« June 2018 | Main | August 2018 »

Help low-income households get affordable internet access

Internet2The Internet Discount Finder, created by the Wisconsin Public Services Commission, can help low-income households find discounted internet service.  Discounts are as deep as 80%. Schools and public libraries can play a critical role in promoting the Internet Discount Finder, to help all of their students and library users get internet access at home

I totally missed the original post about the scheduled call-in sessions with information about this tool, but luckily I saw it publicized again on the WVLS blog (Thanks, Jamie!). The session on the 26th is already done, but there is a second session coming up on August 2nd from 1-2pm.

You can find all the details including call-in info and a link to the DPI presentation in the WVLS blog post: https://www.wvls.org/help-low-income-households-get-affordable-internet-access/

Office 2016 Reference Cards

We will be upgrading the version of Microsoft Office on all SCLS-supported staff computers to 2016 Professional Plus during the week of August 6th.  The interface for Office 2016 is fairly similar toDesk-glasses-laptop-3061 the 2013 version, but the upcoming upgrade is a good reason to re-post information from a previous TechBits articleCustomGuide's Quick Reference Cards are nice tools to learn the best way to accomplish common tasks in Microsoft Office.  The 2016 reference cards are linked from the SCLS Technology page.

Ergo kit available
SCLS is now offering an Ergonomic Kit. This kit contains several types of mice, keyboards, gel pads and other devices, like a back rest and a foot rest. The idea is that you can “try before you buy” a piece of ergonomic equipment. If you’ve been wanting to try a new mouse, but can’t decide if you want a vertical mouse or a joystick style mouse, you can try them out and see which one works best for you. If the vertical mouse is your preference, then is there an advantage to the $100.00 mouse over the $40.00 mouse? You will also be able to decide that with this kit because it has both of them!

All the electronics in the kit are plug and play, meaning you don’t have to install any drivers or software to make them work.

Get more out of your searching - by getting less results (but more relevant ones)

I search for some really weird, hard to find stuff. Part of my job is doing authority control, which basically means I have to look up really obscure items (mostly foreign movies and anime) and make sure everyone in our catalog record is actually associated with that item and their name is spelled correctly. My searches have to be very narrow so I can find what I am actually looking for.

Here are a couple of the tricks I’ve picked up to get better results.

  • Use quotes around your keyword to search for that exactly
    • If you use this around more than one word, it will look for results that have that phrase in that order.
    • This also can be used if you want your results to REQUIRE a certain word if you put around just one word. If I don’t do this, sometimes I get a lot of results that just have part of my search query in it.
  • Use the minus sign (-) to remove results with the words after it
    • This is helpful in narrowing down results if you are not interested in certain results.
    • It can be used to specify what you are looking for when a search query could have more than one kind of result
      • A good example of this is the image search results for “seals” versus “seals -animal*"
        • The * is a wildcard symbol that broadens a search.
        • Animal* searches for animal, animals, etc.
    • I use the minus sign to get rid of results from other libraries. I’m not interested in looking at other library catalogs when I’m trying to figure out if a name is wrong or not, since it’s likely that library is using the same record we are so they are not helpful.

These two tricks work on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and DuckDuckGo.

There are many more tips, but these are the two I use the most. Here are a couple of my searches I’ve done in the past for authority control work:



Browsers and Insecure Websites

You've no doubt read all of our recent blog postings lately about HTTPS, like SCLS and https and More on HTTPS, where we've talked about the big push on the Internet to make ALL websites secure. So we worked to secure our website along with all of your websites as well (thanks, Rose!).

This big push to make all websites secure was coming from the browser companies who were starting to display messages saying if a site was secure or not.

Like Firefox that pops up a message box telling you if a site is insecure when you log in.


Chrome is also going to be displaying a message starting with version 68 which comes out July 24, 2018.

I think these browser messages may over time become more of a warning than a recommendation because Internet security is becoming so important to users, especially with all the data breaches that have been happening. If you have any vendor websites that you log into that are not secure ask them how soon they will be secure. Be safe when surfing!

Library Podcasts

IMG_0772I've talked about my love of podcasts - especially book related ones - in TechBits in the past. In my post from 2015, the book related podcasts all come from the media - NPR and Book Riot - not from libraries. Since then, I've learned about some library podcasts and wanted to share them with you. I know there are more out there and if your library has a podcast, please add it in the comments.

SCLS Libraries:

Wisconsin Libraries:

Outside Wisconsin:

Interested in creating a podcast for your library? Richard Byrne from Free Technology for Teachers shared a tutorial on using Anchor.fm to create a podcast. An article in Library Journal called "The Chatty Librarians: Podcasting" shares two libraries and their experiences launching podcasts. Technology has come a long way in making podcasts easy to create. If you create one, be sure to let us know so we can highlight it.

Happy listening!

Time Flies

I'm guessing that, like me, you never have enough time to accomplish everything you would like to do in a day. Periodically, I take a "time management" workshop. The most recent one that I attended suggested using Technology to gain back some time. The trainer proposed the following:

Time flies
Time Flies
  • Learn one new time-saving technology short cut or function each week
  • Read a book or attend a webinar each month on a time-saving topic
  • Attend an in-person conference or workshop annually

But, how does one get started? The trainer recommended finding a free web-site with tips and tricks. He suggested timemanagement.com. I took a look and there are enough short articles on it that you could probably do one a week for a year. Here is your first one: Keyboard Shortcuts. Are you already using these? If not, this is a good place to start saving time.


COUNTER-compliant stats for electronic resources

How many windows do you count?

How do you count things?

If I asked how many windows your residence has, how would you answer? Would you count the little windows to the basement? Windows in the garage? Separate panels within a multi-part window? What about a window within a door?

If we compared the window counts of our residences, we would probably want to be sure we were counting the same thing. Otherwise, we'd be comparing apples to oranges. The same is true for online resources (electronic databases and the like). If we're counting, we want to use established standards. COUNTER helps us do just that.

From the COUNTER website...

What is COUNTER?

COUNTER is a non-profit organization supported by a global community of library, publisher and vendor members which provides the Code of Practice that enables publishers and vendors to report usage of their electronic resources in a consistent way. This enables libraries to compare data received from different publishers and vendors.

Why use COUNTER?

Libraries spend considerable amounts of money licensing different types of online content to support their users' needs. Libraries need to assess user activity, in relation to this content, to ensure that this money is spent as productively as possible.

The COUNTER Code of Practice helps librarians demonstrate the value of electronic resources by facilitating the recording and reporting of online resource usage stats in a consistent and credible way.

The implementation of the Code of Practice helps publishers and vendors support their library customers and provide statistics comparable with those of their competitors.

The takeaway

  1. Standards help ensure accountability
  2. COUNTER's Code of Practice is a standard used to measure the usage of electronic resources
  3. Measuring usage in a consistent way allows for comparisons across libraries and vendors


Historically, SCLS has provided usage statistics pulled from our authentication scripts. These stats are not COUNTER-compliant and are really only a rough estimate of how many users requested a resource, not if/how they used the resource once they arrived there (think "gate count" as opposed to "checkouts"). In upcoming months, we will be modifying our authentication system to try to get better, COUNTER-compliant statistics for member libraries and for the DPI annual reports. Watch for more information about this on the SCLS Technology News blog.

Photo by Travel-Cents on Unsplash

It's a bird, it's a plane...

When you hear comments about robots taking someone’s job, most people think about a robot that sits on one place doing boring, repetitive tasks. Sure, there are some places that are working on more mobile robots, but they still tend to evoke images of something hauling a load of equipment or being a mobile camera. Enter the robotic stunt person.

No, it’s not a movie or book. Disney Imagineering is working on a robot stunt double, Stuntronics, that can be flung into the air, flip, pose, correct its rotation and center mass as needed and then nail the landing. Only these robots are going to be stunt doubles for other robots. The current idea is to use them to provide a stunt double for other animatronic figures, probably during one of the animatronic shows at the theme parks, to bring a sense of action to what is normally a figure that cannot move from where they sit or stand.


Looking at that last shot, I can't decide if it needs a cape or some hot rod red.

Fake News?

You're scrolling through your Facebook or Twitter feed and you see a link to a news story that sounds far-fetched and is getting everyone riled up. Is it true? How can you tell?

The International Federation of Library Associatiations and Institutions (IFLA) made an infographic with eight simple steps (based on FactCheck.org's 2016 article, How to Spot Fake News) to help determine the verifiability of a given news article. This infographic is free for everyone to download, print, translate, and share. You can find links to the infographic in English and many other languages here: https://www.ifla.org/publications/node/11174

(Did you notice that librarians get a shout-out under the "Ask the Experts" section?  Woohoo!)

Some of the fact-checking websites that I use regularly include Snopes.com and Politifact.com

Do you get questions from patrons about evaluating the accuracy and truthfulness of news and other articles? What fact-checking sites do you recommend? What resources do you share in library training classes?