There's that pesky stereotype about the library: it's a quiet, noise-free place and any music, noise, or exuberance will be met with a harsh-faced librarian saying "SHHHHHH." We know this isn't true, however, and sometimes learning needs to be a little noisy. And in the case of the Ramona Community Library and the Borrego Springs Library in San Diego County, sometimes learning means making music.
The Connection Between Learning and Music
Music is actually a pretty normal thing in the library for babies and toddlers. A lot of story-time programs include a few songs at the beginning or the end of the story. There are also dedicated music-making programs for the younger set as well.
Music can teach early learners how to rhyme, new vocabulary words, and numeracy, and improve basic communication skills. A study from the Music-Science Lab at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev shows that young children who played hand-clapping song games are more social, write better, and have better cognitive abilities.
Both the Ramona and Borrego Springs libraries go beyond traditional early childhood programming. The library also offers music programs for older demographics: tweens, teens and sometimes even adults. At the California Library Association's conference, Michael Voss discussed how teaching teens to play music has increased self-esteem and confidence, teaches math, and improves teamwork skills.
At this year's California Library Association's conference in gorgeous Pasadena, I attended a lot of STEM-related (Science Technology Engineering and Math) sessions: STEM for kids, STEM for adults, STEM for babies! And lately, there's been an "R" thrown in for reading and an "A" thrown in for Art. I saw some really exciting and creative examples of STE(A)M programs, from using music to teach math, to science-based art projects.
But the presentation I got the most excited (and envious) about was about the La Jolla/Riford Library's Life Science Collaboratory program. After visiting the La Jolla/Riford Library, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said, "The lab is a game changer for the city. This is the first of its kind, but probably not the last."
Located in the city of San Diego, the La Jolla/Riford Library is a neighbor to numerous biotechnology companies and research institutes, such as Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and the Human BioMolecular Research Institute, just to name a few. Therefore, incorporating biology, life sciences, and biotechnology into library programming seems like a natural fit. It also works quite nicely with the La Jolla Library's wonderful statement on its website:
"Libraries are like schools, as they give people of all ages access to lifelong learning."
Over on the TechSoup blog, I just did a profile of iFixit's Kyle Wiens, who won the 2015 refurbishment lifetime achievement award. One of his recent accomplishments was to successfully advocate for exemptions to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Many of the exemptions free up device owners' rights to repair or alter their electronics devices. There are a number of new digital rights management (DRM) changes that affect libraries.
Every three years the U.S. Copyright Office department of the Library of Congress devises adjustments to the DMCA. The DMCA makes it illegal to circumvent digital rights management (DRM) copy protections. It does things like prevent the copying of movie DVDs and music CDs, or the jailbreaking (rigging) of a game player so that it runs unlicensed games.
The Groton Public Library, part of the Finger Lakes Library System, runs a simple Minecraft program that has led to a boost in youth attendance and book circulations. Additionally, Minecraft has had a positive influence on the lives of the young patrons who play it, increasing creativity, teaching cooperation, and even helping develop social skills.
Why Consider Minecraft?
Minecraft is especially popular with elementary and middle school-age kids, and is a tremendous draw that can bring this age group into the library on a consistent basis.
Minecraft books are also immensely popular. Since the beginning of 2015, a number of Minecraft books rank near the top in total circulations at Groton. This includes both "how-to" non-fiction books and fan-created fiction.
In September 2015, Groton hosted Sean Fay Wolfe, a rising star in the world of Minecraft literature. More than 50 youth turned out for this author visit, with each family getting a free autographed copy of one of Wolfe's books.
Minecraft players learn to cooperate with one another to survive, have their creativity spurred, and learn basic social skills as they interact with each other and library staff. A number of Groton kids have shown tremendous social growth from playing Minecraft — a benefit that has measureless worth.
I'm a big fan of the Inkscape vector graphics program, which is a no-cost equivalent of Adobe Illustrator and runs on all major computer platforms (Linux, Macintosh, and Windows). Back in 2007, I created a short promotional video showing the range of graphics that people can make using Inkscape.
Inkscape, when paired with Animatron (a freemium HTML5 online animation tool), can be used for creating narrated, animated children's stories. These tools might also be used to create multimedia motion graphics stories for libraries, nonprofits, foundations, government agencies, and more.
From time to time, we like to check to see what product donations public libraries particularly like among the more than 400 offerings on TechSoup. We thought you might like to know what your colleagues are interested in.
Hidden Gems for Libraries
From reading programs to language dictionaries, these products are especially popular among our library members. There might be something on this list you haven't yet considered for your library!
Is your Pinterest account in need of a refresh or new ideas? Or perhaps you're just getting started in the Pinterest world and need some (p)inspiration? Lucky for you, we just had Lauren Drittler, assistant director of the Arkansas River Valley Regional Library System (ARVRLS) and Pinterest expert, on our October webinar, Pinterest for Libraries: Building Community Through Social Media.
Under Lauren's supervision, the ARVRLS has 61 boards and 1,600 followers. She was first inspired by the Sacramento Public Library's tremendous Pinterest account (4,400 followers!). She wrote to the Sacramento library and asked for some tips for building up a Pinterest account. Here's how the librarian, Amy Loseth, responded:
"In general, we aspire to be entertaining, engaging, and educational, just like the library itself."
Here are some of the key tips Lauren shared during our webinar:
1. Create Pinterest Boards That Build on Your Existing Library Programs
Lauren showed us the ARVRLS' Play Date and Lego My Lego boards, which are based on the library's current programs. These boards let your program attendees take their projects or learnings home with them along with related craft ideas or more information on a certain subject. Some other ideas might be a craft board, a computer basics board, or a board built around a book club theme.
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!
This blog originally appeared on the TechSoup blog. We wanted to share it with our library audience because there's a special section on teaching privacy to library patrons as well as a section on teaching Internet security to kids. What resources do you use at your library to teach Internet security?
There are a handful of things each of us should do to keep secure online, right? We should make our passwords long and strong, keep our software updated, and all the stuff they list on StaySafeOnline.org.
But wait. There's more! We know that one size does not fit all, when it comes to teaching and learning about online security. Luckily, there are some great Internet safety resources that are specific for healthcare organizations, libraries, seniors, kids, and small offices (like the ones that most nonprofits have). Here are some of those that we like.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. TechSoup is participating by amplifying what other agencies, collaborators, and libraries in our network are doing to raise awareness around this important issue. Here are a few ways libraries are participating this month.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.