Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Marketing opportunities abound !!

My son is running to replace himself as treasurer of his school student council - a job he thoroughly enjoyed last year.  While assisting him to prepare his speech we addressed the age-old sales technique of putting the product in the buyer's hands.  I suggested that he exchange, "if you vote for me," for a more powerful, "as your treasurer," to begin a paragraph.

As librarians, we need to constantly assert our facilities and services in many, many ways.  Like a good salesperson, we need to constantly be "on" and ready to sell our product in a way that motivates our ever-changing audience.  Our sales must be a blend of great service, great timing, and a measure of initiative toward self-promotion.

Today, I motivated several patrons to "love" the services I offered and the library I represent.  I was motivated to post this entry, however, by another librarian's motivated and motivating self-promotion of the Rochester Public Library over the weekend on a local radio, call-in, talk show and the buzz it created on our list-serve.

Linda Cruttenden from the Rochester Regional Library Council explained and complemented another Linda, from RPL, "I was listening to the Jim Salmon Home Repair Clinic on WHAM1180 this weekend, when he suggested that a caller consult a particular reference book for his/her answer.  The next caller was “Linda from RPL” who let the listeners know that RPL was ready to help, and that the reference book could be found at the downtown branch!!"

"After her call, Mr. Salmon mentioned that he 'never thought of the library any more' and that he appreciated Linda’s call.  Congratulations to Linda for helping the listeners, and getting some good promotion done for RPL’s libraries!"  Librarian responses on our listserve included Coleen Hopkins from SUNY Geneseo, "Great work Linda and shame on Jim Salmon, he is missing a major resource for himself and his listeners," and Wendy Stephany from Byron-Bergen Middle School, "That's a great example of taking the opportunity to remind people that the library is there and willing to do anything to help."

Certainly, we all thank Linda from RPL for being in the right place and doing the right thing to "sell" our facilities and services, but the real question is, do we step up and do the right thing when we have the opportunities?  Perhaps we don't all have the gumption or the opportunity to garner FREE radio advertising, but what do we do to guarantee our jobs in the 21st century?

I miss many opportunities and many days, should probably be beaten senseless by my own words, but today I enjoyed some successes.  Like Linda's success, I will share and celebrate these here and now, but the goal and focus needs to be to find a way to replicate library marketing success every day.  Today I . . .
  • Helped a teacher convert an unreadable file to one she could use with the Zamzar file conversion Website.  I "made [her] day!"  I am confident she will come back the next time she has a problem.
  • I got unruly, beginning-of-school-year, not-yet-ready computers to work for vast majority of students in classes increasing teacher confidence in our available technology.
  • I offered suggestions that were accepted and appreciated to a group of teachers that are collaborating to develop a new research assignment.  These suggestions will lead to increased research and synthesis by students completing this project.
  • I delivered a cart of books that another teacher and I had discussed to support a project her classes are completing.
  • And my favorite, when overhearing a student comment that she "found the perfect article but [she was] not going to pay for it," I asked if I could help.  When the article happened to be from our local newspaper, available through a database purchased by our local library, I showed her how to log on using my library card number.  When the article popped up she commented, "You can do that with a library card?  I'm gonna have to get one of those."
Good luck to me, and good luck other librarians.  We may not have successes every day but we can make service our focus, hope our timing is right, speak out when it seems appropriate, and do the best we can.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Google deep links -- You can too

Almost a year ago I allayed fears of many librarians who have created lists of Web Links that bypassed Website main pages, in order to land directly on content desired for specific lessons or projects. I wrote in a post titled Linking is Legal that,
“deep linking,” linking to “a particular page within another site (i.e., other than its homepage)” has never been identified by a court as either copyright or trademark infringement.
This information was gathered from the article, "Linking to Copyrighted," 2008.

For those who missed this previous wave of relief, you can now be assured that before the copyright police come for you, they will make a stop at Google headquarters. In his article, Jump to the Relevant Section of a Google Search Result, Alex Chito describes a new "Jump to" feature released by Google and points out that,
Google's goal is to send you directly to the right answer for your question, even if that means bypassing the homepage of a site, ignoring Flash intros or finding information from the snippets.
How can you not love Google?

Check it out! I'm reading, learning, thinking, and commenting on others blogs! Congrats to me! Its also very late and I should be zzzzzzzzzzzz

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tech Integration -- Expanded definition of digital divide

In a review of embedded curriculum and the potential for student success, Patrick Higgins at Chalkdust101 identifies the apparent failure of his (and many) schools with regards to technology integration.
"In our district, every teacher from grades six through twelve has a laptop . . . Our teachers are very wired, but our kids don’t have the same access. . ."
He gives credit to a job candidate in an interview for enlightening him,
"the next big hurdle for schools [is] to put the power to learn back into the hands of students."
In pursuit of this goal, he concludes his post,
"We have to start tipping the scales in favor of the question “what could they do if they had…” and go from there."
I am lucky to work in a district that has spent generously on computers, software and peripheral equipment. I get to work one-on-one and with large groups of students, collaborating with teachers to embed this technology into individual lessons and the curriculum. When I graduate (this spring) and accept a job in another district I will assuredly look back at this experience as, "the good old days."

As well equipped as we are, I cannot help thinking about the opportunities that we miss: lessons we could improve, social networking or blogging opportunities that are unavailable to us, and classes that can't (equipment not available) or won't (technophobe teacher) take advantage of the available technology. As a parent and citizen, it saddens me that there can be so much variation in the level of technology available from teacher to teacher, school to school and district to district.

I understand that funding varies and even understand that local environments are different but once they graduate, the vast majority of these young adults will be vying for the same opportunities without regard for background or level of technology integration in their high schools. Whose responsibility is it to prepare these students, if not ours? It may be a long and winding road but it is one that is definitely worth traveling.

Luckily, as time passes, lower cost hardware solutions are constantly being developed from the newly popular NetBooks to the SmartVine virtual monitors that allow up to 11 users to share a single computer. There are many, many very stable FREE software solutions available and constantly being developed (Audacity, GoogleEarth, Camtasia, and many more). While these solutions may not be acceptable in many districts, we should celebrate each success and improve upon each failure. Hopefully true technology integration will continue to grow across our country, continent, and world.

As we proceed, in addition to students, teachers, and administrators, we need to build relationships and with our network administrators. I have seen too many articles and blogs recently discussing the failed marriage of educational tech integration and the network administrators or IT departments. Among them, Higgins wrote on the subject in August drawing from a related article with a suggested solution by Jim Moulton in his Future of Education blog. Tech & Learning magazine published a brief article on the topic, focused primarily on the positive, in their September print and online issues.

I certainly don't have the answers but know that whether in a school with 20 computers or one with hundreds, until every student has access in all schools to computers, software, web based information and appropriate web utilities, our journey will not be complete. I'm so glad to be back at school! Sorry to take on such a loaded topic so early in the year . . . .

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Summertime And the livin' is easy

Wow! How do the days pass so quickly?

My kids had a great summer with play as a priority. We travelled many miles between Rochester and the Rideau Canal in Ontario trying to earn a living, enjoy life, and help our parents as much as we could. Though it is easy to feel as though we failed on all counts, there is no doubt we extended our best effort and enjoyed a personal best in the category of balance of our many responsibilities.

While we hope our parents appreciate the efforts we made on their behalf, and beat ourselves up when we feel we haven't done enough, we are proudest of the time we spent with our own kids camping, fishing, swimming, boating, skiing, kayaking, canoeing, bike riding, reading, playing the alphabet game in the car and board games at night and enjoying life along the way. (One of our highly recommended summer vacation destinations - Lloyd's Cottages -)

Though I took a break from classes, I am satisfied that I read some great books over the summer and am excited about the beginning of a new school year. I fell WAY Behind in reading of other blogs and advancement of my knowledge as a librarian but hope to catch up as the new year gets underway. I hope also to comment on this blog as I read, learn, and investigate new things.