Category Archives: Libraries & Media

Your Library Has What?! A Guide to Libraries of Things

Libraries have circulated books since the 19th Century, and, as AV materials became available, so did the ability to circulate music and movies (in whatever format was currently available). In the past 5 years, however, there has been an uptick in libraries circulating materials considered “non-traditional.” Patrons of libraries with a “Library of Things” may find themselves checking out Halloween costumes, snowshoes, artwork, instruments, or any number of things their heart could desire. Libraries around the globe are doing what they can to help provide their communities with items to make their every-day lives easier.

Many librarians are scared to take on this new collection since it seems so unprecedented, but fear not. We have collected tips and tricks from around the library-sphere (and internet) to help make the plunge a little bit easier. Read on to have your fears put to rest.

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Free and Legal Stock Images

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This resource has moved!

It can now be found on the North Dakota State Library’s LibGuides: https://library-nd.libguides.com/copyright/images

We’d hate to see you leave empty-handed, so here is an image of an unidentified girl enjoying ice cream in Detroit, 1942 (courtesy of the Library of Congress).

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“Detroit, Michigan. Little girl with ice cream cone in the zoological park”

Fanfiction in Libraries

Fanfiction in libraries!?! I’m sure many of you are thinking “not in my library!” but with the growing popularity of fanfiction and pop culture this is an easy programming idea. During the North Dakota Library Association’s annual conference Dr. Aimee Rogers, from the University of North Dakota, and Justine Sprenger, from the Grand Forks Public Library, gave the presentation Fanfiction: Why you should be a fan! Through this presentation the two presenters described why fanfiction is beneficial to young patrons in libraries, how many main stream authors began in fanfiction, and even books that highlight fanfiction as a part of the plot line. Their focus was to help the audience understand what fanfiction is and why it should not be scoffed at as a writing style. In fact, studies show that teaching writing through fanfiction helps the novice writer because they do not need to come up with their own characters and their own worlds, they can just add to the one that already exists.

If a library has a creative writing program within it, for children or teens, allowing them to begin by writing fanfiction may be more helpful than making them create everything on their own. Though some patrons may have all those ideas others may be intimidated by the fact that they need to create everything themselves, especially if they only have a character idea that could fit into another world. This presentation encouraged librarians to continue to embrace pop culture in their libraries through clubs and programming that highlight items like fanfiction, graphic novels, and cosplay. After the presentation, the presenters welcomed a discussion on how the librarians in the session felt about fanfiction in general and about it as a tool to be used to help with creative writing.

Importance of Library Services to Younger Americans

The Pew Research Center surveyed over 6,000 Americans ages 16 and over. The survey was conducted in English and Spanish from July to September, 2013. The chart indicates the percentage who say these library services are “very important” to them.

Importance of Library Services by Age and %

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For the complete September 2014 Pew Research report, see Younger Americans and Public Libraries.

“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” – Robin Williams

Self-Publishing is now Legit

PublishingJust 5 or 6 years ago, printing your own book through a “vanity press” was considered to be the last act of a no-talent author. If legitimate publishers would not accept your book, you must be a failure. Most library acquisition departments did not purchase a vanity press book, unless it was a town or church history.

Today, the stigma associated with self-publishing is mostly gone. Many best-sellers are self-published titles whose authors are not interested in signing with traditional publishers. Now, writers can digitally format their own books, or they can deal with online publishers like Amazon, Smashwords, or Kobo. Self-published authors are able to keep 60%-85% of e-books sales. Traditional publishers keep about 85% of net proceeds.

Traditional publishers formerly determined good from bad writing. Good writing was published and bad writing was discarded. Publishers covered the costs of promotion, printing, and distribution. Today, good writing is determined by readers through online reviews and e-book sales.

The real questions are: Who bests determines good from bad writing? Do readers need publishers to find good books? Do traditional publishing houses have too much power? Who should get the biggest piece of the pie, the author or the publisher? I think the reader ultimately determines whether or not a book has value. The real problem is navigating through all the junk to get to the good stuff.

“How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.”  – Arthur C. Clarke

Social Media Connections

Many libraries use social media as a way to connect with their patrons these days, but who do you connect with as a library? The database vendors all have several social media channels you can use to connect with them and learn more about services they can provide for your patrons. Check out the links below for ideas you can use in your library.

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Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
YouTube
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Surveys, Valuable and Annoying

SurveyThe other morning National Public Radio had a story about customer surveys, which seem to be everywhere. In the library world, as well most other worlds (business, education, government, sports, etc.) surveys are extensively used to find out why people do what they do, and what they want.

On one hand, surveys have value. We even have a book club survey posted on our “Field Notes” blog. But on the other hand, surveys can be one of the banes of modern society. Occasionally I will fill out a survey, if it isn’t too long and if it relates to my experience. I’ve created surveys. Most times though when a survey pops up on a webpage, I close it or say, “No thanks.”

Online surveys are everywhere because they are inexpensive, immediate, easy to create, and have value for discerning what customers are thinking. Institutions and companies find surveys to be worth the risk of annoyance. So, if you see value in a survey, take it.

“Add a few drops of venom to a half truth and you have an absolute truth.” — Eric Hoffer

Cellular Telephone and Broadband Internet service Essential to Rural Youth

CellPhoneThe 2013 Rural Youth Telecommunications Survey was conducted between January and April. The survey respondents were 60% female, and nearly 75% were 19 years old or younger. More than 90% have an Internet connection in their home.

Rural youth see their cell phones as much more than a means of voice communications and are intrinsically attached to them. They also use their cell phones for texting, taking pictures, shopping, surfing the Web, social networking, playing games, downloading music, watching videos, or homework. The cell phone is an expression of lifestyle and an extension of themselves.

Mobile cell service and broadband Internet are critical to today’s youth; they do not want to be shackled to a fixed location to access services. The majority of survey respondents indicated that they will only live where cellular telephone and broadband Internet are available. Libraries and businesses take note: design your websites, products, and services to be accessible to a mobile generation.

“Have you ever noticed? Anybody going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a moron.” – George Carlin

 

Old Journals as Insulation

Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia had a problem. They had about 50,000 bound volumes of academic journals to store and were running out of space. Most universities are confronted with this problem. Some rent off-campus storage, others attempt to recycle. However, recycling poses problems; covers have to be removed because the glues and binding compounds jam the mechanical shredders.

David Cameron heard about the problem and saw a possible solution. David is a builder and his Blockhouse School Project needed a way to insulate the school to save heating money. The project is transforming an old schoolhouse into a community center. Cameron realized he could solve two problems by using the journals as insulation. Basically, he and his helpers stacked a wall of books and covered them with earth plaster (a mixture of clay, sand, and straw).

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The Blockhouse School illustrates one successful way to use old books and journals, but the storage of bound journals is still an issue that many universities must confront.

[Adapted from: Asgarian, R. (2013). Library Discards Find New Life as Insulation. Library Journal, 138(21), 17.]

“People are like bicycles. They can keep their balance only as long as they keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

 

Are Public Libraries Valued?

A recent Pew Research Center study, How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities, tries to answer this question. 90% of Americans, age 16 and above, said that libraries are very important to their communities and that the closing of their local public library would have a negative impact.

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 “It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.” – Lena Horne