OverDrive Updates & Support Course

LibbyIn early October, we told you about some upcoming changes to how SCLS authenticates for OverDrive. Those changes went into effect this past Tuesday, October 16. While there were a few hiccups along the way, all of them (we think) have been resolved. If you or your patrons notice anything out of the ordinary, please let the Help Desk know.

And, in case you missed it, the next session of the OverDrive Support Course will start on Monday, October 29 and run through December 7 (with a break for Thanksgiving week). Registration is open and limited to 15 participants.

The course materials are all online and can be viewed at your convenience. There will be weekly readings, quizzes, and email questions. While online, the course is interactive. Students receive weekly email questions from "patrons" (like Mycroft Holmes and Frank Zappa) and have to respond as if the support request is a real one. In addition to learning OverDrive, it's a great way to refresh your reference interview skills and have fun.

Shared Community Mobility in Austin, TX: Lime Scooters

    Several other members of the SCLS Technology Team and I ventured to Austin, TX for the annual SpiceWorld Tech conference this week. Something that I found rather notable was not at the conference itself but was whirring all around the city. They were these bright green-colored electric scooters associated with a company called Lime.

    Lime sets out to offer communal modes of transportation through the form of scooters, bikes, and transit vehicles to provide people with available access to short distance travel. On the Lime website (www.li.me), it appears that some of the purposes of this initiative is to reduce dependence on personal automobiles and, thus, reducing the negative effects of emissions and general traffic. 

    What we saw was a large number of these scooters sporadically parked all around the city. It would seem that a person could jump on when they found one (for a fee) and then ride to their destination and then park the scooter there. There were definitely a lot of these scooters around and we saw many, many people riding them.

    After referencing the Lime website here is how it works. You must first download the app to your mobile device. You then can see on a live map the locations of various Lime vehicles. Once you have found the Lime you wish to ride, you will scan the QR code on the vehicle to unlock (in Austin it was $1 to unlock the scooter). You then ride to your destination (in Austin this was 15c per minute). When you are done you just park and lock the vehicle. Now you might be asking how these e-vehicles stay charged. It looks like it is entirely made up of with volunteers that collect the vehicles and charge them independently. They do get paid to do this of course.

    It was very interesting to see these Lime scooters on the streets and it seemed to be quite a popular way to get around the city, especially among the 18 to 30 age range. I had never seen anything like this at least in the sense of the vehicles being parked literally anywhere and everywhere. As far as Wisconsin is concerned I was surprised to see that Green Bay is one the locations with Lime transportation. I am not too sure how these scooters or e-bikes would fair in the winter but if you are ever in the area, check it out!

Image result for lime scooters

Mapping your data - the U.S. Census Bureau

If you work in a  LINKcat library you are probably very familiar with the U.S. Census Bureau American FactFinder tool. We use the Geographies/Address option to identify the "legal place of residence" for our patron records; from city, town, village, census tract and municipal wards.  This information is critical for the annual reports we provide the State of Wisconsin and also helps our communities provide accurate information about the density of their patron population and geographic use locations for their community reports.

But the U.S. Census Bureau has so much more.  One of my sidetracks is also located in the Geography area - Maps & Data.   You can map all kinds of data from this point using a variety of data points to produce a multiplicity of results.  Learning how to use this will take some time but if you are a map nerd like me you can get very very lost.  But there are maps!

Google Dataset Search (Beta)

Finding datasets just got easier with:

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https://toolbox.google.com/datasetsearch

Google's new service, released in September, allows for a simple search across millions of datasets from publishers, government sites, academic repositories, news organizations, and other data sources.  I did a quick search for Wisconsin Water Quality and was fascinated by the variety of datasets available. Give it a try - it's free!

A new Outlook Web experience is coming your way sometime soon!

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Microsoft has worked hard to improve the Office 365 experience.  The next iteration of this effort comes as a re-design of the Outlook web user interface.  In September Microsoft began offering the new interface to early adopters.  Here at SCLS your Technology Team is used to trying out things that aren't quite finished so some of us jumped in.  I've been using the new interface for a few weeks now and I have to say I like it.  The search is noticeably better, I love the suggested reply's, and the calendar has been improved as well.  Microsoft is doing their best to make the mobile and web experience as similar as possible.  For more info about the new look click here!

When Microsoft finishes their testing, we will move accounts to the new look.  There isn't a timeline on this but I assume it will happen this winter. 

PS There are new sounds available when you get an email....how exciting!

 

 

Robots, AI, VR, IoT, and more!

Jason2Earlier this week, SCLS along with 10 other library systems,co-sponsored our annual Tech Days workshops in Fitchburg, Appleton, and Franklin. Financial support was also provided by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Public Library Development Team with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Jason Griffey was the keynote speaker for this year's event and he spoke on Preparing for the Future: Technology to Watch. We learned about the Internet of Things (IoT) and how ubiquitous some of these products have become. For example, you can get "smart" light bulbs, thermostats, outlets, door locks, security cameras, and even stickers! Jason also talked about all of the "voice assistants" like Google Home, Amazon's Alexa, and others. You can now get Alexa for your car with Amazon's Echo Auto and also for your microwave - who knew? Jason talked about the application of these technologies for libraries and some of the problems they present.

Jason shared lots of ideas and information about Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, and robots. There are some really cool VR applications (and we have a VR kit that SCLS libraries can borrow). Jason explained the blockchain and talked about cryptocurrency. I understand it a little better but am still learning about the implications of this emerging technology.

The AI and machine learning part of the presentation was probably the most interesting and the most scary to contemplate.For example, you've all heard about the driver-less cars and trucks that are coming soon. There are also robots that are providing security services, helper robots in the hospitality industry, and even a robot barista in San Francisco.

There were afternoon breakout sessions at each workshop and you can find the handouts and slides for all the presentations here. Hope to see you at Tech Days next year!

Office Compatibility Mode

You might have noticed “[Compatibility Mode]” started appearing in the title bar of some of your Word and Excel files after the recent Office 2016 upgrade.  This means that the document that you have opened was created with an older version of Microsoft Office.  Compatibility Mode ensures that people using older versions of Office will still be able to edit the document and the document will also maintain its intended format.

Word - Compatibility Mode

Documents created with Office 2007 or Office 2010 will display “[Compatibility Mode]” in the title bar when opened with Office 2013 or 2016.  Documents created with Office 2013 and opened with the 2016 version will not open in Compatibility Mode.  This is because 2013 and 2016 are compatible. 

There really is no reason to convert your older documents to the 2016 format unless there is some new feature or formatting option you are dying to use.  Remember, if you do convert them, people using older versions of Office might not be able to edit some components and the formatting may not appear as intended. 

Follow these instructions to convert Word documents to the 2016 file format:

  1. Open the Word document
  2. Click File
  3. Click the Info menu option at the left
  4. Next to Compatibility Mode, click Convert
  5. Click OK
  6. Save the document

For Excel:

  1. Open the Excel document
  2. Click File
  3. Click the Info menu option at the left
  4. Next to Compatibility Mode, click Convert
  5. Click OK
  6. Click Yes to close and reopen the workbook

What are you talking about?

Being one of two millennials working in this office, I find myself in conversations frequently about differences between the generations.  Someone will make a reference about licking a postage stamp and I reply with "That's cray".  This has led a co-worker to show me The Mindset List.  Created at Beloit College in 1998 as a way for college professors to understand the "mindset" of incoming students, it has been eye-opening for myself. 

A list has been created each year since 2002 and features 50+ items that young adults entering college that year know or don't know.  The lists can be used with adults today to better understand the differences in generations.  I think they would especially be helpful for libraries to not only understand their patrons but also potential job candidates.  The authors have also written two https://www.classy.org/blog/infographic-generational-giving/
books (both of which are available in LINKcat) and frequently present the information as well.  

The most recent list has some new slang, and I'll be honest that even I don't know what most of it means.  Take a look at the lists and I think you will find them interesting as well.

Implementing a PC Replacement Plan

Over the last several months at SCLS we’ve generated reports on how many PCs in our system are currently on Windows 7 and the number was surprisingly high. The reason this came up is because Microsoft will be ending its extended support of Windows 7 on January 14th, 2020. I’d like to take this opportunity to remind staff about the importance of implementing and maintaining a PC rotation plan.

SCLS recommends replacing 20% of your PCs every year (you don’t have to replace monitors that frequently). Let’s say you have 15 PCs at your library, then you should be planning on replacing 3 systems every year. This ensures all of your PCs will have a modern operating system and software. This is noteworthy because as we upgrade the software of our systems on a weekly basis the chances of those upgrades running into an incompatibility issue with the older operating system increases. An added benefit of having modern operating systems is that we don’t have to maintain the older servers and software licenses used to keep the older PCs on our network, which helps reduce costs.


Since it’s budget time for a lot of libraries, I’d like you to think of a rotation plan as a budgetary tool that helps spread the cost of buying new PCs over a five year period. If you know you have to replace 3 computers a year and the average cost of a new PC is around $500.00, then budgeting $1,500.00 per year for new PCs makes filling out your budget a little simpler.


We maintain an inventory of all the systems on our network and release a monthly Status Report available so libraries can see what the status their PCs are. Please take a look to see where your library is in the PC rotation cycle. If you see that you need to order some computers this year you can request a quote from our order form.

Using the Places Tab Search in Instagram

Places_tab

The Places tab is an often underutilized part of Instagram’s Search and Explore page. When you search for places, Instagram will feature the nine highest ranking posts in that location, followed by the most recent posts in chronological order.  This is a great way to engage with what’s happening in your local area. I found this very useful when we had local flooding recently.  It helped us find out what resources were available in our community to help with cleanup and local volunteer opportunities.

How to search Places:

  • Go to the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of your profile.
  • Search for the Places Tab (to the right).
  • Select your desired location from the list.

From a posting perspective, remember to use the Places tag feature on your posts.  You may find you engage your local audience more and potentially gain new followers.