Category Archives: Tools for Life

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 These photographs may have been given to the library because it is where all of the historical documents are stored or they may have been donated by a patron of the library.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

fake-1903774_1280We 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 supremacist organization?

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.

Fake news is different from satire news. Satire news, like content from The Onion, seeks to entertain rather than mislead like fake news.

Fake news is nothing new. It has been around for many years. 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. These tabloids have been in publication for many years. A 2017 NPR article explains that long before fake news, there were staged photos. 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. Yellow journalism was 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.

If fake news is nothing new, why is 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 indicates 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.

However, 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:

  • Consider the source
  • Read beyond the headline
  • Check the author
  • Check the supporting sources
  • Check the date
  • Is it a joke?
  • Check your biases
  • Ask the experts

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. 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.

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.”

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 share or comment!

There is a lot of information out there, 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:

Fact Checking Websites:

Identifying Fake News Sources:

LibGuides:

Examples of Fake News:

  • Fargo Man Arrested for Clearing Snow with Flamethrower
    • Source: FM Observer (clicking on their About page will reveal this message: “FM Observer provides farcical/satirical news and entertainment for the Fargo-Moorhead and surrounding area, as well as nationally. We are the greatest website you will ever visit in your entire human existence.”)
    • It is no secret that North Dakota can get a lot of snow, so something like this can easily catch someone’s interested because we all get sick of snow at some point and likely consider doing this to our snowbanks. This fake news article coincidentally resurfaces on social media each winter since it was first published in 2013.
    • Fact checking website Snopes has confirmed that this story is indeed FALSE.
  • Vince Gilligan Announces Breaking Bad Season 6… (and this story also appeared on Facebook: Breaking Bad season 6 announced!!!) WARNING: these articles, although fake, do contain some spoilers about Breaking Bad.
    • Source: NBC? At first glance, it appears as though this article comes from NBC News. Look carefully at the URL. You’ll notice that it says “nbc.com.co”. Anytime “.co” is added to the end of a URL, you need to be suspicious of this news source and its content. This is an indicator that this source is not reliable.  Also note that the official NBC logo is missing.
    • After 5 seasons, Breaking Bad aired its last episode in 2013. The show generated a large fan base, so it makes sense that people would get excited about seeing an article like this.
    • Fact checking website Snopes has confirmed that this story is indeed FALSE.
  • The Simpsons predicted the score of Super Bowl 51
    • You may have seen an image floating around on social media after the 2017 Super Bowl of The Simpsons. In the image (an example of which can be viewed here) the Atlanta Falcons appear to lose to the New England Patriots by a score of 28 to 34. It’s a miracle! …or it’s fake.
    • In the episode (“The Town” – season 28, episode 3), which aired in October 2016, the actual final score of the game is 23 to 21, and the teams are Springfield and Boston (image can be viewed here).
    • Clever photo editing was used to alter the image from The Simpsons episode.
    • Fact checking website Snopes has confirmed that this story is indeed FALSE.
  • Even NPR pulled a fast one on us: Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore? (and also on Facebook: What has become of our brains?)
    • Source: NPR (very reliable – except when they pull April Fools’ Day pranks)
    • NPR basically conducted an experiment with this April Fools’ Day article. They wanted to see how people would react. If you click on the article and read its content, it says “If you are reading this, please like this post and do not comment on it. Then let’s see what people have to say about this ‘story’.” If you look at the Facebook comments, you can tell many people only looked at the title of this article.
    • Before sharing, commenting, or liking, it is paramount that you read past the title.

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

Digital First Aid Kit

DigitalDefenders

I know that I’m not the only one that has had an online account hacked and I’m sure everyone still remembers the Heartbleed bug that compromised the security of many websites. A few years ago my Ebay account was hijacked and someone advertised iTunes giftcards for sale. I caught it right away and got Ebay customer support to help me delete the fraudulent activity.  I immediately changed my password as well as changing my email and Paypal accounts that had been linked to that account.

It isn’t always easy to know what to do when an aspect of your digital life has been hacked, lost, stolen or hijacked. A group called the Digital Defenders Partnership has put together a Digital First Aid Kit that helps you work through the different actions you need to take when something like this happens.  This can be very helpful for librarians as well since we are often digital first responders for patrons.

The kit is broken into sections. Each section moves you through a series of questions about your situation and then gives you ways to mitigate it. The first section deals with establishing secure communication with the provider on the service that has been compromised. This can be tricky if you computer has been compromised by malware. The malware could let someone monitor your communications and keep you from fixing the situation. The second section deals with hijacked accounts and runs you through the steps of determining what has been changed and how to remedy the situation. Section three deals with lost or stolen devices like cell phones and other mobile devices. Section Four covers malware. The last section covers distributed denial of service attacks (DDos) which only affects those with their own website. Although those kind of attacks do affect websites that you may use on a regular basis like Ancestry.com last month.

They also include helpful resources, organizations that can help with your situation, and a glossary at the bottom of the page. The Digital Defenders make a point of saying that this kit isn’t the ultimate solution to digital emergencies but it does give you some solid steps for addressing your problems.

Apprenticeship, Internship, and the Military Model

InternHow do you get good at something? You practice. You make mistakes. You get feedback. You try again. In the past, you learned by doing. You found an expert in a trade and apprenticed yourself. You learned by trial and error. The system of apprenticeship was first developed in the late Middle Ages by craft guilds. A master craftsman provided food, lodging, and expert training in the craft in exchange for labor.

The contemporary internship, in theory, is similar to an apprenticeship. However, modern internships are often unpaid; you are lucky if you actually learn job skills and are not stuck doing mundane tasks that do not teach the trade.

The traditional military model of learning a trade still works well. In the military, the recruit learns skills by observation, practice, and feedback. I remember my time in a U.S. Navy “A” school, which was split about half and half between the classroom and doing the actual work. You got immediate feedback from the supervisor if you did something wrong, and then you tried again. The military couldn’t fire you, so there was room for error, room to learn. Today’s work environment often does not tolerate mistakes. Make a mistake and you might be fired or asked to resign.

The current model of education is mostly classroom based, where teachers actively give and students passively receive. Basically it is about grades, not about experience. In the modern era, traditional apprenticeship job training has largely been replaced by vocational classes or college courses. The classroom model does not serve us well in every learning environment.  Maybe we should re-visit the apprenticeship model. Lessons from the past teach us that apprenticeships are mutually beneficial to the worker and the mentor or the organization.

“If you want success, figure out the price, and then pay it.”                     – Scott Adams, cartoonist