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Tools for Tough Times

Usage is up and funding is down. How to cope? The dynamic duo of Frank Cervone and Darlene Fichter offered some great suggestions. Here’s a brief summary.

Darlene says one of your super heroes in tough times is your web presence—your virtual presence matters more than ever, and it often doesn’t take much investment.

Bump up your Ask a Librarian service. Check out and

Frank says for situations where meebo doesn’t work, check out libraryh3lp. It’s a hosted service that provides functionality of a chat reference service with some additional functionality. It’s not free but fairly inexpensive.

Branches closed and programs cut? Look at how to deliver your library programs anywhere and save them for playback. Check out the free

Quintura has a widget you can embed in library page to create a special kids search feature.

To market without a budget, be more social and use social media sites – use Facebook, Google Gadget, Flickr badge, etc. There are a lot of channels to use that don’t cost money. Be omnipresent.

Invest in your digital presence, such as add/expand digital photo collections. Offload hosting and tools to support comments and tags (scan and add to Flikr Pro account for $25).

Google Analytics is the best web log tool for free. Add a snippet of code to each page. Get detailed statistics. Then use these to identify your best resources and put energy into building those.

Check out the free survey tools out there to help you get data. One is

To deal with travel  and training cuts, use Ustream for training.

TinyChat – use as a tool for quick meetings. Has public and private modes.

Check out the training offered at Some states subsidize this. is a new online presentation tool. Takes a while to learn.

Add functionality through freeplug-ins, especially great ones for FireFox.

Read it Later from the Idea Shower (

Add fresh headlines to your library’s site—

Save on software licenses. Shop around, switch to free (CutePDF).

Open source choices.

Is cloud computing for you?

Google Wave will be the future. It’s in private invite but keep an eye on it.

Paula J. Hane

ITI News Bureau Chief

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