Archive for April 2010

Price drop — Point, Click, and Save

Go figure! Amazon just dropped their pre-order price on Point, Click, and Save: Mashup Mom’s Guide to Saving and Making Money Online down to $13.46! (Not that I’m obsessively looking at my pretty book cover on Amazon or anything…) I wasn’t going to mention it again already, but thought I’d note the price drop. I’m not sure if I should be pleased that maybe more people might buy it, or sad for the lost royalties. :)

US News and World Retort

So I’m on the plane back from CIL catching up on some old magazines that have piled up. The March USNWR contains this gem in an article on “Surviving the American Makeover” (on p16 if you’d like to play along at home):

Even some fields that often require advanced degrees — such as law, teaching, library science, [emphasis mine] and some medical-technology specialties — have relatively low income growth, because lots of people choose them and once you have the credentials, the work is fairly standardized. [emphasis again mine]

Care to discuss amongst yourselves?

Not just for librarians anymore!

And now, for something completely different! If you’re reading this, you probably know that I tend to write stuff. For librarians. Well, now I’ve written something for everyone! So I hope you’ll pardon the brief detour into self-promotion, especially those of you who are public librarians, because… your patrons need this book. ;

So what’s it about?

Point, Click, and Save: Mashup Mom’s guide to saving and making money online addresses the best way to ride out today’s turbulent economic times. It talks about everything from finding and using coupons to their best effect, to playing the grocery and drugstore games, to sorting out legitimate online work-at-home opportunities; it explains how to mash up your money-saving and money-making strategies to find the balance that works for you and your family. The book honors the reality that taking the time in to strategize, coupon, and plan is in itself a job, and the fact that many “stay-at-home moms” also bring in an income through side work. It recognizes that the internet provides our best resource for connecting with each other and finding up-to-date information, coupons, and deals. Lastly, Point, Click, and Save focuses on realistic ways to save and change our spending habits, rather than highlighting exceptional shopping trips staged for tv cameras.

I’m so excited to have the opportunity to share these strategies with others! If you’ve been following the Mashup Mom blog, Point, Click, and Save will be a good wrap-up and reference — and if you’re new, or if there are others you want to get into couponing and saving, it can help you get a good start!

Options, we like options.

Preorder Point, Click, and Save

Check it out! Or… order it for your library so others can check it out.

/end shameless self promotion

Speaking of liminal

The other thing that always strikes me about smaller conferences like Computers in Libraries or Internet Librarian is the importance of the in-between places to the conference experience and vibe. Regular attendees know that the real action is sometimes less in the sessions than in doing lobbycon, and some local folks have been known to come in just to hang out there — why register? So my next question of the day in my own in-between space before the next conference commitment here: Is lobbycon something you can deliberately replicate with things like unconferences and camps, or does it need to grow organically?

Speaking of social networking

I finally got on twitter last week — @lib_rachel if you want to follow my oh-so-exciting tweets. :) Yes, I’m slightly (OK, majorly) behind the curve. I do like it, as I was afraid I might — the reason I successfully avoided twitter for so long was not because I doubted its value, but because I feared getting involved in yet another online timesink. One of the things I wonder about our time online — on twitter, on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on whatever social networks we choose to give our time to — what’s it taking away from? The time I spend blogging is time that in pre-Internet days I would have spent elsewhere; the time I spend on Facebook or Flickr or twitter — no matter how much I multitask — has its own opportunity cost. Not that social networks don’t have their own rewards, but I do think sometimes about the trade-offs.

Now I must go be conference Rachel, so I’ll leave you with that half formed thought and invitation to connect on twitter. And if you want to follow my totally-unrelated-to-anything-here bargain blog, follow @mashupmom — which basically just retweets the blog entries. So if you prefer twitter to RSS, enjoy!

The value of your web presence

While I’m at it, let me “liveblog” another one I took notes on yesterday:

Analyzing, eval, and communic the value of web presence. Amanda Clay Powers and Michael Porter

MP –

love libraries, hopeful for libraries, yet very concerned for libs. Don’t let “that’s the way we’ve always done it” or “we’re too busy” kill our libs.

AP –

Acad ref. lib. lib 2.0 summit — ms state univ. gung ho since then. Emerging tech summit this yr.

mgs virt ref dept. how integrate social networking/tech. All abt building community.

MP -

ROI — what it is for libs and why you care and maybe why you don’t need to care. how attitude changed over last year even. Investing staff time and resources into tracking success of social media for your lib need to do well — ppl who do best are from bus world.

oliver blanchard Having a social media presence nowadays is equiv of in yellow pgs 10 yrs ago. Not enough just to be there.

Social media means to an end, so need to know the end. Create goals, what trying to accomplish. Need measurable obj, strategies to meet them, tactics to accomplish strat. Jason falls

Don’t have time for full ROI report. Hoping for easier soln. No easy way to do business quality wo heavy investment — not mean can’t prove story but means data may be more anecdotal. Over last year, value of tools bec more app, ways permeated culture and society not have to make case as much.

youtube — socialmedia roi — socialnomics — sources

just need to tell story/demonstrate value — not full-blown ROI.

Knew was worthwhile (webjunction) but didn’t have stats. Starting compiling what ppl said on FB, twitter, etc about wj and doing in summary on first page. Anecdotal ev.

Weren’t reading, so pared down to 4 pgs. then stopped a hwile. Now. Need simple data every months. NUmber fb fans, # tweets, etc. Pared way down bc value has been proven already. Just part of what we do.

AP –

Metrics are out there. “So much for the fluff.”

twitter guide — has tools for analyzing feeds. at mississippi state univ under libguides.

facebook insights — on fb page over group — gets data over time, can dl and manipulate.

Spike in traffic — rave in library. Got on it, took pics, posted, students engaged with. First ones to have photos up (was a 10 minute study break rave). So huge spike.

What’s your target? What are you trying to do with this info? No longer have to prove fb and twitter good idea — done deal. On every page lib/univ website etc. So what data good for?

About building relationships. building community. and listening. Never had this kind of contact with patrons before to know what they thinking about. Sometimes they’re thinking about us/libraries/ needing help. Not just linear stats.

Also — getting your resources noticed. Added new resources. Could see who tweeted, where they were, how many followers they had — could see how word getting out. Multiphase, multilayered process — blanchard. Peeling back payers of rich nonlinear exc. data never had before. Shows how bec. relevant.

No instant answers.

Are you being retweeted? Why did they retweet you? What gets liked? What provokes comment? Who is engaging w/ you? So what’s interesting, what not, and why.

What are you doing that’s sticky? What matters, what brings patrons in, what are they doing with it? Opp to listen.

Create own assessment tool bc every lib is different. Engagement is a very interesting stat.

I’m ba-ack — at CIL, that is

Um. Yeah. It’s been a while. Hi. So I’m at CIL 2010 and figured I’d try some mild conference blogging to ease back in. Mostly because my favorite name for a session ever is… “Black Ops Ninja Style Tech Projects.” This one’s Sarah Houghton-Jan, John Blyberg, and Amanda Etches-Johnson, so you know it’s going to be good — and here’s what my scattered notes summarize. I can’t call it liveblogging because this session was yesterday — it would have been liveblogging had I been able to get internet to work in that particular room. Nice touch: Taking ?s from twitter during the session.

Sarah Houghton-Jan

Exciting projects get thwarted early by barriers that sometimes don’t make sense. Hear no once, think no always be the answer. New tech mgr herself found ways to get around: Be a bully, be subversive, be sneaky, read the policy manuals and find huge examples of policy to quote.

John Blyberg

Things are done just because they are done. Asked mom: Why you do this thing with the pie crust — because my mother did it, because my grandmother did it, no reason.

how get into culture of libs and win hearts and minds?

Every lib has staff who are lead employees — take initiative to look at innov. things going on and want to implement. As mgr, embed these ppl different areas of lib so c/b change agents, give responsibility so they can spread those thoughts among staff. And give feedback what ppl thinking and real-world elements in play.

Amanda Etches-Johnson

manages tiny team, her and two dev, web dev, digital exp, emerging tech at her lib. High degree autonomy.

know your lib’s strategic plan and make sure your black ops fit in. Esp with tech projects — don’t implement just for sake of impl, but bc strategic, fits in w/ lib’s goals.

Ex: 2 yrs ago resp. website redesign project and dec. implement a CMS, retrospect, not good idea same time. Had some Drupal exp. for nonlib projects, wanted use. Not sold because this will be easy. Fits in with strategic plan: Free and open source.

Sarah H-J

Blending into env. and sneaking up on ppl last minute. Make chngs w/o ppl noticing. By the time they notice, been going a while, can say, hey, it’s been up for months with no problems. Ex: Catalog — added links so could ask circ desk for help. Thought won’t say yes to that, think will be overloaded. Didn’t realize in a month. Uptick 5-10% in traffic, but that’s another 5-10% ppl getting ?s answered and finding contact info they need. Also covertly introduce ideas through emails, little mentions at meetings. Start sending out notices. Ex: Want to start twitter? Start sending out notes: Stats on twitter, what this lib is doing w/ twitter, so when you introduce idea it’s familiar. If heard of idea before they’re much more apt to say yes when formally introduced bc it’s familiar, not foreign.

John B

SOPAC: Integrates w/ drupal, merges CMS with catalog for seamless UE. Back in 2004 — post content and solicit comments from users, very new and scary thing, let alone let users add metadata, reviews, etc. to records. Scared the crap out of librarians. Couldn’t understand diff between adding metadata held in separate repository but connected to record as opposed to changing record = FUD. Got it done — really we just did it. Said we were doing a website redesign. Very literal about it: Doing a CMS that allows the site to be more dynamic, didn’t provide a lot of info. If did, process would have been bogged down with what ifs, which wasn’t going to get the project done. As IT staff, were experts, didn’t want to have process hijacked by ppl not know what talking about. Went ahead and launched, = huge success. So bc huge success, very little pushback from staff, they got excited by prospect being content mgrs. Provide countervision for ppl to latch onto. easier to ask forgiveness.

Amanda E-J

Follow evidence based practice. Borrowed from evidenced based practice from medical field. Questioning approach to practice leads to scientific experimentation. Some ppl hide behind use as excuse not to innovate. EBL for her = innovation. Start with what do we do, lit search, not out there, turn to network. Ask colleagues for experiences. All of that = ev based practice. If no evidence, do anyway, but collect ev self as go along and share it part broaded body prof knowledge.

Not a lot at point — mechanics of drupal. How create subject guide, how use modules do spec things on website. Wrote blog posts about it, writing article for her intranet, etc.

Sarah H-J

Avoiding collateral damage. Someone gets excited and blazes ahead w/o talking someone else. Sometimes us or sometimes we exp. collat dam. Don’t step on toes power- or support- or staffing- or funding-wise. Move ahead in thoughtful way. Talk to write ppl, dept heads, make sure no unintended impact on them that will crash project and create sit they don’t trust you for future projects. Get ppl who going to be affected involved at early stages. Have help define goals and scope of project. Forget other ppl smart too and smart about things we may not know about.

John B

What if you’re wrong and the new thing not a success, not what ppl want? Twitter ?

When deploy things need to deploy like a fire jumper. Drop in and establish a foothold and stay there. Give it resource you need to succeed. Great successes built on a legacy of failure. If you are wrong, own up, apologize, put effort to analyze why not make it work. Was idea bad? or bc didn’t have enuf resources? or bc didn’t implement it well? APply lessons to next time.

Audience comment: Sometimes just too soon and if you try 6mos later will work. Timing is everything.

Amanda E-J

cb hard to recover from no. NO right now doesn’t nec. mean no 6 months from now. Keep pushing ideas forward.

Committees bad, project teams, good. b4 user exp. libn, was ref libn and chair of web team. Had resp but not auth. Typical webteam. 12 ppl. Bad, spent hours discussing color of input button. No real auth to make dec. When bc user exp libn got auth. No mandate, just “make website better.” Disbanded web team and assembled project team based on site redesign. Ppl not problem, structure problem — some same ppl from webteam came to project team. Project team lasted 6 months, had 4 tasks, based around redesign. Had 2-day retreat at student center next door. Built wireframes figured out top level nav. Needed project team to buy into process.

Sarah H-J

twitter ? — how decided when push forward w/o talking to ppl vs. getting stakeholders on board?

Judgment call. In circ. ex. knew from previous exp. that group of circ mgrs would present unrealistic fears and staffing impact expectations — knew would happen again this time. Instead letting fear get better of them, just blaze ahead and do it. Think about past exp. w stakeholders and likely repercussion if do it wo asking. If notice the next day, repercussions, admit wrong, back track, and go the other way.

trust and follow instincts. Have sense what serv will help users. User focused. If done research and looked topic in depth, trust instincts and move forward. Current web redesign horrible project. Paid graphic designer — they did 3 samples, crap. Did 2 new, crap. Admin said make it work cause we paid. Spent 9 months trying. New web libn — 2nd day mocked up a new design. She loved, but back of head oh we paid for old thing, did bunch of work need to undo. Slept on it, trusted instincts, went with what was better. Everyone thrilled. If brain and heart tells you to do, do it. yOu know what you’re doing, have conf. to convince others.

John B

Know when to quit. If you need to scrap work, then that’s the way to go.

? from audience — when good to implement a stupid idea when someone really attached. John: Do user prototyping stage internally and then open outwards if not sure.

Audience comment — think in terms of undermining trust in your work. But if going ot help someone work w/ you better if implement their idea and doesn’t undermine project/trust in long run, then worth it.

Ppl want stability, want to be able to do their jobs. Make sure keep basics running before push new. Move from culture of reaction to culture of innovation. Make sure your staff sees you at the person trying to make things work so when roll out new ideas they trust and know you have their best interests at heart, will support you. Take care of back end first.

Sarah H-J

? from audience — what if someone comes w/ you w/ untenable project, how say no.

Hold to same standards. What evidence do they have, what libs have done it and it worked, etc. Say let’s think about it and you tell me why you think it’s important. take it to x group or team and then come w/ ideas and concerns — sometimes other group says no for you.

john b – make sure they are personally invested in idea. If not invest own time or staff resources that tells him they’re not really serious. Will listen if they know what they’ll invest and do to make idea a success.

a e-j — usually rel to website. If not think will fly, paper prototype, test, let testing decide. Sometimes her instincts wrong.

Audience comment — don’t show all cards up front. Leave out things know people want so they give sugg thing you’re going to implement anyway.  Say we’re willing to do xyz if that will help you out.

Audience comment — say a positive no to build political capital.

RT — 10th thing — it’s all about the politics.