Monthly Archives: April 2014

American Stroke Month


May is American Stroke Month. It is a joint campaign of the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association to raise awareness that stroke is largely preventable, treatable and beatable. Some people may think that stroke is largely a condition that affects older people but there is a growing number of people aged 30 and younger that have strokes. Strokes can also be associated with migraine headaches. Check out the statistics and risk factors.

How can you help? Consider making a display in your library to help raise awareness and showcase the information your library has on health topics. The website has pre-made informational flyers, web banners, infographics, and fact sheets. You could partner with a local clinic or health professional to give an informational session at the library.  If your library has health information that is outdated, take this opportunity to update your materials. An app is also available for smart phones that helps you identify the symptoms of a stroke using the F.A.S.T. method, call 911, and find the hospital nearest to you.

Children’s Programming Resources

reading togetherWhen I attended the CSLP annual meeting, it was a great opportunity to talk to children’s librarians working in other states and all different types of libraries. Over the course of 3 days, I jotted down a number of resources that were mentioned as being helpful to other librarians, so I wanted to share them with you here. Those of you who work with children more closely than I do may already be familiar with some of them.

  • 1000 Books Before Kindergarten is an organization designed “to promote reading to newborns, infants, and toddlers” and “to encourage parent and child bonding through reading.” The site has resources for parents and there is now a free app.
  • EatPlayGrow  is an “early childhood health curriculum developed in partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH)” and the “Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM).” You can download the comprehensive curriculum full of activities.
  • Scientific Tuesdays is YouTube channel with short videos on science concepts. Perfect for this year’s summer reading theme!
  • H.I.P. Pocket Change is a site from the United States Mint that explains how coins are “History In Your Pocket.” There are games for kids and lesson plans for educators.
  • Tiny Tips for Library Fun is a blog written by a Children’s Librarian in Wisconsin who shares ideas you can use in your library.
  • Sing With Our Kids is a site that highlights the importance of music to literacy skills. There’s a song library and tips for those who love to sing and those who might prefer not to.
  • Instant Recess is a program designed to incorporate 10 minute activity breaks into an average day, which can be done in places like the library, to make movement the norm and improve health.
  • Everyday Advocacy is a site that provides a step-by-step guide to simple ways you can be a better advocate in your community for your library.

Do you have a great library resource you’d like to share? Link to it in the comments and tell us why you love it!

Big Talk From Small Libraries 2014: Follow-Up

This post is in (extremely belated) follow-up to my post from February 3 on the Big Talk from Small Libraries Conference. The conference, sponsored by the Nebraska Library Commission and the Association for Rural and Small Libraries, took place on February 28, and was attended by 415 people from 41 states and five Canadian provinces. Recordings of all thirteen of the one-day online conference’s presentations are available for anyone to view at

There were a lot of great presentations with great information and ideas, presented by folks from small libraries and geared specifically toward small libraries. If you’re interested in learning how to stretch your collection budget by purchasing used books, how to earn money for your library using the Internet, how to put on great library programs on a small budget, and much more, check out these archived presentations. Mark your calendars to attend next year’s Big Talk from Small Libraries online conference, which will be held on February 27, 2015.

Using Infographics to Tell Your Library’s Story

Infographics are a visually striking means of combining data and text to make an argument or illustrate a thesis. They’re easy to understand and easy to share through social media, so they’ve become an extremely popular means of information sharing. Don’t believe me? Here’s a pinboard of library-related infographics respectfully submitted for your amusement and edification.

Before going further I want to show you two detailed snips from two very different infographics. This first one was made by goodreads and is fueled by data and comments from their users:

Image of quotes, stats, and book covers related to books readers have started and then abandoned.

If you’d like to see the whole thing, it’s available here.

Next up is a very different approach to data visualization from the good people at the Pew Internet and American Life Project:

Stat-riddled chart-happy infographic presenting results of a poll of library users


The whole infographic replete with all its great and sundry data is available here.

Now, you know that the credibility of any data lies in its source, their methodology, and your ability to verify and reproduce it. While the Pew data is much harder and their methodology more sound than that of goodreads, I think few would argue that goodreads presented their data in a far more compelling and convincing manner. This tells us as much about human psychology as it does about infograhics. Here’s the takeaway, while solid data is exquisite, very few will pay attention to it unless it is neatly and sensibly presented and organized around a clearly stated theme. This is where well-thought out infograhpics excel and its why they go viral.

Want to make your own ingofraphics? Of course you do! Lucky for you, it’s relatively easy and will cost you anywhere from nothing (yay!) to not that much really (meh).

I’ve taken a number of free infographic generators for a test drive, and my favorite by far is Piktochart.

Image of the homepage of Piktochart

Piktochart is a freemium web-based app with an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface and excellent chart integration. This last bit is important as you want to be sure your data displays nicely. For whatever reason, not every infographic generator will scale your charts to match your data. You don’t want to be in the business of eyeballing bar graphs for proportionality, so don’t enter it.

The free version of Piktochart grants you access to seven themes and the blank canvas. You should be aware that shared infographics from free accounts will be watermarked at the very bottom. Licensed use gets you a wealth of additional themes and removes the watermark at a cost of $39.99/year for educators.

Once you create an account or sign in, you can pick a theme to start designing from. The blank canvas is definitely where you’ll be heading most often, as it provides maximum flexibility. After you choose a theme, you’ll see that your chart dominates the window and all the design elements at your disposal are accessible from a toolbar on the left. Here is what the Tools menu looks like:


Image of Piktographic's Tools menu.

Tools allow you to add charts, maps, videos, and, most exciting of all, lines!

And here are the options available through the Share menu:

Image of sharing options.

The best way to learn to use it is to play around with it. The design interface is clean and simple. Select elements and drag them to your infographic-to-be to add them. Once they’re added, you can manipulate them in a variety of useful ways. Data elements like charts and maps are also interactive, so that when a viewer hovers over a data point, they’ll get detailed information about it–because for some, that stuff matters!

If you’d like to learn more about infographics and alternate infographic creation tools, I highly recommend you explore Dani Brecher’s Infographic DIY libguide, which she presented at LibTech 2014.

If You are Online, Someone is Tracking You

Tracking2No online space should be considered safe. Internet service and phone providers, media research firms, online stores, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, the NSA, are tracking your online activity. Websites sell data about its members to other companies.  None of this is illegal because it is disclosed in the fine print of service agreements, which few of us ever read.  Indiscriminate tracking is now a fact of online activity.

Before computers, it was time consuming and expensive to track individuals. Technology has made it simple, immediate, and cheap to keep records of various kinds on our lives. Small, powerful devices like smart phones and tablets combined with massive computing power and cheap storage has resulted in our personal data and our locations being indiscriminately tracked. Our online browsing is being watched by advertisers and data brokers.

Information is power. Those who have access to our personal data have power over us. Indiscriminate access to our data can embarrass us, rob us, and even accuse us of criminal behavior. Analysis of this glut of data is often conducted by mathematical algorithms, devoid of human editors. This can create a culture of fear and broken trust. We should all be concerned about privacy.

New technology has brought benefits and hazards. We can’t let the dangers of online activity prevent us from using technology. We need safe online spaces for ourselves and our children.

Source: Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance by Julia Angwin, Henry Holt and Company, 2014.

 “Stories help people cope with complexity.” – Peter Schwartz, author


Digital Public Library of America Anniversary


April 18th marked the 1st anniversary of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). DPLA is a digital library initiative that brings together and makes millions of digitized items from America’s libraries, museums, and archives freely available from one interface. Even if you have already visited the site, there have been many additions over this first year:

  • 6 major new partners have recently been added including the Montana Memory Project
  • NYPL expanded DPLA’s access to their digital collections increasing the DPLA offerings by almost 20%
  • Tripled the size of their collection
  • Pulled in materials from an additional 500 organizations
  • Added third party apps for more discovery opportunities
  • launched a book browsing interface

This is a great resource for education. It has books, journals, serials, photographs, posters, 3-D objects and much more. From the homepage, you can explore exhibitions as well as exploring by place and by date. You can view a map to see what areas have included content as well as seeing the amount of items available by date. There are not a lot of items available yet for North Dakota on DPLA but there is a large amount of North Dakota content currently on Digital Horizons.

CSLP Update

CSLP_logo_R Earlier this month, I attended the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) annual meeting in Biloxi, Mississippi as the state representative for North Dakota. CSLP is “a consortium of states working together to provide high-quality summer reading program materials for children at the lowest cost possible for their public libraries.”

In North Dakota, the North Dakota Library Association pays the dues for all public libraries to be members. CSLP is the organization that produces the summer reading manual. The State Library purchases one summer reading manual for each public library. Member libraries work together to produce the manual.

At the annual meeting, the state representatives vote on the themes, slogans, and artists for future programs based on feedback from the librarians in their states.

2015 Theme: Heroes

  • Children’s slogan: Every Hero Has a Story (Artist: Jarrett Krosoczka)
  • Teen slogan: Unmask! (Artist: Hope Larson)
  • Adult slogan: Escape the Ordinary

2o16 Theme: Fitness/Wellness

  • Children’s slogan: On Your Mark, Get Set, Read
  • Teen slogan: Get in the Game – Read
  • Adult slogan: Exercise Your Mind – Read

2017 Theme: Build a Better World

  • Slogans: will be chosen in 2015

This year, CSLP has partnered with several other organizations with similar missions. Here are just a few: Continue reading

Reading Outside the Box

Librarians are people too. Maybe we’re people who, in general, spend more time reading than the average person. But, like most people, we tend to get stuck in the habit of reading the same genres and authors without exploring new books outside of our comfort zone. For all readers, it’s good to climb out of the box of what we usually read to explore new literary experiences, different genres, and new authors. I’m as guilty of this as the next person, so I was really excited to discover the article “A Year in Reading Suggestions” on Booklist Online. King County Library System readers advisory specialist Alene Moroni offers month-by-month suggestions for a year of reading outside the box. Though we’re already four months in, it’s never too late to get started.

January: Read a book published the same year you were born.
If you Google “books of [fill in the year]” you should get some decent lists from which to select.

February: Read a book recommended on a blog.
There are lots of great book blogs out there. I regularly read Booklist’s Likely Stories, and the New Yorker’s Page Turner, among others, but I will be selecting my February read from our friend at MissSusie’s Reading!

Continue reading

Preservation Week Continued

Preservation week Logo 2014A couple weeks ago I wrote about Preservation Week starting at the end of this month. There are two free 1 hour webinars being offered by the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) division of ALA.

1. Low-Cost Ways to Preserve Family Archives  (Tuesday, April 29 1PM CDT). Presented by Karen E. K. Brown, preservation librarian for the University at Albany, SUNY University Libraries. What can we do to protect our collectables from damage even if we don’t think we have a perfect place to keep them? Learn about possible risks from handling and the environment, and practical, inexpensive ideas to keep collections safe to help ensure what you have can be shared for many years to come.

2. Preserving Scrapbooks (Thursday, May 1- 1 PM CDT).
Presented by Melissa Tedone, conservator at Iowa State University Library.
Scrapbooks can be challenging to preserve since they often contain a diversity of materials. Learn about common problems with long-term preservation of scrapbooks  and identify the most stable materials and bindings for new scrapbooks.

Consider inviting the public to join you for the webinars. They will also be recorded so those that register can access the recording at any time. Click on the links above for more information, technical requirements and registration. Don’t forget about the free bookmarks and flyers in the Event Toolkit.

Or pose your most commonly asked preservation question to a preservation professional in our Dear Donia preservation advice column. Every question becomes an entry in the ALCTS raffle for a free Document Preservation Kit from Hollinger Metal Edge.


Maker Camp

camp-robotAre you looking for an easy way to integrate a makerspace into your library programming?

Look no further than this summer’s Maker Camp on Google+! Maker Camp runs July 7-August 15. Why not take advantage of the convenient tie-in to this year’s science themed summer reading program? There’s even a special page discussing how organizations like libraries can participate!

You can find out more in the FAQs, but the most important part is that it’s free to participate! You will need a computer with internet access. You must be 13 years old to create your own Google+ account, but younger kids can participate using an adult’s account. Most supplies and tools you will be able to find around the house or obtain easily and inexpensively. Supply lists will be posted in advance.

Each week is themed, so there’s something for everyone:

  • Makers in Motion
  • Create the Future
  • Health & Science
  • Art and Design
  • DIY Music
  • Make: Believe

For information on starting a year program at your library, request a free PDF Playbook. Check out Make: for more ideas and projects. You can also visit Make it @ your library for project ideas that will fit the resources you have. You may also want to investigate Make It at the Library to see how Idaho is integrating makerspaces into its libraries.

If you decide to participate, be sure to register your camp site! What are people making at your library? Share your stories in the comments!