Who's listening? Who has access?

IoTThe shopping season is underway! The ACLU's article "The Privacy Threat From Always-On Microphones Like the Amazon Echo" about the privacy implications of “always-on” recording devices came across my path yesterday, and it got me thinking and looking for a good video or two that would highlight some of the current concerns about "smart," internet-connected devices. I found these two, which I think are definitely worth a view.

(9 min) "What your smart devices know (and share) about you"Once your smart devices can talk to you, who else are they talking to? Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu wanted to find out -- so they outfitted Hill's apartment with 18 different internet-connected devices and built a special router to track how often they contacted their servers and see what they were reporting back. The results were surprising -- and more than a little bit creepy. Learn more about what the data from your smart devices reveals about your sleep schedule, TV binges and even your tooth-brushing habits -- and how tech companies could use it to target and profile you. (This talk contains mature language.)

(17 min) "Internet of Things Security"Ken Munro shows us how insecure Internet of Things products are and how easy it is to hack them. The big question is: how can we use these products in a safe way?

The takeaway for me from the videos was not that IoT devices = BAD, but that users of these devices should be aware of the privacy and security implications. If you are considering purchasing devices that connect to the internet (and there are a lot of them these days!), make sure you know what you're getting into and weigh the potential loss of privacy (and security risks) with the benefit these devices will bring to your home.

And if you opt for smart devices, here are some of the security recommendations from the second video:

  • use long, STRONG passwords
  • use PINs that are longer than 4 digits on smart phones 
  • apply patches and updates to your devices
  • don't buy products for which you're not sure about the privacy or security

I'm still looking for some good articles about IoT devices and their uses in libraries. So far I've found a couple that talk about the potential (people counting, program attendance, etc), but none that really weigh in on what patron privacy concerns there may be. (If you have any recommendations, please let me know!)

What internet-connected smart devices have you added to your home? Your library? What do you love or hate about them?

Library of Congress Crowdsourcing Transcription Project

LOCCrowdThe Library of Congress (LOC) recently launched a new transcription initiative and they are looking for help - from you and your community. The project is called Crowd and the LOC is using the power of crowdsourcing to improve access to their digitized collection of primary sources.

The five collections or campaigns that volunteers can help with are Clara Barton: "Angel of the Battlefield," Letters to Lincoln, Civil War Soldiers: Disabled but not disheartened," Branch Rickey: Changing the Game, and Mary Church Terrell: Advocate for African Americans and Women.

When I looked today (November 1), the Diaries and Journals, 1849 for Clara Barton are almost complete and the project is only a week old! The transcriptions are all made and reviewed by volunteers before being returned to the Library's catalog.

While I didn't try my hand at transcription, I did capture an image of what the transcription page looks like. If you're good at LOCCrowd2jpgdeciphering handwriting and want to help make these important resources more accessible to everyone, I encourage you to join in. Volunteers can register for an account that allows you to tag items and review transcriptions. An account is not needed to transcribe documents.

The LOC is very encouraging, too. In the transcription window, it says "Go ahead, start typing. You got this!" Now to find the time to help...

I first saw this project in the October 19 issue of AL Direct and forgot about it until today. Thanks to Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers for reminding me of this project (and giving me a topic to write about!)

 

Robots, AI, VR, IoT, and more!

Jason2Earlier this week, SCLS along with 10 other library systems,co-sponsored our annual Tech Days workshops in Fitchburg, Appleton, and Franklin. Financial support was also provided by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Public Library Development Team with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Jason Griffey was the keynote speaker for this year's event and he spoke on Preparing for the Future: Technology to Watch. We learned about the Internet of Things (IoT) and how ubiquitous some of these products have become. For example, you can get "smart" light bulbs, thermostats, outlets, door locks, security cameras, and even stickers! Jason also talked about all of the "voice assistants" like Google Home, Amazon's Alexa, and others. You can now get Alexa for your car with Amazon's Echo Auto and also for your microwave - who knew? Jason talked about the application of these technologies for libraries and some of the problems they present.

Jason shared lots of ideas and information about Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, and robots. There are some really cool VR applications (and we have a VR kit that SCLS libraries can borrow). Jason explained the blockchain and talked about cryptocurrency. I understand it a little better but am still learning about the implications of this emerging technology.

The AI and machine learning part of the presentation was probably the most interesting and the most scary to contemplate.For example, you've all heard about the driver-less cars and trucks that are coming soon. There are also robots that are providing security services, helper robots in the hospitality industry, and even a robot barista in San Francisco.

There were afternoon breakout sessions at each workshop and you can find the handouts and slides for all the presentations here. Hope to see you at Tech Days next year!

What are you talking about?

Being one of two millennials working in this office, I find myself in conversations frequently about differences between the generations.  Someone will make a reference about licking a postage stamp and I reply with "That's cray".  This has led a co-worker to show me The Mindset List.  Created at Beloit College in 1998 as a way for college professors to understand the "mindset" of incoming students, it has been eye-opening for myself. 

A list has been created each year since 2002 and features 50+ items that young adults entering college that year know or don't know.  The lists can be used with adults today to better understand the differences in generations.  I think they would especially be helpful for libraries to not only understand their patrons but also potential job candidates.  The authors have also written two https://www.classy.org/blog/infographic-generational-giving/
books (both of which are available in LINKcat) and frequently present the information as well.  

The most recent list has some new slang, and I'll be honest that even I don't know what most of it means.  Take a look at the lists and I think you will find them interesting as well.

Implementing a PC Replacement Plan

Over the last several months at SCLS we’ve generated reports on how many PCs in our system are currently on Windows 7 and the number was surprisingly high. The reason this came up is because Microsoft will be ending its extended support of Windows 7 on January 14th, 2020. I’d like to take this opportunity to remind staff about the importance of implementing and maintaining a PC rotation plan.

SCLS recommends replacing 20% of your PCs every year (you don’t have to replace monitors that frequently). Let’s say you have 15 PCs at your library, then you should be planning on replacing 3 systems every year. This ensures all of your PCs will have a modern operating system and software. This is noteworthy because as we upgrade the software of our systems on a weekly basis the chances of those upgrades running into an incompatibility issue with the older operating system increases. An added benefit of having modern operating systems is that we don’t have to maintain the older servers and software licenses used to keep the older PCs on our network, which helps reduce costs.


Since it’s budget time for a lot of libraries, I’d like you to think of a rotation plan as a budgetary tool that helps spread the cost of buying new PCs over a five year period. If you know you have to replace 3 computers a year and the average cost of a new PC is around $500.00, then budgeting $1,500.00 per year for new PCs makes filling out your budget a little simpler.


We maintain an inventory of all the systems on our network and release a monthly Status Report available so libraries can see what the status their PCs are. Please take a look to see where your library is in the PC rotation cycle. If you see that you need to order some computers this year you can request a quote from our order form.

Browsers and Insecure Websites

You've no doubt read all of our recent blog postings lately about HTTPS, like SCLS and https and More on HTTPS, where we've talked about the big push on the Internet to make ALL websites secure. So we worked to secure our website along with all of your websites as well (thanks, Rose!).

This big push to make all websites secure was coming from the browser companies who were starting to display messages saying if a site was secure or not.

Like Firefox that pops up a message box telling you if a site is insecure when you log in.

Firefox_Message

Chrome is also going to be displaying a message starting with version 68 which comes out July 24, 2018.

Chrome_Message
I think these browser messages may over time become more of a warning than a recommendation because Internet security is becoming so important to users, especially with all the data breaches that have been happening. If you have any vendor websites that you log into that are not secure ask them how soon they will be secure. Be safe when surfing!

Google My Business

GoogleMyBusinessHow do people find information about your library? I bet you think a lot about what you put on your website, but have you thought about the accuracy of information when people try to look up your library from a mobile device and Google steps in with results?

I find that I often rely on the Google listing for a business, rather than navigating to the business' website and trying to find information there (especially for hours, address, directions, phone number, and reviews).

Google My Business is a free listing service created by Google in 2014, and your library most likely already has a GMB page. It's an excellent idea to 1) claim it if you haven't already, and 2) verify/update the information on it. Information that administrators can add/edit includes library hours, description of your library, map pin/location, URL, phone number, organization type, and photographs. The built-in analytics can give you a good idea of how patrons found the listing, and what actions they took (did they call you? did they click over to your website?).

This Computers In Libraries article, "How to Create a Google My Business Page" covers why and how to take control of your Google My Business page and is definitely worth a read! 

People Counter Kits are available


I don't see anyone to count!
SCLS has two people counter kits available for any member library to use. These kits can be kept for 14 days are intended for in-library use only.

Kit 1 is a Bi-directional people counter kit – this is an easy to use basic people counter kit that will provide a count of how many people entered and exited your library. Two counters are included with this kit that also contains.

2 Transmitters
2 Receivers with displays
1 Magnet for resetting the counter
1 Instruction guide
Extra Command Strips

Kit 2 is a USB people counter kit – this is a more advanced people counter. Rather than a display to see how many people entered and exited the library it downloads data to a flash drive that connects to a laptop where you can see how many people passed by the counter every hour. This would be beneficial if you are interested in seeing trends as to what day of the week and during what time of the day the library gets the most traffic. This counter doesn’t indicate which direction people traveled so you will have to divide the total by two to get an accurate count. Two counters are included with this kit that also contains.


2 Transmitters
2 Receivers
1 laptop with people counter software and a power cable
1 Magnet for turning on the counter
1 USB cable
1 Instruction guide

 

General Data Protection Regulation law - what?

Europe's General Data Protection Regulation law goes into effect May 25, 2018.  The definition from Wikipedia is "The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU) 2016/679 is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union and the European Economic Area. It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU and EEA.

This law has been seven years in the making and, in light of other recent news about data privacy infringement, seems to be very timely.  If companies and websites that you may use have a global presence (like Google), you are probably seeing an increase in "required" information bits about how that company or website is protecting your privacy and/or changes you should make to your account to increase the protection of your personal data.  

Here's a link to an article in The Guardian (UK) that I was reading in my last copy of American Libraries Direct.

And an article from The New York Times May 6, 2018 

Enjoy! Heidi O.

CAN Opportunities

I occasionally post about Community Area Networks (CANs) in this blog. If you are curious about what a CAN might do for your institution and your community there are two upcoming opportunities to learn more in Wisconsin.

The first is at the WiscNet Connections Conference in Madison next Monday and Tuesday (May 14 & 15). Advance registration is closed, but you may register at the event. CANs are a thread throughout the conference. 

The second is also sponsored by WiscNet and it is WiscNet's Community Conversation: CANs in Stevens Point on June 12. "Invite your stakeholders to learn the “What, Why, and How” of CANs; connect with others to glean ideas for the next steps to help your organization and community move forward with your own aspirations of connecting and sharing resources and applications for the common good."