Virtual Reality Kits Now Available

In my last TechBits post, I wrote about the new technology coming to SCLS libraries this year.  I am happy to report that the Virtual Reality kit is now available for libraries to check out!  Not only that, but we also purchased a 2nd kit!  This means more libraries and their patrons will be able to experience and play with VR.VR head set and controllers

These kits include the PS4 gaming console, VR headset, VR camera, controllers, and lots of cables.  All you will need is a projector or TV.  These kits are only to be checked out by SCLS librarians and for in-library use only.  

Check out the SCLS equipment page to check availability and reserve the kit.  Reservations will be handled on a first-come, first-serve basis and will be confirmed with an email from myself or Craig.  The kits can be checked out for up to 10 days, but only one kit at a time.

If you have any questions, you can leave them in the reservation form or send me an email at

The many joys of Internet Archive

Internet ArchiveI attended a fun NFLS webinar last week and was reminded all over again about Internet Archive, a "non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more." Have you been there?

Here's just a tiny sampling of what you might find:

Definitely worth a look around!

The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine also allows you to view more than 310 million webpages saved over time. Run into a dead link? Wonder what a webpage used to look like? Pop it into the Wayback Machine!

Here's what the SCLS webpage ( looked like back in 1997:
1997 SCLS website

SCLS libraries interested in looking up your page - try<3-letter delivery code> 
1997 Internet Search Engines




And here's the SCLS 1997 list of internet search engines:

(remember the days before Google?)




More articles and resources related to Internet Archive

Holiday Comment Contest!

Xbox KinectHere's an opportunity to win a gently used Xbox 360 Kinect with 3 games for your library! The game console comes with 4GB of memory, one Kinect sensor, two wireless controllers, all the connecting cables and is wifi capable. The games included are Kinect Sports (Boxing, Track & Field, Soccer, Table Tennis, Beach Volleyball and Championship Bowling), Dance Central 2, and Kinect Adventures (20 different heart-pounding adventures).

How can you enter? Simply leave us a comment and share one or more of the following:

  • your favorite post(s)
  • things you've learned about through TechBits that you're using at your library
  • topics you'd like us to cover
  • an area of technology you're interested in for your library

Official Rules: To enter, leave a comment on this post by Monday, January 1st. We will draw a winner at random. Provide your real e-mail address so we can get in touch with you later (it will not be posted on the Internet). Anyone can comment (we're very interested in the feedback!), but you must be an employee of a South Central Library System member library to win. The winner will be announced on the blog.

We'd like to make TechBits as interesting and relevant as we can, and every comment and bit of feedback helps! If you would like to comment, but not be entered to win, just say "comment only" in your comment.Xbox Kinect Games

Sneak Peek! New Technology Coming Soon!

Here at SCLS we have been testing some new and fun technology to lend out to our libraries.  The newest is Virtual Reality through Sony's PlayStation 4 gaming console.  If you are unfamiliar with virtual reality or VR, see Craig's post earlier this year for more about virtual reality v.s. augmented reality.  

VR with the PlayStation 4 is a great way to experience and test VR without the higher cost of an Oculus Rift. The system contains one PS4 console, a VR processing unit, the VR headset, camera, controllers and lots of cables.  We have downloaded a couple games to play and test out the VR world.  We also have made YouTube available to watch 360° videos.  Craig is hard at work "testing"

Here is a short description of the games available to play:

                 Discovery:  A simple version of Minecraft.  Use the controllers to build a world.

                Job Simulator:  A good game to get a feel for interacting with VR.  Simulating different places of occupation you can control the world around you with the controllers with no rules.

                VRog:  Become a frog and hop from lily pad to lily pad eating bugs.  This game is simple and only requires the headset to use.

                Tiny Trax: Using the controller you race tiny cars around different tracks.  Think of it as hot wheels with a birds-eye view.

                Carnival Games VR:  Play classic carnival games to earn tickets for prizes!

The VR kit is currently being tested at one of our system's libraries, but will be available for libraries to check out in the beginning of 2018!  This kit would be an awesome program to offer to teens or adults but not small children.  Check the SCLS equipment page early next year to see if the VR kit is available and to schedule a time to let your patrons experience VR. 

Instagram for libraries

InstagramInstagram is a popular smartphone app for sharing photos and videos. LifeWire describes it as being "like a simplified version of Facebook, with an emphasis on mobile use and visual sharing. Just like other social networks, you can interact with other users on Instagram by following them, being followed by them, commenting, liking, tagging and private messaging. You can even save the photos you see on Instagram."

Want to learn more about how to use it? Take a peek at the tutorial.

Considering Instagram for your library? Already on Instagram but curious what other libraries are doing? Here are some links to get you thinking!

Amazon for photos?

Are you like me and tend to take a lot of pictures of your cats and dogs with your cell phone?  My phone alerted me the other day that I was running out of space, so naturally I assumed I had a lot of pictures.  7 GBs of just pictures! (Most of them of my cats and dogs)  So I went looking for a backup solution.  I backup my pictures on a hard drive at home, but I wanted a second way to back up so that I can remove some from my actual phone but still view them if needed.  Cloud storage was the answer I was looking for. 

After doing a basic google search I found out that Amazon offers cloud storage similar to Dropbox and Google drive called Amazon Drive.  However, if you are an Amazon Prime member (which if you aren’t and order as much as I do, you’re missing out) you can get a sweet deal. 

Having a prime membership means you can store 10 GBs of videos and files with them and unlimited storage for photos.  That’s a lot of cat pictures.  That is a great deal for myself since I already have Amazon Prime anyways.  If 10 GB for videos and files isn’t enough space, you can purchase the unlimited storage plan for $59.99 a year.

That's a lot of cat pictures...
My Amazon Drive details

There are a couple apps to know about when beginning this process.  The first being Amazon Drive where you can see all videos, files and pictures you have stored in the cloud.  You can choose which files to upload or just have them all upload as soon as they are on your phone. 

The next app you will want is Amazon Photos which you can use to actually transfer photos from your phone to the cloud.  You can set up the transfer to auto-save after you take a picture too.  I set my phone up so that it will only backup on a Wi-Fi connection and when it is charging.  That way it will do it at night and not use battery power or mobile data during the day. The other nice thing about the Amazon Photos app is that is you can share the photo directly from the app through a text message, email, or post on social media.

The final app is one for your computer where you can additionally view and backup photos with Amazon Drive.  This is available for Macs and PCs and allows you to view and organize the photos with a computer rather than your phone.

One last cool thing about all of this is if you go on your computer and open photos that way you can actually order prints from Amazon.  They have just plain photo options or you can put all those cat pictures on coffee mugs, canvas, cards, or calendars.  The prices are good and free shipping if you’re a prime member! 


My cats Bud & Weiser
Example of a cat photo you can store on Amazon Drive

There is no such thing as too many cat photos.

Low-Tech Maker Fun

Monster-1297726_1920Want to make your own slime, lava bottle, ice sculpture painting, or bubble wand? Then you might want to check out Kiwi Crate’s DIY ideas at These and other low-tech projects are available with printable instructions that include a messiness rating, age range, estimated time, what you will need, and how to do it.

I first heard about Kiwi Crate Inc. from an engineering listserv. I had been looking for a unique “hand-on” present for my 3 year old grandson who lives in Texas and the Koala Crate (ages 3-4) subscription looked like the perfect gift. The subscription includes a crate (box) sent in the mail with everything needed for 2-3 creative theme based projects, plus additional materials to learn more. Luckily, I was visiting when his first box arrived. It was “Maker Fun”! I am embarrassed to admit that I now want the Tinker Crate (ages 9-16+) for myself.

Once we finished the activities in the crate, we wanted more. I was thrilled when I found the additional and free DIY ideas listed on the Kiwi Crate website. I wonder what our next project will be, maybe the Syrofoam stamps or the marshmallow launcher. Happy Tinkering!

Bitmoji - Turn yourself into an emoji

Intro:    Hello!  This is Emily; I'm the new kid at SCLS working as a computer technician along side Craig.  I graduated Madison College in December 2016 and started at SCLS shortly after.  When I'm not installing and imaging PCs I enjoy annoying Craig, reading, shopping, and spending time with my animals.  I have 2 dogs (Ellie and Luna) and 2 cats (Bud and Weiser, yes that is really their names).  I also just recently became engaged to my boyfriend of almost 4 years.  Okay, that's enough about me for now :)

    Are you looking for a fun way to represent yourself at the library and in your personal life?  Then you should download the Bitmoji app from the Google Play Store or App Store.  This fun app allows you to create a caricature (or emoji) of yourself that you can post to social media, send to friends and colleagues via text or email, or use theMeowm creatively in the library.

    The app itself is easy enough to use and walks you through every part of creating your face.  From choosing your jaw line to eye shape and color to hair style and ears, you can create a pretty accurate character with your features.  After choosing your facial features, you can choose an outfit that best represents your style.  Next you will see hundreds of different poses, phrases, and actions your bitmoji can do.  You can express different feelings, holidays, sports, or actions  They do not move and are more like a sticker you can paste places.

    You can create a bitmoji of yourself for your Twitter profile picture, Office 365 profile picture, or a Facebook post wishing everyone a good holiday.  Think of how fun it would be to have all staff at your library create their own character then print it out and place it on their name tag or desk plate.  You could also use it in your personal life in Snapchat, text, Facebook messenger or save as an image.  

    Bitmoji is a fun app and tool to represent yourself in a fun way without using a real photo.  Download it and try it out!

    I have created my own character below as well as another SCLS staff member.  Can you guess who?  


Meow MeowThumbs up for plaidGoals: Wear leopard print more oftenThe daily grind"I love my job!"

Emoji blitz

Emojis4 (2)While I was traveling to ALA Midwinter, I was browsing through the Delta Sky Magazine and came across an article on how emojis are born. Being the standards-loving librarian that I am, I was fascinated to learn that emojis are approved by the Unicode Consortium and each one is assigned a unique code. This is what makes all emojis appear the same on all the different devices. Fascinating! Now I know why I am able to send my friends the emojis I win in the Disney Emoji Blitz game that I play. 

Since emojis are so ubiquitous, the article got me thinking about emojis and libraries. There is not a lot out there, but I did find this article in Library Journal that talks about library emoji (or the lack thereof). What would your library look like as an emoj?


Searching with emojis

Emoji searches work on Google!



More on searching with emojis on the SearchReSearch blog: