproar if you are cut.

YouTube — film festival at PL, collab. with schools — vote on scripts, cast, film, and have screening at PL as film festival — winner goes on YouTube. Etc. — happens at PL but disseminated on Web.

MySpace — But what if they post something bad. If concerns — test it out at the PL — they’re not blocked — say want to start a Facebook page, but it’s blocked, make a collaborative blog or Facebook page. Onus off of you but you can contribute, see how it goes, you will have the proof it works.

E-fliers — Cross-promotion of materials. Ex. — school library book fair, need to have it go well.

Sharing our resources

How to stretch $ — share resources with PL. Where she worked before, they spent over $100k on database subscriptions — now offer over 60 databases to any with a library card. Serves several school districts — huge duplication of databases. Why spending tax dollars to duplicate resources? As a taxpayer, why pay twice for same resource? If kids have PL cards, can access anywhere. Think what you could do with the money you save on databases — buy a new database, or buy books.

Duplication of databases

Vendor in audience — says work with your vendor to work out pricing scheme that reflects overlap in audiences.

Grants, Shared Usage, Non Print Materials

If students have PL cards can access digital audio, other PL resources. Partner on a grant — they love you. Want everyone to collaborate. Have instant partner. Shared usage agreements — cameras, videocameras, PL might have equipment to share for special projects (PLs use most in summer, so can divvy up time).

Audience comment — DC PLs, each school assigned to a library, bookmobiles come, ongoing partnership already — Tasha — SB one everywhere.

Audience comment — She moonlights as community college ref. librarian — highschoolers moving to college, need to talk to each other. If in smaller PL, check to see if cc in area and start cooperation with them.

Audience comment — in her part of NJ, member of school has to be on PL board. Intertwines, learn what’s going on, start to talk more. Hard, because they’re making cuts and she is having to cut some of the public librarians — but also helps board members who don’t understand libraries.

Audience comment — her area — high school, public, hospital, college, elementary libns meet — create synergy, staff development day — Instructional Technology teachers + librarians in same lab learning about databases. Just talking once in a while creates helpful projects.

CIL2009 – Blogs as Websites

Aaron Schmidt, Carol Garland, David Lisa

Aaron Schmidt on WordPressFirst up, Aaron Schmidt: Presentation will be up at website. WordPress, why you should use it — now works for DC PL, but used to work for 2500 sq. ft library:

1) FREE — wordpress.org

1.5) If not free, can be CHEAP. If you download it, it has to live somewhere — inexpensive places like LISHost.

2) Support — active community developing — active forum, post ?s, but search first. Section just on blogs as CMS.

3) Interaction — automatic, comments, trackbacks.

4) SEO — blogs are great for search engine optimization. Already 5th hit though he just started recently.

5) Less work — users — create different roles, different control over different pages. Can have friends or volunteers do.

6) Easy — just like writing an email. WYSIWIG. Check out wordpress.com — hosted and free just like blogger.

7) Themes — Don’t need design/coding to make blog look different. Check out Thematic, customizable. K2. Cutline. Popular for libs etc. Wordpress.org, browse theme directory.

8) Widgets — all the stuff on side.

8 1/2) Plugins — can do a bit more than plugins.

9) Flexibility — it’s open source so flexible. Examples — Plymouth State, Collingswood. Plymouth State, WordPress OPAC. Lake Washington Technical College. My Kansas Library on the Web. Ford Auto Shows.

10) People — facilitate interaction and easy to keep up to date.

——

Carol and David

Carol Garland talks about BloggerCarol: Serve a little over 1000 people. Old site was with FrontPage, person left, site got out of date, ugly. Went to meeting, colleague showed blogger. They chose — easy to learn, set up, adapt, maintain, update. Took down website, anything they want to communicate to patrons can do instantly with Blogger — put up “we’re closing early, there’s a blizzard, roads are bad.” Info right in front of you all the time.

Use to: Publicize services, PR campaign — trying to get rechartered to serve 9k in school district, video on blog. Showcase actvities, slideshow for summer reading, list new materials, advocate for libs (NY wants to cut them back to 93 levels, put button to contact rep), sub blog for events and closings.

Link to dbs, local libs, local libs blogs. Enhancement — free clip arts, photos, picasa slide shows, google pages, artbex, stock exchange, blogger polls, videos, stat counter.

Put links to annual report, other library information.

Polls in sidebar with Google widget, upload videos, visitor map showing where visitors come from — someone from tel aviv spent 50+ minutes on their site.

Easiest thing you could do if you don’t want to be stuck with FrontPage, whip it up really quickly. Go get started now.

—–

David Lisa talks on bloggerDavid

West Long Branch Public Library — chose same theme as Carol even though they didn’t know each other, but customizable so looks so different.

Why use? Also part of a library system, but wanted to do own website. 2006 reformatted from old style to completely blog formatted. Wanted to be more usable, content to be reverse chronological order to stress newest news, promote new items to users.

Have every staff member who contributes have first name attached to blog entry. Had patrons come in and ask for by name. Name of library, address, phone number = a graphic they put in header.

Can make multiple posts and make them links in sidebar to create a whole website, continue adding to.

What about static stuff — hours, list of board members, etc. Created HTML page that mimics look of blogger template.

Emphasize new items in collection, started flying out door.

RSS feed — patron doesn’t have to keep coming back to site, can get news at their convenience.

Question: How do you link back to library catalog on the blog?

Answer from David: He put a link: Find items in catalog — his library was county library member, just put a link to from the sidebar. Answer from Aaron — on WordPress, found another library in system that had search box on their page, he pasted their code into a widget, put it on his site. Carol: Copied a picture of the library card, linked it back to the catalog.

Question: Do both systems take podcasts?

Aaron: Yes.

Question: What about subscription databases?

Answer: Karen from audience — use Links tool in wordpress to put links from sidebar. Answer: David — links to county list of electronic resources from sidebar, links to list of resources, have to put in card number to access remotely/IP recognition in lib.

Question: For Aaron — in WordPress can you work in code view?

Answer: Yes, he works in HTML editor exclusively. Can set defaults by user.

Question: Has anyone used different blog software, how does it compare?

Answer: David has only used blogger, Carol has only used blogger, Sarah from audience has used Typepad but wouldn’t recommend it.

Question: Can you tell how many people sub to your RSS feed?

Answer: David — numbers weren’t huge, but happy. Aaron — how did you find the info? David — he uses Feedburner.

Question for Aaron: What’s the benefit to hosting it yourself (besides URL) — their URL is on wordpress.com. What other benefits?

Answer: The URL issue, can pay if hosted. Also, a lot more control when download and upload software — your stuff lives on your own server (can troubleshoot if problem) and also can completely customize CSS and plugins — tradeoff convenience and control. David: Agrees — they have own domain name — Can set Blogger up to post to a domain, biggest work was registering domain. Aaron: Can give Blogger FTP credentials and send to own server.

Question: Good examples for linking from blog to a library OPAC?

Answer: David — we just put a link to find books in catalog. Carol suggests going live to show it. Aaron says Plymouth is more advanced, not just a link, he actually turned it INTO a catalog — imported records as blog posts. David shows the link — just clicks through to the catalog.

Question: Tips for enhancing the search engine optimization?

Answer: David — Blogger gives search bar on the top of blogger you can customize. Aaron — Using this software is a step forward in itself, All in one SEO pack plugin for WordPress.

Question: How do you divide work among staff so someone’s always putting something fresh up there?

Answer: David — good point! Goal for using blogger. Buy-in issue re: using first names, got past, talked about personalization of service, started having good time.

Followup: Is it on a schedule?

Answer: David — example is Janice (cataloger) weekly, book club, him, etc. Besides cataloger, catch-as-can basis. From Audience: Certain people don’t want to write/blog, others enthusiastic. Will schedule events — national library week, sign up ahead of time for certain topics. Then other people who love to blog fill in around it. Aaron: Have a plan for content and posts in can waiting to be published when you start. Audience: Can just post a photo with a caption.

Question: How do you promote your blog and get people to comment and respond? She has older pop, not tech savvy, people are using it but no one is commenting — one couple comments.

Answer: David — get hands on, show people in person, work one on one. Aaron — think of blog as a normal website and do user testing on it. Carol — the blog is the homepage on public computers so they have to see it.

Question: How do you manage your comments?

Answer: Aaron — can have open and free, can have moderated. Carol — has email sent w/ comments but doesn’t turn them down. David — no comments on his but he says open it up and have policy to address abuse.

CIL2009 — Obstacle or Opportunity, It’s Your Choice

Pam MacKellar talks about obstacle or opportunity it's your choicePam MacKellar, Consultant and author of The Accidental Librarian

Presentation will be on slideshare later. Worked at state library of new mexico, went around dealing with many libraries who were small and underfunded. Undergrad training in fine arts, brings out creative/idea person,  tries new things, likes taking risks, sees possibilities, attracted to possibilities.

When she went to school, had to formulate searches in advance, expensive, used acoustic data coupler modem. 1991 presentation on “internet listservs.”

How can I make a difference? Spread word: Basics of libs/libnship, know lib/org mission, know community’s info needs, planning, design goals to meet needs, know where lib going, funding with grants, removing barrier thinking.

Common obstacles: lots and lots — we’re just a small lib, so can’t try new tech. Not enough $. Not enough staff. We’re disadv. and underprivileged. I’m not a tech expert, I don’t know enough about tech, tech can’t improve on what we have already, don’t have time to learn, needs assessment show we don’t have any tech needs, IT dept won’t let us, computers too old, network out of date, not right hardware/software, no new ideas in bad economy, director not interested, other purchases more important.

When we see obstacles, negative cloud, lose customers — it’s catching. = negative library marketing.

Negative marketing results — discouraged negative staff, negative signage, outdated online presence, broken tech, obstacle-driven org.

Negativity often comes from the top, difficult to change.

Negative signage — book collection closed!! no checking out.

Outdated sites: upcoming events from 1996 — still sitting up there for public to see.

Reality is ever-changing

Things change — benefactor could give millions of $. How we frame it is our choice. We can flip neg to pos.

Since you can create own reality, why not focus on opportunities rather than on barriers? Repeat the positive, opps to self. Not mean wishing makes it comes true, but mindset in that direction, when opportunity comes, you will be open instead of having reasons why not.

Success story

Aztec public library, NM — got grant for digital media arts program. Fulfills need, goal and purpose driven, funded mult. sources, mult. partners (for ex., state employment agency), new “library paradigm” model for community. Biggest challenge — small town thinking and breaking out of libraries don’t do that paradigm. Lack of support some town leaders, board members.

Lessons: stay committed, have a mission, think big, strive for goal, stay in your power, keep trying, be fearless, don’t listen to criticism, be fearless, don’t listen to criticism, just jump in, believe in yourself.

Second success story

Martha Liebert — mother in 60s started library with other mothers, got book donations, $500 from town, local lumber company gave materials for shelves, VFW painted them — took leadership, vision, mission, dedication, personal commitment.

So now what?

Evaluate outlook, identify problem, guiding principle, take action

1) Use test tools — learned optimism test, etc — links at accidentallibrarian.com/CIL09. Use to help identify problem — what negative thoughts about work sit go through mind regularly, what must you face to turn attitude around, what do you most want to adjust/redirect, what resources do you need?

2) Decide to change — outlook result of choices we make, not permanent, can choose to change but not change someone else — ppl only change if they want to.

3) Develop a guiding principle. Write a statement of purpose — personal goal or specific community need you want to focus on. Change is fun when you know what aiming for. Do something to support it every day, encourage others, believe in self. Change your vocab. Replace neg. w/ pos.

4) Set yourself up for success — use tech as tool, do something to make a difference in community, use free tools, take free webinars/tutorials/read, try something easy, not a lot of time and staff, have fun, be flexible, loosen up — doesn’t have to be perfect, spread word about successes. Look for new funding opps — American recovery and reinvestment act, and 2009 omnibus appropriations bill might = $ for libs. Library grants blog. Need to be ready w/ ideas to get $.

Question: Classroom 2.0 has online webinars — social network you can join w/100k educators.

CIL2009 – Tiny Libraries, Tiny Tech, Innovative Services

Session 2 of Innovation in Smaller Libraries is Tiny Libraries, Tiny Tech, Innovative Services. Part 1: Jessamyn West, Part 2: Heather Braum, Brenda Hough

Jessamyn West doing tiny libraries tiny techJessamyn West: Smart Tiny Tech — Solving Problems with Simple Technology

Slides online at librarian.net/talks/cil2009

Her little library photo, very cute. Population 900 — 1 FTE — librarian, and her (systems lady). Also runs MetaFilter, lifeguard, teach basic computer classes, help me buy a laptop, speaks.

Rural is different — ALA talking to rural libraries usually means ppl from bigger libraries talking about what rural libs can do. Ppl at big confs talk about people in slums in Brazil having cells. People in rural areas don’t — can’t get service! Lib. only place to get internet where she is.

Apologies for the numbers — Pew reports — not reality you see on TV — not same service there. 55% adult americans have broadband at home — lots of libns where she works don’t have internet or even computers at home, because they think of computers as “work machines” whereas Jessamyn thinks of a computer as “my best friend.” 10% have dialup. Internet now doesn’t work on dialup. 25% low income ppl don’t have broadband at home, older ppl, etc. Home broadband adoption by poor going down — they can’t afford or are losing jobs. People who don’t have broadband — 19% don’t want, 14% (24%) in rural america say NOT AVAILABLE where they live. 27% adult americans not internet users.

Who cares if you’re offline. Obama — deliver more services printing less paper. 45% dialup users never look state local info online.

First things first — clicking a challenge. Screenshared with her dad to show right click. Can’t ebay til you have email. Staff — no broadband or computers at home, hotmail.com addresses, limited time to troubleshoot, no playtime to learn things. Get what gates foundation gives them and happy for it, upgrade when vendors say, MP3 players when switched to overdrive. Patrons just want stuff to work.

Jessamyn — she rules — can be in charge because she just wants to do it. Run state library association web site because it needs fixing and she just asked. Figure out who leads/follows. Pull along who is in charge.

Money problems — Save a stamp, let us email you. People get that — $.42! Get online, help us save money. Things that are free — web space, video hosting, photo hosting, blog software, some tech support, free vs. “free.”

What her libraries think are worth it: Sharon library — wireless draws new ppl in, no one else has. Randolph — wireless, computers — people can’t afford them. Troubleshooting/guides/maintaining tech. Patron privacy. Royalton — wireless, taxes, apply for jobs. Website up-to-date, interactive. Roxbury — just got a bathroom. And wireless, started a website, did 23 things, grant for computers. Tunbridge — getting catalog online. One-on-one advice, the library that says “yes.”

Brenda Hough/heather Braum - tiny libraries tiny techHeather Braum, Brenda Hough –Tiny Libraries, Tiny Tech

Brenda: MaintainIT — Tech Soup — Brenda used to work at NEKLS, Heather is there now.

1) Thinking outside the box — literally — thinking outside the library walls, creating a virtual library in a community of 157 when you’re open 14 hours a week, because that presence is up 24/7.

2) Connected to community — Williamsburg KS has a population of 300 and worked together to move books to new building. No paid staff at time, did it all themselves.

3) No fear of new things. No layers of bureaucracy, getting admin/staff buyin, committees.

4) Collaboration. KS has 7 regional systems — even if in small town, can be connected to/collaborate w/ other local libs.

My Kansas Libraries on the Web (MKLOW)

Sharon Moreland article, CIL magazine. Uses WordPress — had sites couldn’t update, that someone set up for them once upon a time, outdated — now can use to keep it up to date. Slides showing videos from library staff who support the project and in dinky libraries talking about how useful the project has been.

KOHA in Kansas

70-80 current/future KOHA libraries in KS — communities of 500-1000 ppl — pooled resources, now can get awesome ILS system, easy to use. Created video using jing (free) on how to use catalog, stick on library homepage. Comments from patrons — like using a well-funded large city library but more convenient/less expensive. Before only had winnebago, etc., standalone — no online presence — now can easily do ILL.

Morrill PL — tech training — lifelong learning. Hiawatha KS. Video about the tech classes — office, ebay, gps. Ppl like, advertise paper/radio/website. Just go for it. Start w/ what you have, what ppl in community ask for. Listen to patrons. Laptop lab, hope to replace w/ grant.

PC time management. code.google.com/p/powerline — had a 16 year old geek on staff who saw challenge of sign in sheets, wrote time management software, free online, MaintainIT did a webinar on it.

Question: software for video tutorials?

Answer: Jing is available online — jingproject.com. Used to build training for KOHA and cloud project. Mac/PC — install and just hit a key and capture motion video and mike input or just screenshots and write on them — can download to PC and upload somewhere else, or register for a free screencast.com account and upload from there. Easy, cross-platform.

Question: Questioner can only get internet at home on satellite — why are you having animated images on your tiny library sites — this is contrary to what you are saying about people not having broadband.

Answer: Libraries themselves designing the pages — they don’t design the pages for them — when people start creating web pages, get allure of moving images etc. Feedback will probably resolve. Jessamyn says: Ceiling — hundredk or 75k or 150k or less site — fit whatever can do w/in limit — WordPress, header etc. can all be text so can be a tradeoff between visual appeal and load time. Satellite is jerky — anything more than a couple k goes later, they have a lot of satellite users, they worry about.

Question: Questioner is from Thailand, they have similar system. Who is main target — who uses the website? Did Community ask for it? Who decides what content to put on it?

Answer (Heather): Often just librarian — announcing programs, respond to community needs, ask patrons what want on site, community news in general, old newspapers 100 years ago — depends on community. KLOW project — one platform, but each lib can put in own theme, widgets, content.

CIL2009 — I wanna be 2.0 too!

Sarah houghton-jan with her merit badges

Moderating a track today on CIL about Innovation in Smaller Libraries,in a very weird long room with pillars and multiple screens. But that aside… session 1 is…

Sarah Houghton-Jan — The 10 LOL Cat Laws of Web Services for Smaller and Underfunded Libraries:

Photos of LOL cats — guess what they represent about what you s/b doing in your library. Presentation will be up on her site if you need a copy.

– What’s a LOLcat — cats with funny, gramatically incorrect, yet smart captions.

1) Talk with your customers — email, IM, chat widgets, VoIP (like answering a phone call, but online — if users use at work or w/ friends, like it from you), video chat (Skype, AIM), SMS (text msg reference, for ex.). UNLV IM service page. Put chat windows/assistance links where customers are upset — DLK putting chat windows in the item not found page.  Doesn’t have to be chat, can be text giving contact info. Ohio University Libraries Skype a librarian kiosks. SMS — good place to dump a few K. More texts than email are sent in US. Holds or late notices via SMS. Hack options have security and feature issues. Mosio — text a librarian — users interface on phones, librarians see and answer on PC.

2) Interact with your customers — Welcome comments on everything, respond like a human being. Ex: online books clubs mix of staff and customers. San Jose PL Teen book club on LibraryThing called “luv2read.” Get book recommendations automatically — most commonly shared — can see what friends in group are reading. Use blogs for recommended materials (each entry cb own review) or wikis (subject/age based pages with reviews) — encourage full staff participation — template with tags/categories — welcome customer comments/entries. AADL  example. Tag genre/age/format so call see all at once. Madison PL MADreads — categories instead of tags.

3) Be engaged. Service called EngagedPatrons.org — free/low-cost web 2.0 services for libraries, Glenn Peterson Hennepin County PL. If your budget under 1million$, get it for free. Events calendar w/ online reg., blogs, google maps mashups for library locations, library contact forms, RSS feeds, etc. Monterey PL example — get own look and feel.

4) Social networking. Be present where your users are, be real, be reliable and continuously new. Look at SN for kids — Disney Club Penguin, MySpace, Moshi Monsters, Tee Bee Dee. Ning, Friendster, Facebook. Ask your users what they use, be present where they are. Talk like a person, don’t be fake. Post new content, don’t leave same old stuff up for a year — SN is about change, communication, sharing. Topeka and Shawnee County/Hennepin Facebook sites — integrated with other stuff — catalog search, chat service, right in facebook page. Advertising — targeted to people in your ZIP code, etc. $10 = 5000 Facebook Flyers to targeted audiences.

5) Use multimedia — photos/images, podcasts, videocasts, games. Fingerknitting program example — photos stimulated questions (other branches wanted program, books). Westmont PL — Flickr display of new fiction, notes/links around each title that go to catalog entry for that book. San Jose PL Flickr — use for contests (teensreach tag). Exploit image generators: GeneratorBlog.blogspot.com, ImageGenerator.org, ImageChef.com — type text in, you have a cool image. Podcasting — people who can talk/sing, digital microphone (free online), Audacity (free), a Blogger blog (free). Freeafterrebate.info. Videocasting — people who aren’t camera shy, digital video camera ($100+), Avidemux editing software (free)+, A Blogger blog (free).

6) Offer treats — offer something shiny for little money — ask people what they want and then find them some. Show text a librarian to your mayor. Look at HCPL catalog — treats (related subject headings right on right), simple increase font button, link to comment, ask a librarian. Staff avatars — Nashville PL had for teen staff, ppl came in looking for people they’d seen online. Do with image generators. My account text messages (Skokie PL).

7) Free stuff — exploit the free — web hosting, statistics, and gadgets. Google webmaster central, Google analytics, wordpress.com, tinypic, google gadgets for your webpage, statcounter, google base, onestat, google sites, bravenet, gimp, yousendit, polldaddy (free polls), zamzar, colorblender, stock.xchng, webmonkey, surveymonkey.com, dzone, programmableweb, zoomerang, imageafter, openphoto. Tap google — calendar, blogger, custom search, translate, picasa, groups, docs.

8) Respect your customers — you never know when you’re lunch. Expect the best not the worst. Treat with respect regardless of age/which services they use.

9) Offer users choices — how to contact you, how communicate w/ them, how they find things, what they find (format/content) — e-audio books. Mashups — Library ELF (account tracking by email, RSS, text), Library LookUp (bookmarklet — page w/ ISBN, look up item in catalog), LibX toolbar (direct access web browser to catalog and more). Good catalog — think of overlay like AquaBrowser, LibraryThing for Libraries (purchased by bowker, now costs twice as much), VuFind (oss).

10) Keep going! Try new things, push admin — they like 24/7 nature of web services, minimal staffing, cheap costs, highest ROI in lib. Rejoice in failures (you’re pushing boundaries!).

Take a break.

Questions: Facebook page w/200 fans — is this a success?

Answer: Depends on your library, size of your community, what you’re trying to do with that page. 200 fans, she’d be happy, vehicle to reach 200 people at once.

Question: Bowker rep — their parent company CIG made equity investment, Bowker did not buy it, prices haven’t changed since the acquisition.

Question: Recommendation for Tech Soup (public library or 5013c — software at discounted rates).

Question: will these be on slideshare?

Answer: They will be on librarianinblack.net

Handout for getting unstuck folks

This one’s for those who attended last week’s “Getting Unstuck” presentation in Springfield — the handout of resources I promised!

piPhone!

iphone

So, last week my cell phone died — it was about 5 years old, I’d been out of contract for some time, and after being finicky for a while it just stopped charging. Since I didn’t want to travel without a phone on Monday, I shopped around on Saturday and ended up with… an iPhone! I have been coveting an iPhone since they first came out, particularly since my husband has one through work and tends to taunt me with his.

Mine’s a refurb, but still not so frugal — especially because the data plan will cost about $35/month (including taxes) more than what I was paying for my previous phone-only plan. How do I justify this? We poked at the numbers and figured that if we could cut at least $35 out of recurring monthly bills to come out even, we’d go for it. Here were our steps:

  1. The first thing to go: long-distance home phone service, saving around $10/month. (The iPhone gets great reception in the house — we’d been holding off on dropping long distance because my old phone, well, didn’t.) Total savings: $10/month
  2. Then, we called DirecTV, asked for the cancellation department, and made noise about switching to cable. Savings? A one-time $25 credit and $10/month off our bill for 18 months. Total savings: $20/month
  3. We then dropped down a Netflix tier to save $4/month — we’ve been holding onto movies way too long and watch fewer DVDs since we  have streaming, the library, and Redbox as options. Total savings: $24/month
  4. Then, we called Comcast, asked for the cancellation department, and made noises about switching to DSL. They dropped us to a slower tier — still faster than the DSL service we can get in our area — saving $20/month. Total savings: $44/month

So, iJustify the iPhone (which I’ve nicknamed piPhone because it was purchased on 3/14) by saying it is saving me $9/month :) .

What should we have done? Cut all of the above and not bought an iPhone. But I do think there is a case to be made for not being frugal all of the time — I’m not a go-out-and-buy-every-new-gadget type of person, but my gosh, do I love my new iPhone.

What sorts of things do you splurge on?

(xposted at mashup mom)

Yes, we have no bananas

So I was flipping through the March issue of American Libraries (yes, I still like the paper version) and came across a letter that reads:

Your Inside Scoop blog posting, “Obama Invokes Libraries at Governor’s Conference” (Dec. 3, 2008) was a total tear-jerker. It made my day.

It made me not mind having to work another holiday weekend to get ready for another busy week of supporting my school’s awesome students and their talented teachers.

It made me not care that I had to share a banana with my husband at breakfast this morning because we had to dip into our meager monthly food budget to buy extra supplies for the library. [emphasis added]

It made me proud to be a librarian and it made me proud to be an American. Thank you.

Taking pride in your job, good! Going the extra mile for kids? Good! Not having enough money to buy a second banana? Double plus ungood.

Part of taking pride in our profession involves recognizing our own value. Yes, it’s important to have a well-stocked library. Yes, sometimes we do have to go above and beyond, work weekends, bring work home, do work outside our normal “jobs.” But when we’re going the extra mile and don’t have enough money to buy food? Something has to give.

No offense intended to the letter-writer, who’s clearly devoted to her job. However, libraries are more than their collections — if we’re going to argue that we add value above and beyond a room full of books (or a site full of databases), then we need to actually appreciate our own value.

On meaning to blog

I’ve been meaning to blog about Greg Schwartz’s decision to table Uncontrolled Vocabulary. (Walt Crawford provides a list of some other former and current “unique, passion-driven experiments in non-institutional, freely available  “periodical media” serving the library field–making a distinction between things that appear on a fairly regular basis and the hundreds of blogs and other wholly irregular sources.”

However, I haven’t had the time to blog — or think — enough about Greg’s decision. Which probably tells you something.

Thinking about: LISjobs.com, The Tech Static, Beyond the Job, Info Career Trends, the LISjobs.com forums, and this blog… I’m more entangled with librarianship now than when I was working as a librarian, but not so much getting paid for these “experiments,” and it’s taking time away from both the kids and the work that I do get paid for. Something here might have to go, but how to choose?

I’m glad that Greg is getting so many positive comments about his decision — which I also wholly support (and understand!).