Archive for June, 2009
For the last few months I have been suffering from a writer’s block of sorts that has made it impossible for me to write a blog post of any length or substance. I have done other writing, just no blogging so it is a true blogger’s block. This has never happened to me before and I have spent the last few weeks honestly trying to figure out the cause is behind this blockage.
It is not a lack of ideas. I have lots of ideas for posts, they come to me at odd moments and usually when I am nowhere near a computer (or even a piece of paper and pen to jot down a quick outline). Lately, however, when I finally sit down to write a post one of three things seems to happen:
1. I start writing and suddenly I feel as if it has already been said before. What seemed like a brilliant blog post when I thought of it, now feels like it is just rehashing the same conversations that we have been having on libraryland blogs for the last few years. Is it possible that we have blogged to death the whole Library 2.0 movement? I am pretty sure we have. If we have, what is the next big discussion topic on the horizon?
2. I start writing on a timely topic but I don’t have time to finish and by the time I go back to polish it off it is no longer relevant or timely. My responsibilities at MPOW have increased greatly since I was promoted to Programming Coordinator, my son is older and involved in activities that require me to be the chauffeur, our older home is undergoing some renovations, and I have begun doing a lot more speaking engagements once more . All of these factors leave me with no time for sustained thinking or writing. I used to blog late at night, but lately my brain is exhausted by that point and when I do write it is mostly gibberish (trust me on this).
3. I start writing and feel like I am writing too much about MPOW and all the awesome things we do here. This is not the intended focus of Library Garden — all the bloggers on our team agree that we want it to be a broader conversation about libraries rather than a simple “how I did it good” type of reporting. Not that we haven’t posted occasionally about cool things we are doing at our libraries or places of work, but we want LG to be more than that and I am aware of this. However, I am so focused these days on planning and running programs that I have little left in me at the end of the day to discuss.
So, this brings us to this particular post. This is my “break the blogger’s block” post. It is the post to get me posting again. I can’t stay in this rut of not posting and so I sought advice online on how to break writer’s block. Here are the 3 of the most common pieces of advice I found:
1. Write on a Schedule: This is not likely to happen unless I start getting up at 5:30 am as is my only free unscheduled time at this moment that I could regularly guarantee nothing else happening in my day. I am a morning person, but even that is too early for me.
2. Set Deadlines and Keep Them: I have a lot of deadlines in my life to keep and I am pretty good at meeting deadlines. Blogging is a hobby and a creative outlet and somehow a deadline makes it feel like more pressure on me and I don’t write well under pressure (actually, I evidently don’t write at all as can be seen by my lack of posts lately).
3. Work on more than one project at a time: I am always working on about 10 projects at a time at a minimum. Maybe not writing projects, but I always have too many things to juggle. I actually think working on too many things is my problem. I can not sustain a single train of thought long enough to write a cohesive and coherent post. I get distracted by too many other pressing tasks.
Hmmm… okay, so three common tips down and none are working for me. I worked my way through many more tips such as those above, and none seemed to be the solution. Until I found a good article called How-To Break Writer’s Block on Buzzle that seemed to actually have a few ideas that would work for me! So, this post is courtesy of tips # 7 and #10 from this article:
7. Write when you are tired. Write at the end of the day, when you are so exhausted that your mind isn’t interfering with the flow…
10. Lastly, write about having writer’s block. Seriously! Write about why you feel stuck. What is it that seems to be keeping you from writing? Free associate and write about it. When you get down to the reasons why you have writer’s block, you can address them and correct them.
I wrote this post when I was exhausted. I know it is not perfect or the best writing I have ever done, but at least it is a post to get me out of my rut. I have also analyzed the reasons for my blogger’s block and now that I have one post out again I am already excited about another post that I started working on recently. So, with any luck, I will have another post out within 48 hours.
If anyone else has experienced blogger’s block, I would love to hear stories, tips and advice on what you have done to overcome it. If anyone is currently suffering from blogger’s block, try reading the above article to see if it helps you like it did me or else read through this helpful list of resources I consulted to get me back in the blog saddle again:
I am looking forward to attending the OCLC Blog Salon at ALA Annual in Chicago this year — and now that I have actually written a post I won’t feel like a fraud for attending. Oh, and if you plant to attend the blog salon, there is a Facebook page so RSVP today!
Creativity Image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alun/253596595/
Who doesn’t like to get something for free? Whether we are talking about giveaways at a restaurant opening or free information on the Internet, everyone loves the idea of getting something for free. A marketing strategy and business model that relates to this idea is the concept of “freemium.”
Freemium is a way businesses get users or consumers in the door with free products or services, as a way to market their enhanced, premium-priced services. Free + Premium = Freemium. Just recently in Publishers Weekly (May 18, 2009), Chris Anderson, author of Free: The Future of a Radical Price was interviewed about newspapers (specifically News Corp) charging for online content. In July, his book will be offered for free online from Hyperion. In the book, Anderson looks at how so much of what is already online is available for free. In the interview, he discusses how companies use free content to market their paid content. Other supporters of this business model view it as a way to attract customers and generate buzz. An example from the business world is Adobe launching a free, web-based version of its popular Photoshop software. Adobe then hopes that the free version will entice consumers to purchase the full software package.
How does the freemium model apply to libraries? I’m not entirely certain of the long-term implications but it does seem to me that libraries that are implementing additional fees for services that go beyond the normal scope are taking advantage of this freemium business model (free for some services, pay for value-added services). Libraries are facing tightening budgets and I understand the need to generate revenue other than fines and regular fees. People talk about the public library as being “free” and in a way, it is free because library users pay for those services through their tax dollars.But as Nancy Dowd of The ‘M’ Word – Marketing for Libraries blog stated back in February, why not create a line of premium services for which to charge? The basic services that people have come to expect from the library would remain “free.” But individual libraries could choose to offer services above and beyond, like research services and books by mail, and charge a fee for those premium services.
Lately I’ve been hearing about libraries who are already starting to charge for some of their services, due to budget shortfalls and other funding constraints. But it makes me wonder about what criteria libraries are using to decide which services are the ones that should be paid for by the patrons.
For instance, look at the Dallas Public Library’s Street Smart Express service. Dallas PL is charging for high-demand items, like best-sellers, hot DVDs and audiobooks. The Assistant Director cited 2 main reasons for the fees: To limit wait times and to limit the number of holds on an item. Not all items are part of this special collection and a patron could choose to wait to borrow the item once it is out of the collection. Read more about it here.
Another library charging for services is the East Brunswick Public Library. My sister, who is a frequent library user and avid reader, was dismayed to read in her local paper that the library planned to start charging for every reserve placed. She did the math and realized that the average cost for the reserves she places per year would total over $100.
These are just 2 examples of providing fee services above the regular “free” services or starting to charge for once free services, but I am sure there are more.
So where and how do libraries decide which services warrant a fee? In the examples listed above, Dallas selected a new service that has the potential to speed up the usual library experience. Give the patron what they want NOW. On the other hand, East Brunswick started charging for a service that in most libraries is free. What message are we sending to our patrons if we start charging them for something that they never had to pay for before? And how much damage are we doing to our user base to start charging for these services that have traditionally been free? If my sister is any indication, the potential damage is significant. She even considered getting a card in another library, farther away from her house, less because of the money and more because of how upset it made her. Other patrons may just choose to not use a library at all.
Charging for services that have long been free, especially now as the general public is feeling the economic crunch, could ruin a library’s good will and support base. If your library must start charging, find a way to add some value to that service to make it “premium.” Or follow Dallas Public Library’s example and offer the paid service as an option, not a mandatory fee. It is never easy for librarians to decide to start charging for services. However, I think that its not a bad idea to charge for services that are “premium” to YOUR library users. Which services those are will depend on what services your patrons use and which ones your patrons would like to have that you aren’t already offering. But make sure they are value-added services.