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28 October 2015 - 5:47pm | by Ginny Mies

shiny lock on green door

These tips from the Internet Society not only can help all of us as individual consumers, but they're also useful for your library's basic computer or tech skills classes. This blog was originally published on the TechSoup blog

For a lot of us, shopping season is just around the corner. And for those of us who can't be bothered with crowded malls or lines at the register — it's online shopping season.

But before you spend time loading up your online shopping cart, take a few minutes to learn a little about managing your digital footprint and also protecting your online privacy. When it comes to your online privacy and identity — knowledge is the gift that keeps on giving. Here are 10 tips that can help from the Internet Society!

19 October 2015 - 4:48pm | by Ginny Mies

Pinterest cake

When you think of Pinterest, interior decorating ideas, vacation aspirations, and overly complicated recipes might come to mind. But a lot of libraries are using Pinterest to build up community interest with boards ranging from reader advisory to showcasing historical archives to promoting library events and programs.

TechSoup for Libraries recently did a webinar with Lauren Drittler of the Arkansas River Valley Regional Library System. As the assistant director, Lauren has created 61 boards and has built up 1,600 followers to the library's Pinterest account. Watch the webinar here:

I thought I'd share a few other interesting and successful library Pinterest accounts to check out for your own library's Pinterest goals.

23 September 2015 - 11:36am | by Ginny Mies

Lending out mobile devices, such as e-readers, tablets, and laptops, is an exciting way to draw in new patrons. But acquiring, caring for, and making devices available for public use may seem challenging and overwhelming. At our September webinar, we invited Stephen Tafoya from the Garfield County Library District in Rifle, Colorado to share his experience with device check-out, including Kindles, iPads, and Google Chromebooks.

Kindle Kit

In every webinar, we ask our audience a few questions to get an idea of how much they know about a topic and what they're already doing. I was excited to see that many of the attendees had some sort of device-lending program and check out things such as Go Pro cameras, LeapPads, and high-end video editing software.

8 September 2015 - 1:10pm | by Ginny Mies

Does the thought of creating a tech plan for your library seem overwhelming? A mysterious process? Something that you've been meaning to do, but just keep putting off? Never fear, the incredible tech planners are here to help! In August, we hosted a webinar called Technology Planning Tips for Small Libraries. Our guests for this webinar were

If you've never even considered creating a tech plan for your library, or it's been a while, you're not alone. More than a third of our webinar attendees do not have a current technology plan, and 14 percent said they were not sure if they had one or not.

2 September 2015 - 2:06pm | by Ginny Mies

This post originally appeared on the TechSoup blog. This post was inspired by the fantastic media pick-up the two libraries featured in our July webinar got for their crowdfunding campaigns. 

John Turturro with megaphone being photographed by reporters

Getting the media to cover your organization's fundraising campaign can help you reach new donors, garner larger donations, and become a well-known, trusted entity in your community. But working with the media is tricky, especially if you don't have a dedicated marketing or press relations person on staff.

However, a little media know-how can help you get some attention for your campaign. After years of being on both the press side and the PR side of the media game, here are some of my favorite tips for elevating a fundraising campaign.

27 August 2015 - 1:15pm | by Ginny Mies

This post originally appeared on the TechSoup blog as part of our reflection on the 10 year annivesary of Hurricane Katrina. Has your library helped in times of disaster? Tell us about how you supported your community in the comments. 

A library helping with disaster relief

In July, wildfires swept through the Saskatchewan province in Canada, forcing more than 13,000 people to evacuate their homes. The Saskatoon Public Library opened its doors to these evacuees, and staff members stepped up their efforts to help the evacuees communicate with their family and friends. Staffers also let people from outside of Saskatoon check out books from the library and access other services.

"This is what a public library is all about," said Carol Cooler, the director of libraries and CEO at the Saskatoon Public Library in a press statement. "We're a community space; we're here for everyone, and our services and resources are free of charge."

Saskatoon Public Library's support is just one of many examples of public libraries supporting disaster preparedness and relief. Here are a few more public libraries that have helped in times of need.  

25 August 2015 - 12:11pm | by Ginny Mies

Dog at reference desk

At this year's American Library Association Annual Conference, I strayed a bit from my usual public library path and attended a session from two academic librarians who work at Columbia University. But like many sessions at ALA, this one shared some useful tips for public librarians, particularly those who work at the reference desk.

Chubing Hong and Tara Das, both government information librarians at Columbia University, discussed how government agencies have used social media to communicate both official and unofficial government information. Hong discussed how the government in China is just starting to embrace social media as a means for communication.

There's so much information out there for librarians on how to use their own social media, but what about how to use other social media for finding and sharing information? And can you use it to answer questions at the reference desk?

13 August 2015 - 2:07pm | by Ginny Mies

At TechSoup, we're all about community organizations coming together to improve the quality of life for citizens. So when I heard about a collaborative project between nonprofits, city agencies, and the local library happening in my own backyard (almost literally!), I knew I had to write about it.

The Visitacion Valley Resource Guide, available in both online and print formats, is a comprehensive guide to local elected officials, employment services, child care, parks and playgrounds, faith-based organizations, public safety, and more for this sometimes under-served San Francisco neighborhood.  

Because many residents of Visitacion Valley don't have Internet access at home and/or don't speak English, it can be difficult for them to find local information. The resource guide, available both online and in print, helps connect people to neighborhood information.

3 August 2015 - 6:50pm | by Ginny Mies

Once upon a time, there was a suburban Chicagoland public library with an enormous dream: to raise enough money for its very own Incredible Hulk statue. And over on the East Coast, a one-room library without running water was dreaming of a more modern building.

Both libraries garnered an incredible amount of support for these dreams, from mentions in popular magazines to shout-outs from celebrities. Oh, and a substantial amount of money too. How did they do it? Through the magic of crowdfunding!

TechSoup for Libraries held a webinar on July 29 on tools, tips, and tried-and-true practices for running a successful library crowdfunding campaign. We invited the librarians from those two crowdfunding campaigns to share their experience:

  • Laura Bartnik, Northlake Public Library District (Illinois) shared how her library used crowdfunding to purchase and promote graphic novels and technology in the library.
  • Mary Anne Antonellis, M.N. Spear Memorial Library (Shutesbury, Massachusetts) used crowdfunding to support a capital campaign to build a new library.

14 July 2015 - 1:33pm | by Ginny Mies

On the TechSoup for Libraries blog, we discuss the numerous ways the public library serves its community: as an information hub, a place for activities, a book and DVD repository, and so much more. But we haven't really discussed another important element of the public library: as conservator of local history.

At ALA, the Orange County Library System (OCLS) in Orlando, Florida discussed how it is preserving local history, from the perspective of its community, at a session called "Your Community Memories: Preserving Local Legacies." Donna Bachowski, the reference central manager and Vanessa Neblett, reference central assistant manager, discussed two projects that the library is working on to engage the community in local history.

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