Tech-y "Best of 2015"

Snowed in red car

Enjoying some year-end down time? (Snowed in?) Catch up on some tech-y "best of 2015" lists:

Ultraviolet & VUDU

DVDwithBlueTwo words, one I thought I knew and one new to me. Can you guess which is which? And, how they go together?

First, did you know that ultraviolet is more than light and that it has to do with DVDs? I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Swiss Army Librarian, and came across this post: Circulating a Roku for Streaming Videos*. In it, I learned that "ultraviolet" referred to a digital copy of a DVD and that many DVDs come with a code for the ultraviolet version. As you can tell, it's been a while since I've ordered any DVDs.

I continued reading, and came across the phrase "Vudu library." Hmm...while this sounds like voodoo, it isn't, honest! From the Terms of Service documentation, VUDU is "an Internet-based home entertainment service that provides access to a library of movies, images, television shows, artwork and/or other episodic content through your computer or mobile device..."

So, how do ultraviolet and VUDU come together? Swiss Army Librarian's library (and others) are using Rokus to circulate the ultraviolet movies they have licenses to and they use VUDU to connect them. Cool, huh? I thought so. Read the blog for all the details - and be sure to check out the comments as they were quite entertaining.

*I wrote about Checking out Wi-Fi and Roku on TechBits last year.

Spotted in a library: Just the right amount of tech

I noticed a gadget advertising upcoming programs and fun facts at Poynette Public Library after a recent visit. Is that a tablet? Is it hard to manage? What apps did they use to make that slideshow?


Nope and nope and none. That is an inexpensive photo frame with a USB drive loaded with images, made in Microsoft Paint, plugged into the back. Quick and easy for the staff to manage.


I love trendy, cutting edge devices just as much as the next person, but it sure makes me smile to see all kinds of technology adapted to meet libraries' needs!

Thanks to Lindsey at Poynette for letting me snap pics!


BluetoothYou've all heard of Bluetooth and likely use it on your mobile device or laptop. Do you know why it's called "bluetooth"? I didn't until I came across this paragraph in The Almost Nearly Perfect People by Michael Booth:

AlmostPerfect2"I am chatting to Mike, a guide here at Trelleborg, one of Denmark's largest Viking sites, in western Zealand. We are watching a reenactment of the kind of battle fought by the man who built this impressive circular fortress in AD 980, the legendary Viking king Harald Bluetooth (namesake of the wireless technology, which was invented in Scandinavia)." p. 46

This interesting side comment led me to Harald Bluetooth's Wikipedia page and the Bluetooth website where I learned even more. According to the Cultural Depictions & References section on the Wikipedia page, the Bluetooth logo is a combination of the Nordic runes for Harald Bluetooth's initials. 

I love how the past influenced the present in the story of Bluetooth. I'll always think of King Harald when I sync my Fitbit to my phone using Bluetooth.

Osmo in a library setting

Guest post by Andy Barnett, director of the McMillan Memorial Library in Wisconsin Rapids.

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.

Additional resources:
Review of OSMO by a blogger who borrowed it from the library -

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).


Develop your SLP (Super Librarian Powers)

We've heard lots about the "Summer Slide" and how the Summer Library Program helps to prevent this.  

This summer, Jean will be introducing a 12 week program for librarians on the Know More blog to enhance and improve their SLP (Super Librarian Powers). Starting June 1, she'll highlight a variety of online resources (aka databases), searching tips & tricks, and more. Each week's post will also include a short activity to help you to become more familiar with the resource, and links to additional training and help.

Sounds like fun, right? You can follow the Know More blog via RSS or email (sign up is on the right side of the blog under "Subscribe"). If you're not already familiar with all the great online resources or you just want to brush up on them, here's an easy way to do it!

Friday Fun: Parody songs by librarians

Like the librarian parodies and other library-related videos we've posted in the past? This post on BookRiot (and comment section at the bottom) has a whole lot more. Fun stuff!

One that hadn't made the list when I looked if over: "Check It Out." The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library made this parody of Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" in homage to Taylor Swift and her outspoken support of public libraries and literacy and in celebration of National Library Week. See the answer key to reveal all the Taylor Swift references in the video:

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