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SYNC 2020 Starts April 30

image from www.audiobooksync.comIf you listen to audiobooks, this post is for you! The 11th SYNC Audiobooks for Teens programs starts this Thursday, April 30. There are a few changes this year and I'm here to help you get ready for a summer of listening.

Here are the steps you'll need to follow to get started.

  • First, you'll want to register with your email address for SYNC 2020
  • Next, download the Sora, the student reading app from OverDrive, from your app store
  • Open Sora and tap "I have a set up code" and enter audiobooksync
  • Then enter the email address you used to register for SYNC
  • On Thursday, April 30 (and every Thursday through July 23), tap Explore to see the week's books and borrow them. Once you borrow the audiobook, it stays on your Shelf in Sora for 100 years!

SoraCollageAlso new this year is that all downloading and listening of the audiobooks needs to happen in the Sora app. There is no longer the option to download separate MP3 files.

To promote the SYNC program to your library patrons, there is a Toolkit with posters, banners, resources, and more for you to use. The logo on this blog came from the toolkit. 

I set up the Sora app on my phone this week and took a few screenshots to share with you. The process was pretty easy and I'm looking forward to the first audiobooks: Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson and The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater.

Happy listening!




Videoconferencing – how to improve your experience

Video-conferenceWhether you are using Zoom, BlueJeans, GoToMeeting, or any number of other products, videoconferencing has become a part of our everyday lives.  I don’t know about you, but I found it a little disorienting switching from in-person meetings to videoconferencing exclusively in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  After over a month of conducting professional meetings online, I have found some tips that may help you improve your videoconferencing experience. 

  1. Test your hardware and internet connection before the meeting is about to start. Troubleshooting is difficult during a meeting and it’s better to spend some time getting used to the software before you have your first meeting.
  2. Mute yourself if you are not speaking. Background noise is often magnified by microphones and it can be disruptive to other participants.  Know how to use the mute button before the meeting starts and only unmute yourself when you plan to speak. 
  3. Use the chat feature for questions. This is especially helpful for larger groups.  This way participants can still ask questions as they come to them, but you can wait until there is an opening to answer them.
  4. Assign roles for your meeting. Assign a meeting leader that will display the agenda and keep the group on task during the meeting.  Assign another person to monitor the chat in case participants have questions or trouble during the meeting.  It is also very useful to assign a notetaker so an accurate record is kept of the discussion.     
  5. Know when videoconferencing is appropriate. Is this a topic that could be handled more easily by using email, Slack, or another venue?  Do you need to use video?  The video portion often uses up a lot of bandwidth and it can lead to individuals having problems accessing the meeting. 
  6. Present yourself well. If a video meeting is necessary, remember to dress appropriately and smile.  You want to appear just as professional as if you were in person.  You should also pick a well-lit area so that other participants can see you. 

What other tips do you find useful when videoconferencing?  Please share in the comments!

Scan documents with iPhone

Our son is finishing up his first year of college from our kitchen instead of his dorm room due to COVID 19 stay-at-home orders. This week, I saw him taking pictures of his homework laid out on the kitchen counter. He said he uses Notes on his iPhone to scan his homework/tests to a pdf for submitting online, and that it was a useful tool I should try. Here is how I got started:


  1. Open Notes and create a new note.
  2. Select the Camera icon and select “Scan Documents”. If you do not see the Camera icon, check Settings to make sure Notes is connected to iCloud or the local notes folder on the device.
  3. Take a picture of the document and adjust the scan to fit the page. Select “Keep Scan”. Continue scanning pages to the document and then select "Save". All the pages will be combined into one pdf.
  4. Select the Upload icon to send or share.
  5. Optional: Select the Upload icon and then the Markup icon to add text or a signature. 

Virtual Getaways

With the current global pandemic that is going on a lot of people's vacations have been cancelled. I know one couple that was going on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Iceland. Cancelled! A family I know was going to Walt Disney World. Also cancelled! So what are people to do to get away from it all? The answer is to stay at home and go on a virtual getaway. Here are a few that I found:


Theme Parks



National Parks

World Landmarks


  • If opera is your getaway, then you have to check out the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.  They are offering nightly encore performances of some of their most iconic shows. The free streams go live at 7:30 p.m. each evening and are available for 20 hours.

Begin Where you Left Off in Acrobat Reader

I recently had to read a lengthy document in PDF form.  It was over 30 pages long and I read it over the course of three days.  What I found really frustrating was that Acrobat Reader would always open the document at Page 1 the next day when I’d resume reading.  Microsoft Word has a feature built-in that let’s you resume where you left off the last time.  When you reopen a Word document, a Welcome back message appears at the right-hand side of the window.  Just click the Welcome back message and Word automatically takes you back to where you left off. 

Welcome Back message in Word

If Word has this feature, you would think Acrobat Reader has something similar.  A quick Google search pointed me to instructions for enabling a similar feature in Acrobat Reader.  To configure Acrobat Reader to open a document where you left off, please follow these instructions:

  1. Open Acrobat Reader DC
  2. Click Edit
  3. Click Preferences...
  4. Click Documents
  5. Check the box for Restore last view settings when reopening documents

Now your Acrobat Reader will open PDF files where you left off and at your previous Zoom Level.

Documenting COVID-19

image from liblamp.uwm.edu
Baby Yoda with Toilet Paper, drawn by Carly and submitted by Scott Yanoff. Part of the COVID-19 MKE project

Recollection Wisconsin is an organization which brings together digital cultural heritage resources from Wisconsin libraries, archives, museums and historical societies and shares them with the world in partnership with the Digital Public Library of America. I saw today that they shared a great post on Twitter about community archiving efforts to document COVID-19 and its impact on our communities.  Here's an excerpt:

"Over the past few weeks, it’s been fascinating to watch the growth of community archiving efforts to document COVID-19 and its impact on our communities. There are a multiple local, regional and national efforts underway with new projects popping up every few days. Here are a few Wisconsin-based “rapid response collecting” activities:

The full "Rapid Response Collecting and COVID-19" post includes links to projects in other states, as well as to a site with templates and documents to assist you in collecting materials amid unprecedented and unanticipated situations.

Great resources for checking out or participating in existing projects or even for starting your own project! 

Searching for Census Tracts? - replacements for American Fact Finder.

For many years LINKcat libraries in SCLS have used the U.S. Census Bureau's "American Fact Finder" address search tool to determine the Census tract and/or the legal  municipality of patron addresses.  The U.S. Census Bureau has discontinued access to the American Fact Finder tool as of 3/31/2020.  Here are some options for library staff to use to help determine the Census tract or municipality for patron records.

The U.S. Census Bureau is now providing an updated digital Census Tract map that can be found here: https://tigerweb.geo.census.gov/tigerweb/ You have to enable these options in the left sidebar - Census Tracts, Blocks layer and the Places and County Subdivisions layer - to indicate the type of information you are searching for. Enter the address in the Address Search bar along the top to find where a particular residence falls within these areas.

Another resource is My Vote WI - this works well to determine smaller incorporated places and townships. The exception to this is places like Village of Brooklyn which is in multiple counties, because the My Vote site doesn't distinguish which county an address is in.

AccessDane provides county subdivision-level info via address searches for Dane County addresses only.

Wisconsin Hometown Locator:  https://wisconsin.hometownlocator.com/maps/  Address Based Research & Map Tools.
Wisconsin Statewide Parcel Map:  https://maps.sco.wisc.edu/Parcels/   After you enter the address you need to right click the map to get the info.

Big thanks to Alicia, Joe and Rachel for compiling these resources!