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New Database List & WiLS Webinars

As the end of the year approaches, two of the things that SCLS Tech staff works on (thanks Kerri and Brian) are updating the Online Resources page and making sure that your patrons can access your library's online resources. To make communication about databases and electronic resources a bit easier for us, we set up a new email list: SCLS Databases. This list is for SCLS library staff who are involved with databases (selection, training, marketing, etc). The focus is on library-subscribed resources, but topics may also include updates and information about statewide resources like OverDrive, Biblioboard, and BadgerLink. Ideally, we would like at least one staff member from every library subscribe to the list. Sign up here!

Taco-Tuesdays-Logo-300x300One of the first things that I'll share with the list is the new WiLS TACO Tuesday webinar series. TACO stands for Talking About Coop Opportunities. SCLS libraries work with WiLS to subscribe to, renew, or investigate new database and online resources. This is a great way to learn about new resources that your library and community may be interested in subscribing to in the future. The first one is February 5 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and will feature Gale Resource Center, Demco Makerspaces Website, Hein Online, and Sage. Find out more information here.

Have a great holiday season!


Grow with Google

Are you (or your library's patrons) thinking about making New Year's Resolutions to take training or learn new skills?

Grow with Google

Google has a "Grow with Google" program with free training, tools, and events to help people grow their skills, career or business. Google and the American Library Association are also launching the Libraries Ready to Code website, an online resource for libraries to teach coding and computational thinking to youth.

You can read about these and other ALA activities on this ALA District Dispatch blog: "Grow with Google is coming to a library near you."

If you're interested in more details about some of the many Google initiatives associated with Grow with Google, take a look at this Google blog post: "Opportunity for everyone."

Looks like there are some good free learning opportunities for 2019!

Tip: How to add background color to an image

Screen shot of database icons showing LINKcat, OverDrive, and Tutor.com with white backgrounds, but no white background on Ancestry.comA library director and I agreed the Ancestry.com logo would look better in a group of database links (pictured at right) if the background colors matched... but the Ancestry.com image didn't come with a white background. How can we add background color to an image that has none?

The Ancestry.com image in this example is in .png format, which can have transparent areas that allow the color of a web page to peek through (light gray, in the screen shot). To make the Ancestry.com image "match" the others, the transparent areas need to be filled in white.

For images that only need a white background, the trick is to open and re-save them in Microsoft Paint. Paint auto-fills transparent pixels with white when it saves an image.

Screen shot of saving ancestry-library.png to add a white background

For a different background color, Paint has a "Fill with color" (bucket) tool. In this image, a different color reveals some shadowed areas that look jagged, and it would take some effort to paint or fill in the jagged edges. More fully-featured graphic programs like Photoshop Elements, GIMP, or Paint.net provide layers and a "magic wand" tool to make that kind of cleanup easier.

Screen shot of jagged edges around the Ancestry.com image when a dark background is added.

Good thing we just wanted it to have a white background! Screen shot of the database icons all using matching white backgrounds

New and Innovative Library: Helsinki Central Library Oodi

I was recently perusing social media and came across an article that spoke about a new library that was opening in the capital of Finland, Helsinki. What really grabbed my attention was that the Central Library Oodi project cost about 98 million euros to complete. I thought to myself, “Okay, I have to see what they are doing in this library!” I then began to read the article and I was not disappointed.

Oodi is broken down into three distinct floors each with their own intention. The third floor serves as the classic library. The library boasts 100,000 books in their collection and have reading areas called “oases”. The second floor is all about creativity. They have many rooms here that include art studios, media rooms, music rooms, makerspace areas, sewing machines, etc. The first floor is more of an interactive or public space and has a restaurant, a café, and even a theatre.

Oodi also has another room that I thought was neat. They label the room simply the “Cube”. It is a room with smart walls, which sound like they are very large touch screen displays that line the entire space, with the intention of creating a sort of virtual reality experience. The article notes that artists are already planning to use the Cube for ultra-immersive art exhibits.

The final interesting tidbit I would like to share is Oodi’s approach to book logistics. The article mentions that when patrons return their books, the system will scan it, and then a self-guided vehicle transports the book back to the library and onto the correct bookcase and then a librarian will properly reshelf. It sounds like a very cool idea but the article does not go into this aspect much.

If anything about the Oodi library interests you, you should check out some pictures as the architecture is also impressive.

You can find the article that I read here

Browse and search historic newspapers via the Library of Congress

Wood County Reporter, December 23, 1920Recently I heard about a resource for historic newspapers, called Chronicling America. Chronicling America is part of a Library of Congress/National Endowment for the Humanities program to digitize historic newspapers, called the National Digital Newspaper Program. Newspapers dating from 1789-1963 have been digitized and made available at the Chronicling America web site.

The program has been around for quite some time and there are 14 million+ pages (from 2,600+ newspapers) that are available on the web site, from most of the states, including Wisconsin (via the Wisconsin Historical Society). In addition to searching and viewing digitized pages, you can search the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information on American newspapers from 1690 to the present. 

One interesting aspect of the Chronicling America web site is the slide show featuring newspaper pages from 100 years ago today. While most of the newspapers are English language, there are newspapers in Polish, Romanian, German, Lithuanian, as well as other languages.

If you are interested in historic newspapers, Chronicling America is an interesting resource. Also, don't forget we have access to the Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers, which not only provides access to digitized Wisconsin newspapers from the 19th and early 20th centuries, but is also a searchable database of Wisconsin newspapers from 2005 to 90 days ago.