Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tips for Keeping Up

Steven M. Cohen, who is a senior law librarian at Law Library Management, Inc. and blogs at LibraryStuff, stepped in to pinch hit for Gary Price, who is recovering from surgery. Steven is IL's version of Woody Allen. He is quite articulate and rapid-fire funny.

Steven's advice: "Listen to your peeps" -- the people that you’re serving -- and promote yourself as an information professional. Steven works with lawyers and makes sure to conduct his own personal PR campaign daily. The attorneys he serves love his personal touch and he sometimes gets requests to compile a "Cohen book" when he's handed a research project.

Why keep up? To market yourself and make your employer happy that you’re there. It's job security! Having fans is very important. They provide an important PR function for you.

When does the reference interview end? When the person he’s working with says to stop. Until then, Steven sets up alerts and continuously feeds his attorneys more information as it becomes available. When people pay attention to your needs, you love it and so do the attorneys he serves.

How does Steven train attorneys to use RSS? He doesn’t. They’re too busy. That’s his job!

The Goal
Information should come to you via RSS and other updating services.

What to Monitor
New articles, press releases, and changes to web pages. Steven has set up 200 Google alerts. When he receives an update from these, he checks a research project database to see who needs to receive them.

What to Look For
  • Employee changes (hires and fires)
  • New products and development
  • Look beyond the initial question for additional information that might be relevant

A Tool to Get the Job Done
Google Reader -- Steven has 1500 RSS feeds that he quickly scans in about an hour and a half every evening. When he finds information that would be relevant for one of customers, he uses Google Reader's email link and types “Dear So and So, I just saw this information, which was published xx minutes ago. [He says including the currency is quite important. It reflects on your skill as a researcher and it makes the recipient believe s/he is in possession of cutting-edge information. He contends lawyers love that feeling.] I recall that you were interested in this topic.”

Cohen's allegedly trademarked quote: “It’s not rocket science -- it’s library science!” (Steven, if you can track me down I'll pay you for this use.)

Recommended Resources
  • WatchThatPage - a free service that monitors pages and extracts new information. Checks pages at an interval that you select -- hour, day, etc. Enter URLs to monitor. Can file in user-specified folders. Can monitor links on web pages.
  • WebSite-Watcher - This desktop-based software costs $30/license. It highlights URLs that have been changed.
  • Page2RSS - Here's a way to get an RSS feed for pages that have stable URLs and are on the open web. Creates a feed for pages that don’t offer one. “Free is as free does” Steven said because this service only has daily updates.
  • ReloadEvery is a Firefox add-on that reloads a web page automatically every minute. It's good for Outlook’s Webmail because you'll never be logged off for lack of activity. Good for getting Southwest Airlines check-in too. Could you use it for eBay?
  • FeedSidebar - Another Firefox add-on for Live Search bookmarks. Pops them up in a box on the left side of the screen. You can specify the frequency of updates.
  • Update Scanner - Yet another Firefox add-on that scans selected web pages for updates. You specify the frequency and level of change so you won't see minor changes such as updating today's date and correcting mispelled words. Changes are highlighted. Update Scanner provides faster notification than Google email alerts.
Steven's Favorite Web Tools

Please email me if you can't find these sites. I'm not providing links because of time and web access limitations.

  • Internet Archive
  • ScreenGrab
  • Cool Iris - Add to toolbar, works great in Lexis
  • BugMeNot
  • TinyURL
  • AwesomeHighlighter
  • Picnik - Photo editor
  • Invisible Auctions - Looks for mispellings commonly used on eBay. Use it to get good deals on items because no one else can find them. Example: Thomas the Tain gear for his son
  • PDF Escape
  • PDF Me Not
  • CiteBite - Copy and paste an item on a website and paste it and the page's URL into CiteBite. It will create a static web page with the information highlighted. Great to send to others because they can quickly see why you've sent it.
Contact information:

Presentation slides: tinyurl.com/keepingup

1 comment:

Sharon Ewers said...

Wow. As usual, I am jealously sitting here at my desk, actually moping would be a better word. Next year, you must MAKE me go. You are having way too much fun. I have forwarded your blog to Justin - I think he should quit writing and become an information professional. I like the sound of that :-)