Monthly Archives: January 2011

Revision and writing discipline

One of my major faults in writing (let’s not get into the major faults I have everywhere else, ok?) is the lack of discipline I have about revision and re-writing. I love to write. I hate to edit and revise. I’m pretty sure this is a common thing, I see others complaining about it quite frequently, so I’m not alone in this. The problem, of course, is that my work is frequently not quite as good as it could be if I would conquer the twin demons of procrastination and laziness and write my stuff *well* in advance of the due date. This is another non-resolution that I’m making this year (they sure are piling up, aren’t they?). With the exception of this blog (which is write once and publish – little editing is done to the text I produce here, with my apologies…), I’m going to try to give myself plenty of revision time when I start to plan out my attack on my next writing project. Editing and revising can only help my output – there is no reason to avoid doing it, besides laziness, and I’m going to definitely be working on that!

The week in Tweets

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Time slips away

I overheard a comment the other day by a woman who paints, but does not sell her paintings (because she does it for the love of painting, not to create a market) about how she loses time while painting and how that was a sign of how much she loved it. This came a day after I started work on a new client’s website (Colossal Sounds) and completely lost 45 minutes of my life. I sat down to start tweaking his WordPress installation and the next time I looked up it was 45 minutes later and I’d have *sworn* it had only been 5.
Having a passion for your work (or your avocation, in the painter’s case) means that you can lose yourself in the process and get “in the zone” of working on something to the point where the passage of time is completely unnoticed. I’ve had those moments at my day job, too – times when I’ve sat down to do a “quick” fiddle with the site’s backend and discovered – an hour later – that I’ve completely lost track of time!
Have you ever done this? Have you ever been lucky enough to do it *while getting paid*? I’m a lucky girl – I need to remind myself of this sometimes.

A Day In The Life #6

Though I’m not really a librarian, I’m going to participate in this round of “day in the life” again, just to document what exactly a library IT person does all day. Enjoy!

  • Came in a bit early, started my computer, pulled up RememberTheMilk on my iPad, cleared my desk of drink cans and old coffee cups (so that I know which one to drink from – grabbing an old one teaches the value of clearing your desk pretty darn quick)
  • Checked my tickler file, my calendar for the week and noticed the red light indicating voice mail on my phone.
  • Checked email and forwarded website comments on to appropriate folks
  • Checked social networking sites for new stuff
  • Forwarded and responded to a comment on the library’s blog
  • Updated WordPress plugins
  • Uploaded new graphic image advertising an author’s program next week to library’s home page
  • Skimmed blogs
  • Wrote one tweet, scheduled another one for later in the day
  • Created new email and domain accounts for a new employee; set up training with them at noon today
  • Checked email again
  • Dealt with HP vendor wanting to sell us a server we don’t need…
  • Achieved inbox zero by 9:30. That will last for 5 minutes, but it’s a happy 5 minutes!!
  • Went in search of the new program guide so that I can blog about all of our new programs on my “work at home” day Thursday
  • Posted “Keep Calm and Turn it Off and On Again” poster on my door. Maybe that will keep me from saying Reboot! so many times during the day
  • Tried to log into a closed branch to fix a computer, forgetting that the computers have to actually be on to be able to remotely log into them. Put it on “todo” list for tomorrow.
  • Answered a co-workers email about a virus on his home computer
  • Dealt with PTO form issues and with a patron issue regarding fines and Public Computer Center usage
  • Discovered that the beta version of Twitter module for Drupal supports OAuth, added updating that to the “todo” list for tomorrow morning.
  • Remembered that I told the Assistant Director that I’d look into why her computer won’t keep separation page settings for the printer (but forgot to add it to RTM’s todo list…), added it to “todo” list
  • Checked email again, skimmed new blog posts delivered to my Google Reader, took a break
  • Inbox zero again at 10:30 – woot!!!
  • Had impromptu meeting in my office about turning lights off in the bathroom when leaving. With 17 women in the building, it seems unnecessary (lights and exhaust fan both go off when lights are off – this makes for unpleasant restroom conditions, if ya know what I mean), but some still do it. Discussed possible solutions.
  • Pop-in question about Google Docs + some more information about the branch’s inability to access our server on a computer, reset security permissions, will still check to see if it works tomorrow.
  • Spent a moment reading through the Technology Skills Library Staff Should Have ( and considering staff training for the upcoming year…
  • took a moment to watch a video of a husky saying I Love You from a FriendFeed thread, made me smile! (
  • Worked on print queue issue with our old Xerox copier, got rid of phantom print job in the queue
  • It’s 11:30ish, so it’s time to head across the street to discuss patron issue/fines with PCC supervisor and to train new PCC clerk on website and email stuff (good thing I left early – got stopped by Automation librarian on the way over to discuss CSS for the catalog issues)
  • Came back from training to find $5 for 2 washcloths I knitted for coworker on my desk. Checked mail, FriendFeed and Facebook, left for lunch.
  • Came back from lunch (after driving through 2 parking lots – twice – to find a spot to park! We’re a busy place today) and quickly created stub post for library blog on why patrons should show their love for their library (connected to tweet sent out this afternoon)
  • Checked mail and FriendFeed again, checked FB page and Twitter replies; answered a question about media and licensing of MS Office suites and provided more information for the staff member with virus issues at home
  • Skimmed blog posts
  • Sent email to director proposing a “hidden gems of the library” video series, as well as another idea for our main blog
  • It’s 2:15pm and I’m losing steam. Taking time to just read through some saved blog posts and a journal or two that is on my desk.
  • Reading was interrupted by more MS licensing questions, I took a moment to activate new licenses through our E-Open licensing portal, went back to reading
  • Reading was interrupted again with staff laptop allocation issue. Bumped the issue to the director to make a final call
  • Updated budget spreadsheet; cried; tried to figure out how to support tech in a library on so very little money; cried some more
  • Went home at 4:00pm to knit, make Tortellini in a cream sauce and veg in front of the TV until bedtime

The week in Tweets

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Content strategies

My previous post about the editorial calendar is sort of related to something I read last week about developing a content strategy. The information wasn’t really suited to libraries, but there are some points that I felt I could take and run with, even at a non-profit, B2C sort of place.

1) Identify trending topics
2) Meet with marketing regularly
3) Evaluate and refine

1) I keep a pretty close eye on our web/social sites stats. I’ve noticed, over the course of the last month or so, that mentioning any sort of e-materials (our Overdrive service, e-books, iPad and Nook tutorials, etc.) makes the stats for our blog jump pretty significantly. I’ve also tried to keep an eye on what people are searching for when they come to our site. This can show me what people are interested in right now so that I can go out and solicit content from our staff on that topic. That’s how I do the identification part.

2) I work just a few feet from our PR person and we have a pretty good working relationship – so she feels free to come to me with stuff she wants emphasized on the social sites and I have no problems going to her for help with promotion of the sites themselves. It’s a symbiotic relationship – and we work on keeping those lines of communication open so that I know what is important to her and she knows what is important to me – and we can each try to focus on those things.

3) This is where I fall down – like I said, I spend a lot of time perusing stats and I use them to inform my content decisions, but I don’t do so well at going back after the fact and determining what wording worked for what program. This is something that I need to work on in the coming year. I’d like to start out by actually creating *purposefully* different texts for Twitter/Facebook/Blog posts and see which ones get more responses. That would help me create more effective posts for everything, I’m sure. It’ll go on the list of “stuff to do”…

I have a social media strategy that includes some content strategizing within it for my library, but we could use a better articulation of what sort of content we’ll be promoting as well as what kind of content we’ll be asking for from our patrons (Flickr pictures of the library and/or library events, just as an example). This is something I’ll be working on – have any of you done anything like a formal content strategy for your sites? Wanna share?? ;)

Free stuff and pitfalls

The fairly recent announcement of Salesforce’s acquisition of DimDim – the formerly open source web conferencing product – has shaken some folks up. It’s a lesson, though, in the fragility of using free services on the web. While I’m not going to say don’t use them (and I’m certainly not going to stop using them myself), you do have to consider that free services (Ning, DimDim, possibly Delicious and more) have a strong possibility of going away altogether or just becoming a service that requires payment (as both Ning and DimDim have done). Either way, for libraries or other folks with very small budgets, the result is the same. The service is no longer available for them.

DimDim - no longer a free webconference option

This applies to every free service – from powerhouses like Facebook to more niche products like the free budgeting and personal finance tool I use, Mint. Anything that you use that you are not specifically paying for (and things that you are paying for, even) can be pulled at any time. Really, paying for a product or service doesn’t mean it won’t go away – it just means that it may be less likely and will (hopefully) offer better support in transitioning you to a new service.
One thing I keep in mind with any service I use is that if I’m not paying for it, I’m not a customer – I’m the product. If the service can’t stay in business selling me and my data/habits/eyeball attention, they won’t be around for long. For services that have no paid option, this can be scary! The best thing to do is to make regular backups of all of your data (that you can!) on these free services and be prepared for service interruptions or unexpected loss of service at any time. Have contingency plans in place and know what options you have if that service becomes immediately unavailable to you.
Not the easiest thing to do, I will grant you, but a bit of preparation in advance can save hours of panicked “crisis-mode” activity in the future!

The week in Tweets

  • Looking at Facebook Deals for MRRL. We already reward Foursquare mayors…. this might be interesting! #
  • Should I work for free?—a flowchart #
  • Configuring ASA and PIX Security Appliances – Training Resources – Cisco Systems #

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Web operating systems and the cloud

I blogged – a long time ago – about the use of web-based operating systems that patrons of public Internet access spots (such as libraries) could use. Things have changed since then. Most have been eclipsed by services like Dropbox – which requires you to have a computer to store stuff on, unlike the cloud-based web OS’s I’ve talked about. One web-based OS that has caught my attention, though, is iCloud. It offers a mobile site, iOS and Android apps and features easy uploading of files in exactly the same manner as Dropbox – but to your cloud-based computer, not a physical one.

This all seems very cool and is something worth taking a look at – the free version gives you 3GB of storage, but you can buy more, of course, and the apps appear to be free (at least the iOS one is). This may very well allow patrons who have iPhones or Android phones but no computer at home to do all kinds of very cool computing tasks from their phones – then come into the library to print and manage things that might be a bit difficult to do on a phone.

links for 2011-01-12