Using a stylus to reduce touch screen “touches”

In the previous post, we mentioned that SCLS was looking into testing using a stylus on touch screens. Providing styluses at self checkout machines or other touch screens would give patrons a way to use touch screens without needing to be concerned about cleaning the screen between each patron. You could then just clean the styluses. It would also let the stylus take the wear and tear of cleaning/disinfecting instead of your touch screens.

We ordered a pack and tested them on the selfcheck in our office. The main criteria in choosing the ones we did for the test was that they were in stock and as inexpensive as possible. We then tested the stylus on the selfcheck in the office.

The stylus worked well and did not require a lot of pressure to use. The ones we chose were not fine point models so they were not the best if you were trying to use them on small print but they should work well on anything designed for people to use their fingers.

One thing I don't know what will happen to the styluses over the long term if you use disinfectant or isopropyl alcohol to clean them. I have a feeling that won't be very nice on the finish.  It's also possible repeated exposure to isopropyl alcohol at least will dry out the rubber tip which may cause it to either not work as well or crack and break. I would not recommend soaking the pens either as that might let the tip or the pen itself fill with liquid.

Duck Town, Quaranzine, and Stories from a Distance

Last month, Kerri highlighted projects around the state that are documenting COVID-19. Since then, I've come across three project from SCLS libraries to add into the mix.

Ducktown art_editedThe Lodi Woman's Club Public Library received a WiLS Ideas to Action grant in 2019 and created Duck Town. Duck Town is a podcast "that would publish the student work and any oral history recordings we made." During the emergency closure, the project has expanded to include library staff being interviewed about their experiences. As the recordings can be done over the phone, this is a great project to do while working from home.

Madison Public Library recently launched a new collection, Stories from a Distance, as part of their Madison Living History Project. There are 27 stories (so far) about peoples' experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. And, while learning about this collection, I found out about a podcast called Inside Stories, which is a podcast of Madison stories produced by Jen Rubin and Takeyla Benton. Inside Stories is also featuring stories about COVID-19 and these stories are being archived in Stories from a Distance.

The Monona Public Library is accepting submissions to Quaranzine, a small online publication of local art and writing by the Monona community. When completed, it'll be distributed through the library's website.

Is your library collecting stories during the pandemic? Let us know 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:

Apple_Notes_(iOS)

  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. 

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!

 

Getting started with the NVDA screen reader

Automated tools for checking website accessibility (such as WAVE, AChecker or the aXe Chrome extension) are often the starting point to find and correct accessibility violations. Another important option to include in your accessibility testing toolset is a screen reader and keyboard, to help understand how a visitor with visual or motor disabilities might experience the library's website. A free choice for this is NonVisual Desktop Access (usually abbreviated as NVDA).

To get started using NVDA, download it to your Windows computer. It can be installed and used without admin rights (though enlisting an admin for the install let me use it without having to accept the terms of use every time) or even saved to a portable USB flash drive to run on different computers. When you start it up, it begins reading what you have on screen out loud. Switch to a web browser, and it will read the web pages you visit. This video includes how-to's and some demonstration:

NVDA has a Help menu and highly detailed user guide, but WebAIM's "Using NVDA to Evaluate Web Accessibility" is the quick-start guide I wish I'd started with. I use these tips a lot for testing web pages with NVDA:

  • F5 refreshes the page and starts reading from the beginning (in case you get lost).
  • The Insert key is the default special "NVDA key" for using the keyboard to navigate with NVDA.
  • NVDA key + S lets you toggle between having speech mode on, off, or "beeps mode" (so you can have NVDA on for a website you're testing, but turn it off to type an email where it would be distracting for NVDA to spell out what you're typing letter by letter).

With a little practice, you'll be able to test how your libary's website performs with a screen reader and keyboard. Despite the learning curve, it's a solid step you can take to identify problems, obstacles, and annoyances that can be fixed to help all patrons benefit from the services your library provides.

Common Sense Media

Call of the wild movie quick review from Common Sense MediaIf you are looking for reviews of movies (both in theaters and available via streaming/DVD), as well as video games and apps, I am putting in a plug for Common Sense Media. Common Sense Media provides information about media content for families and educators. I have used it to help choose apps for my kids, in addition to figuring out whether now is a good time to watch say, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, or whether we should wait a year or two.

The site also has book reviews and does research into children's use of media and technology. If you have some time and are interested in these topics, I encourage you to check it out.

The Big Sweep

Gothic CraigMy favorite job in high school was working at a fast-food restaurant one town over from where I lived. During my first week on the job, the manager handed me a broom and told me to sweep the lobby, which he considered to be everything in front of the counter. I really didn’t want to sweep up the whole restaurant so I handed the broom back to my manager and explained that I hadn’t been trained to sweep yet, which is not at all true, but it worked, I got out of sweeping the floor…once.


I noticed Office 365 now has a sweep feature and I wondered what it might be used for, here's what I found out. The sweep feature is part of a suite of tools Outlook implemented to help organize your inbox, which I could really use some help with so I tried it and thought this is the kind of sweeping I could get behind.


Sweeping your inbox is really easy too. Highlight a message in your inbox and click the sweep tab above in the toolbar. A window will appear giving you several options of what to do with the message. I’ve been mostly using the first option of “Move all messages from the Inbox folder”, this moves all the messages only from that particular sender, then choose where you want that message and all previous messages from that sender put. You can also choose to have all future messages from that sender put in a folder automatically.

 

Update: These days I enjoy sweeping my floors. As a matter of fact, I have a different broom for almost every room in my house and two just for the garage.

Mobile workstation now available for loan

Ergotron Workfit-CSCLS has a new item to loan out to our libraries. We’ve acquired an Ergotron Workfit-C mobile workstation. The Ergotron Workfit-C is a height-adjustable desk on wheels that allows you to sit or stand while using it.

If you would like to try it out for a couple of weeks to see if this is something that would make your life a little easier or if your library is going through a remodeling project and you could use a portable workstation, fill out the request form and we will send it out to you.

If you’re interested in purchasing your own, feel free to reach out to me by leaving a comment or emailing me, and I can put you in touch with the vendor I worked with to acquire this workstation.

Digital Bytes: Free Stock Photos, Print Friendly

Jamie and Anne at the Wisconsin Valley Library Service have a couple of new videos! They're short and they highlight some services I hadn't run across before and which I will be adding to my collection of helpful tools. Negative-space-summer-dandelion-macro

Free Stock Photos
Time: 5:32
Jamie talks about three tools to find quality, and free stock photos for your library marketing. 
Watch

 

Print Friendly
Time: 2:55
Tired of printing articles on websites with ads, sidebars, and things you don’t want or need? In this Digital Byte, Anne talks about a great tool called “Print Friendly.
Watch

Microsoft Photos for Editing

High waterI wanted to make a quick edit to a photo recently and found that Microsoft Photos has upped their game. Maybe it’s been like this for a while and I just didn’t notice, but I'm pretty happy with the options they offer now.


If you open a photo in Microsoft Photos, it’s the default photo viewer on my Windows 10 PC, and click the “Edit & Create” tab you are given several options including cropping, straightening (for some reason my photos are always a little crooked), flipping and rotating. You can add filters and make some basic adjustments to the color, light, clarity (sharpening), and it has some other features like Red Eye Removal and Spot Fixing.


You can also go a little farther and add 3D effects or animated text to your images.


The photo in this post was cropped and slightly straightened using Microsoft Photos editing tools. I applied the “Sunscreen” filter to it too because it was cloudy when I wrote this and I thought what the heck, why not.


I still plan on using my go-to photo editor for as long as I can, but the new features (new to me anyway) in Microsoft Photos will definitely get more use from me for fast fixes that I want to do rather than going through my normal routine.