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Giving thanks for my daily tools

This week, in honor of Thanksgiving,  Lifehacker is asking its readers, "What free apps are you thankful for?"  This got me thinking about what free apps I use regularly.  I thought I'd sha re a "Top 5" list with you, and maybe you'll share back in the comments!  Here's my list:Turkey

1.  Google stuff, google stuff, and more google stuff!  I use Google Reader, Google Docs, Gmail and Google Calendar on a daily basis.  They are some of the main components of my organizational system!

2.  Remember the Milk:  I love Remember the Milk for keeping track of my home to-do list.  It lets me divide tasks by different lists, but also lets me print them as one giant list. 

3.  Meebo:  IM may be old fashioned, but I still use Meebo each and every day.  Now that we have moved into a larger office, it's handier than ever for keeping in touch, even when we're in the same building!

4.  Passpack:  It might not be the password storage site for everyone, but I have come to really love having all of my passwords in one place, and having a service that will think of them for me!

5.  Aviary:  We featured Aviary in a post a few months back, and I am now a regular user.  It's so easy to manipulate pictures, including this fabulous one of my hand turkey (have you ever tried to do a hand turkey with window crayons??  It's not easy!)

So, that's my list.  How about you???

(Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/guest_family/3063606236/)

Guest Post: Linking to a specific page in a PDF

Intro: Hi, I’m Cheryl Becker, Public Library Administration Consultant at SCLS, a job I’ve been doing since 2001

PDFs are nice, aren’t they? They have certainly made it easier to share a lot of content that was previously only available in what we used to call “hard copy.” Especially if the document you want to share is already posted on the web and you just want to link to it from a web page, or in an email. 

But sometimes if the document was long, I would find myself saying in my email something like “the paragraph I’m referring to is on page 13, a little below the middle of the page...,” or even, “it’s on page 13 of the actual PDF, even though the page number at the bottom of the page is 10...” It was almost like getting a special gift the day I discovered that you can link to the actual page you are referring to! 

One day, while finding information on an organization’s web page, I clicked on a link to a PDF, and found, lo and behold, although it was a multipage document, it went right to the page the specific information was on. How did they do that? AngledhandI studied the URL that I clicked on.  Could it really be that simple? Apparently so, because I’ve been using it ever since. And sharing it with others who like me, had struggled with the issue, and were just as happy to hear about it. 

Here’s how it works:

To take the user directly to a specific page of a PDF when the URL is clicked on, simply add the following to the URL for the PDF: #page=X where X is the page number you want to go to.

So, let’s say you want to link to Chapter 43 of the Wisconsin Statutes. Now let’s say that what you really want it to point the reader to is 43.58, which addresses the powers and duties of a library board. That’s on page 10 of the PDF.

Here’s a link to Chapter 43:  http://www.legis.state.wi.us/statutes/Stat0043.pdf

To have the reader go directly to page 10 instead of the first page of the PDF, add the following to the URL above: #page=10. The URL becomes http://www.legis.state.wi.us/statutes/Stat0043.pdf#page=10

Nifty, huh?  I hope you enjoy this tip, and find it as useful as I have!

Sneaky little URLs

With the rise in popularity of Twitter and its 144-character limit, we're seeing more and more URL-shortening services.

Here's an example of a Twitter post that used a shortened URL:

DElibrarian Delaware Library: LIFE - Google Books: You can read LIFE in full text (with photographs) onlin.. http://bit.ly/pXpin


So where is that tiny little URL taking us? To Google Books to read Life Magazine? Will we be RickRolled? Or even worse, will we end up at a malicious site that's going to infect us with viruses and take over our computer?

In this case, DElibrarian is a trusted source and the link really is to Google Books to read Life Magazine. But how can we know?

3 bits of advice to deal with those sneaky little URLs:

  1. Be suspicious. Be skeptical. Evaluate the source. And don't click on every URL you run across (no matter how enticing the lead-in was!).
  2. Try a Firefox extension like "Long URL Please" to expand out these short URLs and show where they're really taking you.
  3. This one goes for ALL computing, not just for short URLs --- make sure you're running antivirus software that's up-to-date!

Connecting to Staff PC Print Shares

Many people have asked me to connect their staff PCs to a print share.  For my TechBits, I just wanted to type up a few words about staff PC-hosted print shares and how you can connect to them on your own.

A print share exists when a local printer, a printer directly connected to a PC by USB or parallel cable, is configured so that users at other PCs can also use the printer.  Just about any laser or inkjet printer can be shared out from one LINK staff PC to other LINK staff PCs.  Unfortunately, library staff does not have privileges to create a print share on their own.  That part needs to be done by Automation staff.  Once the print share has been set up by Automation, you can connect any of your other LINK staff PCs to the share on your own.  The PC that hosts the print share needs to be powered on before you can connect and send print jobs to the printer.

The easiest way to find out if a printer is already shared out is to walk over to the PC that the printer is physically connected to and follow these instructions:

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Settings
  3. Click Printers and FaxesSharedPrinter
  4. If the printer's driver icon has an open hand with the palm facing up, it is shared out

There is more then one way to connect your PC to a print share, but I think this is the easiest:

  1. At the PC you want to connect to the share, click Start
  2. Click Run
  3. In the Open field, enter \\PCNAME where PCNAME is the name of the PC that hosts the print share (not station number)
  4. Click OK
  5. Double-click the icon for the shared printer
  6. After the flashlight disappears, you will have access to the shared printer

OverDrive eBooks are here!

Epubpdf You may have noticed an interesting item in the last issue of Online Update: "New titles, features added to WPLC Digital Download Center." Ladies and gentlemen, we have eBooks!

The WPLC eBook collection is small (around 200 titles). Full support information is available, but here's a brief overview of what you need to know about using them:

Two formats: Adobe EPUB or PDF. EPUB eBooks offer reflowable text, which means that you can change the font, resize the text, or alter the size of your display and the text 'reflows' to fill the available view area. (In most cases PDF text is not reflowable like this.)

An eBook reader is optional: EPUB and PDF eBooks will work with a computer (Windows or Mac) or a Sony Reader. They will not work with the Amazon Kindle or with Palm/Pocket PC devices.

Required software: Adobe Digital Editions: This program displays the eBook for reading and handles DRM (the technology that makes titles auto-expire at the end of the week-long lending period). System requirements and link to download Adobe Digital Editions.

Library computers do not have Adobe Digital Editions, so patrons wanting to enjoy the new eBooks should plan to use their home computers or bring a personal laptop to the library to use with a wireless network, where available. (This may get some more consideration, but not until after the SCLS Admin/Automation move.)

Vanity plates for Facebook


If your library has a Facebook page, you may want to also consider a username. What's a username? It's an opportunity for a personalized, easier-to-remember URL for your Facebook page.

For example--

Here Facebook's low-down on usernames for pages. Usernames are also available for regular Facebook users.

And here's a quick shout-out to some of the many SCLS libraries now on Facebook!  MAD, MTH, ORE, MCF, MOO, MID, VER, PDS, DFT, SUN, LDI, REE, NGL, Fitchburg...  (did I miss your library? Please let me know in the comments!)

Protecting Patron Public PC Privacy

Hate to break it to your patrons, but Helga, the lonely Russian supermodel who emailed them out of the blue to say she thinks she might be their soulmate is lying and clicking on the link to her picture is a bad idea. Sorry.

While these particular steps won't help someone who clicks on that link, there are some simple things patrons can do to help protect their privacy when using a public PC at the library.  These are in order both by increasing security and, unfortunately, increasing time spent not using the PC.

  1. At an absolute minimum, patrons should log out of any social networking (Facebook, MySpace, etc), email, online banking or forum sites and then close the browser before their time is up.  Just closing out of the browser isn’t always enough.  This only takes a few seconds at the end of the session but can keep someone out of a patron's account on those sites even if the next person finds out where they've been.

    This is especially important when using Firefox on a PC with LibraryOnline.  The “session restore” feature, which is handy if your Firefox session crashes, can come back to haunt them since Firefox considers LibraryOnline’s logout a “crash” and tries to restore what had been on the screen.  Whoever opens Firefox next can get the previous patron’s pages back by clicking a button.

  2. Patrons really, really should log off of Windows at the end of their session.  The LibraryOnline software will automatically log a patron off at the end of their session, but PCs without that software should be logged off when a patron is done with their session.   While I can’t speak for PCs set up by the libraries, both LINK and patron PCs set up by Dan have security in place that is supposed to help “scrub” the PC when you log off.  This should get most, if not all, browser history and cookies off of the PC.  Logging off a PC and having it log back in often takes less than a minute. 

  3. Reboot the PC at the end of their session.  While logging off clears a lot of the previous patron’s information, it doesn’t do as thorough a job as actually rebooting the PC.  Rebooting a PC set up by SCLS should remove all files or changes a patron tried to make to a PC.  If you reboot the PC, you don’t need to log off first.  How long this takes depends on the PCs at your library.

  4. Reboot at the beginning of their session as well in case the previous user didn’t reboot the PC when they were done.  This way patrons should get a “clean” PC to start off with.

Yes, asking patrons to do these steps will cut into the amount of time they have available for using the PC, especially the last two.  However they will make using a public PC more secure for your patrons.

SHARE Your Knowledge: Checking Out Laptops To Patrons

This post needs a contribution from you! If that seems daunting then you should read about the iSaw.

Last week there was a question on one of our email lists about how libraries manage the documentation and logistics of checking out laptops to patrons. I think it's time that we put all those ideas and methods in one place! I created a drop on drop.io where we can store all this info.  Here is the url: http://drop.io/liblaps

If your library allows patrons to check out laptops in the library, I want to hear from you!  Please follow the steps below.

  1. Create a Word doc that has your 3-digit code and Laptops (ie, PDS Laptops)
  2. Tell us about your policies and procedures for checking out laptops.
  3. What problems have you come across when providing this service?
  4. What tips and tricks to do have for libraries that want to start this service?
  5. Upload the file to our liblaps drop! (here's how)

If you've got other documentation please upload it and indicate which library it's from.


Standard precautions apply when using the iSaw - it's a mini chainsaw...be careful!  PS Sorry for all the links in the document:)

Shelving it

Today I went hunting on Google. My quarry? Shelving games or software.Shelf

What did I find? Well...first, let me say that I ruled out anything that didn't use the Dewey Decimal system. Second, let me say that my results were less than spectacular:

  • Shelving game. A very simple interface to drag and drop 6 books into Dewey order. User checks their own work. Only one set of 6 books to shelve in order. Doesn't work in Firefox.
  • Order in the Library. Practice sorting, shelving, and reordering materials with multiple levels and options for different difficulty levels.
  • Dewey Easy. Pay-for software.
  • Shelving with Dewey. An online pay-for course through WebJunction.

Is that really it? It looks like this must be one area where print resources, index cards, and hands-on training still rule. Or maybe everybody's just chucking the Dewey Decimal system?

Does your library use any software, online tutorials, or websites when training shelvers?