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Author Archive | Don Hawkins

Save The Date For Internet Librarian 2015

IL 2014 covered many topics of current interest to librarians, such as trends, community outreach, makerspaces, MOOCs, the user interface, the Internet of Things, and e-books.  It also provided a wealth of practical information on website development, discovery and searching, developing mobile apps, and library technologies.  With such a wide variety of topics, this is a conference not to be missed!  The dates for 2015 have already been established, so mark your calendars now.

IL 2015 Dates

And if you missed any part of IL 2014 (or all of it), you can see many of the speakers’ presentations on the conference website.

Speaker presentations website

I hope to see you again next year in the beautiful city of Monterey.  Until then, best wishes.

Don.

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The Future of Libraries: Challenges and Strategies

Ken Haycock

Ken Haycock

Ken Haycock, Research Professor at the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California and Senior Partner, Ken Haycock & Associates, moderated the closing panel and set the stage by listing some of the challenges that libraries face today:

  • The future is not what it used to be. City managers and university presidents are finding organizations offering similar services to libraries but at less cost.
  • Others already occupy some of the spaces that libraries are moving into and are creating makerspaces,etc.
  • Competition abounds. The world is moving faster than we are.
  • What is our unique value proposition? What distinguishes us that warrants an investment of public funding?  What is our professional staff’s unique expertise?  Is it different from that of a preschool teacher?
  • We are about the only industry with no commonly accepted key success factors.
  • How do we drop services? Even if only a few people use them, there will still be at least one person defending them passionately.
  • Is our system simply a collection of unique neighborhoods joined together in a common enterprise?
  • How can the sense of entitlement by some of our staff be broken?
Closing panel

Closing Panel (L-R): Ken Haycock; Donna Scheeder, Deputy Chief Information Officer, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress; John Szabo, City Librarian, Los Angeles Public Library; Corinne Hill, Library Director, Chattanooga Public Library

Haycock then invited three panelists to join him to discuss these issues. Below are some of the points the panelists made.

  •  We live in a society that does not value culture.  You must align with your funding agency and with their goals. If the community does not value you, you are done.
  • Our special advantage is our values, access, and productivity that resonate with elected officials and donors.  Deal with the perception of relevance.  We must be savvy about marketing ourselves.
  • What are the trends in society (not just the library trends) that are impacting libraries?  IFLA recently conducted a study of trends; see the IFLA website for the results .  What should we do to align ourselves with the goals of society? We cannot position ourselves alone; there is a whole area of national policy that we must align with.  It has been years since we had a summit on national policy discussing issues such as what do we do on copyright,or  at the UN?  IFLA’s Lyon Declaration, developed at this year’s meeting in Lyon, France, concluded that any goal we work towards depends on access to information.  That is our unique value. We provide information for free and access to the Internet if people don’t have it.
  • We live in a time of dwindling resources and we must prove value and return.  We also have unlimited opportunities; in fact, we may face the possibility of death by opportunity.  The information marketplace is greatly misunderstood.  There are a lot of players in it, and we are not the significant one.  We must find a different area to play in.  How do we ensure we are not moved aside?  The library director, leadership, and staff must be tuned into community needs.  What is the common denominator between us all?
  • We must be able to say no to things that are not going well and build adjacencies to things that are.  For example, the software company that developed the software for ATMs moved on and built the software for airline self-checkin kiosks. Our jobs and decisions are not easy. If you do strategic planning and have a goal, you will be able to make the right kinds of decisions.
  • How do we know when we have been successful?  Understand what success looks like.  It is not what we want to do; it’s what people need.  How do we do what our community needs?  Find stories of what is meaningful to people.  Tell your staff what success is.  The responsibility is on us to explain this to funders.  We must have metrics to show our impact.
  • What happens when people are not readers?  Reading is fundamental to everything.  There is no access to informaton if you cannot read.  How likely are you to be contributing to society if you cannot read?  Story time is for teaching children a love of reading and a love of books.  We must key what we do to the needs of society.
  • Give staff the flexibility to be as innovative as possible.  The arrival of somebody new is a tremendous time for experimentation. At some point, you must be evaluating your results, bring in cohesion, and eliminate things that don’t fit into the mission.
  • We need to realize that library education is changing.  Many professional librarians have an elitist attitude, which is one reason why the percentage of professionals in libraries is declining.  Our  jobs are evolving.  We must stop talking about “traditional” and “non-traditional” librarians.

Haycock asked the panelists a final question: What is one trend with the biggest impact on where we are going in the future?

  • How close we work with our communities in building our libraries and services. We will relinquish some of our expertise and become true partners with the people in our communities.
  • MOOCs and public libraries, reinterpreting lifelong learning, thinking about libraries as active learning organizations.
  • Academia does not see the disruption coming to their sector of the economy because of MOOCs. Libraries must support students and creators of MOOCs.  Do not understimate the potential for a greater digital divide.  Libraries will be able to make a difference to people.
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Wearable Technology: The Next Frontier

Barbara Fullerton

Barbara Fullerton (You can tell who she was rooting for to win the World Series!)

Barbara Fullerton, Owner, Librarian in the Cloud, Inc. said that wearables and their apps are projected to become a $20 billion market in the next few years.

What is a Wearable?

A wearable device uses sensors that measure data and project what is happening with the user.  There will be many new companies springing up in this field, but the killer product has not come to the market yet. Fitness and health-related devices make up about 60% of today’s market.  The greatest interest is in the wrist because people are used to wearing watches on their wrist and the devices are movable.  One fear is that insurance companies will enter this field, collect user data, and produce customized rates.  They will also know where you have been, your health issues, etc.

Issues and Concerns

Many companies want a piece of the wearables market, so there is lots of M&A activity.  For example,  Jawbone and Microsoft bought several companies to acquire more than 80 patents, and Google has announced a $542 million investment in Magic Leap.  Many companies will go into apps instead of making gadgets.

Fullerton showed slides with details of many of the wearable devices that already exist.  They are available on the conference website.  Here is the list of some of the devices she mentioned.

  • Rocket Skates: the world’s first electric skates.  They strap over shoes and connect with an app on smartphones.  (They might be good for using in a large library!)
  • Magic Leap:  Google invested $542 million in this company which has not annnounced a product yet.  From the patents, it appears to be a “lightweight wearable” using virtual reality and 3D.  This is a company to watch.
  • Digital Tattoo: a wearable dot holding passwords, etc.  It will last for 5 days before wearing off.
  • Smart Hair Clip:  alerts you when you could be in danger and sends for help.  Does not need to be connected to your phone.
  • React Sidekick/React Mobile:  an app to call 911, etc.
  • The Dash:  smart in-ear headphones.
  • Kite Mosquito Patch:  allows humans to be undetected by mosquitoes for 48 hours.
  • LEO:  calculates how much muscle you are using when exercising, hydration level, etc.
  • iPal Smart Glass:  Has 4 cameras instead of the 2 that Google Glass has, fits over glasses, uses blinks to take photos
  • Smart Button:  monitor attaches to a baby’s clothing, streams data to a smartphone app, detects breathing, measures movements
  • LeapBand: tracks kids’ activities, gives challenges and awards points.
  • FiLip:  a wearable phone and locator for kids.
  • H2O Pal:  Turns a water bottle into a smart bottle: measures how much you drink, nags you when you have not drunk enough, allows sharing progress with others and collecting milestone badges.
  • Ingestible computers: a camera in a pill.  Monitors how a patient’s body is responding to medicine, detects movements and rest patterns, sends data to doctors (or insurance companies?), goes through the body in 24 hours, costs only $46.
  • SKULPT Aim: Aims for perfect muscle tone and sculpts your muscles with electricity, sets training goals.
  • Bionym Nymi: a wristband to replace usernames and passwords with 1-stop bio-authentication.  Monitors patterns of heartbeat to identify the wearer.
  • PulseRelief: helps suppress persistent pain using TENS technology.  Prevents pain signals from reaching your brain.
  • Fitbit:  GPS tracking, heartrate monitor.  No need to have your smartphone with you to monitor activity.
  • Fitbit Charge:  Continuous heartrate monitor, fitness tracker, monitors sleep quality
  • Apple Watch:  analysis of daily movements, 1/2 day battery life, available in 2015.
  • Peak:  another type of smart watch to track hartbeat, motion, skin temperature, perspiration.  1 day battery life with touch screen controls.
  • Jawbone:  Bought BodyMedia, produces wearable arm bands. New devices coming out in 2015.
  • COPD Gadget:  worn inside disposable patch, diagnostic statistics like heartrate etc. sent to doctor

Issues surrounding wearables include: Who will provide the next innovation?  Who owns the data collected?  What are the privacy issues?  What will happen with insurance companies?

Fullerton predicted that 2018 will be a big year in the wearable device market.  There are already two conferences devoted to wearables: the Wearable Technologies Conference in the US and the Wearable Technology Show in Europe.

 

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Community Makerspaces

Zeth Lietzau, Jenny Howland , Susan Faust, Uyen Tran

(L-R): Zeth Lietzau, Jenny Howland , Susan Faust, Uyen Tran

In this session, representatives from three libraries described how they created community-driven maker spaces.

Uyen Tran, Emerging Technologies Librarian, San Diego Public Library, purchased some 3D printers, but when they arrived nobody knew how to use them.  She was able to learn and obtrain more equipment with grant funding.  Her budget looks like this.

Budget

Donations pay for the filaments used in the 3D printers, so she does not need to use her budget money for them (the cost is significant).  She does everything related to the maker program and always integrates education into it; for example, she does not let students use scissors to cut out their plans, but teaches them how to use software to create them.

The lab is all volunteer run and free to use. Here is some information on the laboratory.

UCSD Makerspace Information

Tran keeps company staff members up to date by working with her community.  She organized the first Maker Faire and got donations of equipment and exhibits from local businesses which introduced making to the community.  As a result, the lab now offers many programming classes, which resulted in still more interaction with the community.

Here are some of the lessons Tran has learned.

Lessons learned

It is especially important not to be afraid to ask for help.  You will be surprised at the response!

Zeth Lietzau from the Denver Public Library (DPL) established a program of badges to provide an incentive for community members to participate in a makerspace lab.

So far, DPL’s makerspace is a digital media space used mainly by teens.  It has 4 computers, a recording studio, and some 3D printers.  Even though the library is in a location that can be difficult for teens to reach, an average of 6 of them come per day come to use the makerspace. During the summer, they built websites together.  Observing that makerspaces tend to be mainly used by teen boys, Lietzau has started girls and family idea labs.

Lietzau has created a series of badge tracks on a variety of topics, shown here.

Badges

Badges

Each badge has an associated activity card.  Users follow the directions for the activity but make the output their own.  Teenagers are excited about the projects, but they do not care much about the badges. Only about 30 badges were given out  in 1-1/2 years.  So why do them?  Libraries are a huge part of lifelong learning, and people are learning on an informal level in the library without receiving any accreditation.  Badges look good on resumés and help people share their skills and interests with the world.  The Badge Alliance is trying to create a directory and build an infrastructure for badges.

Jenny Howland, Makery Facilitator, and Susan Faust, Librarian, at the Katherine Delmar Burke School in San Francisco, a K-8 school for girls, have collaborated to crate a “makery” for the students.  Libraries and makerspaces are similar and intersect in imagination, learning, research.  At the Burke School, they are organized with these five guiding principles:

  1. The school library is mission-driven around the curriculum and its 40,000 volume collection. Makerspaces (“the makery”) opened just over a year ago with a mission to educate and empower girls.  The learner is at the center of the process.
  2. There are many places to learn. What is the right place for the right task? The library shares books; the makery takes things apart.  The library and makery are in separate spaces which is a plus: the makery is messy, but the library is orderly and accommodates classes and collaboration. Makerspaces are divided into makery-up (hands-on building) and makery-down (media design).   They foster learning by doing and making.
  3. Play to strengths. In the library, we want students to be competent researchers, contributors to community, and enthusiastic readers . In the makery, we want them to develop competence in the use of tools and materials, creative competence, and a design mindset.  Both purposes are relevant in the community.
  4. Be purposeful. Students create objects on 3D printers and make displays about them, which develops creative confidence. For example, in a postcard project, they gathered information from books, studied locations on Google Earth, and wrote letters on the backs of the postcards, learning photo curation, writing, and research skills.
  5. Be at the forefront of paradigm shifts. Anything worth learning is worth assessing.  The next challenge is to figure out how to have meaningful assessment in both student venues.  Think about the tried, true, and transformative.
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Virtually Interacting With Books and Exhibits

Ben Andrus , Juan Denzer , John Shoesmith

(L-R) Ben Andrus , Juan Denzer , John Shoesmith

This session featured two presentations on interacting with rare books without the need to physically handle them, which is highly desirable because of their fragility.

John Shoesmith, Outreach Librarian at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, began by describing his library and its collections. Established in 1955, the Fisher library is part of the University of Toronto, but it is also open to public.  It is the largest rare book library in Canada, with over 730,000 volumes. It is the only Canadian library to have Shakespeare first folios, Alan Ginsburg papers, Leonard Cohen’s papers, Margaret Atwood first editions.  It has a traditional outreach program through Facebook, an Instagram account, and a Flickr site (which has 10,000 photos).  Its building was designed especially to house and show rare book collections.

Exhibitions are a significant part of the library’s outreach; however, they are very hard work and when the exhibition is over, they just disappear.  So the library wanted to turn exhibitions into an online environment, which would ensure extra exposure and preservation of the materials shown.  Beginning in the early 2000s, some born-digital exhibitions were created, and although they had the desired effect of increasing exposure to the collections, they were done on systems no longer supported and required a lot of time and resources.  An online exhibition using Drupal was tried, but it was not esthetically pleasing and required significant handholding.  Omeka, an open source content management system, provides an exhibit builder plugin which was more successful and was being used by the university’s museum studies program.  Islandora, a digital object repository, works well with Omeka and was adopted by the Fisher Library.  Here are the library’s future plans and lessons learned.

Plans Going Forward

Lessons Learned and Advice

Juan Denzer and Ben Andrus from the Binghamton NY University Libraries described their Atenaeum in Motion (AIM) Project, which was initiated after the Dean of Libraries went to the National Library of China, saw a prototype newspaper reader using the Kinect system, and upon his return, asked the systems department if they could develop a similar system.  Juan investigated and found that Kinect required awkward motions to turn pages, so he tried a device by Leap Motion which was much smaller and better: the user just sits in front of a computer or screen and uses conventional hand motions to turn pages.  Juan therefore approached Ben to get content.

The Leap Motion system starts with original scans of rare book images to produce JPG files of images that are cropped as needed.  The scans are displayed on an overlay of a 3D book model; the user does not have to create the 3D objects.  Natural hand motions are used to turn pages, rotate the book, and zoom in and out.  The first photo below shows Ben in front of his laptop demonstrating the system, and the next two depict what he sees on his screen.

Ben Andrus

Screen View 1

Screen View 2

The system has the advantage of allowing the viewing of rare books without handling them, so there are no problems with disappearance, damage, etc. sound effects were added to mimic sound of turning pages.

Juan is now working on a project to create a new way of reading that preserves the look and feel of reading a book using the same software that AIM uses.

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Making Libraries, Making Makers

CJ Lynce

CJ Lynce

CJ Lynce, Manager, TechCentral, Cleveland Public Library (CPL), described CPL’s innovative TechCentral environment that was  opened 2-1/2 years ago at the main library.  TechCentral has many of the facilities of a computer lab, but it is more of a learning center in an open inviting environment than a computer lab.  Lynce’s initial acquisition was a 3D printer, which was a mistake because they did not know what to do with it at first. After buying maker kits, audio synthesizers, and Lego sets for users to play with, TechCentral began to attract significant numbers of users.  Cleveland’s first Maker Faire was held at the library, and it proved to be very popular.  In the Faire’s second year, over 100 makers attended and the Faire filled two library buildings.  Many people did not know they were makers!  After that, TechCentral offered hands-on programming, opened an official maker space, and acquired a laser engraver, music instruments, and more 3D printers.  They now have 15 staff members with a wide variety of experience, and users can “check out” a trainer for an hour to help them on any topic.

Here is the definition of a maker space from makerspace.com.

Makerspace Definition

Notice that a makerspace is defined by what it enables, not its collection of tools.  Makerspaces are learning environments with tools to facilitate learning and creating projects.  Many of them have collections of instruction manuals for projects that users can create (see below)–quite different from convential reference collections!

Lynce showed slides describing some of the equipment useful to have in a makerspace and its costs.  He discussed equipment for photography, music production, programming, wiring, 3D printing, a vinyl cutter, and a laser engraver.  All of his slides are available on the conference website.  It is important to note that it is not necessary to buy everything; in fact, much of it can be made or improvised.  Here are some of Lynce’s comments on the equipment:

  • Soldering kits are needed to create many of the projects, so those are not appropriate for young children. However, one of the most widely used pieces of equipment, the Arduino computer does not require a soldering kit.
  • 3D printers do not, by themselves, give you a makerspace, but they open people’s eyes to the world of making.
  • Extra-hold hair spray is very useful for fasteng models to the printer bed.
  • The laser engraver is TechCentral’s most expensive machine; it took half of the maker space budget to buy. But it is the most used piece of equipment.
  • It is important to make sure you have proper ventilation in your space because many of the machines use toxic chemicals or materials and create vapors from melting plastics.
  • Library patrons aren’t the only ones making things; the staff does also! They make things for the library.
  • Much of the equipment needed in a makerspace is easily transported, which allowed local TechCentral facilities to be established throughout the city.

Available space in branch libraries is used for maker spaces, particularly for projects involving programming.  Most programming is free. TechCentral has no software budget and uses as many free resources as possible.  Lynce recommends buying a case of laptops if possible.  iPads are invaluable.

Here are some of the projects created by TechCentral users (see Lynce’s slides for details):

  • Abstract art using pixlr.com (comparable to GIMP in many ways)
  • Audacity for audio mixing
  • Virtual jam session–garage band app
  • Sticky Note speakers
  • Tough wallet using a mailing envelope
  • Duct tape wallet or purse (created by a user)
  • Coding–KidsRuby
  • Easy loom knitting
  • Touchscreen compatible gloves for when it is cold outside (using conductive thread sewn into the finger)
  • 3D Pet Monster (doesn’t require a 3D printer)
  • 3D custom cookie cutters
  • 3D papercraft (low-tech non-3D printing)–thinner cardboard is better
  • Font making
  • Codes & Cyphers (“007 Lab”)
  • Camera Obscura (pinhole camera)
  • Construction kits–Lego, K’nex, Erector Sets, etc.
  • Homebrewing (up to the stage where the yeast was added and it became alcoholic)
  • T-shirt making

Things to consider if you are considering launching a makerspace:

  • Making is messy!
  • It is noisy–when people are having fun, they get loud and share with others. Encourage this!
  • You can make anywhere.
  • Go out to as many community events as you can.  Library attendance will surge after you do a program.
  • Encourage critical thinking skills.
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