IMLS Library Search & Compare BETA

Want to compare your library with other libraries in your state or other states? If so, check-out the Library Search & Compare beta website from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS):

I was interested in comparing just libraries in Wisconsin, so I limited my search by State = WI and then selected Compare Libraries. 2018-08-13_1201

You can also limit your results by total circulation, revenue, staff, and/or service area population ranges (max/min), and even further refine your results by variables related to topics listed in a drop-down menu. 2018-08-13_1203
The dataset can be downloaded to a .csv at anytime.  Try it and be sure to send feedback if you have ideas on how to make the site better. (For example, I recommended that library size, square footage, be included.)

Convert web pages to PDF for printing/saving in Chrome and Firefox

Some time ago I came across a handy extension available for Chrome and Firefox called Print Friendly & PDF. You can use this extension to generate PDF files from web pages that can be used to either print or save the web page as a PDF file. However, I have noticed that the extension doesn't work exactly the same in both browsers. 

Pdf-chromeFor example, when converting the home page in Chrome, the extension only picked up the one visible slide at the time that I did the conversion.

Pdf-firefoxI then switched to Firefox, and found that in Firefox, the extension captured all of the slides in the slideshow in one PDF file. 

You can find these extensions in Chrome by going to the upper-right hand corner menu and going to More Tools>Extensions, and then searching the Chrome Web Store. In Firefox, go to the upper right-hand corner menu and choose Add-ons.

Given that the extension works differently in different browsers, I think it's a good rule of thumb to keep your options open when using browsers. If something doesn't look right or work well in one browser, try another browser.

Create custom maps:

Recently I was looking into map graphics for a network monitoring project I was working on. What I needed was a simple, minimalistic map of Wisconsin counties that SCLS serves. Combing through maps online, I found a fair amount but they were of low image quality and proved difficult to work with.  During my search I found a useful website that was exactly what I was looking for. That website is

When you go to you are met with a plethora of different options for creating your own custom map. The top banner of the page shows a number of dropdown menus for various map templates to begin with. These include world, continents, and others. The United States menu allows you to choose state, county, or congressional district maps. Choosing one of these options will bring you to the map where it is broken down by whichever criteria was chosen. Here is where you can begin to customize the map and you have a number of different options available.

One of the more useful features is color coding. Users can color code portions of the map depending on the kind of map that was chosen. For instance, I chose the county US map and we can see all counties and fill selected counties from a palette of 135 colors. This would be great for visualizing statistics, etc. You can also isolate a state, multiple states, change border options, customize a legend, and recolor the background.

Once you have customized the map you can generate a preview. From here you are able to download the map as a high-resolution PNG image. With all of these features, what is the best aspect of It is completely free. You are able to use and embed the maps created royalty free.

I highly recommend using if you need a map for your next project.

(The image used is the SCLS network ‘weathermap’ that I created for monitoring purposes.)


Shushing/un-shushing text messages from individual contacts: iPhone and Android

A friend, who’s an iPhone user, recently said that she no longer hears a sound when receiving text messages from me. Messages from others do have a sound. The only ‘clue’ was that there was a half moon shape beside my name. That made me curious on how to toggle text message sounds on and off for an individual on both the iPhone and Android.   Shush image


How to Mute

  1. Launch the “Messages” app
  2. Swipe left on the conversation that you'd like to mute
  3. Tap Hide Alerts
  4. You should now see a half moon icon next to the conversation that you've silenced.

How to Unmute

  1. Launch the “Messages” app
  2. Swipe left on the conversation that you'd like to unmute
  3. Tap Show Alerts
  4. The half moon icon should now be gone for that specific contact


How to Mute

  1. Tap the “Messages” icon
  2. Select the conversation
  3. Tap the “Menu” icon (a string of 3 vertical dots)
  4. Select “Mute conversation”
  5. You should now see a speaker icon with an ‘x’ in front of the conversation that you’ve silenced.

How to Unmute

  1. Tap the “Messages” icon
  2. Select the conversation
  3. Tap the “Menu” icon (a string of 3 vertical dots)
  4. Select “Unmute conversation”
  5. Both the speaker icon and the ‘x’ in front it should now be gone.

Note: different versions of software may be a little different to navigate than what is suggested.

Good luck!


Help low-income households get affordable internet access

Internet2The Internet Discount Finder, created by the Wisconsin Public Services Commission, can help low-income households find discounted internet service.  Discounts are as deep as 80%. Schools and public libraries can play a critical role in promoting the Internet Discount Finder, to help all of their students and library users get internet access at home

I totally missed the original post about the scheduled call-in sessions with information about this tool, but luckily I saw it publicized again on the WVLS blog (Thanks, Jamie!). The session on the 26th is already done, but there is a second session coming up on August 2nd from 1-2pm.

You can find all the details including call-in info and a link to the DPI presentation in the WVLS blog post:

Office 2016 Reference Cards

We will be upgrading the version of Microsoft Office on all SCLS-supported staff computers to 2016 Professional Plus during the week of August 6th.  The interface for Office 2016 is fairly similar toDesk-glasses-laptop-3061 the 2013 version, but the upcoming upgrade is a good reason to re-post information from a previous TechBits articleCustomGuide's Quick Reference Cards are nice tools to learn the best way to accomplish common tasks in Microsoft Office.  The 2016 reference cards are linked from the SCLS Technology page.

Ergo kit available
SCLS is now offering an Ergonomic Kit. This kit contains several types of mice, keyboards, gel pads and other devices, like a back rest and a foot rest. The idea is that you can “try before you buy” a piece of ergonomic equipment. If you’ve been wanting to try a new mouse, but can’t decide if you want a vertical mouse or a joystick style mouse, you can try them out and see which one works best for you. If the vertical mouse is your preference, then is there an advantage to the $100.00 mouse over the $40.00 mouse? You will also be able to decide that with this kit because it has both of them!

All the electronics in the kit are plug and play, meaning you don’t have to install any drivers or software to make them work.

Get more out of your searching - by getting less results (but more relevant ones)

I search for some really weird, hard to find stuff. Part of my job is doing authority control, which basically means I have to look up really obscure items (mostly foreign movies and anime) and make sure everyone in our catalog record is actually associated with that item and their name is spelled correctly. My searches have to be very narrow so I can find what I am actually looking for.

Here are a couple of the tricks I’ve picked up to get better results.

  • Use quotes around your keyword to search for that exactly
    • If you use this around more than one word, it will look for results that have that phrase in that order.
    • This also can be used if you want your results to REQUIRE a certain word if you put around just one word. If I don’t do this, sometimes I get a lot of results that just have part of my search query in it.
  • Use the minus sign (-) to remove results with the words after it
    • This is helpful in narrowing down results if you are not interested in certain results.
    • It can be used to specify what you are looking for when a search query could have more than one kind of result
      • A good example of this is the image search results for “seals” versus “seals -animal*"
        • The * is a wildcard symbol that broadens a search.
        • Animal* searches for animal, animals, etc.
    • I use the minus sign to get rid of results from other libraries. I’m not interested in looking at other library catalogs when I’m trying to figure out if a name is wrong or not, since it’s likely that library is using the same record we are so they are not helpful.

These two tricks work on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and DuckDuckGo.

There are many more tips, but these are the two I use the most. Here are a couple of my searches I’ve done in the past for authority control work:



Browsers and Insecure Websites

You've no doubt read all of our recent blog postings lately about HTTPS, like SCLS and https and More on HTTPS, where we've talked about the big push on the Internet to make ALL websites secure. So we worked to secure our website along with all of your websites as well (thanks, Rose!).

This big push to make all websites secure was coming from the browser companies who were starting to display messages saying if a site was secure or not.

Like Firefox that pops up a message box telling you if a site is insecure when you log in.


Chrome is also going to be displaying a message starting with version 68 which comes out July 24, 2018.

I think these browser messages may over time become more of a warning than a recommendation because Internet security is becoming so important to users, especially with all the data breaches that have been happening. If you have any vendor websites that you log into that are not secure ask them how soon they will be secure. Be safe when surfing!

Library Podcasts

IMG_0772I've talked about my love of podcasts - especially book related ones - in TechBits in the past. In my post from 2015, the book related podcasts all come from the media - NPR and Book Riot - not from libraries. Since then, I've learned about some library podcasts and wanted to share them with you. I know there are more out there and if your library has a podcast, please add it in the comments.

SCLS Libraries:

Wisconsin Libraries:

Outside Wisconsin:

Interested in creating a podcast for your library? Richard Byrne from Free Technology for Teachers shared a tutorial on using to create a podcast. An article in Library Journal called "The Chatty Librarians: Podcasting" shares two libraries and their experiences launching podcasts. Technology has come a long way in making podcasts easy to create. If you create one, be sure to let us know so we can highlight it.

Happy listening!