is a Chrome extension for highlighting text on a webpage.

Why would you use it?
I used it because I ran across a blog post that I wanted to share with a friend. We had just been talking about his work environment, team dynamics, and the importance of trust (and an interesting book I just started reading), and I wanted to call my friend's attention to specific sections of the post. I used the extension to highlight those bits, and the extension provided me a URL to the highlighted page.

Here's the original page:

and here's the URL to the highlighted webpage:


The link to the highlighted page includes a little toolbar at the top that includes a link to the original page, sans highlighting.

Now, of course, the kicker with this is that the URL is a shortened URL and it isn't apparent where it's sending the user, so I also included a very-clearly-from-me sentence in my email about the article I was sending so he knew it wasn't malicious.

Pretty nifty!

Using DuckDuckGo for Internet searching

Over the years, Google has become synonymous with Internet searching for many people, including myself. While Google is certainly convenient, I think it's a good idea to use alternative search engines as well. 

Years ago, I used DuckDuckGo and recently I was surprised to learn that it's still around. In addition to navigating directly to to execute your search, you can set it as a default search engine in your browser settings, or install the DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials browser extension. You can also download the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser as an app on your phone or tablet.

Duckduckgo-privacyOne feature on the app that I like is the "privacy grade" that assigns a letter grade to each web site that you visit. You can click on the grade and get information about how well the web site protects your privacy.

Next time you have to do some Internet searching, try out DuckDuckGo as an alternative to Google and see if it works for you!


Visualizing Funding for Libraries













Finding funding sources for a library capital campaign, equipment, or programming is easier using the free Foundation Center’s data tool:


Sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Visualizing Funding for Libraries' provides access to who is funding (U.S. foundations) and where funding is going (U.S. libraries) using interactive maps, charts, and relationship diagrams.

I’m on a grants team looking for capital campaign funding for a rural Wisconsin library in Green County. To get started, I watched this webinar which offered great tips on how to use the tool:

Visualizing Funding for Libraries: You’ve Gathered the Data, Now What

Here are a few search strategies I am using:

  • Look at funders and recipients in Congressional District 1, 2, and 3 (i.e. Southern WI)
  • Use the “MORE” or advanced search options to look at support for “capital and infrastructure”
  • Sort all WI funders by number of grants given, look at the dollar values and funder profiles.
  • Sort grants by dollar value, look at year and details about the grant.

I also added map layers by selecting the U.S. Demographics icon in the bottom right hand corner of the map.

To understand the underlying data, I checked the FAQ:

“The data set includes foundation funding from 2006-present in support of five subject category areas: 1) academic, 2) government, and 3) public libraries; 4) archives and special collections; and 5) school libraries and media centers. The grants were coded to one or more of these categories by Foundation Center. Federal grants include only 2016 data at this time.” “The data set will be updated weekly as new data becomes available.”

This means that it may be worth my time to go beyond grants that just went to libraries. For additional research, I plan to visit my local Funding Information Network to use their resources, including the Foundation Directory Online (Professional), which they make available for free. I found six locations in Wisconsin, using the Foundation Center map lookup:

Funding Information Network

The closest location for me is the UW-Madison Memorial Library Grants information Collection:

There, I will continue to look for local funders and grants that align with our other programs/initiatives, i.e. technology, early literacy, workforce development, STEM, etc.   

Converting Old into New

New_year_father_timeIf you've been using computers as long as I have you're bound to have some old files laying around. The problem with these old files is that unless you still have the software you used to create them with you can no longer open or edit them. How sad! Well cheer up! I'm here to tell you how to convert those old files into new files. Back in 2009 Craig wrote a TechBits article about this and I thought it might be time to talk about it again. Just in case you or a patron has an old file that they really need to work with.

There is a website called Zamzar that offers a free online file conversion service. They can convert lots of old file formats into newer file formats so that they can be worked on using currently available software. Once you go to their website the conversion steps are as follows:

  1. Select the files you need to convert
  2. Select the file format you wish to convert to
  3. Enter the email address at which you wish receive the converted files
  4. Click the convert button on the screen

The files you chose are then uploaded to their server, converted, and then emailed to you. Simple as can be and it only takes a few minutes.

Add-ons and Plug-ins

We've talked about finding and using public domain images quite a bit here on TechBits - as far back as 2009! More recently, I've been finding add-ons and plug-ins that make it even easier to use public domain images in your documents and presentations thanks to Richard Byrne at Free Technology for Teachers*.

We've talked about Pixabay before, I think, as another place to find public domain images. It's one of my go-to sources for images for presentations. It's even easier now to find and use photos in Word or PowerPoint by using the Pixabay Images plug-in for Office. If you need help finding and installing PowerPoint plug-ins, Richard has you covered with his video here.

For Google Docs, Richard has a post showing how to use the Pixabay and Full Deck add-ons. The Full Deck add-on is new to me and uses Unsplash that Kerri talked about last December.

WordCloudMost recently, I used the Word Cloud Generator add-on for Google Docs. I had forgotten how much I like the visual representation of the important words in a discussion or exercise. Here's an example from a recent discussion about purpose. 

While I haven't used this add-on yet, It's something to keep in mind when I need to use icons in my presentations. The Noun Project has "over a million curated icons" and they're now available through an add-on for Google Docs and Slides.

Google Slides doesn't have a large number of add-ons available yet. Luckily, one of them is Unsplash for Google Slides. It's very easy to use and makes adding images to your presentations a breeze.

*If you haven't followed Richard yet, you really should! And, if you missed him in January when he presented for the 2018 Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference, you can watch the recording here.

Books, Books, and More Books - 2018 Edition

Litsy2018It's been a while since I've written about books which means I have lots to tell you about, so let's dive in.

Back in June of 2016, I started using Litsy and wanted to give you an update as I recently reached a milestone. I've read 171 books and 57,255 pages! And, I finally cracked 1000 in Litfluence and am at 1,017. You can see my earlier Litsy posts here and here.

Today on Twitter, a few of the mystery authors that I follow were talking about this new website called CrimeReads and, of course, I had to check it out. The site features essays, interviews, reading lists, and some nonfiction as well. You can sign up for an email list or add it to your Feedly account. Even if you're not a mystery reader like me, this site will be great for providing readers advisory in the many genres covered here: mystery, noir/hardboiled, suspense, espionage/thriller, and legal/procedural. Add this one to your list!

If you haven't heard, the awesome website EarlyWord no longer provides daily book coverage. To help fill the gap, Library Journal has started Book Pulse. According to LJ, Book Pulse is "a daily update designed to help collection development and readers' advisory librarians navigate the never-ending wave of new books and book news." You can subscribe to the daily emails or bookmark the site to visit regularly.

I've mentioned BookRiot in the past when I've shared some of my favorite book podcasts. BookRiot recently announced a new newsletter called Check Your Shelf and its tag line is "The Librarian's One-Stop Shop for News, Book Lists, and More." BookRiot won't overwhelm you with email as this newsletter comes out every two weeks. Between these two newsletters, you should be covered in the new book realm!

And, thanks to Becky Spratford of RA for All, I was reminded of the annual "The Morning News Tournament of Books" which started today. In addition to the 2018 brackets, you can also go back to see the books in past tournaments going back to 2005. This is a great RA resource and is also great fun. How many of this year's books have you read*?

*I've only read one - Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders but a couple of them are on my list for this year.




Project Maestro - Tableau's new data prep tool

This week I downloaded and tried out Tableau’s Beta 3 data prep product, “Project Maestro”.  Overall, I am impressed by the visual interface and what it can do without advanced excel functions or programming. Here are some features I am excited it can do:

  • EXTRACT DATA FROM OUR ILS DATABASE: Using a MySQL connection, I was able to pull data from our Koha database and output the results to a CSV file.
  • MERGE A FOLDER OF EXCEL REPORTS: Using the wildcard union, I was able to easily combine a folder of reports into one csv file. I merged a folder that had a separate file of items owned for every library in the South Central Library System. The resulting file had over 3 million items, and it only took a few minutes. 
  • COMBINE DATA SOURCES: Using the join feature, I combined data from multiple sources and could easily see how many records were included/excluded.
  • FILTER: This can be done with a calculation or by selecting which field values to keep or exclude.
  • ADD OR SPLIT FIELDS: Calculated fields and custom splits can be used to add new fields. I used this to add the report date, which is typically in the filename and not listed as a report field.
  • AGGREGATE LARGE FILES: This is my favorite feature!  We create monthly database extracts with millions of records that are used by Perl scripts to generate reports. Using Maestro’s aggregate feature, I was able to aggregate (sum) these large files by year, quarter, month, day, etc. to reduce the number of records.
  • OUTPUT: The ability to output to a CSV or Tableau format is huge. I’m now wondering what this means for custom reports and rethinking my dashboard design workflows.

My only complaint with Project Maestro is that sometimes it took too long or seemed stuck. Restarting the program and keeping the flow simpler for large files seemed to help.

So how much will this cost? I contacted our Tableau representative and received this information: “Project Maestro will be included in a desktop license but they have not released any details on how it will be released i.e. as an upgrade or a new offering.” In the meantime, you can try it for free!  Here are some resources to get started:


Blog post:

Training video:

The many joys of Internet Archive

Internet ArchiveI attended a fun NFLS webinar last week and was reminded all over again about Internet Archive, a "non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more." Have you been there?

Here's just a tiny sampling of what you might find:

Definitely worth a look around!

The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine also allows you to view more than 310 million webpages saved over time. Run into a dead link? Wonder what a webpage used to look like? Pop it into the Wayback Machine!

Here's what the SCLS webpage ( looked like back in 1997:
1997 SCLS website

SCLS libraries interested in looking up your page - try<3-letter delivery code> 
1997 Internet Search Engines




And here's the SCLS 1997 list of internet search engines:

(remember the days before Google?)




More articles and resources related to Internet Archive

Sharing videos via email


Have you ever wanted to share a video via email and was told that you can't because the file was too big? Kristine from LDI had this same problem and she even tried zipping the video to make it smaller, but it was still too big. She ended up finding a solution in the Office 365 application called Stream. Using Stream she was able to upload her video and then get an online link which she used in the body of her email. She said that it worked perfectly.

To find this application you would need to be logged into your Office 365 Outlook SCLS email account. Then in the upper left-hand corner you would click on the button that has nine little squares in it. You should then see a list of applications, one of which is called Stream. Click on Stream and you will be taken to the Stream website where you can "Securely upload" your video. You will then be given a link to your video. You can then use that link in an email to send to whomever you want.

Photo by Gabriel Petry on Unsplash

Using Google Calendar for Task Reminders

I have been using Google Calendar as an online calendar for years, but more recently I have utilized the "Reminder" feature to keep track of daily tasks, especially repeating tasks.

To create a Reminder, click on the appropriate day, enter the information, and select the Reminder button (instead of the Event button).  Googlecalendarreminder-create

You can set up the Reminder for a certain time, or leave it as "all day." You can make it a one-time task, or set up a schedule for the task.

The many options for Repeating the task are highly useful. There are multiple tasks that I do on a regular schedule, such as monthly, every other month, etc. I even have Reminders set for tasks that are only done once a year. 

Googlecalendarreminder-markasdoneWhen you have completed the task for the day, you can mark the task as done to cross it off of your list (hover your mouse over the task to get the Mark as done option). If you don't mark the task done, it will appear on the next day. The tasks keep appearing until you mark them done or delete them.