Library Extension

Most of the time, when I'm interested in a book I'll head straight to LINKcat and do my searching there. Occasionally, though, I find myself on Amazon reading reviews of something I've heard about. In those cases, there is a handy browser extension that can quickly and easily tell me while I'm still on Amazon if the title is available in LINKcat or through Wisconsin's Digital Library (OverDrive) and provide links so I can hop over and place a hold. That extension is "Library Extension" and is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.


You can find more information about Library Extension here:

Library Extension and many other very cool tools were covered in the Tech Days 2020 "Productivity and Technology" session.  Recording, slides, and list of apps can be found here:

Happy searching!

Interactive Tools for Virtual Meetings and Workshops

Like all of you, I've been attending and facilitating virtual meetings, webinars, and workshops a lot since March. I wanted to share with you a couple of the tools I've learned about that can make your virtual meetings and programs more interactive and fun.

First is Mentimeter. I'd seen this tool but not really explored it until now. I recently attended a fabulous Thoughtfully Fit Communications Masterclass with Darcy Luoma and Mentimeter was one of the tools used during the presentation. From live polling to creating word clouds, there are many ways you can use Mentimeter during your presentations or meetings. The free version allows up to two question slides and five quiz slides for an unlimited audience. You may see this in an upcoming meeting or workshop! I signed up for my free account today.

StickyNote4Next up is Google Jamboard. This is a virtual interactive whiteboard. I first heard about Jamboard from Richard Byrne of Free Tech for Teachers in this blog post from last May. Richard has a short video showing how to use Jamboard - it's really easy! Jamboard can be used to brainstorm and share ideas or even as a virtual icebreaker. That's one of the ways I've used it recently. My favorite question to ask at the beginning of a workshop is "What is making you happy this week" (which I borrowed from the podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour.) 

I set up a Jamboard for this Tech Bits post. Try it out and share what's making you happy this week. I started us off with the Great British Baking Show - Holiday Episodes. What's making you happy?

Patent FUN!

I think inventions and patents are cool, so I am sharing a couple fun ways to explore them:

US256265-Device for waking persons from sleep

Reading Journey in Libby

ReadingHistory2If you're a Libby user like me, you may have noticed some new information on your reading history in Libby. It's called your Reading Journey and it works like this.

From your Shelf in Libby, tap on the "due in X days" to see your reading journey for individual titles. I recently finished Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly and you can see that I listened to this book for 13 hours and 58 minutes and picked up the audiobook 28 times. Libby also told me when I checked out the book, returned it, placed another hold, and checked it out again (yes, I didn't finish it the first time). For Educated by Tara Westover, Libby tells me that I'm on track to finish listening to the audiobook in 8 hours and 13 minutes. Not only for audiobooks, similar information is available for ebook checkouts. 

Timeline2While this can be interesting information to have, if you or your patrons are at all concerned about this information, you can turn this feature off. I also want to share OverDrive's Privacy Policy to reassure you and your patrons that the timeline information is not shared with publishers or stored by OverDrive. Here's how to turn off your timeline. **Updated 10/30/2020: Once you turn off your timeline, you can't turn it back on without resetting the app so only turn off the timeline if you really, really want to. 

On a related note, the next session of the OverDrive Support Course (for SCLS member library staff only) starts next Monday, November 2. In this 5-week course, you'll learn about providing support for Wisconsin's Digital Library including answering Libby questions like this one. Register here!

Spotting a dark pattern on the web

A few days ago I was present for an excellent discussion that was briefly side-tracked by confusion about the pricing of a newsletter service which is widely used by libraries. Here's roughly what the fly on the wall (me) heard:

Librarian A: "We have 20,000 subscribers, so we're paying over $1000 for Service X."

Librarian B: "What?! Service X says they only charge $15/month for 100,000 subscribers!"

Frustratingly, the company's own pricing page was the source of the confusion because it's an example of a dark pattern: "a user interface that has been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things, such as buying overpriced insurance with their purchase or signing up for recurring bills" (Wikipedia).

Because recognizing dark patterns is key to avoiding their tricks, let's take a quick look at what that pricing page says about their Standard Plan, near the top of the page:

Screenshot 2020-10-16 170927Did you notice that small-print "Starting at $14.99" language? I didn't, at first, but it matters in a big way. (If you click the big "Select" button, you're asked to sign up for an account, gradually making you more invested in the service without being entirely clear about the price you'll pay—and you have to actively check a box to OPT OUT of receiving their marketing spam.) When we scroll further on the pricing page and interact with the price chart, by choosing the specific range of contacts, THEN we see that 20,000 subscribers is, indeed, a great deal more than $15/month!

Screenshot 2020-10-16 171930

Irksome, isn't it? They haven't tricked us into doing anything (yet), but they're chipping away at our resistance to signing up by featuring a price that seems like a better value than it really is. That's a dark pattern!

Next time you're shopping online or signing up for a new service, keep a lookout for anything misleading or deceptive about the process—you may be interacting with a dark pattern. (And if you, like me, need to see some dark patterns analyzed and cataloged, there is website and a hashtag to shame the offenders and air our collective grievance.)

Good Calculators, Google Forms, and more

WVLS has shared some short (3-15 min) "Digital Bytes" training videos recently that may be of interest to you or your library patrons:

Good CalculatorsGood Calculators
Time: 5:01
Jamie talks about an educational and fun tool that can help library patrons of all ages.

Google Forms
Time: 15:11
Anne talks about creating a Google Form and how to share it.  Watch

Social Media Message Optimizer
Time: 5:26
Jamie talks about using CoSchedule’s Social Media Message Optimizer to see if you’re getting the most out of your library’s social media posts, based on several factors. 

JCW Resume Builder
Time: 10:29
Anne talks about using the Job Center of Wisconsin online resume builder. Watch

WVLS Digital BytesUsing Bluejeans
Time: 10:46
Jamie demonstrates how to use Bluejeans as a moderator.  Watch

Scanning Documents On Your iPhone
Time: 3:24
Don’t have access to a scanner? Jamie talks about using your iPhone to scan documents as a PDF file.  Watch

You can find more of these "Digital Bytes" here on the WVLS website:

Looking at those birds

Photo of birds at birdfeeder
Hungry birds in Madison

Recently we added a bird feeder to our backyard and it's provided some enjoyable bird watching of the very hungry birds. So far, we haven't had much bird variety but luckily the Internet has videos of birds!

One fun web site is the Bird Library. The Bird Library has a fancier bird feeder than my backyard bird feeder, and attracts a wider variety of birds. There is a YouTube channel in addition to the web site, which has archival videos as well as information on the library's patrons.

Another great resource is All About Birds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. They have a number of live feeds and tons of information about birds. If you have a spare moment, take a look!

Practice touch typing with classic novels

I know I could always use a little more practice when it comes to touch typing (no, I don't hunt and peck!). I recently stumbled across a website that not only gives you the opportunity to practice touch typing but also read a classic novel while you're doing it. 

The website is

Here we have a neat website that currently contains 32 classic novels ranging in length and style that you can interactively read by typing the text. It appears that the creator is actively developing the site with more content and features.

Check it out!



I made this using CanvaWisconsin Valley Library Service (WVLS) recently provided a very helpful training video on Canva, an online drag-and-drop design tool that lets you create visual content with ease. In the 50-min video, Anne walks you through some of the many features of Canva including including tools for font combination suggestions, color pallette generator, and the design size guide for tailoring your designs to specific social media platforms. She also points out tools within Canva for learning more about how to use Canva and runs through one of the tutorials to demonstrate some basic tasks.



Canva is free for basic use, and Pro accounts are pretty affordable. Non-profit organizations with a 501c3 designation can get access to a Pro account for free.




If you haven't already discovered Canva and are looking for an easy way to generate flyers, posters, and images for use on your websites and social media posts, check out Canva and the WVLS video tour of Canva.


Finding Attachments in OWA

I had some difficulty locating a document that was emailed to me a few years ago.  I didn't even remember who sent it to me.  I found a neat way to browse through all the attachments I have sent and received by email. 

  1. Click the Files button (the paper clip) beneath all your mailboxes.
  2. Depending on what you are searching for, click Photos or Files.
    Files or Photos
  3. At this point, you will see all the Photo or File attachments in your email.  If you know what mailbox you need to look in, you can click it at the left to narrow down your search even further.
  4. You will see a list of the files/photos at the right.  Some of them may have names that are not too meaningful.  You can click the file and then click Preview to get a better idea of what the file contains.  You also have the option of downloading or printing the attachment from this screen.
    Search Results