13 June 2016 - 10:26am | by Ginny Mies

The cookies are out, the coffee is ready, and people are already starting to file into the lecture you've organized for your library. Just before your speaker starts, you hit Go Live. All of a sudden, people from all over the world are popping into your feed, asking questions and sharing comments on your program. Now your attendance total has tripled, and viewers are sharing your lecture, turning it into an online success!

Live-streamed video is taking off, and it is easier than ever to get on board. You can use live streaming not only to share your programs and lectures but also to give people a virtual tour of your library or share one of your classes. There are so many possibilities! The Wichita Public Library used Facebook Live for a book discussion for Kitchens of the Great Midwest, and the Wilmington Memorial Library used Live to share a program on drones

We tested out a few popular live-streaming platforms to see how they stack up and if they might be right for libraries.

26 May 2016 - 11:48am | by Ginny Mies

Among Americans who visited a library in 2012, one in five attended a class, lecture, or program for adults. Did those visitors enjoy the program? Did they learn something from it? Will they attend another program like that? Or was it not what they expected? Unless you have psychic powers, you won't know what your patrons got out of a program or service unless you ask.

TechSoup for Libraries recently teamed up with the Public Library Association (PLA) on a webinar that gave an overview of outcome measurement from Project Outcome. This new program from PLA provides simple tools for libraries to measure programs across seven common service areas. The webinar also featured a Project Outcome user from a small library. Our webinar speakers were:

  • Samantha Lopez, Project Outcome in Chicago, Illinois
  • Robyn Truslow, Calvert Library in Prince Frederick, Maryland

23 May 2016 - 11:42am | by Ginny Mies

Snap a picture, tag it, post it, and voilà: more people in the library! Is it really that easy? At our April webinar, we invited two librarians to talk about how they use Instagram, the Facebook-owned photo social network. Both of these librarians have used creative and downright funny tactics to bring attention to the great work their libraries are doing. Our guests were

We surveyed our webinar attendees to see if they're using Instagram and what they hope to accomplish with it.

  • 56 percent of attendees reported that their library has an Instagram account
  • 88 percent said they want to promote library services and programs
  • 87 percent want to connect with library users
  • 84 percent said they want to attract new library users

17 May 2016 - 12:15pm | by Ginny Mies

Adobe survey

Creative Cloud for Teams device licensing is a way to have all Creative Cloud apps available to your users on public access computers at an annual subscription price. Adobe Creative Cloud includes Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere Pro, Illustrator, and lots of other apps. We would like to know if this product would be interesting to libraries like yours! Answer our brief survey for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

Take the Survey

13 May 2016 - 1:58pm | by Ginny Mies

I recently wrote an article for Public Libraries Online on how the Berkeley Public Library (BPL) in California is making coding more accessible to its community through free workshops. The volunteer who is leading these classes is Sameer Siruguri. He is actually a former TechSouper and had reached out to the TechSoup for Libraries team to see if other libraries have done similar programming. 

Tech + Volunteers = Library Success!

Hour of Code at Chattanooga Library

The focus of my story was the coding programs for adults (inspired by the excellent Library Journal piece, How to Talk Code: Digital Literacy). But I thought this was also a wonderful example of how volunteers can help support technology and digital literacy initiatives.

I interviewed Siruguri along with Dan Beringhele, an adult services librarian at the Berkeley Public Library's Central Library, and Anwan Baker, the supervising librarian for adult services. Siruguri had approached the BPL because he was searching for a venue to host a RailsBridge workshop, a weekend event that teaches coding to underserved people. Previously, the Central Library had only offered basic computer classes, and both Beringhele and Baker wanted to see if there was any interest in more advanced programs, like coding.

The three planned an introductory class for adults that covered the basics of HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript. The class was so well received that they're planning a follow-up class that is focused specifically on JavaScript.

12 May 2016 - 12:08pm | by Ginny Mies

Most libraries provide some sort of digital literacy training, from public computer classes to drop-in technology labs to one-on-one help. TechSoup for Libraries' March webinar was all about free digital literacy training resources and tutorials. We invited guests from two organizations that specialize in digital literacy:

  • Scott Allen, program manager for the Public Library Association (PLA) where he oversees
  • Jessica Rich, curriculum coordinator of

Online learning at the library

The most popular digital literacy activity among our webinar attendees was "technical reference questions" with "drop-in assistance" coming in second.

22 April 2016 - 1:20pm | by Ginny Mies

This is part of our series on digital storytelling and originally appeared on the TechSoup blog. We also covered this topic in the TechSoup for Libaries/Kixal digital storytelling presentation at PLA 2016. You can find all of the resources, slide deck, and handout for that presentation on this document

Woman taking photograph with tripod

A compelling story makes a video stick with its audience, but if it looks poorly made, nobody's going to watch it. So as you're plotting out your next great digital story, make equipment-planning and budgeting part of the process. No matter your budget or movie-making skills, you can find the right combination of equipment for your nonprofit or public library.

15 April 2016 - 12:13pm | by Ginny Mies

Has your library embarked on a digitization project? Or have you wanted to, but you're unsure where to even start? If so, you're not alone. During our February digitization webinar, we asked hundreds of library attendees about their experiences with digitization:

  • About 30 percent had worked on a digitization project.
  • Forty-one percent answered that they were just getting started.
  • Twenty-three percent said they had not begun any digitization projects at their library.

Digitization can be a daunting project to take on, but there are many benefits to digitizing your special collections. It can expose your library to new audiences, help you build partnerships with other organizations, and showcase your library's collections and services.

At the end of last year, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) released a free self-guided curriculum for public libraries to get started on digitization. TechSoup for Libraries invited Franky Abbott from the DPLA to discuss the curriculum for our February webinar. We also invited Jennifer Birnel from the Montana Memory Project, who helped develop some of the training content, and Sarah Hawkins from the East Central Regional Library, who participated in the trainings.

4 April 2016 - 4:40pm | by Ginny Mies

Somebody applying hand sanitizer

My first shift at a volunteer-run library within a transitional housing center went so well. It had been a while since I worked a desk shift, so I was fearful that I'd be out of practice. But the patrons were great, I was able to easily locate items in the collection, and I got a fun array of questions.

Two days later, however, was an entirely different story: I was sick. And not just sick with a little cold, but eight-hours-of-complete-agony sick in which I spent more time in the bathroom than my bed.

During my recovery, I saw a message posted in the housing center's internal volunteer message board with the subject line: "NOROVIRUS OUTBREAK?!" I considered all of the things I had done in the library that day: moved chairs, picked up headphones, pulled DVDs, fixed the TV, put away headphones, shelved books, threw out old magazines … and not once did I use hand sanitizer.

To prevent future outbreaks, I crowdsourced some tips from other librarians on how they keep their technology and spaces clean — especially during flu season. Sharing headphones, in particular, seems to be the biggest germ spreader, and therefore, many libraries no longer lend them out.

Lysol wipes also are a popular tool in the library sanitizing arsenal.

30 March 2016 - 10:24am | by Ginny Mies

We're exhibiting at PLA 2016

TechSoup for Libraries will be at the Public Library Association's conference (PLA) in Denver, and we’re excited to connect with you.