Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ask Here PA a huge success!

Congratulations to Ask Here PA, reported to be the top online reference service in the nation (albeit by a potentially biased source...). This is a fantastic service provided in many states. A list of statewide chat services, along with libraries offering localized chat reference, is available here.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Popular Reading in Academic Libraries

Ah, finally some time for professional development after a crazy semester...

I'm reading a great article entitled "Giving Pleasure Its Due: Collection Promotion and Readers' Advisory in Academic Libraries" (The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 34.6: 520-526). The authors of this article make a number of suggestions for incorporating popular reading into the academic library:
  1. Create genre lists (in print and/or online) of popular reading materials held by the library.
  2. Leave the book jackets on to grab readers' attention.
  3. Displays: pick a popular reading book and highlight related nonfiction and archival materials, books from the year end "Best of..." lists, Banned Books Week, books and their movies, staff recommendations, etc.
  4. Bring eye-catching books (and CDs or DVDs) to display during instruction sessions.
  5. Recommend and encourage use of the local public library for popular reading and for various assignments where a public library would have more resources (self-help books, an entire class reading the same novel, etc). Along with that, of course, is having an awareness of the local public library's policies for college students.
  6. Become more familiar with readers' advisory resources.
I would also add that reading Publishers Weekly is a great way to keep up on the popular books. We circulate it around the staff here. While I occasionally find books to add to my library's collection, I more often find books I want to read or that I want to recommend to friends.

I have done a few things both at my current library and my previous one to promote popular reading. Over the Summer, I put together a more or less permanent popular reading display (as opposed to all the other displays I attempt to change monthly). The books cycle as they are checked out. At my previous job, I set up a popular reading collection by leasing books through McNaughton. I also really enjoy creating displays for Banned Books Week, although sadly I did not have time to do that this year. After reading this article, I am also considering the creation of a online list of popular reading books available here at my library, which will be helpful to students and also to me when I'm trying to restock the display. :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It could have been me?

An adjunct librarian shot and killed a librarian at Northeast Lakeview College near San Antonio, Texas. Read the story here and here.

The crazy part?
1. I applied for a job at this college in Fall 2007.
2. I had a phone interview.
3. The interviewer said they were VERY interested in me - I fit the position perfectly.
4. My boyfriend decided to take a job in Pittsburgh instead of Texas, so I turned down the in-person interview.
5. The murdered librarian was the one who was hired for that very same job.

Yikes.

Based on the comments on a blog they set up in his memory, he was a fantastic librarian with a great passion for helping students. What a terrible tragedy and such a loss for that college, everyone who knew him, and the library community.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Book Cart Drill Team

When I went to the ALA conference way back in June, I made sure to attend the annual Book Cart Drill Team competition. Wow, that was a lot of fun. There are some videos up on YouTube that you should check out if you are interested in seeing some of the fabulous teams that competed:
  • The winners can be seen here and here. I really wish the videos were better - these guys were fantastic and hysterical. Who wouldn't win with Michael Jackson's thriller and some zombie action?!
  • 2nd place: here and here. Love the hats! They spun! And they used the fantastic librarian song.
  • 3rd place: here.
  • Also, a video from the Press Enterprise.
Makes you want to be a librarian, doesn't it? ;)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Yet Another E-Reader

Plastic Logic has produced an 8.5 x 11 e-reader. Might be good for the textbook market. I know I'd prefer to carry around one of those instead of 4 huge textbooks.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Netflix for Online Catalogs?

We read Publisher's Weekly at work, which reviews books several months before their release. In addition to looking for books to add to my library's collection, I also keep a very lengthy list of books to read. If it's a book by a popular author, or something that has gotten a lot of press, I check to see if the public library has it in their catalog as "On Order". If they do, I put it on hold.

Inevitably, 6 books come in at once. And I don't have time to read them all. So I have to return them and reorder them. Ad nauseum.

I really wish there was a more sophisticated mechanism for limiting the number of books waiting for me at one time. Like a Netflix for books. But free through the public library and more advanced, because it would need an override option for books you want to get as soon as they come in. Like the latest book by your favorite author. Or the slew of Halloween music CDs and Halloween decoration books I just ordered from the public library (I'm sure they love me right now).

Anyone know of anything like this in the works? How about you, Innovative Interfaces? Or you, all you open source catalogs out there? I'd love to see this option, but have no idea how difficult it is to implement from a technical perspective.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Diversity

ALA Presentation: PR Forum: Diversity @ Your Library: Broadening Your Audience and Engaging Communities
Speakers: Eric Friedenwald-Fishman and Maria Elena Campisteguy from the Metropolitan Group

This presentation addressed the 8 Principles of Multicultural Communication, which are:

1. Leave your assumptions at the door: They recommended that you get the facts about other cultures and recognize that you often think you know what you actually do not. You can get facts by scanning news media for articles about trends, challenges, and opportunities.

2. Understand the cultural context of your audience: You need to be aware of the norms, traditions, dialects, and other cultural nuances that are unique to the audience. Be as specific as possible when defining the desired audience. It is also important to understand historical experiences and attitudes that may impact communication with that audience. Then, identify and build on the cultural strengths and assets.

3. Invest before you request: Create community-centered partnerships: This was a good point - to treat community members as partners with whom you wish to engage, not as a tool for you to use. Get them involved early on. Don't try things out on them, ask them what they want instead. And then maintain that communication.

4. Build authentic relationships: Maintain a long-term perspective: Go to the community and work with trusted allies. Don't become a one-hit wonder - keep at it.

5. Build shared ownership: Engage people, don't just involve them! Make sure there are seats at the table for members of your audience to have input.

6. Walk your talk - Lead by example: Examine your organization and be honest in your examination. Do what you say you believe others should do and deliver on your promises.

7. Relate, don't translate: This one really stuck with me. You have to do more than just translate existing ads into another language. The values you may be drawing on may not be highly valued in the culture you are translating the ad for. Make sure the ad appeals to that culture.

8. Anticipate change: Be prepared to succeed: Recognize that your process and approach to the work may change. Continue to build infrastructure to support multi-cultural success.

In addition, for more PR information, check out the PR blog Visibility @ your Library or join the discussion list prtalk@ala.org.

Cats in Libraries?

While I like the idea of cats in libraries (I like cats, I like libraries, why shouldn't they go together?), I always wonder about the wisdom of such a decision. Cat allergies are very common.

Perhaps one cat in a large library doesn't have much of an impact on allergies, but watch out for the cat's favorite chair or shelf of books. I know my cat finds it rather entertaining to climb on top of the books on one of the bottom rows of my book shelves.

For a map of libraries with cats (both alive and statue/stuffed animal), check out Iron Frog Productions' Library Cat Map.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Google Librarian Newsletter is back!

The Google Librarian Newsletter is back after a one year hiatus (you can subscribe at the bottom of that page). The corresponding Librarian Central blog, however, will not be returning.

This particular issue of the newsletter covers the following:
  • Improvements and Additions to Google Book Search: Books showing up in regular Google search results, the ability to report bad scans, and the Dynamic Links API which allows libraries to link to specific books in Google Books from records within the catalog.
  • Google Sky: Now available through your browser, in addition to it's inclusion in the downloadable Google Earth.
  • Google Health: Allows patients to store, manage, and share their health information with medical providers. This would have been quite useful in determining what shots I have and have not received that are important for my upcoming trip to China.
There is also a Google for Educators resource center that might be worth checking out.

Also, I leave tomorrow for China and will not be returning until July 24th. I know my blog posting is sparse anyway, but don't expect to be reading any new posts for a while. :)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

No Clear Standard for Liaison Duties

ALA Presentation: The Plowman and the Rancher Should be Friends: A Comparison and Discussion of Liaison Duties in Public and Academic Libraries
Speakers: Elisabeth Leonard, Peter Larsen, Ridie Wilson Ghezzi, Donna M. Colamatteo, Bruce Reid (moderator)

I attended my first ALA conference and am going to attempt to blog at least some of it. This was the first session I attended (well, after Greg Mortenson's presentation but that's slightly less job-related).

The speakers surveyed both public and academic libraries to determine if there is a standard for what liaison librarian duties should include. They discovered that there is no clear standard. However, some common liaison responsibilities include:
  • Attending panels, conferences, meetings, etc., in that liaison area
  • 79% of respondents provide subject-specific library instruction
Dartmouth College's effort to increase/improve their liaison program was mentioned. They provided a liaison training workshop in the summer for librarians. An outside person was brought in to conduct the training. They discussed:
  • What all the liaisons were currently doing
  • What challenges and strategies existed
  • How to establish trust as a new liaison
  • How liaison activities are perceived by the faculty
  • How do liaison librarians feel about their duties
They also conducted focus groups with faculty through which they found there is no single right way for liaison librarians to do their work. However, faculty overall were very interested in assistance from liaison librarians. Faculty opinions on liaison work were deemed invaluable.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Faculty are short on time

I recently finished reading Faculty-Librarian Relationships by Paul O. Jenkins. The number one thing I took away from this book is that faculty are extremely busy people who cite lack of time as their number one stressor. They are expected to teach, research, publish, hold office hours, serve on committees, advise, and so much more - to the point where the whole idea of summers off really isn't the case. Their summers are full of all the work they had no time to do during the year. What does this mean for librarians? Anything we can do to make the lives of the faculty easier will make us look really good!

I hear (and admittedly am sometimes part of) the common complaint that it is hard to get faculty to make time for instruction in their classes. Often they probably just don't have time - to plan it, to fit it in, etc. Reaching out to them, and offering to provide however short or long an instruction session may prove more effective. I have often thought about offering to go into the classroom for 5-10 minutes, give a short intro to the library, and hand out a sheet containing a list of things librarians can help students with. But I worry that it's a slippery slope, and offering this option will result in an increase in short sessions and a decrease in 50 minute instruction sessions. I am still undecided.

Some other takeaways:
1. Often unreasonable requests come from faculty because they simply do not know library policies and procedures.
2. Let them know what we can do for them - they often don't know!

Jenkins interviewed 15 faculty members at the College of Mount Saint Joseph. Some things they mentioned:
1. One faculty member tries to tell students that librarians get excited about helping them.
2. A Ph.D. means you know a great deal about a very small area of study. People often think faculty know everything.
3. Several mentioned that students are less interested in learning and seem to be focused on doing the minimum to get the degree and the job.
4. Several also mentioned that students will not read.

The book also mentioned this great list of 100 Ways to Reach your Faculty by Terri L. Holtze. Lots of good ideas - a few of which I already do, and many which I hope to implement.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Unusual Bookmarks

An article from AbeBooks has some great examples of things that have been found in books, including:
  • Forty $1,000 bills
  • Piece of bacon
  • Credit cards
  • Valuable baseball cards
  • A diamond ring
Moral of the story: Be careful what you use as a bookmark. And if you find yourself the lucky recipient of a bunch of old books, it may be worth your while to go through them before donating them.

TMI

There is just too much information out there, and with the Internet, the amount of information continues to grow exponentially. An article in the New York Times discusses the problem of information overload and what tech companies plan to do about it.

Google, Intel, Microsoft, and IBM have gotten together and formed the Information Overload Research Group, which aims to study this problem, publish information, and find ways to solve it. Their focus is primarily around workers who are easily distracted by incoming emails. I must confess, I'm definitely one of them - Outlook's feature displaying snippets of each incoming email in the bottom corner of the screen is just so distracting, yet I can't make myself turn it off!

Some possible solutions, or at least steps in the right direction:
1. Check email less often
2. Send emails more frugally (I wish some of the listservs I am on would practice this)
3. Be sure to reply to only those who need to hear your response.

And some interesting statistics:
1. "A typical information worker who sits at a computer all day turns to his e-mail program more than 50 times and uses instant messaging 77 times" (really? only 50 times?)
2. "In the United States, more than $650 billion a year in productivity is lost because of unnecessary interruptions"

Friday, June 06, 2008

Machine for Lending Books

An interesting article in the Contra Costa Times describes a new machine situated at a BART train station in California. The machine contains approximately 400 paperback library books - both fiction and non-fiction. Commuters can use their library cards to check out books to read on their train rides. The books are due back in 3 weeks.

What a neat idea for bringing books to the patrons!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

New Blog

I have started a new blog. After a great deal of debate, I have reached the conclusion that Adventures in Library Land needs to be devoted solely to library-related information. Thus, I created Growing Green Cents, which will include information on personal finance, the Green movement, and growing plants.

I have also decided to change my post name from Kat to Kate. I was only very temporarily called Kat (at about the time I started this blog), and it did not stick. So Kate it is.

While I am uncertain about the wisdom of maintaining 2 and 1/5 blogs, I am interested in seeing how it goes. Wish me luck! :)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Open J-Gate

Also recently mentioned on a listserv is Open J-Gate, which bills itself as the "World's biggest Open Access English Language Journals Portal" and includes 4386 journals. I feel like I must have known about this at one time, but there is just so much information out there that I cannot keep track of it all. I am more familiar with the Directory of Open Access Journals, which contains 3365 journals.

For any of you out there not affiliated with an academic institution, these are both great resources when doing research.

Why Libraries Pay More for Journals

Just why exactly do libraries have to pay institutional prices for journals, which are often many times the prices of individual subscriptions? Why can't we just have professors/patrons who are already getting individual subscriptions donate them to us when they are finished?

There's been an interesting discussing on COLLIB about these very questions, and I have to confess that while I knew that this is what we did - pay institutional prices - I never knew exactly why. One of the posters on the listserv pointed out this great article about the reasons behind the institutional fees. Apparently journal publishers are using differential pricing to make up their necessary costs. That is, they cannot make enough money to sustain their business off individual subscription fees, so they make up the difference by also including institutional fees. So why don't libraries just try to pay the individual price? It would be considered fraud.

As to the question about professors/patrons donating journals, the article states that this is an acceptable practice. However, it's far less reliable - a professor make not have time to read each issue during busy semesters and may hold on to them for a while, issues may get lost before they can be donated to the library leaving the library with no recourse to obtain the issue, and so on.

So, good to know, but I'm still not sure the 10-15% increase we commonly see in journal subscription prices each year is necessary. And the higher the prices go, the more libraries will have to cut back on their subscriptions.. which will cause the prices to continue to skyrocket in a never-ending cycle. I know my library will be looking very seriously at its journal holdings this summer and making some significant cuts.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Keep your Faculty Up-To-Date!

Show Your Faculty Some Love #4: Keep them Up-To-Date

One of the difficult things to accomplish is keeping faculty up-to-date on all the resources and services the library has to offer. We send email notices, but when sent en masse, do they read them? We send around newsletters, but do those get read? How do we make the information relevant to each person, easily digestible, and quickly imparted?

At my previous institution, Andrew and I presented at the Fall Faculty Conferences two years in a row (and hopefully this will continue to be a yearly opportunity there). These sessions were less than an hour in length. They were part of a conference at the college that faculty were already required to attend. There were several sessions that ran concurrently, and the library's update session was one of those. And it worked. We quickly covered all the changes that had taken place in the library, mentioned some extremely useful services that do not get much use, tried to point out which disciplines (and therefore which faculty) would most benefit from new resources and services, and more. It was quick, it was part of a pre-existing requirement for the faculty, it was relevant, and, I hope, it was entertaining.

Will I have the opportunity to do this at my current institution? Perhaps not. Which means I will just have to continue to find more ways to reach the faculty here.

___________
To read other articles in the Show Your Faculty Some Love series, click here.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

We all love free stuff

Show Your Faculty Some Love #4: Free Stuff!

Let's face it, everyone loves free stuff. Even when they have no idea what they are going to do with it. At my previous institution, we had pens made with the Library's information on them. We sent the pens, along with OhioLINK sticky notes and a short memo, to all faculty. It was appreciated. We also gave them out to all the first year students, and to the students in many of our one-shot instruction sessions. We got at least one comment about the pens being everywhere on campus.

We also had mugs which we gave to new faculty. They seemed to like them, although I recall that they had received other free stuff the same day (it was during their orientation), so it was less exciting.

But free stuff. Always a good thing. We are hopefully going to get pens made at my current Library this summer to give out in the Fall.


___________
To read other articles in the Show Your Faculty Some Love series, click here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I am YOUR Librarian

Show Your Faculty Some Love #3: I am YOUR Librarian

It's interesting what sticks with people. I made of point of telling the faculty in my liaison areas that I am their librarian. This is not my original idea. I read it somewhere, and I'd give credit, but I've long since forgotten where I read it.

These faculty now repeat this to newcomers - "She is our librarian." Perhaps they find it humorous, perhaps they really like the idea, the reason doesn't matter. The important part is they remember it, they repeat it, and they appear to believe it.

Works for me. :)

___________
To read other articles in the Show Your Faculty Some Love series, click here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Way Sweet

To use lingo picked up from a library school friend, this is definitely "way sweet". The CONSORT Libraries (Denison University, Kenyon College, Ohio Wesleyan University, and the College of Wooster) catalog has the option to send yourself the location information of an item via a text message. For an example, see here. Click on the "?" for the disclaimer (i.e., based on your cell phone plan, you may get billed for the text message).

Don't want to write it down? Have it sent to your phone!

Is it a new feature from the catalog providers? Is it a hack? I don't know, but it sure is way sweet.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

News in 100 words or less

About a week ago, someone sent an email about Brijit to a listserv I am on.

What Brijit does: Every time a new article is published in certain magazines or newspapers, it's offered up for summarization. The number of summarizers is fixed - to about 3. These summarizers then read the article and write a long description of the article that is 100 words or less. Only one summary is chosen for inclusion on Brijit. The writer of the chosen summary receives $5.

So basically, you can pop over to Brijit and get the news in a lot less time. No longer do you have to read lengthy articles. Brijit provides the short summaries for you.

An interesting concept. Read more about it in this National Post article.

Friday, February 22, 2008

MeeboMe and Facebook

A coworker and I recently set up a fan page for our library in Facebook, MeeboMe, and Pidgin.

The fan page was a lot of fun to create, as well as quick and easy. We suggested to a number of student workers that they become fans. We are currently up to 11 fans. Our fan page includes a MeeboMe widget, as well as the usual discussion board, pictures, notes, events, general info, etc. I may have to peruse the list of apps to see if any others would be good additions. Also great about the Facebook fan page is that you can see statistics. People may become fans and never look at the page again. Stats allow us to see how often people actually visit.

We also put a MeeboMe widget on our subject guides (hooray for pbwiki's sidebar! I did not want to have to install it on each page. Plus, if you edit the page, it changes the widget code for some unknown reason. This makes the widget stop working until I re-paste in the correct code. Not sure why it does that, but it's quite annoying). We also intend to find out if it's possible to put the widget on our library page within the campus portal.

Trillian, our current IM client, only allows us to add AIM, ICQ, MSN, and Yahoo accounts in the free version (how silly). So we switched to Pidgin. Chad Boeninger at Library Voice has an excellent explanation of how to set up MeeboMe and Pidgin. We also added a Google Talk account just to cover all our bases. Not that students don't all just use AIM anyway.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Public Library Resources

It always amazes me when I check out public library websites and discover all the great resources they have to offer. Ohio and PA have fantastic public library networks that group purchase databases to give everyone in the state with a library card access to those databases (well, perhaps. I think some states give everyone access but others require individual libraries to pay to be a member and have access).

So if you want to check them out, here's how to do it:

Ohio: Visit the OPLIN (Ohio Public Library Information Network) website, click on Research Databases on the left hand side (or just click here), and pick a resource. You will be prompted to enter your library card number or zip code. I think it recognizes most Ohio computers and just prompts for zip code, so technically you probably don't even need a library card.

PA: Not quite as easy. You need to go through the website of whichever public library you use. The library network is called POWER Library. However, many of the public libraries probably provide additional databases as well (well, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh does, at least).

Everyone Else: Check out the website of your local library. Look for a link to "Research Databases", "Resources", etc. Then find out what your library offers.

What kind of things are often included?
  • Resources for kids to use for research
  • Car repair databases
  • Financial databases (Standard & Poors, Morningstar, etc)
  • EBSCO databases - Academic Search Premier, Health Source, Business Search Premier, EBSCO Animals, and much more
  • Resources to help you find popular reading materials (NoveList)
  • Online encyclopedias
  • Lots lots lots more.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Google Generation

I am finally getting around to reading the CIBER briefing paper entitled "Information behaviour of the researcher of the future" (Jan 11, 2008). It discusses the "Google Generation," which it defines as including those born after 1993.

It contains some interesting information:
Users assess authority and trust for themselves in a matter of seconds by dipping and cross-checking across different sites and by relying on favoured brands (e.g. Google). (p.10)
Some of the information is completely unsurprising (i.e. I see it in college students all the time):
young people have a poor understanding of their information needs and thus find it difficult to develop effective search strategies. (p.12)
faced with a long list of search hits, young people find it difficult to assess the relevance of the materials presented and often print off pages with no more than a perfunctory glance at them. (p.12)
Which often leaves them in trouble when they go to write the paper the night before and find they have a bunch of unrelated articles that they need to use to write a coherent paper.

The study also examined a number of characteristics commonly associated with the Google generation. For example, "They have zero tolerance for delay and their information needs must be fulfilled immediately" (p.19). This particular example was found by the report to lack hard evidence in support of it. Interesting, because I would have thought this was particularly true. However, the idea that they are a "cut and paste" generation with lots of plagiarism seems generally true. Also, the idea that the Google Generation consists of "expert searchers" was examined. Ciber's conclusion:
This is a dangerous myth. Digital literacies and information literacies do not go hand in hand. A careful look at the literature over the past 25 years finds no improvement (or deterioration) in young people's information skills. (p. 20)
Also interesting is the idea that students really need to have "exposure to basic library skills" earlier in life - from parents, school libraries, public library, or classroom. I'm not sure what all is included in these basic library skills, but I think even the most basic exposure (being in a library, talking with a friendly librarian, etc) increases future library use. For some reason, libraries are often viewed as intimidating places (and those librarians, they are scary as can be!), and early exposure would reduce this library anxiety (unless of course they encountered a crotchety shushing librarian). This then makes for college students who would perhaps be far more receptive to the library and use of the library, and more open to learning advanced library skills.

Of course, another reason (and the one mentioned by this report) for early exposure to basic library skills is to prevent the development of poor skills which would be hard to overcome. The whole "I'll just find everything through Google because everything there seems pretty reliable" mentality.

Some interesting implications and some big hurdles. It seems to me that it's getting less and less likely that younger children will get basic library skills exposure. This is particularly true with the school library, since they keep firing all of those librarians.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Lots of Instruction

I always forget how crazy the weather gets in winter in my neck of the woods. I have always lived in the same general vicinity (give or take 150 miles), and still I forget every winter. Today it is 60 and absolutely pouring. Thursday they are calling for snow. Gotta love it.

I have been pretty busy lately with instruction. I had 7 sessions in 2 weeks. While that may not seem like a huge amount, it is when considering it's all the sessions I had lined up (last one is today). They just all came at once, and with it being a new job and needing to prove to a new set of professors that I can help their students, it's been a little stressful. Additionally, I am now responsible for business-related instruction, which is pretty new to me, so I have had to do a lot of research for a few of the sessions.

But I do love teaching. And I love working one on one with the students. I actually visited one class twice. The first time was for a standard instruction session, the second time was just to answer questions while the students were searching the databases. I think it's great that this professor wants his students to become so familiar with the databases that he schedules several days of class time to do it. The class is a research class, actually, so it makes sense.

I also really liked that he made sure to emphasize both times that one of the major reasons I came to the class was so everyone would get to know me and could feel comfortable coming to me with questions in the future. To me, that's a very important component, so it's great when profs think so too.

While I have probably written about it before, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to give students time to do some searching on their own during the session. They need time to apply what they learn and also to assimilate new information into their already existing knowledge base. In most cases, I prefer to have them search first so I can see what they already know and what techniques will be most useful to point out. However, with a recent class, I went over everything first because there were two specific limiters that gave them exactly the type of articles they needed. It seemed silly to make them struggle on their own before showing them the two things they really needed to know.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I have no shame. But my savings account has higher interest!

Okay, I'm going to write an absolutely shameless post. My apologies.

I recently signed up for an Orange Savings Account through ING Direct. Currently, the interest rate is 3.65% APY. It was 4.10% but then the market plummeted. It's not a guaranteed amount and they can change it when they want but it seems to stay pretty high.

This is far better than most banks. My current bank gives 1.00% interest per year, and I think that's better than most.

It's also very easy to sign up (although it does take more than the 5 minutes they claim because I can't read all their privacy policy and terms and conditions stuff in 5 minutes). They link your Orange Savings Account to your current checking account at whatever bank you use. As long as you go through ING to request transfers of money to or from, there are no fees. It takes approx 2-3 days for a transfer to go through because of the method they use. There is also an initial period where you can't take any money out of the Orange Savings Account when you first sign up - I think it's 10 days?

They are also known for great customer service. I called to ask a question, and I got a real (and very helpful) person without going through a menu. How awesome is that?

So basically, it's a way to have a higher interest rate on a regular old savings account. I also like that it's an online bank (FDIC insured, no worries), so if I move it doesn't matter. They're still just as accessible.

So here comes the shameless part:
I have a number of referrals to give out (not sure the exact amount - 10 to 20?). If you sign up within a month of receiving a referral and put in at least a $250 initial deposit, you will get an extra $25 sign-on bonus. I will get $10 for every referral.

I did not have a referral when I signed up for ING and I wish I had. So if anyone is interested, shoot me an email.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Institutional Repositories

A rather nebulous term, I suppose, but a truly fantastic idea. An institutional repository gives professors and researchers a place to post their articles where anyone can access them for free.

California has created a version of this called the eScholarship Repository, which "provides a robust full-spectrum, open access publishing platform for pre-prints, post-prints, peer-reviewed articles, edited volumes and peer-reviewed journals" (quote taken from this UC article). Not only is this open to those in California, but to the rest of us as well. It is also structured in such a way as to be searchable by Google so I have added it to my Free Full-text E-Journals custom search engine (see the right-hand side of this blog for the search box. For more information about this custom search engine, see my previous post).

It is unfortunate in the academic publishing world that professors (and other researchers) very often give up their rights to their own work when publishing in a journal. Once accepted by a journal, that work becomes the property of the journal, not the professor. Many professors do not even think about this loss of rights because they need to publish for tenure purposes. Part of creating awareness of an institutional repository would necessarily include discussion about maintaining one's rights to a work, which is a good thing. The more professors are aware that they need to keep their rights, the more articles can be put in institutional repositories!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Librarian Wins Award

Sometimes you read something, and you just don't know what to say. I have no words to express my reaction to this.

[Link found on The Laughing Librarian]

Tasty Reads 3: Made to Stick

Title: Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Authors: Chip Heath & Dan Health

"Any of us, with the right insight and the right message, can make an idea stick." (p.252)

This is a great marketing book all about how to create ideas that people will remember. The authors outline the six key ingredients of a sticky idea, explaining each with a few stories that help it stick in the minds of their readers. To be extremely sticky, an idea needs to be:

1. Simple - Find the core of the idea, the single most important point you are trying to communicate. Your audience can only remember so many things.

2. Unexpected - Surprise them to get their attention, then keep their attention by creating interest. Create a mystery. An example from Made to Stick tells of a book that started off with this story: For years, scientists at well-known institutions debated about what Saturn's rings were made of - dust (MIT), gas (Cambridge), or ice crystals (Cal Tech). Then, the story unfolded, until, much later in the book, the answer was given: ice-covered dust. Needless to say, the reader was enthralled as to how such renowned universities could have scientists who couldn't solve this problem. It's unexpected.

3. Concrete - It's far easier to remember concrete images and specifics than it is to remember an abstraction.

4. Credible - Be or use a credible source - e.g., people with personal experience. (Jared lost all that weight from eating Subway. He's credible - he personally experienced the weight loss). I can see this working in libraries: Provide a concrete example/quote/etc from a student whose research was made much easier by using a library database or by consulting a librarian.

5. Emotion - Make people care about the idea. Invoke self-interest. How will it affect them? What will it do for them?

6. Exemplified through stories - Stories are entertaining. Include them when you can. They make the idea more life-like. They can also provide inspiration which drives action.

You also have to be careful to avoid the Curse of Knowledge. Ideas that may seem simple to me, aren't to others. For example, to me, it's completely obvious that you should use a library database to search for articles. However, others are going, "What's a database? What if I want books?"

All in all, a great read for those with interest in marketing.

Free Credit Report

I have a friend who regularly pulls her credit report to make sure nothing has gone awry. I thought it wouldn't be a bad thing to do, but didn't want to spend any money doing it. I have pretty good credit so I wasn't too worried.

Yesterday, I read about annualcreditreport.com at beingfrugal.net. This site lets you obtain your credit report for free once a year from 3 different reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. According to the FAQ, you can space out your requests. Yesterday, I got mine from Equifax. Disappointingly, it did not have my credit score (which apparently is never free to obtain), but the rest of the information was useful. At 17 pages long, there's a lot of stuff there - student loans, credit cards, closed accounts, soft and hard inquiries on your credit, negatives (I don't have any - woo hoo!), etc. It also reminds you that it's a good idea to keep your oldest line of credit open. Don't close that first credit card or bank account if you can help it.

While opening a new credit card account has an effect on your account, checking your own credit does not. There are soft inquiries and hard inquiries, and this is a soft one (see here for more info).

Going along with the credit thing, I called 1-888-5-OPT-OUT yesterday so that I would stop getting offers from credit card and insurance companies in the mail. It is super easy and completely automated. It does ask for your SSN, and I hate to give that out, but I have read about enough people taking advantage of this that I'm not too worried.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Free Science TV

While perusing ONLINE, which bills itself as "The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals" (who knew?), I discovered SciVee. The National Science Foundation and the San Diego Supercomputer Center teamed up with the Public Library of Science to create SciVee, which contains video presentations by scientists describing the work they have done for their scientific papers, and more recently, work not related to scientific papers as well.

Basically it's a YouTube for science. Bet it has some interesting stuff!