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Office 365 Contact Lists and Groups Explained

Within Office 365 there are two items found within the People section that I'd like to explain as they are a little confusing. The two items I'm talking about are "Contact lists" and "Groups".  The part that I've found confusing is knowing which one to use when you want to send an email out to a lot of people.  Both of these differ from a patron email list in the fact that an email from it shows that it came from the name of the patron email list and only the list administrators can send out emails to the list.  Whereas email from a "Contact list" or "Group" shows that it came from your personal email address and anyone can send out emails to the list by using Reply All.  So when you're emailing patrons it is best to use an email list.

So what is a "Contact list?"  
A "Contact list" (formerly called a distribution list) allows you to send an email message to all the email addresses in the list at once.  That way you don't need to enter every email address every time you need to send an email to the same group of people. The really important thing about a contact list is that it allows you to send emails to people that are not within your organization's Office 365.

So what is a "Group?"
A "Group" has the same features as a "Contact list" but the key difference is that it only allows you to send emails to people that are within your organization's Office 365.  The reason for this is that it was designed by Microsoft to be used for team collaboration within an organization.

I hope this clears up any confusion, but if not you can feel free to give me a call at the Help Desk.

When you say "it seems slow", what does that mean?


About five years ago, SCLS recommended that libraries use a timing tool for Firefox called Life of Request Information (LORI), to help assess response time for applications and network connections, especially for Koha.

Unfortunately, LORI hasn't been updated recently, and it is not 100% compatible with modern Firefox. You can still make LORI work, but technically it is obsolete and in some cases it may have serious conflict with websites or other add-ons.

Luckily, a pretty decent replacement is available for it; the Page Speed Monitor (PSM) extension. The free PSM widget is easy to install, easy to use, and available for both Firefox and Chrome. In each browser, it shows up as a small icon in the toolbar, typically in the upper right corner of the window though this may vary if you're using a custom theme. The appearance of the toolbar icon is slightly different for FF and Chrome, as shown here.

App.telemetry.toolbar.iconsEach time you load a page, the PSM toolbar icon is overlaid with the total load time in seconds, timed from when you first requested the page to when the browser finished rendering it. If you click the icon you'll see a detailed breakdown of the timing elements.


From these elements you can estimate how much of the time is due to network or web server responsiveness (the DNS and TCP metrics), versus how much is from the weight or complexity of the page content (the Processing metric). Refer to the Page Speed Monitor download page for a technical description of each timing element.

Space Invaders?

Lake Park, October 8 2016

PopularEarlier this year, I blogged about Pokemon Go and its significance to libraries. While, the Pokemon Go craze has died down, there has been some controversy around the game. In Milwaukee County's Lake Park, the game is still very popular and draws large crowds. The crowds have caused an increase in litter and are a disturbance to the nearby neighborhood. In August, the county sent a letter to Niantic, the game's parent company, asking that they obtain a Geocaching permit. Recently I heard that some stops have been removed.

As a librarian, I find this a fascinating concept. Does anyone have the right to use virtual space however they want? What about when safety is a concern? When traveling recently, I noticed that there were no Pokemon to catch in airports. While, I couldn't find anything official, there is some indication that this may be a safety issue. Niantic has removed Pokestops from the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC

While I can see that safety has priority over a game, and there are places where it is just plain disrespectful to have virtual space interfere with real space, there can be positives as well. I discovered Lake Park before I knew about the controversy. While crowded, I was amazed at the camaraderie as virtual strangers helped each other out with the game. Entire families played together. I can see however, that there are some areas of the park (such as the waterfall) that can be harmed when overrun by players. 

How has Pokemon Go been received in libraries? Has anyone experienced problems? 

LighthouseReal world meets virtual world at Lake Park--the PokeStop at the WaterfallLighthouse (left) and sensitive waterfall area (right)

Custom Sorts in Excel

In a report that I was working on, I ran into a problem with the way Excel was sorting the pivot table.  While Excel usually sorts the 3-letter library codes without a problem, this time it pulled the listings for two libraries out of order at the very top of the list.  I couldn’t figure out why Excel suddenly forgot the alphabet for those two locations until I realized that their 3-letter codes were the abbreviations for a day of the week and a month of the year.  Excel was trying to be “helpful” by putting those two codes at the top.  

There wasn’t a convenient “don’t do that” button to force it to go back to a straight alphabetical sort and I was wondering if I’d have to manually edit the spreadsheet to put the rows for those libraries back where they belonged when Greg told me about custom lists.  They’re a way you can set up a new sorting order for Excel.  You can then choose your custom list and Excel will use that as the sort criteria.  

To create a custom sort list:

  1. Open Excel and type the values you want to sort by in the order you want them, from top to bottom, in a single column in a spreadsheet.
  2. Select the cells in the column that contain your new sort criteria. Don’t select the entire column, just the cells that have entries.
  3. In the Menu bar, click on File and then choose Options from the list. 
  4. This will open the Excel Options window.  Click on Advanced from the list on the left of the window.
  5. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the window and, just above the colored bar for “Lotus compatibility” there should be an Edit Custom Lists button.  Click on it.
  6. A Custom Lists window should now be showing.  The range you had selected earlier should be showing in the “Import list from cells” box towards the bottom of the window.  Click on Import.
  7. The list should now show in the Custom lists with the full list of the contents in the List entries box.  Click on OK.

  8. The next time you need to sort based off of this list, under Order where you’d normally choose ascending or descending, choose Custom List and then just click on the list you created.

Gail's Toolkit for technology training

What do you get when very motivated librarians teaching lots of technology courses wants to standardize their course templates to make life easier for everyone (and have a grant to do it)?
Gail's Toolkit, built by staff at the Gail Borden Public Library.

From their website:  "Gail's Toolkit is a project funded by an American Library Association Publishing Carnegie-Whitney Grant that runs from 4/1/15 through 3/30/17. This free, online portal—sponsored by the Reaching Across Illinois Library System—offers lesson plans, presentations, handouts, and surveys that librarians can use to teach classes ranging from Microsoft Word to LinkedIn. The portal also offers an online bibliography of training resources for those who want to learn more about instruction."

I heard about Gail's Toolkit at WiLSWorld this year (presentation, handout), and I thought it had a lot of potential to help libraries everywhere with technology training. The Gail Borden Public Library staff have already developed a collection of courses that are free for anyone to use. For those interested in developing their own courses, the course templates are designed to make the courses so standardized that in the case of staff illness or other unexpected changes, any staff person could step in and cover the class.


Tracks & Classes: http://www.gailstoolkit.com/tracks-classes (templates to design your own classes are also included on this page)

As of September, there are already-developed classes for computer and internet basics, Microsoft programs, Google tools, resumes, and LinkedIn. Not a bad start!

Notable Apps for Taking Notes

    Were you ever taking notes using a standard word processor and thought that the rigid, structured formatting didn’t fit your style? Perhaps using software that is more free-form and open to personal creativity would better suit you. There are many free note taking applications that allow the user to freely incorporate graphics, sound, video, and, of course, text through a variety of ways. Check out the following article for a brief description and comparison of various note-taking applications.

Article comparing various note-taking apps

    Many of the top note-taking applications are also available on a variety of platforms so whether you are on an Android, Apple, or Windows device you will have plenty to choose from. Many of the apps are free to use with extra functions available for purchase.


Modify What Facebook Memories You're Reminded of

Facebook Memories recently posted a silly picture from a fun dance retreat that I attended 5 years ago. It was a happy reminder of an enjoyable experience. Then I wondered, “What if Facebook Memories spontaneously reminded me of some past event for which I wouldn’t like to be reminded? Is there a way to tweak the Facebook Memories’ defaults?" There is. Sh


  • Once you’re logged into Facebook, select On this Day from the Apps list in the left hand pane.
  • Select Preferences near the top of the Never Miss a Memory screen.
  • The On This Day Preferences screen gives you the option to filter both people and date ranges for which you’d rather not be reminded.
    Below is a screen shot of the date range option.















Hopefully, you’ll never need to use this feature but it’s good to know that there are options.

New & Improved Wisconsin's Digital Library Coming Soon

WIDigitalLibraryIn case you missed last week's announcement, Wisconsin's Digital Library is getting an upgrade. According to OverDrive, the new site will be faster and easier to use. You can see a preview of the site here.

The process will take place over a month or so and you can preview the new site and participate in training webinars. Barring any complications, the new site is scheduled to go live on November 7.

There will be several opportunities to participate in training webinars. Register for the date and time that works best for you - or watch for the recordings on that will posted here when available.

General OverDrive Training:

OverDrive Training on Wisconsin's Digital Library Site:

Because of the upgrade to Wisconsin's Digital Library, I've rescheduled the OverDrive Support Course to begin on November 14. There are a few spots left and you can register here.