Thursday, April 29, 2010

Creating your own contract management system with Zoho Creator

For those of you who manage contracts for databases and other information products, you might be interested in a contract management system. These systems can help you keep contracts and other communications in one place as well as provide reminders as when you need to act on a contract to prevent automatic renewal of an unneeded resource. While contract management systems can cost thousands of dollars, keeping track of contracts in an Excel sheet might not cut it. So what can you do to create a cost-effective alternative?

As an experiment, I decided to see if I could create a contract management system with a tool called Zoho Creator. For those of you who don't know what this is, Creator is an online database software system that allows you to develop forms with a drag and drop interface. You can mark your database private and only allow your team members to access the database.

I decided to make my contract management system public and coded it to provide me with an email alert once a contract was coming up for renewal. The form also allows for attachments of the contract, additional documents and usage statistics so that the contract manager can have all the information they need in one place before they start negotiations. If you click on the Contract Information Entry View tab, you can see how the entered information looks like. You can get a quick review of the information entered by clicking on the purple View option to the left of each row.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tutorials on technology and social sites

In order to educate others about technology and social sites, I have created a series of tutorials in presentation form that I have posted on SlideShare. The tutorials provide introductions to Second Life, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

I plan to add more tutorials in the future - let me know what tutorials you'd like to see.

Friday, April 23, 2010

In-world look at Second Life - Nonprofit Commons

I created a quick screencast tour of the Nonprofit Commons in SecondLife. Here is the video - there may be some lag time between the video and the audio. Do you think the use of virtual worlds will become more commonplace as nonprofits look to connect with large amounts of people in a more cost-effective way?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Licensing and negotiation

For many new librarians, the first time they start building on their negotiation skills is when they engage in their very first licensing experience with a vendor. As negotiation and licensing isn't a topic that is covered in many library & information science programs, someone who is new to the process could be left scrambling to learn about licensing vocabulary and the rights they should negotiate for their users. If you'd like to improve your licensing knowledge, here are a few helpful resources to point you in the right way:
  • Model License:
  • License vocabulary:
  • Licensing terms and descriptions:
You may also want to pick up and read a copy of Leslie Ellen Harris' book entitled, "Licensing Digital Content: A Practical Guide for Librarians." I have also created a list of questions one should ask when trying to employ a strategic licensing strategy.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Second Life and Nonprofits

How many of you are aware of Second Life? If you are aware of this virtual world, do you know that many nonprofits are making use of it to raise awareness of what their organizations do and raise funds for their causes? In fact, many nonprofits can be found on a virtual island called the Nonprofit Commons (you can read more about this here).

Within this virtual world, people make use of avatars to interact with other SL residents. Nonprofits in SL connect with visitors by creating virtual representations of their organizations to inform visitors of their cause and sometimes seek contributions in the form of Linden Dollars (read more here and here). Linden Dollars have remained relatively stable at the exchange rate of L$ 250 to $1 U.S. Those organizations that collect donations in Second Life can cash out their L$ for U.S. dollars when they are ready.

So how have some philanthropic organizations taken the leap into this virtual world? Well, the MacArthur Foundation has led the charge by creating MacArthur Island. They have also held public forums to educate others of their experiences with the virtual world (read more here).

Has your organization thought about creating a virtual presence in Second Life?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Connecting with the reluctant learner

I recently co-presented at Computers in Libraries on the topic of the reluctant learner. In particular, how does one connect with the reluctant technology learner in order to bring them into the fold? In my own experience, I have found the following to be essential:

- Develop a relationship with the learner built on mutual trust.
- Be aware that the learner may not have confidence in their own abilities - a patient teacher can offer encouragement and genuine praise to help build this up.
- Let the learner know that it is OK to make mistakes - in fact, it is expected
- Be aware of the learner's mood - nip frustration in the bud. If holding a technology skill building class, ask attendees to buddy up so that they can help each other build their skills. Learners are more likely to raise their hand in class if they know that they are not the only person in the room having difficulty with a concept.
- Become a technology mentor so that you can connect regularly to build up skills - this provides the opportunity to observe the reluctant learner's evolving relationship with technology.

So, once you have connected successfully with a reluctant technology learner, how do you measure your impact/success? In my experience, I knew that I had success with a colleague that I had reverse-mentored because I saw the following differences in his behavior:

- The learner, who had shunned technology solutions in the past, began to suggest the use of technology to his team.
- He began to connect with me outside of our regularly scheduled meeting times to ask about new technology he had discovered on his own.
- Became a "technology ambassador" to others within the organization by sharing his new found skills with his colleagues.

One of the biggest rewards for me in connecting with reluctant learners is witnessing them fulfill the potential I saw in them long ago before they ever saw it in themselves.

So, how are you connecting with your own reluctant learners?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Developing loyalty with your clients

When it comes to serving your colleagues within your organization, what are some ways in which you go beyond the transactional relationship? How do you develop loyalty among your clients? This was the subject of the recent Special Libraries Association Leadership Conference that was held this past January. The keynote speaker, James Kane, discussed the building and maintenance of loyal relationships (link to handout). He made an important distinction between the satisfied client and a loyal client. With the loyal client, there is a sense of trust, belonging, and purpose.

Attending his talk really made me rethink my relationships with my colleagues. Am I settling for satisfied clients or am I taking the extra step to develop loyalty? As a foundation librarian, how can you ensure that your clients keep on coming back to you...not because you're the only game in town, but because you have developed a relationship that goes beyond being merely transactional?