TechSoup for Libraries

TechSoup for LibrariesDo you know about the TechSoup for Libraries blog? It's one of my favorites!

TechSoup for Libraries is a project of TechSoup, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit devoted to making technology and technology education available and affordable to nonprofits and libraries all over the world. TechSoup for Libraries continues to gather and share stories from the field so libraries can keep learning from each other.

I was just looking over the blog recently and was amazed all over again at what a helpful collection of topics it covers. Some recent examples:

And those are just some of the posts that I find most appealing given my interests! There are many, many more posts on a variety of library technology topics.

You can browse to the blog, sign up for their monthly newsletters, follow them via RSS, or follow them on Twitter.

Guest Post: Madison Public Library's Personal Archiving Lab

This Guest Post is from Samantha Abrams, a soon-to-be graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's School of Library and Information Studies. You can find her on Twitter as @sabramse.

Inspired by similar projects like the Memory Lab (in Washington) and the Inspiration Lab (in Vancouver), the Personal Archiving Lab at the Madison Public Library made its debut in June of this year. Funded through the Madison Public Library Foundation by a gift from Martin J. Levy, the Lab is a collection of equipment that can be used by Library patrons to digitize at-risk analog materials, like home movies, video tapes, audio cassettes, photographs, floppy disks, and paper-based documents (including photographs).

Personal Archiving LabThe Lab — as it stands — fits on a small cart (like this one), and is fully mobile. In addition to a Macbook Air, the Lab contains a flatbed scanner (which can handle poster-sized documents as well as slides and film negatives), a Sony HandyCam, a portable miniDV player, a tape deck, a combination VHS / DVD player, and a floppy disk drive. For video-based transfers, the Lab uses Elgato Video Capture. Some form of external storage (thumb drives are recommended) is required to use the lab, and the transfer of all tape-based media occurs in real time (60 min video = 60 min to complete the transfer).

The equipment we use to capture important memories today — smartphones, digital cameras, social media — makes the tangible feel less urgent. As a result, our tapes and our photographs are often stored out of sight, and out of mind. It isn’t until we run across that box in the attic, or garage, or relative’s basement, that we rediscover them. Since the debut of the Lab at the Madison Public Library, I have helped patrons access memories that are — seemingly — trapped on all kinds of outdated material: VHS and Hi8 tapes have been the most commonly digitized, but it has not been uncommon to work with patrons interested in digitizing cassette tapes, too.

Of course, not all obsolete media can be saved. Often, old tapes become demagnetized, or unintentionally damaged as time passes. But what the Lab can do — at the very least — is provide the equipment needed to access old media and the instruction required to begin the digitization process. And, based on the fact that the Lab’s appointments are often booked weeks in advance, this seems to be a much-needed service, met with great enthusiasm.

What makes the Lab truly great is not its equipment, but its ability to foster connections: not only does it allow Library staff to interact one-on-one with interested parties, but it allows patrons the ability to interact with the past. Earlier in the year, at Madison Public Library’s Pinney Branch, I sat down with a patron interested in digitizing a single cassette tape. As I prepared the computer and tape deck for our work, I made conversation with them: how did they hear about the Lab? What was it about the Lab that made them stop in? Eventually, we landed on the subject of her cassette: a conversation, recorded long ago, between the patron and their father. As they explained further, their father had passed away years before and the cassette — which was over twenty years old — was the only remaining recording of his voice. And what the Lab was able to provide the patron with was this connection: a memory from long ago, brought back to life.
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More about Samantha's personal experiences with the lab can be found here.

Coding in Libraries

Have you ever found yourself thinking about coding in libraries and wondering,

  • "What role does the public library have in learning and use of computational thinking?"
  • "What resources are available to libraries?"
  • "Are there nearby community organizations and/or schools that are doing similar projects or have resources libraries can use through partnerships?"

If so, take a peek at this post from WI Libraries: "Coding Initiative in Wisconsin Public Libraries - Update."

The official roll out of the Coding Initiative in Wisconsin Public Libraries will begin fall 2016, and will kick off with a screening of the documentary film CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap at 20 public libraries around the state.

The initiative is a DPI-managed project using LSTA funds. You can find out more about it in the blog post and on the webpage where they will be posting updates and information in the next couple of months.

Hands On with Virtual Reality

IMG_20160621_133617865

The Oculus Rift has finally reached the market and I had the luck of getting my hands on a set and showing it to the office. Getting to wear one is truly an amazing experience. Imagine being able to stand toe-to-toe with an alien, face-to-face with a T-Rex, or towering over a miniature cityscape, in each case feeling like you'd be able to just reach out your hand and touch them.

This is what it takes to get one:

  • The Oculus Rift, itself, is $599
  • A computer that's able to support it is $999.99

I understand that that's a pretty steep cost for most people and most libraries, but if you could swing it I bet you'd be able to garner the attention of quite a few teens and young adults.

There are cheaper, less robust, options out there as well; namely Google Cardboard. Google Cardboard is most simply a mount with lenses that can turn most any smartphone into a pair of VR goggles. The base "cardboard" set is only $15, and there's many other more structural options as well for various prices. Phones are not included, however.

There are some libraries already using Google Cardboard in some programming events. Some articles can be found here, here, here, and here.

Very similar to Cardboard, but a little more cleaned up and more expensive, is the Samsung Gear VR. The headset is $99 and requires a Samsung Galaxy S6, S7, or Note 5 to use it.

Pokémon GO: Rising to the Challenge

Aspen Report

IMG_2913As I have been playing Pokémon GO with my family, I have continued to think about how it makes sense for libraries to reach out to patrons playing the game. I think this is because for the past year, we have been talking about the Aspen Institute Report "Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries (AKA Aspen Report)." In discussions lead by Jean Anderson and Shawn Brommer (summary), SCLS member library directors have identified what libraries are already doing with "Library as People, Place, and Platform" and they have generated a list of "Strategies for Success." I encourage you to re-read the reports and lists and identify how you think reaching out to patrons through Pokémon GO might help your library rise to the challenge. Below are some of the things I have been thinking about for libraries this past week in relation to the "Aspen Report" and some resources that might be helpful to you.

Rising to the Challenge

PokéStop 
IMG_2889As I mentioned in my blog post last week, if your library is a PokéStop you have a unique opportunity to be of use to patrons. PokéStops are used by players to collect some of the tools required to play the game. PokéStops are also used to set up lures for 30 minute periods. Lures attract Pokémon and they will attract players. You WILL have people hanging around the library at all hours of the day when they know a lure has been set or to replenish their supplies. Some libraries are placing signs in a window or on their lawn to welcome Pokémon players. Really cool libraries will schedule "Lure Launches" and announce them via social media. Aspen Report: Libraries are seen as trusted and neutral spaces--great for playing Pokémon GO. Welcoming gamers may reach new library patrons and will show that you are paying attention and anticipating needs.

Wi-Fi
IMG_2909While Pokémon does not use a huge amount of data, any time a player can use Wi-Fi they benefit. In some communities, cellular data may not be very good and this makes it difficult for people to play the game. Players may be able to use the library Wi-Fi to catch Pokémon by using Incense and also to do some of the maintenance required with the game. If your library is a Gym, players will be able to battle each other at the library. You can also reach out to rural patrons who may have little, if any, opportunity for playing the game. Aspen Report: Wi-Fi is an element of "Place."

Other needs
PokémonGO is a huge drain on device batteries. Perhaps your library could provide places for players to charge their phones--this could be as simple as a power strip. Libraries also provide air-conditioned spaces and water (important on hot days) and bathrooms. Aspen Report: providing a comfortable space and even bathrooms are elements of "Place."

Multi-generational opportunities
The majority of players are Millenials, but IMG_2887people of all ages are playing the game. I have found this to be true as I wander around searching for Pokémon. The best thing is that strangers talk to each other and learn from each other. I have learned everything I know by talking to other players. Libraries are providing Meetups and other activities which will naturally encourage multi-generational attendance. People will be eager to share tips and experiences with each other. Aspen Report: Encouraging multi-generational activity is an element of "People."

Outreach
I have heard that some libraries in SCLS are using the new mobile hot spots to go on Pokémon hunts! If you don't have one at your library, you can borrow one of the mobile circulation kits which include a hot spot. Aspen Report: Outreach outside the building is one of the "Strategies for Success." 

More help and ideas

Helpful library guide and philosophy on the library role http://galaxybookjockey.tumblr.com/post/147240001718/everything-librarians-need-to-know-about-pokemon

There is a FaceBook page for Pokémon in libraries! It has tons of ideas and includes a survey to share what you are doing https://www.facebook.com/groups/pokelibrary/

Techbits article on Ingress, the foundation for Pokémon GO http://scls.typepad.com/techbits/2014/08/your-library-is-a-portal.html

Spheros are here!

Several Spheros Silently Sitting StillThe YA iPad kit will be getting a new addition in two weeks. We’ve purchased seven Sphero 2.0 robots to join the seven iPads. If you are not familiar with Sphero (like me) they are simply robotic balls. However, the more I learn about them the more it’s clear they are not all that simple. Sphero’s make a nice toy and even better learning device. All the iPads in the YA iPad kit will have the SPRK Lightning Lab app installed to allow block based programming, very similar to the Lego MindStorms kits we offer. I loaded this app on my smart phone and played around with it a bit the other day and found it very intuitive. In only a matter of minutes I had created a program and modified it to complete a task of moving the Sphero in a square around my office and back to its original starting point and change colors at every turn. I know it sounds simple, that’s because it is! If you’re not into the whole programming thing you can also use the app to treat the iPad like a remote control for the Sphero and roam around your library with it, that’s fun too!

Is your library a PokéStop in Pokémon GO?

 

What is Pokémon GO?

Pokemon_GoJust in case you made it through the weekend without hearing about it, Pokémon GO was all the craze. The Wikipedia article provides a pretty good explanation of what it is. If you saw people wandering around pointing their IOS or Android Smartphones at things, there is a good chance they were playing the game.

 

Is your library a PokéStop or does it have a Gym?

PokéStops and Gyms are two of the things that people are looking for when playing as they help progress the game. The game integrates with the phone's GPS and you have to physically walk around so your avatar can locate them, and also Pokemon to capture. PokéStops and Gyms are often located near churches, bus stops, public monuments and LIBRARIES! The foundation for this game is Ingress which you can read about in the Tech Bits post "Your Library Is a Portal." Libraries are already capitalizing on this.

  • It is a topic on reddit Wla
  • Someone at the New York Public Library has blogged about playing the game there
  • Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Facebook post
  • American Libraries post

Some suggestions for libraries are:

  • Find out if your library is a PokéStop or has a Gym (by downloading and playing the game)
  • Post on social media and your web site if your library is a PokéStop or Gym
  • Create a Pokémon book and media display
  • Organize Pokémon GO hunting expeditions (it's more fun to play in groups)

At the South Central Library System office, we don't have a PokéStop, but the Wisconsin Library Association does (image above)!

What's great about it?

WarningNot only is this game a great opportunity to promote your library, but it is an oppoKidsrtunity for socializing and bridging generation gaps. I played the game along with some of my young adult children this weekend. I don't know much about Pokémon but they grew up with it. Still, I had a lot of fun playing with them and having them explain it to me. The best thing is that it gets you outside and walking around. Here is a link to the Pokémon GO YouTube video that illustrates this. But make sure you don't follow the example of my stepson and me this weekend--this is what it looks like in real life.

 

Avatar  Gameboard Game



 

 

 

Reading Rolling Stone (and other titles) on your device

RollingStoneDo you read magazines? Do you wish you could read popular magazines on your computer, tablet or phone?
Flipster is a digital magazine service provided courtesy of the SCLS libraries. Flipster can be accessed online using a computer or mobile device. Offline viewing is available via the Flipster app for iPads, Android tablets, and Kindle Fire tablets.

Help using Flipster can be found in EBSCO's Flipster User Guide or, if you prefer videos, in these EBSCO videos on YouTube. SCLS Director Martha VanPelt also shared information about Flipster in this 5-min spot on CW57's "Talk of the Town."

Promoting Flipster
You can find Flipster promotional materials on the SCLS website. You can also link to Flipster using this URL which goes through SCLS authentication: http://www.scls.lib.wi.us/cgi-bin/auth.cgi?connectto=EHFLP.

If there are certain titles you'd like to promote, you can link to those too.  The key is to be sure to use the URL that goes through SCLS authentication.  Here's how to find it:

  1. Search for the Flipster title in LINKcat (searching for "Flipster" should bring up all Flipster titles)
  2. Click on the desired title
  3. On the details page, right-click the "Click here to access" link and copy the URL/link/shortcut (different browsers use different terminology) 
  4. Paste the link you copied into your tweet, Facebook status update, email, etc.

An example
I'd like to promote People magazine in Flipster. I did a LINKcat search for "people flipster" which took me right to the record.

Flipsterpeople

Right-clicking on the "Click here to access online" link and copying the URL gives me this: http://www.scls.lib.wi.us/cgi-bin/auth.cgi?connectto=TIEHFLP&bquery=HJ%20PEO.  Because the URL is going through the SCLS authentication script, patrons inside the library will go straight into Flipster, and patrons outside the library will be prompted for their barcode to access the subscription.
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Wisconsin Public Library Consortium (WPLC) is currently conducting a survey for the public about digital magazines to help in guiding the development of Wisconsin's Digital Library. Please continue on with the survey regardless of whether you have or have not used digital magazines, as you still have valuable information to share. The survey will take less than 10 min. to complete and is available through March 9th.

Mobile Computer Labs are getting a face lift

Pelican 1640 case with laptop insertRecently SCLS implemented a new case for Mobile Computer Lab #1. We went from 5 bins down to 1 case.  The new case has a hard shell; it moves around on wheels and has an extendable handle, much like modern day luggage. The nice thing about this case is everything fits in one case, so packing and unpacking will go much faster.


Mobile computer labs 2 and 3 have been rearranged so instead of 4 bins each they are now in 3. This won’t change set-up and tear down time, but they are a lot easier to move around.

Trending Library Tech

ThIt is the week after the American Library Association Midwinter conference and I am sure you are all wondering what was covered in the LITA Top Tech Panel--the hottest session at ALA. Well, fortunately you don't have to rely on me for a summary because Library Journal covered it! Hot topics are: open source, location-based information services and other things that are over my head.

Now that you are sad that you missed the panel at ALA, I am pleased to tell you that there is a free webinar series called Emerging Tech Trends in Libraries offered by Infopeople. The first session is over, but you can still watch it in the archives. The second session is coming up on February 2 and is by David Lee King who is mentioned frequently in TechBits.