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Can you really live without the SCLS status page?

Intro: Hi everyone this is Dan, the non-LINK computer guy. I enjoy long walks on the beach...wait wrong blog.  I take care of all the non-LINK computers. This includes networking, wireless, patron/staff computers, and other technology projects. I'm always on the lookout for new and exciting uses of technology.

Technology doesn't always have to be super complicated. Sometimes the best technology projects are very simple. A great example of this is the new SCLS status page. This web page allows you to see which SCLS technology services are available or unavailable in almost real time.  You can view this page from any computer, that's right any computer!  (not just a pc on the LINK network)Crutches

Here is the list of SCLS technology services on the SCLS status page:

  • Library Online
  • LINK Dynix
  • LINK Network
  • SCLS Database
Let's look at a real world example

The first one will be before you knew about the SCLS status page and the second after you started using the SCLS status page.


You are sitting at your desk and a coworker says they can't access Dynix. You spring into action...

Before the SCLS status page

...and in a panic you sprint towards the nearest Dynix computer, but on the way you trip and twist your ankle. Down but not out, you crawl to the Dynix computer and see that it is indeed not working. With tears in your eyes you fumble for the phone and call the help desk. After all that, you get a busy signal because everyone else is calling at the same time. Battered and broken, you sit on the floor defeated.

After the SCLS status page

...and calmly open your Internet browser, navigate to the SCLS status page and see that Dynix is down.  You also see that SCLS staff are working quickly to resolve the problem. Relaxed and comfortable, you sip on your morning coffee and realize what a beautiful day it is.

Can you really afford not to check the SCLS status page?

Love those database statistics!

Call me a geek, but I love to look through the database usage statistics and see what online resources people are using. To receive 2008 counts of in-library and remote use (as well as percentages of system use) of SCLS online resources for your library, please contact Kerri.

2008 OverDrive statistics for our downloadable audiobooks, videos, and music are also available...no special request necessary. Checkouts by library by month are available in Excel spreadsheet format just below the table of system-level statistics from the Database Statistics page on the SCLS web site.

Why are these numbers interesting?

  • They can give you a pretty good picture of which online resources your patrons and staff know about, like best, and are using the most.
  • They might also give you a better idea of which resources need some extra mention and/or extra training.
  • And with the OverDrive monthly statistics, you may see when patrons are using the service most (summer when they go on vacation? January when they're trying out their new devices?) and find good opportunities to promote the service.

E-Waste Management

I’m Craig Ellefson, a PC Technician with the SCLS Automation department. My job here is to support the PCs on the LINK network. I have been with SCLS for 9 years. Before that I worked for The Computer Plus building “Aspect” PCs that were used by SCLS up until about 10 years ago.

For years, I have been asked when computers are replaced at a library what can we do with the old ones? SCLS never took them because we didn’t have an easy way to dispose of them. Now we do. SCLS is using File13 out of Verona to handle our e-waste needs. For a low cost of thirty-five cents a pound you will be able to send your e-waste through SCLS Delivery for environmentally-friendly recycling. Recycle_logo

Here’s how it works. Whenever you have material to recycle, contact Brad Guenther at SCLS Delivery to coordinate the number of items and a date to send them through delivery. Attach a note to each item or box you send indicating your three letter agency code. File13 will use that for billing you back. Libraries sending in material will need to clearly mark boxes as "recycling". SCLS has a few boxes available to send to you if you don’t have any. If you have a large number of items that you would like to recycle you can contact Ed directly at File13 for a pick-up of your e-waste at 1-866-913-6038. It’s still only thirty-five cents a pound.

Finding and Using "Free" Clip Art and Stock Photos

Intro:  Hi, I'm Rose.  As the Web Services Specialist for SCLS, I spend my days building and maintaining websites for our member libraries, troubleshooting issues that come up with the WPLC Digital Book service, and providing tech support for the databases.  No surprise, but one of my favorite library blogs is LibrarianInBlack!

There are a lot of stock photography and clip art websites that advertise themselves as "free."  When you're searching for images to use in presentations, program fliers, and on web pages, how do you know if it's safe to save a copy of an image and use it for your project?  Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Digital images are protected by copyright (see the U.S. Copyright Office website for the official summary of how long copyright endures and other FAQs).
  • Along with the image itself, look for licensing information or "terms of usage" that the creator has specified for that image.  If you can't find these, look for any broader legal information or terms of service provided by the web site.  If you still can't find anything, contact the image's creator to request permission to use the image.
  • Typical terms of usage tend to include restrictions like only using the image for noncommercial purposes, notifying the creator that the image is being used, explicitly giving the creator credit, or requesting written permission from the creator.  Be aware of what is required for the image you want to use.
  • Even Microsoft Clipart comes with specific use guidelines!

Here are some of my favorite websites for finding "free" (and low-hassle) photos and clip art:

Flickr "Creative Commons" Images (includes explanation of license types)

Morguefile (uses this "Free" license)

Stock.xchng (uses this license agreement, but creators can specify additional terms of use)

WPClipart (Legal Info)

For a bigger taste of "free" photo/clip art websites, check out Phil Bradley's list of websites for Stock and Royalty-Free Photographs and the list at Uncle Sam's Photos.


Intro: This is Brian and I'm the Help Desk Technician. I work at SCLS-Automation and I'm the main person who answers the phone when you call the Help Desk. Before taking over the Help Desk job from Andrew, I answered the Help Desk phone at night for a couple of years. Oh yes, my wife and I just recently had a baby, our second girl.

When PCs, being the temperamental things they sometimes are, have problems and don't know what to do they display an error message to the screen. Whenever you get an error message on a PC it is always a good idea to write down EXACTLY word for word what the error message says and then call the Help Desk. One way to save yourself some time in writing down all of the error message is to do a screen shot. Unfortunately, though if the PC locked up or the error happened when the PC was booting up then a screen shot is not possible and you will have to write down the error message. If you are able to do a screen shot then here's a handy-dandy shortcut on how to do it:

  1. Press and hold down the Alt key and then hit the Print Screen button.

  2. Open up either WordPad or MS Word.

  3. Paste the screen shot into the application you just opened.

Remember that even though a lot of the times those error messages appear cryptic and are hard, if not impossible, to understand it still helps us to know their exact verbiage. We sometimes don't know what they mean either and we may then need to search the Internet for the solution and it's critical to have the exact wording from the error message. It just helps us to better determine the real problem, so that we can help you get back to work that much faster.

Tech Training Opportunities for Staff - OverDrive and Flickr

There are few upcoming tech-related training opportunities I want to mention (just in case you haven't heard about them elsewhere)...

OverDrive - "Digital Library 101" Tuesday, February 10th, from 9:00-10:30AM

This online introductory training is especially designed for first time users, those new to the OverDrive service, or those wanting a refresher course. Topics include searching for titles, checking out, placing holds, downloading titles, material formats, plus more. A computer with Internet access and a telephone are all that are required to participate. No registration is necessary. 

Because this session is intended only for library staff, I won't be posting the details here. If you are interested, watch for email from Jean Anderson, the Continuing Education coordinator. She'll be sending the details to scls-announce.

OverDrive - "Assisting Patrons with OverDrive" Tuesday, March 3rd, from 9:00-10:00AM

This workshop is for library staff and is a great follow up to the introductory workshop, Digital Library 101, which is scheduled for February 10th. Staff should have a basic understanding of how to use the OverDrive service (such as how to place a hold, how to check out, how to log into your account) in preparation for taking the Patron Assistance training. The OverDrive trainer will share troubleshooting techniques for common problems.

A computer with Internet access and a telephone are all that are required to participate. No registration is necessary.

Again, because this training is intended for staff, I'll leave the connection details to Jean on the scls-announce list.

"Play Date: More with Flickr" Tuesday, February 17th from 2:00-3:00PM

This session is an online GoToWebinar session. Expand your Flickr knowledge with an overview of Flickr changes in the last year. Learn how to make the most of your library's Flickr account (or find compelling reasons to sign up with Flickr) including customization options, badges, easy photo editing, Flickr timesaving utilities, behind-the-scenes manipulation of dates and viewing permissions, and Flickr's new video storage. Discover the differences between a free and Pro account, and explore legal ramifications of Flickr for libraries including questions about photo copyright and photo permissions.  Signup information for library staff can be found here.

Welcome to TechBits! Enter our contest!

Thanks for coming to check out TechBits. You'll find updates here each week on emerging tech trends, tips & tricks, how-tos, and our own work with technology—in other words, "bits of technology for your library."

TechBits grew out of the technology planning process -- we asked what we could do better, and one of the things we heard you ask for was more communication about technology. We'll feature posts from SCLS tech specialists in a variety of areas, like PC hardware and software, networks, helpdesk, authentication, websites, and more.

CreativeSomething-About-Technology Comment Contest

Hopefully the knowledge you gain from reading TechBits will be its own reward... but we wanted to sweeten the deal with the chance to win something "techie" that you can hold in your hands, so we're holding a little contest. Simply leave a comment that mentions technology on this post, and we will enter you in a drawing to win a Creative Muvo v100 player (perfect for listening to MP3s, digital audiobooks, and podcasts). 

Official Rules: To enter, leave a comment on this post by February 28 and mention something about technology (what do you love? what do you use? what do you want to know more about?). Provide your real e-mail address so we can get in touch with you later (it will not be posted on the Internet). And you must be an employee of a South Central Library System member library to win.  The winner will be announced on the blog.

We look forward to your comments!