Community Data - How do we compare?

Want to understand the industries, occupations, poverty, education, cost of living, and more in your community? 

Want to go further and see how you compare to other communities, the state, or the nation?  

Want to know how your community has changed over time? 

If so, here are a few resources to help make the analysis easier: 

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DataUSA: https://datausa.io/

Combines multiple public U.S. Government data sources into one visualization tool. The data sources are cited so you can check for more current data or actually get the underlying data so you can generate your own charts. Don’t miss the ADD COMPARISON option which allows you to compare to another community.

 

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Applied Population Lab: https://apl.wisc.edu/

The Applied Population Lab, Department of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison publishes research on Wisconsin trends. The reports and chartbooks tend to be at the county level, but many of the websites can be searched by village or town. Be sure to check-out their Wisconsin Food Security Project: http://foodsecurity.wisc.edu/ and the GetFacts: https://getfacts.wisc.edu/ websites.

 

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American FactFinder: https://factfinder.census.gov

The primary source of data used by many websites. The advanced search allows you to get the details by geographic areas including summary data for a neighboring community, the state of Wisconsin, or the entire United States. Explore the various topics including Product Type-Comparative Profiles that looks at trends over time of demographic, economic, housing, and social characteristics for populations of 5,000 or more. For details on what data can be compared, go to Comparing American Community Survey (ACS) Data: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/guidance/comparing-acs-data.html

Unsplash for images

Looking for beautiful pictures to use in newsletters, blog posts, social media posts, and more?

Winnefox Library System's "Library Sparks" recently highlighted Unsplash, a source for free, high-resolution photos. Crediting isn't required, but the site provides a super-easy way to credit the photographers by providing text to embed a badge or text credit. I am in LOVE with it already! Just look at some of these beauties...

Love
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Hearts
Photo by grafxart photo on Unsplash

Love lights
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

 

Check out the review of Unsplash, and give Library Sparks a look, too -- it's a great source for all sorts of helpful library-related tips and information, and it's one of my favorite blogs!

Focused Inbox

A few months ago Microsoft implemented the Focused Inbox in the Office 365 Email, or Outlook on the Web.  Microsoft's secret algorithms decide which emails are the most important to you and directs them to the Focused Inbox.  The rest are directed to the "Other" portion of your Inbox.  Personally, I like the Focused Inbox.  It is doing a pretty good job of deciding what emails I actually read and displaying them in the Focused section.  I have had a few co-workers ask me how to turn this feature off.  They prefer to have a single Inbox, mostly because it means they don't have to switch back-and-forth between the two Inboxes.  You can also turn off this feature by following the instructions below.

  1. Click the Settings gear at the upper-right
  2. Click Mail beneath the "Your app settings" heading
  3. In the Layout section, click Focused Inbox
  4. Select Don't sort messages
  5. Click Save
Inbox Before
Before

 

Inbox After
After

It's also a good idea to train your Focused Inbox if you do keep it.  If you see mail going to the wrong Inbox, right-click the email and select (Always) move to Focused Inbox or (Always) move to Other Inbox.

Holiday Comment Contest!

Xbox KinectHere's an opportunity to win a gently used Xbox 360 Kinect with 3 games for your library! The game console comes with 4GB of memory, one Kinect sensor, two wireless controllers, all the connecting cables and is wifi capable. The games included are Kinect Sports (Boxing, Track & Field, Soccer, Table Tennis, Beach Volleyball and Championship Bowling), Dance Central 2, and Kinect Adventures (20 different heart-pounding adventures).

How can you enter? Simply leave us a comment and share one or more of the following:

  • your favorite post(s)
  • things you've learned about through TechBits that you're using at your library
  • topics you'd like us to cover
  • an area of technology you're interested in for your library

Official Rules: To enter, leave a comment on this post by Monday, January 1st. We will draw a winner at random. Provide your real e-mail address so we can get in touch with you later (it will not be posted on the Internet). Anyone can comment (we're very interested in the feedback!), but you must be an employee of a South Central Library System member library to win. The winner will be announced on the blog.

We'd like to make TechBits as interesting and relevant as we can, and every comment and bit of feedback helps! If you would like to comment, but not be entered to win, just say "comment only" in your comment.Xbox Kinect Games

Sneak Peek! New Technology Coming Soon!

Here at SCLS we have been testing some new and fun technology to lend out to our libraries.  The newest is Virtual Reality through Sony's PlayStation 4 gaming console.  If you are unfamiliar with virtual reality or VR, see Craig's post earlier this year for more about virtual reality v.s. augmented reality.  

VR with the PlayStation 4 is a great way to experience and test VR without the higher cost of an Oculus Rift. The system contains one PS4 console, a VR processing unit, the VR headset, camera, controllers and lots of cables.  We have downloaded a couple games to play and test out the VR world.  We also have made YouTube available to watch 360° videos.  Craig is hard at work "testing"

Here is a short description of the games available to play:

                 Discovery:  A simple version of Minecraft.  Use the controllers to build a world.

                Job Simulator:  A good game to get a feel for interacting with VR.  Simulating different places of occupation you can control the world around you with the controllers with no rules.

                VRog:  Become a frog and hop from lily pad to lily pad eating bugs.  This game is simple and only requires the headset to use.

                Tiny Trax: Using the controller you race tiny cars around different tracks.  Think of it as hot wheels with a birds-eye view.

                Carnival Games VR:  Play classic carnival games to earn tickets for prizes!

The VR kit is currently being tested at one of our system's libraries, but will be available for libraries to check out in the beginning of 2018!  This kit would be an awesome program to offer to teens or adults but not small children.  Check the SCLS equipment page early next year to see if the VR kit is available and to schedule a time to let your patrons experience VR. 

Easily combine text or csv files

I am totally nerding out. I admit it. I had a folder full of text files, and I wanted to dump them all into a single Excel worksheet. It turns out there is a super-easy way to do this, provided you're willing to open up a command line and type in a few DOS commands!!

Here's where I found the instructions:  https://www.rondebruin.nl/win/s3/win021.htm

In my case...

  1. I put the .log files (which are all really text files with a fancy extension) in a folder named "logs" on my desktop
  2. I clicked on the Windows Start button and typed cmd to open a command prompt
  3. My path showed that I was already in my user account. 
  4. I typed cd desktop/logs to navigate to the "logs" folder on my desktop
  5. I typed copy *.log all.txt  to copy ALL the .log files into a single text file titled "all.txt"
    Copy
  6. Then I opened Excel, chose File->Open and navigated to the all.txt file

I am ridiculously excited about this trick!

Library ebooks now shown in Google searches

Google's knowledge graph that shows up on the side of searches (or on top if you're on mobile) is good for quick information. Until recently, if someone searched for a book, it would just show options for purchasing an ebook, but this past September, Google started offering users the option to borrow ebooks from a nearby library. This pairs with Overdrive, so titles from the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium are shown.

Capture

The Google search screen doesn't show whether or not the item is available, but the link goes right to the item they searched for so they can find out. Maybe this will get new people to register for library cards now that WPLC's collection is visible on Google!

Printing a PDF form on your receipt printer

Let's say that you have a PDF form that you want to print out on your receipt printer. If you print using the settings we use as defaults the form doesn't print out well. If you change the default settings then you have to remember to change them back BEFORE you print a patron's receipt or it won't look good. There's got to be an easier way you say! Well, let me tell you the simple solution that requires no changing of default printer settings on your receipt printer.

The steps are as follows:
1. Open the PDF form in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC
2. Select your receipt printer in the drop down printer list found in the upper left-hand corner

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3. Click the Page Setup... button found in the lower left-hand corner

Step_03

4. Click the drop down next to Size

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5. Choose 72mm x 200mm

Step_05

6. Click OK
7. The preview area of the screen should now show a better view of the PDF form

Step_07

8. Click the Print button found in the lower right-hand corner

I think this is a lot easier than changing the default printer settings of your receipt printer. At least that's what LAV and PDS said when they wanted to print a PDF form that they got from Sue Ann at REE. Thanks Sue Ann!

Tech Gratefulness

TurkeyWith the Thanksgiving holiday just past, I have been reflecting on what an amazing year this has been for SCLS and the various ways we use technology to help our members provide the best possible service to their public. The Technology Team, the ILS Team and the rest of the staff at SCLS this year have all had a hand in bringing forth new and/or improved services for our member libraries. Here are just a few for which I am grateful.

  • New Data dashboard featuring SCLS member library Fast Facts and Visits Per Capita Comparisons
  • New web site hosted in Drupal (I love the new information slides!)
  • Support for SCLS member libraries to create a digitization plan, digitize their collections and make them accessible in Recollection Wisconsin (4 libraries participating so far due to LSTA grant funds)
  • The Indus 9000 scanner purchased with LSTA funds which allows member libraries to digitize books and other larger items 
  • Nearly $25,000 in FCC E-rate grant funds received for participating libraries
  • Five new or newish staff who are bringing great ideas to SCLS
  • Top notch support staff who keep our systems safe and up-to-date (like with the recent Krack threat)
  • An upgrade from 1 Gig to 10 Gig for our SCLS core network to accommodate the future increased Internet capacity for participating member libraries
  • Updated wireless laptop labs (we update one out of three each year)
  • The updated and much easier to use Evanced calendaring software used to create the SCLS calendar
  • Support for increased Internet bandwidth for Badgernet libraries
  • Using Google forms to more easily collect comparative data for the ILS Evaluation
  • Mobile circulation kits including hot spots

Each of the above projects had multiple people involved, often from different SCLS departments. I am most grateful for the wonderful staff we have at SCLS! Not only do they come up with new and improved service ideas, they pitch in where needed to implement them. 

Instagram for libraries

InstagramInstagram is a popular smartphone app for sharing photos and videos. LifeWire describes it as being "like a simplified version of Facebook, with an emphasis on mobile use and visual sharing. Just like other social networks, you can interact with other users on Instagram by following them, being followed by them, commenting, liking, tagging and private messaging. You can even save the photos you see on Instagram."

Want to learn more about how to use it? Take a peek at the GCFlearnfree.org tutorial.

Considering Instagram for your library? Already on Instagram but curious what other libraries are doing? Here are some links to get you thinking!