PC and laptop order form update

The SCLS PC order form has been updated to include a current Dell PC and laptop.

We are offering the Optiplex 3040 for staff and patron PCs with a starting price of $499.00. The biggest difference between the new 3040 model and the previous models is that it has 8 USB ports, 4 in the front and four in the back. The previous model had 6 USB ports in the back.The new laptop is the Dell Latitude E3570. This is a 15 inch laptop that includes the number pad on the keyboard.

The biggest difference between the old models and the new models is we are starting to offer solid state drives for and extra charge. These drives are much faster than the standard hard drives we are all used too.

Dell is in the process of moving away from the docking stations they’ve supported for the last 10 years to a new USB docking station. The price is comparable to previous docking stations at $103.00.

Ergo-what now?

The TechBits blog has had a good number of articles on ergonomic work spaces and accessories over the years, not to mention many tricks for work flow reduction. It's important tech, and often generates a lot of buzz when the subject comes up.

Here's a mind-bending wrist-twister that I don't think we've covered. Keyboards that split, tilt, fold or stand up, or even all of the above.

KeyboardsI got my first tilting, split keyboard along with my first vertical mouse, and I have to admit that I really kind of hated it to begin with. Just as my brother said when he first saw it, my initial sense was "Dude, that's just... wrong.". Well, chalk up one more thing that I initially didn't much like, yet now seems indispensable.

What could be more right than a tool that doesn't hurt to use?

Unfortunately, my first ergo-board is starting to show its age, and while shopping for potential replacements I have found that (unlike vertical mice, where competition exists and low cost options are available), there are really few major vendors in the adjustable keyboard field. As a result, while there are many product options they are generally not cheap; about $80 at the low end, and up to $300 with all the optional bells and whistles.

Maybe I'll just push my aging one a bit further, unless anyone has suggestions?

Pronounce Wisconsin

If you're not from around Wisconsin, you might find Wisconsin place names like these to be quite a mouthful:

  • Waukesha PronounceWisconsin
  • Menomonee Falls
  • Ashwaubenon
  • Mukwonago
  • Butte des Morts
  • Weyauwega

(Miwaukee Journal Sentinel video: Texans trying to pronounce WI city names)

Even if you are from around Wisconsin, you might not be able to guess a place's pronunciation based on spelling alone... you might need to hear it once or twice first to get it right. Take these, for example:

  • Muscoda
  • Barre Mills
  • Gratiot
  • Nanaweyah Ominihekan
  • Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

Luckily, the website Pronounce Wisconsin can help. A collaborative effort between the Wisconsin State Cartographer's Office and MissPronouncer.comPronounce Wisconsin is an online pronouncing gazetteer of Wisconsin placenames.  Simply mouse over the map and select the county, city, village, or unincorporated community you'd like to have pronounced for you! If you have someplace specific in mind, you can type it in the search bar in the top and the site will navigate to the place on the map as well as pronounce it. 

2016 Technology Day

Tech Day 2016 - Digitization ProjectsThis year's focus for Tech Day is digitization projects!

At Tech Day on May 20th, we'll hear from Emily Pfotenhauer from WiLS about digitization, Recollection Wisconsin, and DPLA. The afternoon will feature a panel of your colleagues sharing their experiences of going through a digitization project. We'll finish up the day with an update from the SCLS Tech Team.

Full agenda and event registration can be found here.

Bite-Sized Learning

At the PLA Conference in Denver last month, I attended a lot of great sessions. As I was writing up my notes for the PLA Highlights webinar on April 19 and the WAPL Conference next week, I realized there was a common thread among them.

EggTimerTime - or the lack of time - especially when it comes to learning and staff development. And, how setting aside a few minutes a day or an hour a week is key to developing skills.

In Tech Assistance for Cutting Edge Communities, librarians from Denver Public Library and the Arapahoe Library District talked about having dedicated technology specialists in their libraries. This is really awesome but may not be possible in all libraries. One of the key ideas they talked about was "hiring great staff who are passionate about helping people" and then developing their technical skills. They offer "Tinkertime" for staff when the library is closed and build in time for staff to play and learn.

In Play Your Way to an Engaged Staff, librarians from the ImagineIF Libraries in Kalispell, Montana schedule staff for a weekly "happy hour" (or portion of an hour depending on their schedule) so they can learn something new, take a class, play with new equipment, or whatever they want to do.

Then, in Bite-Sized Staff Training with Julia Huprich from the Georgia Public Library Service, I heard about "microlearning" and was immediately intrigued. While your library may not be able to give staff an hour a week or dedicated "tinkertime", how about 5 or 10 minutes? I especially appreciated how Leah Fritsche, the director of the Deerfield Public Library, turned this around to emphasize the importance of learning anytime - what can I learn (or teach) in 5 minutes?

And, you've actually been participating in microlearning simply by reading TechBits (and Know More) regularly - woo hoo! Happy Reading and Learning!

 Photo from Pixabay

Annotating Screen Shots with Word "Shapes"

This week I had the need to annotate some screen shots. I haven't had much success with previous tools I tried.  My husband told me about the Shapes feature in Microsoft Office Word. From Word, access Shapes from the Insert tab. I used one of the Callouts which provided me with a text box where I could include as much text as I liked. The shape I selected (Line Callout 2) had a line that I could move around to any point in the screenshot--you can even make it longer or shorter. Finally, you are able to pick the thickness and color of the shape outline and you can even shade the box. From now on I will be a screen-shot editing pro!

Shapes (2)


Choose Privacy Week 2016

Camera_with_eyeALA's Choose Privacy Week is held annually May 1 - 7. For more information, see these previous TechBits posts for helpful links and resources:

In addition to all of the great resources mentioned in those posts (can we talk about how much I still love the video of an amazing mind reader revealing his gift?!), I have a new privacy-related resource to share. To help create confident online interactions, San José Public Library (SJPL) developed the Virtual Privacy Lab, a free, encrypted online learning tool for all libraries to share with patrons. The lab includes content that was also professionally translated in Spanish and Vietnamese and a page with information about how the library manages patrons' privacy.

SCLS-supported public PCs have many privacy measures in place to help keep patrons safe, some of which include:

  • anti-virus software
  • disk-locking software so any patron data (downloads, browser history, etc) saved to the PC is cleared with a reboot
  • Firefox and Chrome run in private browsing mode, which allows a person to browse the Web without storing local data that could be retrieved at a later date (this helps protect patrons who don't restart the PC after they're done)
  • automatic weekly software updates so programs are running at the most current version
  • network protections so a patron on one computer cannot access another user's computer
  • (subscribing libraries) an automatic reboot to clear a patron's data when a patron logs out of their MyPC session 

For maximum privacy, an SCLS-supported public PC should always be restarted after the patron has finished using it to remove any personal data and browsing history.

Hiding with Excel

Sometimes you may want to or need to be a digital pack rat in an Excel spreadsheet but not want the visual ‘noise’. There are three ways to hide data in Excel: hide a row, a column or hide select cells.










By way of example

Let’s say we’re working with a spreadsheet that looks like this before any changes are made.

B4-any changes


Hiding a column

Let’s say you have no need to see, but want to keep, the content in column ‘F’. To ‘hide’ column ‘F’, right click Excel’s ‘F’ cell and select ‘Hide’.  The content would then look like this.


Hiding a row

Let’s say you have no need to see, but want to keep, the content in row ‘3’. To ‘hide’ row ‘3’, right click Excel’s ‘3’ cell and select ‘Hide’.



Hiding select cells

1. Let’s say you have no need to see, but want to keep, the last three words in the sentence about frogs.
2. Highlight the cells that you want to hide.
3. Right click the mouse and select ‘Format Cells…'
4. Select ‘Custom’ on the ‘Number’ tab.
5. Type in three semicolons (;;;) in the ‘Type’ field


6. Click the ‘OK’ button.
7. The content is still retained in each cell, it’s just hidden.




Social media tips & tricks


Leave us a comment: Sum up your library's social media presence...

  1. Fun times with patrons
  2. Stressful situation
  3. Last thing on your list
  4. All of the above
  5. ??? (Other, please specify!)

Whatever your take on library social media, try out the tips and best practices in these guides, prepared by Abby Ward as a 2015 practicum project through the School of Library & Information Studies. All are provided in PDF format:

Mobile Hotspots for Libraries


One big part of community outreach is bringing library services to the people.  It might be a local event, farmers market, or a holiday parade.  On common theme that we hear over and over is that it would be awesome if there was a way to have internet access at these events. 

The good news is that soon it will be possible!  SCLS will soon introduce a pilot project for using mobile hotspots.  This project is funded by a grant and will last about a year.  If this is something you are interested in, please watch your email over the next week or so.  We plan on sending out information about the project and how to signup!

Mobile hotspots are about the size of a smartphone and use the cellular signal to connect to the internet.  Once the hotspot is online it sends out a wireless signal.  You can connect to this signal using any normal wireless device.  Just like that you have an internet connection wherever you are! This is a great opportunity to get out into the community and still stay connected.