Category Archives: Tools for Life

Free and Legal Stock Images

Finding the perfect picture to put on your website, brochure, or Facebook event can be tricky, and it gets even more difficult if you’re making sure your photos are legal to use. That’s right, legally, you can’t use any picture you find on Google Images. Using these photos opens your library up to possible lawsuits for copyright infringement. Instead, look for photos that fall into Public Domain or have a Creative Commons license.

Public Domain: The person who created this work has waived their rights to the photo. This means that you can copy, change, distribute, and perform the work for commercial purposes without asking permission.

Creative Commons Licenses: These licenses allow creators to waive and reserve certain rights in regards to their work. This may include if the image can be used for commercial purposes, if it needs creator attribution, and so on.

A guide for helpful information regarding stock photos can be found here.

The following websites are full of free and ready-to-use photos (as long as you follow the licensing restrictions) to make your library marketing a little more beautiful:

Website:

Free No User Account No Attribution
Unsplash X X

X

Pexels

X X X
Pixabay X X

X

Gratisography

X X X
Burst X Low Resolution: No account

High Resolution: Account

X

Creative Commons

X X X

Negative Space

X X

X

Free Images X Account Needed

Various Usage Rights

Freepik (Graphics)

Most are free X Attribution to Freepik
Freerange X Account Needed

X

Vecteezy (Graphics) Most are free X

Attribution to Vecteezy

This post was written with sources from Angela Hursh’s blog “Super Library Marketing.

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Active Shooter Resources

Shootings are an unfortunate and frightening reality in today’s world. Statistically speaking, it is unlikely you will experience an active shooter situation, but that does not negate their seriousness. Planning and being informed can save lives.

There are a few simple things you can do at the office or at home to better prepare yourself.

  • Be informed – stay current on procedures and other relevant information
  • Be prepared – create a plan & participate in trainings
  • Be alert – pay attention to your surroundings, trust your instincts, & if you see something, say something (report suspicious activity to the local authorities)
  • Run. Hide. Fight.
Active_Shooter

Run. Hide. Fight. (Active Shooter: How to Respond Poster – Homeland Security)

There is a plethora of active shooter information and resources available online. Below is a listing of some of the best of the best.

More Information:

Handouts:

Videos:


Books on Library Security:

 

Archiving in Rural Libraries: Photographs

Many of the most popular documents in a town’s past are its photographs. These photographs may have been given to the library because it is where all of the historical documents are stored or they may have been donated by a patron of the library. For whatever reason, rural libraries tend to have a large amount of photographs that document their town’s history. Archiving photographs can be as simple as putting them in acid & lignin free folders and boxes or Mylar sleeves and then storing them in a dark room. But for those who would like to display their collection of photographs they have a few options.

If creating a display with photographs from the archive do not display them in direct sunlight. The UV rays are what make documents and pictures fade over time. I would also suggest keeping them in a clear envelope of some type. Two common types are Mylar and Polyester envelopes. For the library that would like to allow their patrons to look through their photographs without having worry about them wearing gloves and damaging the photo, I would suggest scrapbooking them into albums. Though this may sound silly it is actually a very effective and efficient way to organize and display photographs. The majority of scrapbooks and their pages are acid & lignin free and the adhesives for them are also acid & lignin free. This is important because acid in tape is what turns the tape yellow in time and would therefore further damage the photographs. If the sound of sticking an old photograph to a page is slightly abhorrent I would suggest using photograph corners. With those the photo is never stuck in the scrapbook.

In a scrapbook you can also transcribe any writings that happen to be on the back of the photograph. This will make it easier for patrons to learn about the item and the transcription will prevent any future need to see the back of the photograph if it is placed directly on the page. Each page of the scrapbook should also have a Mylar sleeve. This will protect the photographs from being touched when a patron is looking at them as well as preventing dust and other damage. Scrapbooking can be a fun and innovative way to preserve a town’s photographs and display the history of the town at the same time.

Additionally, for those of you that feel like scrapbooking will be a lot of extra work but like the idea of allowing the patrons to just look through the photographs I would suggest putting them in an album. You can purchase photograph sleeves to the size of the pictures in your collection and then put them in a nice 3-ring binder. I would suggest not using a binder from Wal-Mart or Target because they are not archivally safe.

Some places to purchase archival scrapbooking supplies:

  1. Gaylord Archival Supplies:
    1. They might be one of the pricer options but you know for sure everything they sell is archival quality.
    2. Scrapbook: Selection of Scrapbooks
    3. Page adhesive squares: Photo Corners
  2. Hobby Lobby:
    1. As a general craft and hobby store this one will have scrapbooks and pages but it will also have albums that will come with photograph pages.
    2. Scrapbook Supply Page
    3. Page adhesives: Clear Photo Corners
  3. Micheals:
    1. Like Hobby Lobby, Micheals is a general craft and hobby story that will cater to scrapbook needs.
    2. Scrapbook Supply Page
    3. Page adhesive squares: Clear Photo Corners
  4. Hollinger Metal Edge:
    1. Like Gaylord, this is a pricer option but it comes with the assurance that everything you purchase will be archivally safe for your photographs
    2. Scrapbook Supply Page: Scrapbook Option
    3. Page adhesives: Photo Corners

Note: Page protectors vary depending on the scrapbook decided on. Many of the refill pages will come with page protectors so check that when ordering.

Fake News

[updated September 2018]

Fake News:
t
he history, hysteria, and hype –
and how to see through the subterfuge

fake-1903774_1280

We live in a digital age of information. At the click of a button we have access to thousands, if not millions, of resources online. But can we trust all of this information? Unfortunately, no. For example, did you know the website MartinLutherKing.org is hosted by Stormfront, a white nationalist organization?

What is Fake News?

There has been an increase (perhaps explosion or pandemic) in recent years of fake news. But what is fake news? Fake news can be described as propaganda, a hoax, and/or misinformation that is purposely spread and published as real news – often using social media – with the intent to mislead for political or financial gains. Fake news will often utilize eye-catching headlines and images to increase sharing and views.

The Very Brief History of Fake News

Fake news is nothing new. It has been around for many years. Fake news could even be traced back to the fall of the Knights Templar in the early 1300s.

A 2017 NPR article explains that long before fake news, there were staged photos.

Yellow journalism is a term coined in the 1890s to describe sensational news that is not well-researched but instead strives to be eye-catching to sell more newspapers.

According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, tall-tale postcards emerged in the early 1900s with larger-than-life images of crops and animals, thanks to clever photography and darkroom tricks.

A trip to your local grocery or convenience store’s checkout lane will reveal a plethora of tabloids containing fictional or less than reputable information, often about celebrities; and these tabloids have been in publication for many years (some of which include the National Enquirer, National Examiner, Star, Globe, and Weekly World News).

Social Media (fuel to the fake news flame)

If fake news is nothing new, why is it at the forefront of current issues plaguing society? Insert social media.

Social media usage has exploded in the last several years. It has become part of everyday life. In fact, a 2016 survey from the Pew Research Center indicated that 62% of adults get their news from social media. This number is up from 49% in 2012. Social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc., have become one stop shops for sharing content, interacting with others, and, you guessed it, getting news.

Sharing content on social media has never been easier. One or two clicks is all it takes. But did you take the time to read more than just the headline before you liked, commented, or shared? Is the source reputable? Unfortunately, fake news outlets use social media to their advantage because the before mentioned questions go unanswered, it is easy for them to share things too, they are able to reach a wide audience, and their headlines or images draw people in (also referred to as clickbait).

With so much information present on social media and the sharing of it, it can be easy to skim something and not realize it might be fake. People do not always take the time to fact check something before sharing or commenting.

Social media cannot be completely blamed, however. People moving away from newspapers, television, and radio to get their news; lack of media literacy; the ease of creating a blog or posting your own stories online; our tendency to trust what we see on the internet; and our tendency to trust the information we receive from friends and family are all contributing factors.

Consequences (so there’s fake news, so what?)

It’s safe to assume we can all agree that fake news is a problem. In fact, according to a Pew Research Center survey, 88% of adults say fake news is either causing some or great confusion about current events and basic facts.

Okay, fake news is a problem; but why is it such a big deal? Well, according to the same Pew Research Center survey, about one in four adults has reported sharing fake news, whether they were aware of it at the time or not.

And that is just with adults. Children and teens are also susceptible to fake news. In a study conducted by Stanford University:

  • Over 80% of middle schoolers thought an example of “sponsored content” was a real news story
  • Over 30% of high school students thought a fake Fox News account was more reliable than the real one
  • Sam Wineburg, lead author of the report, said, “Many people assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally perceptive about what they find there. Our work shows the opposite to be true.” (Source: report’s press release)

Fakes news has sometimes received more views, shares, etc. than real news. The top 20 election stories on Facebook (from August to November 2016) received the following engagements:

Even journalists and politicians have been known to share or reference fake news. Fake news stories have even spiraled out of control and led to violence (like the “Pizzagate” incident).

A 2018 article from The Atlantic states fake news/ misinformation has fueled the spread of certain health risks, like diseases, not receiving vaccinations, etc.

People often fall victim to fake news because they don’t fact check; the story supports their argument, position, or belief; or the amount of information available is too overwhelming.

So here is the bottom line: fake news is dangerous.

What is the Point of Fake News? (why do people create fake news in the first place?)

  1. Money
    • The ugly truth behind fake news: there is big money to be made. The money comes from advertisements. The more clicks/views received, the more ads there are (which results in more money).
    • So when it comes to fake news, the more shocking the headline, the more potential for clicks and shares (and money of course).
    • In 2016, a teen in Macedonia made $16,000 between August and November with his pro-Trump websites.
  2. Agenda
    • Some examples of fake news have an agenda. They want you to get “fired up” and join their “dark side”.
  3. Joke
    • Some fake news is just a joke. It is meant to humor and entertain.
  4. Slander
    • Some stories are created with the purpose of damaging reputations.
  5. Other
    • And the list goes on and on.

Categories of Fake Stuff

Fake news has become a rather broad term. Its use has evolved into basically describing anything that might be fake (hoaxes, urban legends, traditional fake news, misinformation, etc.). So when breaking things down into categories, it can be more beneficial to use the technical/ scientific term “fake stuff.” There are a few different ways to categorize fake stuff, but generally it can be put into these five categories:

  1. False/ deceptive
  2. Misleading
    • Stories that contain no established baseline for truth but promote an agenda
    • These stories will often take a tiny shred of factual information, give it their own spin, and run off with it in a completely different direction
    • Examples that fall under this category are intended to “rile you up” (like the story about the craziest person in Congress, Rep. Steve King, wanting to investigate everyone but President Trump)
    • Conspiracy theories and propaganda tend to fall into this category
  3. Slanted/ biased
    • Stories that contain truthful elements but certain facts are selectively chosen or omitted to serve an agenda (like gaining headlines)
    • The stories that fall under this category are not necessarily false. The stories report true news, but they do so in a biased way.
    • Certain content from Fox News, MSNBC, and others could fall under this category (Fox News, The Washington Times, MSNBC, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, etc. don’t have to be completely avoided, but just be aware that biases may exist).
  4. Manipulated
    • Content or imagery that is altered falls under this category
    • “Doctored” or “Photoshopped” images would also be included (like some of the 2012 viral photos of Hurricane Sandy)
  5. Humor (satire/ parody/ jokes)
    • Stories are purposefully fake with no intention to cause harm, but has the potential to fool people
    • Satire news, like content from The Onion, seeks to entertain and be humorous rather than mislead, but people can misinterpret the content as real

How to Spot Fake News

There are a few quick and easy things you can look for to spot fake news. FactCheck.org has some great advice on how to spot fake news:

It is easy to do a couple quick checks to identify fake or real news. But when in doubt, ask the experts – like librarians! Libraries are a trusted source of information. In fact, a 2017 Pew Research Center survey listed libraries at the most trusted source of information.

Utilizing librarians, library resources, and library databases is a great way of finding credible sources and information, and not to mention avoiding the possibility of running into fake news. Click here to explore the reliable databases available through the North Dakota State Library.

Many libraries across the country are already working to combat the fake news problem. For example, many libraries are creating guides and resources.

The Harvard Library has created a guide that lists 5 ways to spot fake news:

  • Consider the source
  • Check the URL
  • Look for visual clues
  • Get a second opinion
  • Put your browser to work

Universities and schools are also fighting back against fake news. Librarians have partnered with the University of Michigan to offer a class on fake news called “Fake News, Lies, and Propaganda: How to Sort Fact from Fiction.”

Many universities and colleges are adopting the CRAAP Test (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose).

Other things to look for to spot fake news:

  • ALL CAPS
  • Advertisements: excessive pop-ups, banners, etc.
  • Assess grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  • Use a reverse image search (like TinEye)
  • If you’re not sure it’s true, then don’t like, share, or comment!

Only You Can Prevent Fake News

While it is almost impossible to prevent fake news, we can, however, strive to prevent its spread. If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Let’s all be part of the solution by following these steps:

  • Before sharing, commenting, or liking, it is paramount that you read past the title of the article.
  • Follow the steps from FactCheck.org, Harvard, and others to identify fake news and determine if there are any red flags.
  • Put the article or source to the test and use a fact checking website (like Snopes).
  • Use the “Report” option on social media to flag posts that are spam, harmful, or inappropriate. Click the dots or downward arrow at the upper right of the post to report it (check out this video about reporting fake news on Facebook if you need additional assistance).
  • Be responsible – Don’t try to fool people by sharing something that could be mistaken as a real story (like the person who intentionally tweeted a fake image of a shark swimming through the streets of Houston).
  • When in doubt, chicken out. If you are not sure if the article is true or the source is reliable, then don’t share, like, comment, etc. Think before you share.

There is a lot of information online, and that is unlikely to change. As more things become accessible online, we have to remain vigilant of what is credible and what is not. It is up to us to be responsible enough to decipher what is real and what it fake. Take advantage of the simple advice, the easy credibility checks, and the many resources at your disposal to win the war on fake news.

Resources

Handouts & Flyers:

Fact Checking Websites:

Identifying the Source:

LibGuides:

Videos:

Resources for Schools, Classrooms, & Educators:

Additional Resources:

Additional Reading:

  • Akpan, N. (2017). Everyone is too distracted to stop fake news, study shows. PBS Newshour. Retrieved from http://to.pbs.org/2sK1O5Y
  • Alvarez, B. (2017). Public libraries in the age of fake news. Public Libraries Online. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2iSOmcx
  • Biersdorfer, J.D. (2017) Twitter bot – or not? New York Times. Retrieved from http://nyti.ms/2qMshfs
  • Davis, W. (2016). Fake or real? How to self-check the news and get the facts. NPR. Retrieved from http://n.pr/2hbEsl3
  • Domonoske, C. (2016). Students have “dismaying” inability to tell fake news from real, study finds. NPR. Retrieved from http://n.pr/2ggms4o
  • Lohr, S. (2018). It’s true: False news spreads faster and wilder. And humans are to blame. New York Times. Retrieved from http://nyti.ms/2G7aWGI
  • Solon, O. (2017). The future of fake news: Don’t believe everything you read, see or hear. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2uW9IuY
  • Tufekci, Z. (2018). YouTube, the great radicalizer. New York Times. Retrieved from http://nyti.ms/2FxTePz
  • Weissman, C.G. (2017). The question isn’t if Facebook can fix its problems – it’s how much it wants to. Fast Company. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2ga08zf

Mindfulness at Your Library

3747796338_ae8565af88_z[1]At the Summer Reading Workshops in February, one of the ideas I suggested for an adult program was “Escape Your Stress,” a play on the “Escape the Ordinary” slogan. Potential topics included stress management, mindfulness/meditation, and yoga. While it’s great to offer these types of program to patrons, perhaps it’s you in the role of librarian who needs some stress reduction.

Minitex recently hosted a free webinar called “Insights and practical tips on practicing mindful librarianship to manage stress,” which was lead by Kristen Mastel and Genevieve Innes. There is a recording available if you were unable to attend. If you don’t have time for a webinar, Kristen and Genevieve also wrote an article by the same title, and they have developed a website to walk you through the concepts of mindfulness and share additional resources.

If you are not familiar with the concept of mindfulness, Psychology Today defines it as “a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

If the idea of meditation seems a little hokey to you, check out the research from well-respected medical institutions:

If you are interested in mindfulness, the UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center offers some free guided meditations to help you get started.

Do you practice mindfulness? How do you manage stress in the library? Share your recommendations in the comments!

DPLA and North Dakota materials

Digital Horizons is a great place to find North Dakota related images and information but there are a lot of places that hold North Dakota content that would surprise you. DPLA pulls in metadata from hundreds of institutions across the United States. The National Archives, The University of Southern California, the New York Public Library, Boston Public Library and many more have North Dakota related  images available for discovery through DPLA. You have to click on the link in the DPLA record to get to the actual record in the home archive. DPLA is a one stop shop for searching North Dakota images held by non-North Dakota entities. The images below are all from the National Archives and have unrestricted access and use rights.

GrandForksFlood28681

Grand Forks, ND, May, 1997 — Aerial view of Grand Forks neighborhood and a bridge crossing the flooded Red River of the North http://dp.la/item/5ab553d8306799ffe9ece06f3f27b7c7

1937 Homestead

Homestead of A. Alin taken in 1937 http://dp.la/item/6fd63db9e20dff2fd5433942601748f7

(April , 1997Grand Forks, ND)- Aerial view of Downtown Grand Forks.

Grand Forks, ND, May, 1997 — Aerial view of Grand Forks the flooded Red River of the North with burned buildings in the foreground http://dp.la/item/8502d955bf0b451f9cb135e911d0daec

 

Music Programs are Not Luxuries

Music is embedded in human DNA; it’s the universal language. Yet, our current education system devalues it by eliminating or severely cutting school music programs. School administrators are often focused on short-term budget matters, not the long-term benefits of music on student academic achievement and cognitive skills.

Music1 004

Neurobiologists Nina Kraus and her colleagues at Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory published a study in the Journal of Neuroscience. Their research showed that kids who took music lessons for two years not only got better at playing music; they found that musical training improved cognitive skills and helped kid’s brains process speech.

The study took place at Harmony Project in Los Angeles, a nonprofit after-school program that teaches music to children in low-income communities. This area of Los Angeles is a high-crime neighborhood with a high fertility rate. Consequently, there are a lot of little kids with nothing to do after school. Harmony Project was founded to help keep at-risk kids safe and out of trouble. Being involved in music reduced the negative factors of their neighborhood.

Music programs build better brains, so let’s start supporting them. Evidence-based science shows that these programs help kids get better grades and improve social skills, which will carry over into a more functional life. Musical training is not just a luxury.  Taxpayers can also save a lot of money on juvenile incarceration and behavior problems. So, let’s take the long-view and encourage our school administrators and legislators to support music programs.

“Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.” – Hunter S. Thompson

World War II in North Dakota

State Historical Society of North Dakota (2003-P-16-07B)

State Historical Society of North Dakota (2003-P-16-07B)

75 years ago today, France and Great Britain declared war on Germany.  This is the day that many consider the official start of World War II. How do you connect that to North Dakota? Many North Dakota citizens served in the war or helped the war effort on the home front. 

Digital Horizons has many images and personal items documenting the lives of North Dakotans during the war. The best way to search for these items is to use the search phrase “World War, 1939-1945”. The above image is a photo of the barracks at Fort Lincoln where German sailors and people of German and Japanese descent were held from 1941-1946.

Play Builds Better Brains

Play2Most of what scientists know about play and learning comes from animal studies. Initially, scientists believed that the rough-and-tumble play of young animals was a way to develop hunting or fighting skills. However, recent studies have shown that play has a different purpose.

Researchers now believe that play develops social skills. Play behavior is very similar across species. Children, puppies, kittens, and mice seem to have similar play rules: do not inflict pain, take turns, and play fair. The real function of play is to build social brains that interact with others in a positive way.

Play that is overseen by adults and their rules does not count. Social brain development occurs through unstructured, free play. Kids need to develop play goals and rules with each other, without adult interference. Play helps develop the prefrontal cortex during childhood. This area of the brain has a role in regulating emotions, solving problems, and making plans — essential skills that kids will carry with them into adulthood.

Play matters. Skills associated with play have been shown to also improve grades. Play is what prepares the developing brain for the social interactions of life, school, work, and love. Check out the links below from Mind/Shift for more on the importance of free play.

“Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects.” – Will Rogers

Ready-Made Computer Courses for Library Patrons (and Staff!)

Carousel of LearningExpress Library modules with Computer Skills at the fore

Anytime you’re providing the public service of free and open access to internet-connected computers, it’s important to also provide training on their use. This can be particularly challenging for small and rural libraries, where extra staff may not be available to provide tutelage to patrons, or in circumstances where the library staff members or volunteers aren’t comfortable enough with the technology to feel they can provide meaningful assistance. In this post, I’ll provide an overview of LearningExpress Library’s Computer Skills Center, a resource that both patrons and staff can use to develop their computer skills.

Access to LearningExpress is funded for all libraries in North Dakota by the North Dakota State Library. Patrons can also access it from home, though probably not until they’ve mastered the basics at one of your public access computers. You can find LearningExpress on our databases page or use this direct link to connect to it from your library’s website. Continue reading