Monthly Archives: March 2014

LibTech 2014 Conference Experience Overview

libTech2014It was recently my pleasure and privilege to attend the 2014 Library Technology Conference at Macalester College (otherwise known as LibTech). I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my experiences from and  impressions of this always wonderful event.


There were two keynote presentations during the conference, one by Mita Williams and one by Barbara Fister. Mita Williams spoke on ways libraries are embracing writers circles and local musicians to both create new works at the library and to build local digital collections. She also spoke of ways libraries can make use of affordable, readily available technologies to do things that might have previously seemed unobtainable, like virtualizing servers through Amazon’s EC2 web service. Barbara Fister spoke about her work in the burgeoning movement towards open publishing by academics, allowing their work to reach 500 times the readership at a tenth of the cost. You can watch archived video of both profound and inspirational keynotes here. Continue reading

The Net and the Web: What’s the Difference?

InternetEven though people often use “Internet” (or Net) and “World Wide Web” (or Web) interchangeably, technically they are different. Simply put, the World Wide Web is a subset of the Internet. Other subsets of the Internet are email, FTP (File Transfer Protocol), and chat. These subsets run on top of the Internet. I like this description of the difference from Pau Gil at “To be precise, the Net is the restaurant, and the Web is the most popular dish on the menu.”

The Internet had its beginning in the 1960s as a jumble of government, university and corporate silos that eventually unified into a network of networks. No one owns the Internet and no single person or entity controls the Internet. The Net is a global system of interconnected computer networks that uses a standard protocol (TCP/IP).

The Web was launched 25 years ago in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee and has evolved into something not imagined by the originator. By design, the Web is free, open, decentralized and universal. People from around the world have created services, applications, and tools in a collaborative space that is for everyone. There is still a lot of potential for the web and some challenges. Two-thirds of the earth’s populations do not have access to the Internet. Our personal data is at risk. How do we keep the Net open to all and non-proprietary?

“The greatest oak was once a little nut that held its ground.” – Unknown author


The Talented Ms. Ripley

Library Technology Conference Logo

Library Technology Conference 2014

Greetings and salutations! This is my first post for Field Notes and I would like to briefly introduce myself. My name is Stephanie Kom and I am the Digital Initiatives Librarian here. You might be asking yourself–What does a Digital Initiatives Librarian do? Well, that is a question I’m still figuring out (more details below) but currently I work with digitizing some our materials and providing digital preservation training.

I attended the Library Technology Conference last week in St. Paul and was overwhelmed, excited and made slightly dizzy by the amount of information I found in my sessions. The thing that struck me the most though didn’t come from the sessions directly. I was talking with a librarian from Michigan who is in charge of their website. She was very impressed with the website related sessions she attended and then whispered—“I feel like an imposter.” This struck me because I often feel the same way since deciding to take up the digitization program here at the library. I didn’t take any digital or technical courses in school and have never considered myself to be very “techy” but here I am. I did a little internet sleuthing and shouldn’t have been surprised to find that there is actual name for these feelings—Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome is much more common than I expected and common to professions across the board, more so in women hence the title of this post. I think this is something that many librarians out there are encountering. There are so many aspects to a librarian’s job and naturally one person can’t be an expert on everything. Technology related job duties can be especially daunting when one hasn’t had any training. The first step for me in overcoming imposter syndrome is recognizing that I don’t know everything and embrace it—there are a lot of people out there in the same boat and we can learn from each other. There will always be someone out there that is more knowledgeable on certain subjects but there is no equal for enthusiasm and hard work.

For those things you don’t know, contact our Field Services staff and they can answer your question or hunt down the information that they may not know.

STEM for Teens

Spark Book This year’s summer reading theme is science, and YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association) has a convenient resource to help you plan science-related teen programming! The YALSA STEM task force has prepared a STEM programming toolkit to help you “Spark a Reaction” with your teens. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math, so it’s a perfect fit for this year’s summer reading theme.

The toolkit walks you through the entire process, including information on  getting started, building partnerships, marketing and promotion, and best practices, as well as providing sample programs, ideas, and additional resources. Since teens are a difficult demographic to target, and you may not have a staff member dedicated to teen programming, they also include suggestions for stealth programming.

If you’re looking for book suggestions, YALSA offers a STEM Reads for Teens brochure, and CSLP (the Collaborative Summer Library Program) has a “Spark a Reaction” bibliography available.

What kind of STEM programming are you preparing for teens this summer? Share your ideas in the comments!

NoveList Plus: a Great Tool for Book Discussion Groups

NoveListRunning a book discussion group may sometimes seem like a thankless, time-consuming job. Recruiting (not to mention retaining) group members, organizing meetings, selecting book titles, coming up with discussion questions and researching prior to the discussion…just thinking about all this organizational leg-work is enough to keep your head spinning for weeks before the day of the group meeting even arrives. Whether you are currently running a thriving, successful book discussion group, or you’re considering starting one up with your friends or at your local public library, knowing where to turn to choose titles and to find fodder for your actual book discussion is half the organizational battle. The NoveList Plus database, available through the North Dakota State Library and your local North Dakota public library, is a great one-stop resource to help you find what you need to choose a book and jumpstart your discussion.

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Establishing a Distinctive Sense of Purpose

Last week I attended the Public Library Association (PLA) conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. One of the session I attended was Who We Are, What We Do, and Why it Matters: Establishing Our Distinctive Sense of Purpose, presented by Valerie Gross.

education-pillarsValerie discussed how simply modifying what you say about the library can raise the recognized value of the library, and thus, your likelihood of increased financial support. She used the example of upgrading the library’s image from “generic” to “brand name.” The generic and brand names products you buy in the store are often times virtually identical, except in price. You don’t need to change what you’re doing; you just need to change how you’re marketing it. This alone can make it easier to get new or more funding, simply by changing how people perceive the library. Continue reading

Summer Reading Resources from NLM

beakerLast week I attended the Public Library Association (PLA) conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. I attended a session called Off the Shelf: Free Science Programming @ Your Library, and I wanted to highlight some of the free online resources provided by the National Library of Medicine that I learned about. These would be great resources to use for the science-themed summer reading program. Continue reading

Summer Reading Partnership with Your School

child readingLast week I attended the Public Library Association (PLA) conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.  I took a lot of notes, and I wanted to share what I learned at the session called Better Together: Maximizing the Impact of Your Summer Reading Program.

This session, hosted by librarians Faith Brautigam and Denise Raleigh, and elementary school principal Steve Johnson, outlined how the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, Illinois partnered with the local school to increase both enrollment and completion of their summer reading program. It turned into a community-wide summer reading program. Continue reading

Think Small to Think Big

graphAre you ever envious when you hear stories about libraries that are hosting programs that seem out of reach for your library due to lack of staff or funding? Do you ever get discouraged thinking how your library could never afford to do such an expensive or large scale project?

Maybe it’s time to change how you’re thinking! WebJunction hosted a webinar entitled “The Future is Now: Rural Library as Innovative Incubator” that focused on how to do just that. If you missed it, you can still access the content, or you can read this recap, which highlights how small libraries can still achieve big goals with a change in how they think about the goal.

One way of accomplishing this is to start with small changes. You don’t have to do everything at once! One librarian discusses how she learned that another library spent $10,000 on a digital media lab. Knowing she could not afford such a large amount, she focused on what she could do and invested in $400 worth of equipment to get her library’s lab up and running.

Some North Dakota libraries would balk at even a $400 project, but remember, the point is to focus on what you can do rather than why you can’t do it.

What’s a lofty goal you have for your library that you could break down into smaller pieces? Share your ideas in the comments!

New (and Final) Pew Internet Report on Libraries

Pew Internet and American Life Project

From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers – and Beyond, a new report on libraries from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, was released last Thursday. The purpose of this, the final report from Pew’s public library initiative, is to create a typology of America’s engagement with public libraries. Relying on analysis of statistics gathered for previous Pew reports, researchers sorted Americans into groups describing their usage and opinion of, and connection to, public libraries.

The typology establishes nine main categories which describe the spectrum of public engagement with libraries:

  • Library Lovers
  • Information Omnivores
  • Solid Center
  • Print Traditionalists
  • Not for Me
  • Young and Restless
  • Rooted and Roadblocked
  • Distant Admirers
  • Off the Grid

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