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!


Library metadata and linked data

You may have heard the term "linked data." A Google search for linked data will return a myriad of search results where you can read about linked data in detail. However, I will attempt a very brief definition here: Linked data is a way to publish data on the web in a standard format that can be easily processed by computers, and that expresses the relationships between different pieces of data (or "things"). When data is published as "linked data," computers can analyze information from linked data sources to display and use the data in a human-readable format. 

linked data by elcovs, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  elcovs 

Traditional library metadata, such as bibliographic and authority records, has not been expressed as linked data in the past. This makes it challenging for library metadata to be used on the web outside of library-related websites (such as OPACs). Displaying library metadata to users who start their searches outside of library-related websites can bring users to libraries who might not have considered the library as a resource in their search.

In order to transform library metadata into linked data, much back-end work is necessary. Large library organizations, such as OCLC, the Library of Congress, and large academic libraries have been working to transform library metadata into linked data and provide resources that the wider library community can use.

To learn more about library linked data projects, check out the following (this is by no means an exhaustive list):

For a brief (15-minute) introduction to linked data and its applications for libraries, see the OCLC video, Linked Data for Libraries. For a technical explanation of OCLC's linked data work, see Library Linked Data in the Cloud, available for loan via the SCLS Professional Collection

Libraries at the crossroads

Public Wants Libraries to Advance Education, Improve Digital Literacy and Serve Key GroupsYou've probably already heard about a recent Pew Research Center study about libraries, "Libraries at the Crossroads." Here are some highlights:

Many American say they want public libraries to:

  • support local education;
  • serve special constituents such as veterans, active-duty military personnel and immigrants;
  • help local businesses, job seekers and those upgrading their work skills;
  • embrace new technologies such as 3-D printers and provide services to help patrons learn about high-tech gadgetry.

Some tech highlights:

  • 78% of those 16 and older say libraries should “definitely” offer programs to teach people how to use digital tools such as computers, smartphones and apps.
  • 75% say libraries have been effective at helping people learn how to use new technologies.
  • Among those who have used a public library website or mobile app in the past 12 months, 42% have used it for research or homework help.
  • For those who have used a public library’s computers or Wi-Fi signal to go online, 60% have used those tools for research or school work.
  • 45% say that libraries should “definitely” purchase new digital technologies such as 3-D printers to let people explore how to use them. Another 35% say libraries should “maybe” do this.

There are so many interesting numbers! The report also includes data about library website use, awareness of e-book lending, who is using libraries and in what ways, computer and internet access, and many other topics.

Read more here:

Gesture-sensing technology

You may have already used gaming systems like the Microsoft Kinect that can "see" your gestures from across the room. Well, Google is working on a way to expand these gesture controls everywhere, and it's pretty darn cool.

This little 25-second video snippet will give you a peek at what we're talking about:


If you have 4 minutes to spare, the full video that talks about the project (Project Soli) is worth a view.

Planning Year End Ordering

What to do with all that leftover money just sitting around your libraryAs the end of the year approaches it’s time to start thinking about how to spend any money you might have left over in your budgets. The deadline for ordering PCs and Peripherals through SCLS this year is November 13th; this date guarantees an invoice in your hands in 2015. If you don’t require an invoice in 2015 you can order through the end of the year and you should receive it in January or February, depending on when you order.

Cleaning up out of control Excel spreadsheet cells

I use Excel spreadsheets to manage projects.  Format tool
Sometimes when the spreadsheets get big and the cells have a lot of information in them, they end up with empty space at the top of a cell. I wished for an easy way to clean this up and there is one! Here is how you fix it.

  1. Highlight the column with the messy cells.   
  2. Click on the Format option and a drop down box will appear.   
  3. Click on AutoFit Row Height and each cell in the column will automatically adjust its width.

Below you can see the before and after pictures. If the adjacent cells are bigger than the one you are trying to adjust, it won't get any smaller. But, you can see that this simple command made a big difference.





Excel before


Excal after


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.

'Tis the season for...germs in the library!


Scrubbing the gunk off of keyboards and mice turns out to be a little different than disinfecting them... and when it comes to disinfecting, would you be surprised if I told you that alcohol doesn't disinfect against everything? Hand sanitizer either! Disinfecting against enterovirurusnorovirus (stomach flu), and influenza (flu) requires some special action.

Disinfecting against viruses
A little Google searching brought me to this excellent FAQ by the New Jersey Department of Health about the respiratory virus Enterovirus-68. It gives recommendations for what WILL work to disinfect surfaces to prevent the spread of enteroviruses (and noroviruses) in the section, "What is the best way to clean surfaces?" 

Is it worth the trouble?
Before you don your hazmat suit and sanitize your public PCs, you should know this: in the case of the influenza virus, disinfecting might not make a big difference. From WebMD:

But before you douse all your possessions with bleach, there’s one thing you should know: Experts say that you really don’t need to bother.

“Honestly, if you’re trying to prevent the flu, there’s just not evidence that spraying everything with disinfectant is going to make any difference,” says Christine Hay, MD, assistant professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Read more here:

So...what's the take-away for stopping viruses?

  • Disinfection. If you feel like you want to disinfect, use a bleach solution or look for products that specifically say they kill norovirus and rhinovirus. Make sure that they will not damage the equipment you are disinfecting! (Monitors and other types of screens especially may require special products)
  • Prevention! Focus on handwashing (scrub those nasties away!), not touching your face with unwashed hands, and trying hard not to spread any viruses you may be carrying (stay home when you're sick, cover your cough and sneeze!).

Additional resources:

Office 365 - Where did "reply" go in my email?

Microsoft is totally committed to Office 365 and it shows.  They are constantly improving and upgrading it.  Most enhancements are really neat (swipe, pin messages, etc) however the latest upgrade may have annoyed some users.  Not only did the reply button move, they changed the default to reply all!  I'm amazed at how many comments I got about it. Now I'm NOT an O365 programmer (so please don't assume I know Microsoft's motivation behind the change)  but I did a quick look in the options and found out how to make reply instead of reply all the default again!

  1. Login to your email (Office 365)
  2. Click on the gear icon in the upper right
  3. On the drop down click Options
  4. On the Options menu on the left, expand Mail (if necessary)
  5. Click on Reply settings
  6. Select Reply and click Save

That's it!  You are back in business...wait where did "Forward" go?  Just click the arrow next to "Reply" to get a menu that includes Reply all and Forward.


Digitization/Oral History Interest Survey Results

Recently we surveyed SCLS member libraries about a topic that is getting attention*: digitizing materials and collecting community members' oral histories. With 25 SCLS member libraries providing substantive responses, the survey had a response rate of 47% and included libraries from all counties in SCLS.

Screen shot of survey summary resultsFindings in brief:

  • 92% believe it would be somewhat to very useful for SCLS to provide equipment to digitize historic print materials and/or capture oral histories.
  • A more detailed summary of survey responses is available.

Printed Materials:

  • 92% are somewhat to very interested in digitizing local printed media.
  • Photographs were the type of print material with the greatest number of respondents indicating a strong interest in digitizing (18).
  • For each aspect of the printed material digitization project life cycle, 60% or more of respondents indicated a need, with equipment needed by the greatest number (20).

Oral Histories:

  • 80% are somewhat to very interested in interviewing community members to gather oral histories.
  • For each aspect of the oral history project life cycle, 60% or more of respondents indicated a need, with audio editing software needed by the greatest number (18).

Thank you to all the library staff who completed the survey! SCLS staff will use this feedback as we plan future programs and services.

* For example, Wisconsin is joining the Digital Public Library of America, WPLC has a work group on Collaborative Digitization, there was a full-day digitization workshop offered at WiLSWorld 2015, and it's been discussed by SCLS's Library Innovation Subcommittee and Digital Content Work Group. (And those examples are just from sources I monitor consistently. What else am I missing?)