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Memory Lane

Osborne 1 Portable ComputerLast week the space shuttle program ended after 30 years.  In the comments section of one of the articles I was reading, they had been talking about the computer problems the shuttle had on the mission and moved on to how far “behind the times” the computers on the shuttle were to more modern computers. 

While there are many reasons for the shuttle still uses that older tech, it got me to thinking about what PCs were like back then.  I remember the first shuttle launch but I can’t say that I remember too much about the computers from that era.  So what were computers like 30 years ago?

Thirty years ago a computer program was released that led to a rather young at the time company becoming one of the most know software companies today.  The program was MS-DOS for the then six year old Microsoft. 

Thirty years ago was also the introduction of the first “portable” computer.  The Osborne 1 had 64k of memory and ran at 4 MHz.  For a bit of perspective, the current PC configuration we order has over 65,000 times the memory and 4 processors each running 665 times faster.  The Osborne 1 also had a 5 inch screen and two 5.25 inch floppy disk drive a keyboard that folded up into a rugged case.  And it weighed in at 24 pounds.  Remind me not to complain about lugging my laptop again. 

More on the home side of things, by that time the Apple II had been out for a few years already and so had the Atari VCS, which would be re-branded the Atari 2600 the next year.  The Commodore VIC-20 was released in 1981 and became the first computer to sell more than one million machines.  Space Invaders and Pac-Man were already out, but ‘81 saw the introduction of the first Donkey Kong game.  Now I feel old and have that "Pac-Man Fever" song running through my head.

2011 SCLS Tech Day

Join us Friday September 9th for a day of fun learning at the 2011 SCLS Tech Day at the Wintergreen Resort in Wisconsin Dells. This is a continuing Education Workshop so you will earn some credit for being there. 

From 9:30 to 12:30 will be The MacGyver Library presentation by Jon Mark Bolthouse and Chris Grugel.

Lunch from 12:30 to 1:30 they have a pool so bring a towel!

From 1:30 to 4 will be hands on learning and demonstrations with gadgets by the SCLS Tech Team, Overdrive, Windows 7 patron image and enterprise wireless.

    •    Gadgets: We will have various Nooks, Kindles, Sony e-book readers, ELMO document camera, various iPads and iPods, and mp3 players on hand for you to play with.
    •    Overdrive Download Station: Learn how to access overdrive, download titles and load them onto your iPod.
    •    Widows 7 patron image: Come and play with the new Windows 7 patron image.
    •    Here’s what’s new.
        o    Photo and video editing.
        o    Scanning documents and photos
        o    Disk burning
    •    Enterprise Wireless: Find out how the new enterprise wireless will be able to streamline your wireless needs with monthly reports, reliable service and remote support.

You can find the registration form for this event on SCLS calendar of events and continuing education.

NetLibrary is now eBooks on EBSCOhost

eBooks on EBSCOhost The NetLibrary ebook website has been retired, and the ebooks from this collection are now available through the eBooks on EBSCOhost  platform. The collection can be accessed from an SCLS authentication link (such as the one on the Online Resources page) or via LINKcat (search by Library Catalog for NetLibrary).

Viewing Online: All eBooks on EBSCOhost can be viewed online using the title's "eBook Full Text" link. The ebook will be automatically checked out while you are viewing it and will be unavailable to others. It will automatically check itself back in after 15 minutes of inactivity.

Downloading: Most, but not all, eBooks on EBSCOhost can be downloaded to Windows and Mac computers. Downloading requires a free My EBSCOhost account (click the "Sign In" link to create one), and you must have Adobe Digital Editions installed to complete the download. Tips:

  • If you click a title's "Download (Offline)" link, it will be automatically checked out to you (as if you had clicked the "eBook Full Text" link) and will be unavailable to others. Clicking the "Cancel" button and not downloading the title will return it to the collection after 15 minutes.
  • You can select your own checkout period (typically 1-7 or 1-14 days—the maximum checkout period varies by title). The title will be unavailable to others during the checkout period.
  • Downloaded ebooks cannot be returned early at this time.

E-readers and Devices: Downloadable titles can be used with devices that are compatible with Adobe Digital Editions. You must download the title via Adobe Digital Editions and then transfer it to your device using Adobe Digital Editions (i.e. you cannot copy the ebook file to your device using your computer's file system).


Library in a Box

Lending_Library_2011_Wrapped[2] Lending machines for books got some press a couple of years ago when Brodart had one at ALA.  Books in vending machines isn't a new idea and apparently they've been popular overseas for some time time, though more in a "vending" than "lending" way.

What's happened since then?
Library lending machines came up for a brief discussion at an SCLS Technology Committee meeting. Result of discussion: "interested libraries should find out more about them."

The Toronto library has investigated them.

Some libraries across the country have implemented them.

Information about Brodart's Lending Library product

What do you think about library lending machines? 

Draft of E-Book Summit report available

From Channel Weekly, Vol. 13, No. 37 -- July 14, 2011:

On May 4 the Division for Libraries, Technology, and Community Learning held a statewide e-book “Summit.”  The overall purpose of the Summit was to seek some consensus from the library community and recommendations for moving forward on this important issue.  (More information is on the Summit’s website at http://dpi.wi.gov/pld/ebooksummit.html.)  A draft report was recently shared with Summit attendees and is now available for comments from the wider library community.  The draft is at http://dpi.wi.gov/pld/pdf/ebooksummit_draft_rpt.pdf.  We hope you will review the draft report and we welcome any comments, which should be submitted by July 29 to Bob Bocher (608-266-2127, robert.bocher@dpi.wi.gov.)

Upcoming Software Updates

I am at the tail end of updating all staff and patron PCs with a new version of Java.  I have two more big updates coming for all PCs in the near future.  They are updates to Firefox and to Flash.  For Firefox we aren't doing that big of an update as we're going from version 3.6.13 to version 3.6.18.  We can't go much higher, yet, as newer versions of Firefox, like 4 and 5, don't work well with Koha.  So if you're tempted to update your Firefox, please don't, as it will just cause problems for you and me.  Besides, software should only be installed by SCLS staff on any LINK staff or patron PC anyway.  Plus, before we send out any updates we test them to make sure that they work well with business critical software.  When you install your own software you're opening yourself up to a wide variety of problems.

I've discovered a few things while doing the Java update.  One of them is that not all patron PCs are left on at night.  This prevents these patrons PCs from getting anti-virus updates and any software updates that we may be sending out that night.  So, please, please, leave all patron PCs powered on at night.  To help save on electricity you can shut off the monitors as these are the biggest power consumers anyway.  Another thing I discovered is that libraries vary as to whether or not they leave their staff PCs powered on at night.  This is just fine, because the staff PCs don't get anti-virus updates at night anyway.  They are actively updated many times during the day.  If your staff PC is off the night that I send out an update no big deal.  You'll either get the update when you turn on the PC or I'll call you to have you power it on.


XKCD cartoon: GooglePlus You may have heard a little bit of buzz about Google+ in recent weeks.

What is Google+?

Google+ is Google's latest attempt to establish itself on the social networking scene (where Facebook and Twitter currently dominate). It has many features and is a little hard to sum up in a sentence or two.

Check out Google's blog post announcing the project or Social Media Examiner's post, "How to Get Started With Google+, Your Complete Guide" for video and feature descriptions.

Initially Google+ was open by invitation-only.  It appears it may now be open to anyone with a Google account.

Do you need to rush out and establish a presence for your library in Google+?

"Not right now", says Google.

"Google is asking businesses, nonprofit groups, universities and other organizations and groups to stay out of Google+ -- for now," saying that their engineers are building a "similarly optimized buiness experience for Google+."  Take a look at this article from the LA Times for more info.

Thoughts on Google+

Have you tried Google+?  What do you think?

Tell me about your library's digital projects

Photo of a disk held up to the light of day SCLS librarians: I'm taking an informal census. Tell me about your digital projects in the comments! I know they exist. I'm hoping to hear about projects that are completed (the content is already in a digital format) but that may not be getting the publicity they deserve. Have you got...

  • Scanned content (photos, postcards, letters, even whole books)?
  • Audio files?
  • Born-digital collections that you want to preserve (for example, gorgeous architectural photos of the library)?
  • Other content that I've failed to imagine?

Perhaps your project is living happily on the library's website... maybe it is hidden away on disks or hard drives at the library with no home on the web. Either way, I'd love to hear about it. Let me know in the comments... and thank you!

Database use by your library's patrons

Ever wonder how much your patrons are using online resources like Ancestry Library, EBSCO, and the rest?  SCLS gathers some usage statistics by way of our authentication scripts. The database statistics aren't perfect (they're really more of a "ballpark" count), but they can give your library an idea of which resources your patrons use and which may need more training and promotion.  OverDrive statistics come straight from OverDrive and should be accurate.

To take a look at the statistics:

  • Database statistics by library are now posted here for January - June 2011 (lower left of page).
  • OverDrive statistics by library are always found here (links just below the table of system-wide OverDrive use).

If you have a need for custom reports (database or OverDrive) or reports in a different file format, please contact Kerri.

3rd Party applications and LINKcat


Recently, one of the SCLS member libraries was shown an application for the iPad called Library Books (http://librarybooksapp.com/) by one of their patrons.  Library Books can link to many libraries, including LINKcat, and allows patrons the ability to monitor there current checkouts, holds, and overdue materials.  Library Books works great, but it can be confusing to patrons who think that their library (or SCLS) has developed the app and can fully support its use. We've had several successful tests of the application using the SCLS-owned iPad but can't modify the code or troubleshoot the internal workings of any third-party applications, unfortunately.

If a patron of yours comes in with questions concerning the Library Books app, you can point them to the Support Documentation on-line and explain that the company that developed Library Books can best help them with any issues.

There are several other applications and services out there that link patrons to their local libraries through third party applications and it's most likely that there will be many more in the months and years to come.  Moving forward, SCLS will do its best to inform you of the various applications, do internal testing if necessary, and point you and your patrons to the appropriate on-line support.