Too Much Information!! ARSL Program Highlight

In my ARSL Highlights Know More post a couple of weeks ago, I promised to share some of the tips that Crystal Schimpf talked about in her workshop on Too Much Information!! Managing Digital Overload.

TimerOne productivity tip that Crystal mentioned that I also recommend is the Pomodoro technique*. It's a simple and effective tool that helps me focus. We all have those days when it seems like we have a zillion things to do in a short amount of time and don't know where to begin. When that happens, I set the timer on my phone for 20 or 25 minutes, pick one task from my to-do list, and focus on it. If a thought or idea distracts me, I write it down and go back to the task at hand.

Crystal also reminded me (and now I'm reminding you) that we need to learn our Tech Tools better. I'll use email as an example here but this applies to lots of other tools, too. Whether you use Office 365, Gmail, Outlook or some other email program, there are lots of features that you probably don't use. Here are a few things to investigate and implement to help manage your email. Setting up filters or rules can help manage your newsletter or listserv subscriptions. Using flags or color coding can indicate the priority of a message or inclusion in a project - you can set the rules for what flags or colors mean for you.

Here are a few websites that Crystal recommended - I haven't tried all of these out yet:

Let me know if you try any of these tools that Crystal recommends. I'm curious to hear about your experiences.

*I'm using it as I write this TechBits post!

 

Soofas for Your Library?

SoofaNo, that's not a typo - honest! A friend from Columbia, Missouri (where I lived and went to Library School) sent me an article recently about a Soofa in front of their city hall. It was very intriguing and I had to share it with you.

Soofa is a solar-powered charging bench. The company was started out of MIT in 2014 and is based in Boston. Their mission "is to update the urban context for the mobile generation." When I read the article, my first thought was how libraries could use something like this in their outdoor spaces. Many libraries have gardens, wi-fi gardens, or patrons using their parking lots to access wi-fi. How cool would it be to not only offer wi-fi but a place to charge their device at the same time?

Soofa was unveiled at last year's White House Maker Faire (see this article for a picture of President Obama using one) and since then has been installed in cities across the nation. According to this Boston Globe article, 11 benches were installed in Cambridge, Massachusetts and 100 more have been sent around the country. I'll be watching for one to show up in Wisconsin and at a public library.

Guest post: Website traffic infographic from Visually

This guest post is from Abby Ward, a UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies student who completed a practicum with SCLS.

Unsure how to navigate Google Analytics to find useful information about your website traffic? Don’t have time to check your data every week? A free service from Visually can create an appealing infographic using your Google Analytics data to give you a quick snapshot of how your website is doing. The service sends an infographic to your email inbox every week.

To get started, go to https://create.visual.ly/graphic/google-analytics/ and sign in with the Google account you use to access Google Analytics.

Sample Google Analytics infographic from Visually

Free PDF Tool

Pdf-155498_640The other day I needed to find a way to merge two PDF files together.  I don't have Adobe Acrobat on my PC so I thought I would look to see if there was anything on the Internet that was free and easy to use.  After some searching I found a website called smallpdf.com.  I was amazed at what you could do with PDFs on their website and it was all free.  They have the normal conversions that zamzar.com offers which are JPG to PDF, PDF to Word, PDF to Excel (though I don't know why you would want to do this), PDF to PPT (convert a PDF into Powerpoint sounds really useful), and then the reverse of these.  Then there were some options that I thought were really cool.  They are Compress PDF, Merge PDF (yes!, exactly what I was looking for), Split PDF and Unlock PDF (this unlocks password-protected files; not sure of the legality of this).  I tried the Merge PDFs option and it was very simple.  The merged file I got back looked great and I was very happy with it.  I would highly recommend this website if you ever need to manipulate PDF file(s).


What's in a maker kit?

Mindstorms2SCLS recently used LSTA and other funds to put together a variety of maker kits / labs that are loaned out to SCLS member libraries. We thought it might be useful to share the contents of the kits. Click on the link below for each kit type to see the contents and other information about the kits. There is a lot that goes into these kits and we have an awesome group of people who work together to make it all happens. Tasks include: selecting and ordering equipment, organizing documentation, finding containers, scheduling the kits and delivering the kits to libraries. Browse our Mobile Maker Kits page to see everything that goes into this process. One of my favorites is the instructions for packing the scanning kit.

Scanning Kit (purchased with LSTA grant funds)

Stop Motion Animation Kit (purchased with LSTA grant funds)

Lego Mindstorm Labs (purchased with an SCLS Foundation grant)

Mobile Printing Press (purchased with SCLS funds)

 

Maker Camp!

I just attended ALA annual and the exhibits had an entire section devoted to all things "maker ". It was quite a different to see gizmos and gadgets all designed to provide an interactive experience for library patrons.

One thing that caught my eye in particular, was Maker Camp--makercamp.com.

Maker Camp is a "free summer camp for building, tinkering, and exploring. Online and in your neighborhood."  Kids can sign up for free and participate online or--if there is a physical camp in their area--in person. Several Wisconsin libraries are participating. Organizations can sign up to be a site, but they would need to hurry as camp begins on July 6.

And don't forget, SCLS has an inventory of Mobile Maker Kits that libraries can use for programming, which can be reserved online here.

Osmo in a library setting

Guest post by Andy Barnett, director of the McMillan Memorial Library in Wisconsin Rapids.
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We saw Osmo software on an iPad and were impressed with it. It is hard to top as an example of the gamification of education and some elements are amazing. We are promoting it as we transition to a more interactive Youth Services space.

The software kit ($80) includes a stand and mirror, as well as pieces for four different games. This is a great price if you have an underused iPad around and even if you don’t. The iPad uses the mirror to recognize what is happening in front of it.

  • Newton involves redirecting balls dropping from the top of the screen to hit and destroy targets. You can use your hand, a pencil or a line on a sheet of paper to redirect the balls.
  • Masterpiece. Select an image or convert a photograph into a line drawing. Put a piece of paper in front of the Osmo and paper with the image superimposed appears on the screen. You can then trace the image on the paper, building eye/hand coordination.
  • Word consists of several games, all involving finding the right letters to describe the image displayed. At easy levels, it is just the first letter of a word. At higher levels, it’s the whole word. Can be played solo or against another person.
  • Tangrams uses the traditional shapes, but recognizes when you have a piece in the right place. Easy levels show the colors and outlines of the pieces, but higher levels don’t provide clues.

McMillan Library's OSMO stationMcMillan has them out for public use, secured by a cable and with most apps restricted. The tangrams and letter sets must be checked out, but kids are free to sit down and start playing.

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Additional resources:
Review of OSMO by a blogger who borrowed it from the library - http://readingbyexample.com/2015/05/09/beyond-the-screen-osmo-for-the-ipad/

Tablets & Weeding

Kitchen-garden-788629_1280I recently spent a couple days helping Cambridge Community Library weed their adult fiction collection in anticipation of the move to their new building - woo hoo! Weeding is not an easy job but it is a necessary one - especially if we want our collections to look like this nicely weeded and arranged garden.

Here are a few tools to help you with your next weeding project.

First, if you haven't heard of the Awful Library Books blog, I highly recommend it. In addition to highlighting books that should be weeded from collections and why, Holly and Mary write articles about the weeding process. I think many of you will agree with the concepts in this May 9 article, "Weeding: It Ain't Easy."

Second, take advantage of the reports and data (password required) from Koha (or your Integrated Library System). And, don't forget the collection development items in the SCLS Professional Collection. Titles like Fiction Core Collection, Public Library Core Collection, Best Books for Children (series), and others that will help with both selection and weeding.

Scanner2And, last, but not least - use the technology available to you to make this process easier. With the web-based nature of Koha, it was easy to take my iPad along with me in the stacks. Set it up on the cart, log into Koha, and weed away. There's also this pretty cool scanner that Craig wrote about in January of 2014. I tested the bluetooth scanner with Koha on my iPad, the Kindle Fire, and the Samsung Galaxy and it worked great for searching the catalog. Want to use it? Use the new Help Desk Portal and request to schedule the Mobile Circ Kit. If possible, please include the dates that you'd like to use the kit. While I couldn't test the scanner with all our member library catalogs, all SCLS libraries are welcome to use the kit.

P.S. I'm working on scheduling Holly and Mary from the Awful Library Books blog for a webinar later this fall.

The new SCLS Scanning Kit is available for checkout!

Whose cool parents drove a Camaro?The Scanning Kit is a package of 3 different scanners and a laptop. It’s ideal for patrons who want to bring in their old family photos or documents to the library and digitize them.


What the kit contains:


Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500 is a high speed duplex scanner that means it scans both the front and back of a photo or document at the same time. You can stack 25 to 50 photos or documents up to legal size (8.5x14) in the paper feed and it takes about 1 to 2 seconds to scan each sheet. This scanner does require a PC, which is why we included a laptop with the kit. The laptop does have DeepFeeze on it so be sure to save the files before shutting it down! Files can be saved to a USB flash drive, SD card or DVD.

Wolverine SNaP-14MP Film Scanner for scanning slides, negatives and prints up to 5x7 inch. Load negatives or slides in the appropriate tray and scoot them into the scanner to take their picture. This scanner doesn’t require a PC to save the images on an SD card, but it is nice to have one to view the pictures afterwards.

VuPoint Magic Wand hand held scanner is for scanning documents that might be in a book or binder that is difficult for standard flatbed scanners to digitize. The images are saved to a micro SD card and I’ve included an adapter so you can view the images on the laptop.


The kit is available for check-out to libraries starting today! To learn more, or to place a reservation, visit the Programming Resources web page.

 

Trivia Question! Can you guess which SCLS staff member's parents are in the image above? The image was scanned from a slide using this kit!

Book Podcasts

Podcasts2 It's no secret that I love reading and always have three* books going at one time. I also love listening to podcasts and my current subscription count is up to 16 different ones (I didn't know I had that many until I counted!)

Among those 16 podcasts are three book-related podcasts that I want to share with you. First is the NPR Books podcast. What I love about this podcast is that it compiles much of the book related content in NPR shows and puts it in one place. Sometimes it's a book review from a Morning Edition or it could be an entire episode of Fresh Air. If it's book related, it shows up in this podcast.

Second is the Pop Culture Happy Hour. I only recently started listening to this podcast and I've come to look forward to the new episode each week. I freely admit that I don't keep up very well with pop culture and this podcast helps with that. My favorite part, however, is the ending of each podcast where the panelists talk about what is making them happy this week and often that's a book. 

Third is a brand new podcast from Book Riot's Rebecca Schinsky and Liberty Hardy called All The Books. I listened to the first episode of this podcast recently and have several new books to add to my "To Be Read" list. This is a weekly podcast that comes out on Tuesdays as that's when new books are released. Visit the podcast site for each episode to get a list of books talked about on the show as well as others released that week.

As I was listening to Megan and Merri from the CCBC this morning* as they presented CCBC Shorts, I realized that not only do I love hearing people talk about books they love, I love listening to two (or more) people have a conversation about books they love. I can hear and appreciate the rapport, respect, and relationship that is evident between the contributors of Pop Culture Happy Hour, All the Books, and CCBC Shorts - and that makes me happy. I hope these podcasts make you happy, too. Happy listening and reading!

*I wrote this post on May 20, 2015 and the books I'm reading right now are Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo (print), Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (audio), and How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz (ebook).