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Six Things to Love about Castro Valley Library

Walking towards the Castro Valley (California) Library, the first thing I noticed was the flowers. The second thing was the frogs. Seriously. Extremely loud frogs.

Castro Valley Library exterior photos

Thanks to a BayNet and Castro Valley Library tour last week, I learned that those flowers and frogs are just two of the many things to love at Castro Valley Library. 

How Waukesha Library Revamped Its Public Access Computers

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Waukesha Library at night

Waukesha, Wisconsin might be most famous for being a "guitar town." It's the birthplace of Les Paul, music pioneer and inventor of the iconic Gibson Les Paul guitar. But the Waukesha Public Library also deserves fame for its innovative programs and dedication to its community. With the help of TechSoup's Refurbished Computer Initiative (RCI), the library is able to provide the valuable service of public access computers to Waukesha residents.

A Dynamic and Diverse Community

Located west of Milwaukee, Waukesha has a population of about 71,000. The library is the largest in a system of 17 libraries, and it serves about 100,000 people. The library supports a wide range of community members, everybody from tech-savvy students (the Waukesha school district has an iPad program) to manga-loving teens (who publish a biannual teen-created fanzine) to those who are homebound.

Waukesha has also increased its materials and services for non-English speaking people and English-language learners. The city has a growing Hispanic community that makes up more than 10 percent of the total population. The library works with local nonprofits, such as La Casa de Esperanza and the Waukesha Hispanic Collaborative Network, to provide Spanish-language programming, such as parenting classes and story times. The library works with the Greater Waukesha Literacy Council to mentor and tutor adults in English as a second language, reading, writing, spelling, and math.

Best Practices for Helping Patrons with E-Readers

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E-reader assistance

"I love that I can check out e-books from you … but I have no idea how to make them work."

The other day, my friend and I had a work party at my local library. My friend had another agenda, however: to finally figure out how to check out e-books from the library on her iPad. Despite being tech-savvy, she was having issues getting through all of the different steps the e-books required to work on her iPad.

Turns out, this happens frequently. My colleague Jim Lynch wrote about his personal experience in Why Is It So Hard to Use E-Books from the Library?

Assistive Technology Tips from Expert Librarians

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Assistive technology continues to be an important topic as public libraries strive to become more inclusive spaces for all members of the community. The American Library Association has a clear policy on accessibility:

"Libraries play a catalytic role in the lives of people with disabilities by facilitating their full participation in society. Libraries should use strategies based upon the principles of universal design to ensure that library policy, resources and services meet the needs of all people." 

Accessibility is also a big part of the Edge Initiative, an assessment program that provides libraries with benchmarks, best practices, and resources for public technology services. 

Edge Benchmark 11 states:

"Libraries ensure participation in digital technology for people with disabilities."

Sounds pretty straightforward, but how do you actually implement this practice? We invited three speakers on our February webinar to share their unique experiences with assistive technology:

Common Craft's Video Love Letter to Libraries

Did you know that 98% of public libraries offer some form of technology training? And 95% offer employment and workforce development programs? Of course you do.

Libraries know all about how libraries support access to and use of technology. Unfortunately, in many cases the same can't be said of your legislators, local voters, the mainstream media, and others who may influence public library funding and support.

Common Craft put together a snappy video to help libraries address this perception issue. 

Content Management Systems for Library Websites

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A well-designed, up-to-date website is critical for a library of any size. Your patrons rely on your website for basic information about your library, such as directions to a branch or upcoming events. They also may go to your website hoping to search an online public access catalog (OPAC), download an e-book, or browse an online exhibit. A content management system, or CMS, can help you provide these services and manage them effectively, whether you have a volunteer managing your site or an entire department doing so.

Teen on a computer at the library

A CMS is essentially a software package that lets you create and edit website content — including text, pictures, menus, and more — without having to know how to write code. 

Why the Clean Reader App Negatively Impacts Literacy

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Generally, I'm all for mobile apps or computer programs that support literacy. TechSoup for Libraries had a webinar a few months ago, in fact, on ways librarians can incorporate apps and technology into story time.

But when I heard about Clean Reader, the app that scrubs out "profanity" from books and replaces it with alternative words, I was offended. It's not explicit language that makes me grimace, but the fact that this app is a blatant form of censorship.

Your Library Can Support Makers Without Having a Makerspace

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Some school and public libraries around the world are setting up makerspaces or creative tinkering spaces, but not every library has the space or budget to do so. How can your library support makers without having its own makerspace? There are lots of ways to do it. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Resources for Training Library Staff on Mobile Operating Systems

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"How can I get [insert type of e-resource or content] on my [insert type of mobile device]?"

If your library offers some sort of electronic resource, whether it be e-books, audiobooks, or simply your online catalog, you've probably heard this question before. Perhaps you get more basic, non-library-specific technology questions about mobile devices, like "How do I check my email?" or "Where can I watch a YouTube video?" No matter how large your library is or where it's located, you surely have patrons using mobile devices.

Why Is It So Hard to Use E-books from the Library?

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I would dearly love to say that e-books from the public library are wondrous things. Come to think of it, I did make that case in my post, Why Public Libraries Are Better than Amazon.

However, recently I had occasion to despair of the library e-book experience when I tried to check out Robin Hastings' book — Making the Most of the Cloud: How to Choose and Implement the Best Services for Your Library — from my local library.

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