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Will 3M give OverDrive some competition?

The proverbial "greener grass" I know that OverDrive has some librarians at the end of their rope. The HarperCollins deal. The inability to download ebooks on public-access computers. The "Advantage" plan limitations. The DRM. If there were an "other side," the grass might be looking greener... but there hasn't been much of an "other side" to go to.*

Enter 3M's Cloud Library ebook lending service, launching at the ALA Annual Conference this summer. 3M's press release states that it will be "a comprehensive subscription for both digital content and in-library hardware, along with apps for borrowing and reading." Random House and IPG are named as publishers that are already on board, and the press release also specifies "PCs, Macs, iPads, Nooks, Androids and 3M eReaders" as compatible devices. (3M eReaders?!)

LibraryJournal adds that the service will "follow the one book/one user model, and use the EPUB format as well as Adobe digital rights management (DRM), as OverDrive's ebooks do." Content will be browsable and downloadable online, via 3M apps, or in the library via the 3M Discovery Terminal.

It's still too soon to tell if the proverbial grass will be greener with 3M's Cloud Library. Anyone planning to attend ALA in New Orleans, please scope it out and report back!

* Here's a hastily-compiled roundup of other vendors offering downloadable/ebook content for the library market. To extend/belabor the grass-is-always-greener metaphor, don't think "expansive fields of grass" — think "modest container gardens."

  • Audible.com (audiobooks)
  • DawsonEra (ebooks; academic titles)
  • EBL Ebook Library (ebooks; academic titles)
  • eBooks on EBSCOhost [formerly NetLibrary] (ebooks)
  • ebrary (ebooks)
  • Follett (ebooks; K-12 curriculum titles)
  • MyiLibrary (ebooks; academic titles)
  • Recorded Books (audiobooks)
  • Safari (ebooks; technology titles)

Google Wallet and Library E-Commerce


Later this year, Smart phones are predicted to overtake feature phones as the predominate type of cellular phone in use.  This fact isn't lost on anyone, espcially Google, whose Android operating system continues to grab market share from the iPhone and Blackberry platforms.

Just today, Google announced its newest service:  Google Wallet (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZGoXvzW4WU)

With Google Wallet, customers can make automatic purchases with their phones, and take advantage of online marketing offers, similar to Groupon and Living Social.

It's going to be a while before Google Wallet is in full use everywhere, but imagine what this might do for libraries and e-commerce!  If it's as easy as it looks, patrons might be easily paying fines with their phones, not their dimes.

(What is Google Wallet?)

Public Computers and Patron Privacy

privacyphoto © 2009 Alan Cleaver | more info (via: Wylio)

Public access computers are essential tools. For library patrons with limited income, these stations may be their only access to online information. But are these shared computers safe? The answer depends on how the stations are configured as well as how they are used.

Configuration issues are many; too many to discuss in detail in a blog post. For SCLS Network computers, we take care to redress problem areas that are built in to the system and popular programs, then we layer on additional security software, Windows domain policy controls, and some clean-up scripting. These measures do help protect a user's privacy, but really they are more about protecting the computer.

The protection that any patron has for their personal information is most strongly related to their own behaviors and habits when using a shared computer. For example, some patrons have noticed with our new Koha catalog that the web browser's Back button can reveal some information about them after they have "logged off" from the catalog. Patrons are right to be concerned about this exposure. However, they are mistaken if they think Koha (or the library) is to blame. Many websites have comparable issues to varying degrees, and the truth is that logging off from a website is simply not enough if you are concerned about privacy protection.

For better protection, users should log off the website (whether it's the library catalog or their online bank) and then close all open web browser windows. For even better protection, they should log off from Windows itself (or log off from LibraryOnline, which then logs off of Windows for you). When Windows or LibraryOnline is logged off, additional clean-up scripting comes into play.

For the ultimate protection, the entire computer should be restarted. Restarting the system invokes our hard disk locking system. Disk locking software automatically returns the PC to the same state that it had when official SCLS maintenance was last completed, leaving no trace at all of what patrons were doing before the reboot.

A few fun links

And these last two come with a warning that there may be language inappropriate for sensitive ears/eyes:


Digital signage

Most libraries have lots of signs.  LOTS of signs. 

I ran across this post about creating digital signage on TechSoup and it made me wonder: Butlerlibimage[1]

  • Is your library using digital signage?
  • How did you implement it?  What challenges did you run into?
  • Would you recommend your method to other libraries?

When I stop in at libraries that have digital signage, I'm always interested to see what they're promoting and think, "What a great way to get the word out!  I wonder how they set it up..."  

Please leave a comment and share your experiences with your fellow libraries!

Android 2.2 has arrived for US Cellular Phones

  Google-Android-Logo Android is the phone operating system created by Google.  Most US Cellular phones currently have Android 2.1. The 2.2 upgrade adds features like Adobe Flash support, better interface and the ability to use your phone as a Wifi hotspot.

Unlike the major carriers, US Cellular make you do the work to upgrade you phone. You can find all the info you need to make this happen here: http://www.uscellular.com/androidupgrades.

The upgrade process is different depending on what phone you have. Make sure to read the instructions carefully because the upgrade will wipe all information on your phone. Before you do the upgrade make sure you have all your google account information so you can re-sync the phone with Gmail, calendar, and contacts after the upgrade. 

If you have any questions, contact US Cellular. This may feel like a daunting task but you will get some great benefits from Android 2.2.

All about browser tabs

Browsertabs Ben @ SKC notes, "My staff loves the fact that you can open new tabs in Koha to check item statuses, look into patron records, etc." and pointed out this great "How to Browse the Web Using Tabs" tutorial from Lifehacker for users who are new to working with tabs.  If you're unfamiliar with browser tabs or are interested in a little bit of basic background, take a look!

Once you're comfortable with tabs, you may be interested in these other TechBits posts:

Special Note for Koha users
Just be careful if you open multiple tabs with patron info in Koha...
From the Koha ILS FAQ: "Search to Hold" results in hold for wrong patron

Patron X requested a search-to-hold from his checkout screen. However, when the search was executed, the "Hold for [Patron name]" button displayed another patron's data. The other patron, Patron Y, was active in the second tab on the browser, and his data was pulled to populate the hold information.

If library staff wish to have more than one tab open in Circulation, it is highly recommended that the screen be cleared between transactions, particularly if the staff person is toggling back and forth between tabs with patron records active in both tabs.

Configuring the Default Search Engine in Firefox 3.6

Most people seem to have Google set as the default search engine in Firefox.  If you'd rather default to Yahoo! or Bing It like they do on Hawaii Five-O, it is very simple to change the default.

  1. Open Firefox
  2. Click the icon of the search engine that is currently displayed in the search bar  Search
  3. If the Search engine you'd like is in the list, click it.  You are done.
  4. If the search engine you are looking for isn't in the list, click Manage Search Engines
  5. Click Get more search engines
  6. In the search field, type the name of the search engine and hit Enter.  (Example:  Bing)
  7. Once you have found the search engine, you will click either Continue to Download or Add to Firefox
  8. If presented with the option, click Accept and Install
  9. Check the box next to Start using it right away and click Add

The search engine should become the default.  If it reverts back to your previous search engine, you probably have a toolbar installed that is overiding your new selection.

Have you heard of LibrariUS?

Image of what the widget looks like I'm a fan of almost anything involving a Google Map or a widget, and LibrariUS includes both. LibrariUS is a "journalism project in collaboration with libraries," sponsored by ALA, PLA, and American Public Media's Public Insight Network. Here's how it works:

  • Libraries put the LibrariUS widget on their websites (or link to the LibrariUS website).
  • Patrons use the widget to submit their stories to the LibrariUS website.
  • The stories get posted on a map at the LibrariUS site. (Looks like a lot of librarians have been using it, so far... hopefully the patrons are not far behind!)
  • Journalists working with the LibrariUS project may contact patrons to request their help with future news stories about libraries.

More information: LibrariUS FAQ, PLA press release.

Note: If you use Contribute to maintain your website, please let me know if you want the widget installed on your site.

Thanks to Lee at LaValle Public Library for the tip!

Changing the view

I like the "Details" view because it lists "file type" and "date modified" information Let's say your PC is running Windows XP...and you open a folder...and you don't like how the contents of the folder are displayed.  Maybe you're thinking, "I want the DETAILS, but ALL I SEE ARE LARGE THUMBNAILS!!"  (maybe you missed your morning coffee and it's been one of those days already...)

How can you change the way the contents of a folder are displayed?

  • Click on View from the menu bar
  • Select your preferred view  (Thumbnails, tiles, icons, list, or details)

FolderViews Whew! That was a step in the right direction!  Now...  how can you change it so the contents of ALL folders are displayed the same way and you never will have to be bothered by this again?

  • From the menu bar, select Tools->Folder Options
  • Click on the View tab
  • In the Folder Views section, click on Apply to All Folders