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.

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?)

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.

Library Freedom Project Holding Privacy Workshop after ALA

Library-freedom-project11

If you're attending ALA and are still in town the following Monday and Tuesday you may consider attending Library Freedom Project's Digital Rights in Libraries workshop being held at Noisebridge. The workshop will provide tools and training to assist privacy-minded individuals (staff and patrons) with their digital presence.

E-Waste Recycling Reminder

EarthIn honor of Earth Day I am going to recycle a Techbits article from a few years ago. As a reminder, one of the services SCLS offers its members is the opportunity to easily recycle your old electronic devices which you can no longer use. We continue to use File13 for our e-waste disposal. If you live or work in the Dane Co. area you may want to consider dropping off your old devices there since they have a large number of items that they don't charge for if you drop them off, including computers, printers and cables.

Library Beacons

Here's a scenario:

  • You install a special app on your mobile device
  • The next time you're in range of library beacons, you automatically receive targeted information right to your smartphone. For example -- when you walk in the front doors, you might get updates about your account; in the Children's Room, you receive notifications about upcoming children's programs; or when you near the library cafe, you get information about daily specials.
  • You can save the information, or forward it to a friend.

PhoneBeacons are devices that interact with a customer's smartphone and are designed to enhance the shopping experience. Some libraries are experimenting with the devices to bring new services to their patrons. Here are a few articles that tell more about their endeavors:

Some related videos:

I can definitely see the possibilities for museums, airports, and stores. What do you think about this new technology for libraries?

Library Technology Conference 2015 Highlights

LibtechconfI was fortunate to attend the 2015 Library Technology Conference, March 18-19 at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, where I watched for innovations and ideas to share with you. Here are highlights from the sessions I attended:

Libraries reported successes and challenges publishing all kinds of digital content on different platforms such as bepress, CONTENTdm, Omeka, and ResCarta. Whether you have an army of student employees or just one staff member, you have to make choices about what you can do and how much to outsource.

The Hennepin County Library shared experiences from a year of teaching patrons how to use 3D modeling software (SketchUp) and operating 3D printers at the library. Example: They have no policy banning 3D prints of guns or other controversial objects, and their elementary school age patrons would be crushed if they were not allowed to design toy bombs and tanks. Even a functional gun design, printed on a consumer-grade printer, would probably just break. Best audience moment: everyone "ooh'ed" at the mention of a patron designing custom attachments for a knitting machine.

Behind any discovery tool or federated search box, librarians are poring over usage statistics and battling a constant influx of changes to links, database subscriptions, and journal coverage.

Google Analytics can track, not only clicks on outbound links on your homepage, but also anything typed into a search form there. (Assembly required; batteries not included).

Keynote speakers Courtney Greene McDonald and Bohyun Kim advocated for libraries to use technology in user-centered, socially responsible ways. (Keynotes were recorded for anyone to view.)

Session descriptions and presentation slides for 2015 and earlier are archived for the public to explore, or you can read backwards through the conference Twitter, @LibTechConf.

Holograms

When I was in grade school in the 80s, I remember reading an article about the future in Electric Company magazine. One of the predictions they made was for holograms (holographic TV, to be more specific).

Well, it looks like holograms may finally be here. Microsoft is stepping into the world of holographics with Microsoft HoloLens, a product that "brings high-definition holograms to life in your world, where they integrate with your physical places, spaces, and things."

As with products like Google Glass and virtual reality headsets, I'm sure it will be quite a while still before everything works as beautifully as depicted in the videos -- but it's a pretty cool vision for what the future might look like. Personally, I'd love to have someone walk me through a plumbing repair using hologram technology!

Browser plug-ins, a thing of the past

 

Cat_PluginsA browser plug-in (or plugin) is extra software installed on a PC that allows a browser to display additional content it was not originally designed to display.  Some examples of popular plug-ins are Flash Player, Java and Silverlight.  Plug-ins were created because, at the time, browsers were fairly immature and browser development was not happening fast enough, if at all.  So this created big opportunities for plug-in developers to create software that would expand the capabilities of browsers.

Now, let's talk about what the problems are with plug-ins.  The biggest problem that I see is  the fact that they are not very secure.  There have been numerous attacks through either Flash or Java and since everyone has the same plug-in an attack works across every browser and operating system.  Other problems include not working on different operating systems as they are designed to only work on certain ones or they can be be very unstable which can cause your browser to crash or just behave badly.  These are the reasons why Mozilla announced in 2013 that they would changing the way Firefox loads third party plug-ins such as Flash, Java and Silverlight. Google has also announced their three-step approach to plug-in elimination:

  1. In January 2015 they began blocking plug-ins by default.
  2. In April 2015 they will begin to disable Chrome's ability to run plug-ins at all, unless a user specifically enables it by setting a flag in Chrome's technical preferences.
  3. In September 2015, they will begin to completely remove all ability to run plug-ins from Chrome.

So now you're probably wondering, "If they're going away, what's going to be replacing them?".  The answer is that we are in a much healthier environment of rapid browser development (Firefox and Chrome both release a new browser version every 6-weeks) and web standards.  Many of the features plug-ins implemented are now being introduced in the form of built-in browser features.  Don't feel bad that plug-ins are going away -- they had their time and now like everything else on the Internet it's time for a change.

Build With Chrome

How often at your library do you see a pile of LEGO blocks poured out onto a play surface and think about what a chore it will be if you have to do clean up, or if you are the one who has to replace lost parts. Those days could be a thing of the past!


While doing some LEGO “research” I came across a site called Build with Chrome. This is a site where LEGO and Google Chrome teamed up to bring you an online environment where you can build with virtual LEGO blocks.


You don’t have to sign up for an account, but if you do you can pick out a chunk of land on Google Maps and build your own piece of paradise and have it published for the whole world to see.