« May 2013 | Main | July 2013 »

Google Reader Being Retired - SOON!

In case you haven't already heard the bad news Google Reader, an awesome aggregator of RSS feeds, is being retired effective Monday, July 1, 2013.  If you want to read the official announcements you can read the Google Reader Blog posting or if you're interested to see what other applications Google is retiring you can read Google's blog posting entitled "A second spring of cleaning".  I personally used this application for about two years and really loved it.  After the announcement a lot of people, including myself, were left asking: "Will I lose everything I had in Reader?" and "What do I use instead?" I'll try and answer these questions for you in the rest of my post.

The first thing you'll want to do, hopefully you already have as there is not much time left, is to download your Reader data before Monday, July 1, 2013 when they close it down for good.  To assist you with this Google has created a program called Google Takeout, appropriate name, that will allow you to download a copy of all your Reader data.  This program will give you all of your subscription data in an XML file and the following information will be downloaded as JSON files:

  • List of people that you follow
  • List of people that follow you
  • Items you have starred
  • Items you have liked
  • Items you have shared
  • Items shared by people you follow
  • Notes you have created
  • Items with comments

Once you download your subscription data you should be able to easily transfer to another product, where you can continue to keep up with your online reading.

The second thing you'll want to do is to pick another reader.  If you're just not sure what to use you can read Lifehacker's article "Google Reader Is Shutting Down; Here Are the Best Alternatives" or Wired magazine's article "Where to Move Your Google Reader Subscriptions, and How".  I read these and I chose Feedly, which is an RSS news reader that allows you to browse the content of your favorite sites, rss feeds, tumblr blogs and YouTube channels.  It is also available for android phones and tablets, so now you can keep up with your reading no matter where you are.  Once I signed up for an account it was very easy to import the files I got from Google Takeout and within minutes I was reading all of my favorite feeds.  Feedly also has been working hard to add new features for all of the Google Reader switchers.  You can read all about these on Lifehacker's article "The Best New Features Feedly Has Added for Google Reader Switchers".

Leave me a comment as to what you use for keeping up with your RSS feeds.

Readers Advisory, QR Coded

My favorite part of being a librarian has always been talking about books - also known as Readers 3528816226_a626b5ea17_tAdvisory (RA). Since 1997, I've kept a list of the books that I've read. It started out in a print journal, then migrated to an Excel spreadsheet, and is now kept on LibraryThing. This list wasn't only for my benefit. As a librarian, I would use my list of books to help provide RA services to patrons.  

Librarians are great at making lists, especially book lists. We generate read-alike lists for every genre, subject, and age range. In addition to using my LibraryThing lists, I often used NoveList as a great resource for generating these lists for our patrons. What then? How to get the book lists into the hands of our patron at the point of need?

Qrcode.14189148The Swiss Army Librarian's library has an answer - a really great answer, I think. They've put their booklists online using their online catalog, generated a QR Code that links to that list, printed a label with the QR Code and put it in towards the end of the book. The QR Code directs readers to a list with similar titles. Talk about keeping the interest of our readers/patrons! 

(QR code will take you to my LibraryThing catalog)

Learning how Computers Work by Making One

If you've got any motivated, technology/maker-minded teens milling about your library, have I found the project for them.  2 professors from MIT have put together a course that involves building an actual working (virtual) computer system from scratch.  Best yet, all the tools, projects, and first half of the textbook is available for free online (found here).  The textbook itself can be found on Amazon or MIT Press for less than $30. Check it out; share it out.

Changes to the Help Desk

There have been some changes to how SCLS delivers support!

Please see these new posts on the SCLS Technology News blog for more information:

Drawing in Excel

I recently presented some information in Excel.  The information wasn't necessarily a hit, but the realization that you can draw in Excel was.  Drawing is great for highlighting certain elements or tying concepts together. Sunnyb

Here’s how to add a shape to a spreadsheet:

  1. Select the Insert tab.
  2. Select Shapes from the Illustrations menu
  3. Select the shape that you want from the drop down menu.  The mouse pointer will become a “+” sign.
  4. Left-mouse click and release.
  5. You can move and/or alter the dimensions of the shape by dragging and dropping or clicking the sizing handles associated with the shape.


Here's an example of how shapes can be used to tie information together.





Analysis ToolPak in Excel

Excel has some advanced statistical analysis tools available that are NOT installed by default.  These MP900390096 tools are called the Analysis ToolPak.  This ToolPak allows the user to perform amazing things like the analysis of variance (ANOVA), correlations, covariance and make histograms.  It's hard to believe I actually knew what these things were in 1996.  Anyway, if you have any interest, these are the instructions to enable the Toolpak in Excel 2010.

  1. Open Excel
  2. Click File
  3. Click Options (beneath Help)
  4. Click Add-ins
  5. In the dropdown menu next to Manage, make sure Excel Add-ins is selected
  6. Click Go
  7. Check the box for the Analysis ToolPak
  8. Click OK

Now you can access the Analysis Toolpak by clicking the Data Analysis button on the Data tab.  On Vista/Windows 7 public stations, patrons can enable the Toolpak on a per session basis.  Thanks to the Ruth Culver Community Library for the post idea.

Google form logic

How did I miss this?

Google expanded their logic branching capabilities in Google forms, making it easier to direct respondents to relevant pages based on their answers to questions!  For example, if a respondent answers "Yes" to Question A, you could ask some follow-up questions before returning them to the rest of the survey or perhaps just direct them to a different set of survey questions. More information can be found in the blog post, "Page Navigation in Google Forms," or in this short YouTube video.

Here's a very short silly example of logic branching in my form, "5 mischievous raccoons"  (which is loosely based on a recent event).

The Fourth Floor

Remember last month, I wrote about the DPLA (Digital Public Library of America) and encouraged all of you to check it out (I'm sure you do!)? I'm sure you did and saw what an awesome resource it is.

Well, last Friday, I was at the Lake Superior Libraries Symposium and had the opportunity to hear Nate Hill. Nate is the Assistant Director of the Chattanooga Public Library and the Co-Chair of the DPLA's Audience and Participation workstream. His work on the DPLA is pretty cool, but what he's doing at the Chattanooga Public Library is even cooler!

4thFloorThe fourth floor of his library was a huge, unused storage space - until recently. Now it's an event space, a 3D Printing lab, a place to digitize your photos, and much more. Check out their site and see all the cool things that have been going on there. Nate showed some amazing photos of the things their library has done with this space.

There were many factors that played into the success of this space - innovative partnerships, Chattanooga being a Gig City, supportive administration and city officials. In my opinion, one of the most important factors in the success of this venture is that they were  "not paralyzed by the need for perfection" (from Nate's keynote address). They experimented, tried things out, refined them, and tried again. And, they have an awesome new space and services for their patrons.