23 March 2016 - 2:25pm | by TechSoup Announcements
Mobile Beacon logo

This blog originally appeared on the TechSoup blog. Libraries can use Mobile Beacon hotspots to connect bookmobiles, start a home broadband program, or sign people up for services at events. For more about libraries increasing home broadband adoption, read about a few mobile hotspot lending programs across the country. 

Broadband Internet service for 10 people for $10 a month. Sound good? It's returning to TechSoup after several months' absence. We're talking about Mobile Beacon, of course, provider of wireless broadband service to nonprofits and public libraries.

R850 hotspot

What Mobile Beacon is actually donating is a wireless LTE mobile hotspot with each one-year account you sign up for. The mobile hotspot can connect up to 10 computers, tablets, smartphones, and other devices at a time. To get one, you'll need to pay in advance for a year of service at Mobile Beacon's regular price of $120. This is fourth-generation (4G) LTE broadband service, with download speeds that average 6 to 8 megabits per second and can reach peak speeds of 25 megabits per second. Your devices need to be Wi-Fi-enabled to connect to the hotspot.

8 March 2016 - 10:16am | by Rachael Davis

A mess of cords

Incident report forms: everyone knows about them, and everyone hates them. The real tragedy about them, however, is that the incident you are sitting there writing about (all the while cursing to yourself in your head) was most likely preventable. "But Rachael," you ask, "what do incident report forms have to do with technology?" Well, I'll tell you.

Stand up and take a walk around your library right now and tell me what you see. I'll wait. … Are you back? Good, then what you probably noticed was all those cords you made sure to dodge as you were walking around just now.

Yup, those very cords are the ones that caused one of your patrons to trip, sprain an ankle, and then need an ambulance because it hurt too much to walk. Oh, and guess who is left to fill out the incident report form — that's right, Y.O.U. "But Rachael," you say, "isn't that the cost of doing business with all this new technology?" Well, it is and it isn't; allow me to explain.

3 March 2016 - 10:18am | by Ginny Mies

Think about the technology skills of your staff. Are there only a few members of your staff who are especially tech-savvy? Are there some who shy away from anything technology-related? Is there one "go-to" person for any and all technology questions or programs?

As technology programs and access become more of a focus in public libraries, it is important for all library staff to get up to speed with technology. But how do you turn tech-resistant people into tech embracers? Through fun and engaging staff activities!

We invited Diana Laughlin from the Estes Valley Library (Colorado) and Rachel Schmidt from the Sunnyvale Public Library (California) to talk about staff training programs on technology for our January webinar (watch the archive).

23 February 2016 - 9:58am | by Phil Shapiro

Kids playing Coderbunnyz

Effective teachers know that when you teach something new, it's helpful to connect the new material to something that is known and familiar to students. For young children, what could be more familiar than a board game?

Samaira Mehta, an elementary school student with coder parents, has invented a board game, CoderBunnyz, to introduce coding fundamentals to other young children. She has been visiting public libraries and other venues in Silicon Valley to teach her board game to children. Her teaching has garnered attention from as far away as Germany, which covered her on television, and EdSurge, a well-respected website that covers education innovations.

9 February 2016 - 10:34am | by Katherine Bates and Angela Siefer

Cutting-edge libraries are addressing all aspects of broadband adoption: home Internet access, public Internet access, digital literacy training, and support and access to devices. As part of this effort, libraries are searching for and experimenting with innovative digital divide solutions that include increasing home broadband access.

8 February 2016 - 3:13pm | by Sally Pewhairangi

Digital skills mean that you can follow a step-by-step process of creating an email account. Digital literacy means that you can recognize spam, know why it is being sent, and understand how email providers use filters to minimize potential harm.

Digital skills mean that you know how to use Microsoft Word. Digital literacy means that you can use Microsoft Word to clearly and effectively communicate all the key components of an assignment.

Digital skills mean you can show someone how to borrow e-books. Digital literacy means that you know why some e-books aren't available in New Zealand libraries, even though those same e-books can be purchased online.

4 February 2016 - 1:51pm | by Ginny Mies

Have you ever written an annual report, PowerPoint slide, or article and thought, "This could really use some sort of visual." But then when you started plotting out what you wanted to show and how you were going to show it, you hit a roadblock and thought, "Oh my gosh, I am not a graphic designer." Well, think again, because even the most design-impaired people can make a pretty snazzy infographic or chart with the right tools and some basic design principles.

As a not-so-design-savvy person myself, I recently attended WebJunction's excellent webinar, Data Visualization for the Rest of Us: A Beginner's Guide. The webinar was presented by Linda Hofschire, a research analyst at the Library Research Service at the Colorado State Library. Hofschire's sensible tips and tool recommendations left me raring to start infographic-ing (is that a word?) everything. I recommend watching the full webinar, but here are some of the highlights.

27 January 2016 - 4:38pm | by Inveneo Team

Picture for Siemens Project Campaign.png

Inveneo is a San Francisco-based nonprofit that's passionate about expanding the tools of technology and educational opportunities to those who need it most in the developing world. In late November 2015, we launched our first ever Generosity (by Indiegogo) campaign to raise funds to deliver 15 Solar-Powered Digital Libraries to Haiti. Check out more details about our project and ways you can support it below!      

The Problem: Limited Learning Resources and No Internet

We designed the Solar Library because we've worked in many remote areas of the world where schoolchildren lack (or only have limited access to) books and basic learning resources, much less computers or the Internet.

Transporting volumes of books or computers to schools can be expensive and logistically daunting. Digital libraries — tablets or computers (PCs) loaded with thousands of e-books and other educational resources — have begun to enhance learning in the developing world. However, many existing digital library solutions require Internet or power.

22 January 2016 - 11:24am | by Ginny Mies

Has your library tried Snapchat yet? Over on the TechSoup blog, we scoured the Snapchat world for innovative examples from business, bloggers, and even a few nonprofits. But we couldn't find any library examples. Tell us in the comments if you're using Snapchat or have considered it for your library. 

Two years ago, we asked the question: "Can Nonprofits Benefit from Snapchat?" After using the app and investigating its privacy and security, I couldn't really find much use for nonprofits. It isn't secure enough to send sensitive information to clients or staff, and I could only find examples of businesses using the app.

Recently, after getting more into the app myself and discovering that more than just sneaky teenagers were using it, I decided to revisit Snapchat as a viable platform for nonprofits. I found some creative ways that nonprofits and other organizations were taking advantage of Snapchat's unique features.

If you're not familiar with Snapchat, this is how it works: You can send vanishing photo and video messages (also known as Snaps) to contacts you either add manually or via your phone's contacts. Tapping a camera button takes you into picture-taking mode.

After you take a picture, you can choose how long the recipient can view a Snap before it is deleted (1-10 seconds), add a drawing or text, and then send. Snapchat also has a feature called Stories that lets you share a compilation of your Snaps for 24 hours.

21 January 2016 - 4:17pm | by Jim Lynch

We thought our library audience might be interested in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and how they impact global philanthropy. The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) has made it a priority to “ensure that the new UN Sustainable Goals recognize the importance of access to information for development, and that libraries are able to play a key role in implementing the goals” (read the full report here).  Throughout 2014, IFLA was active in the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals and released a call for action, the Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development, urging UN Member States to commit to information access. This post originally appeared on the TechSoup blog

Chart of the 17 goals. 1: No Poverty; 2: No Hunger; 3: Good Health; 4: Quality Education; 5: Gender Equality; etc.

Now that the United Nations Millennium Development Goals have expired and in some ways, have succeeded surprisingly well, the UN has developed a new set of even more ambitious goals. These new UN Sustainable Development Goals are the de facto agenda for global philanthropy, and they have a new dimension: technology targets to enable implementation.

Governments, foundations, and charities learned a good deal from working to implement the previous UN goals. Lack of infrastructure and weak political will in various countries hampered progress. That may be why technology (for example, rapid mobile phone adoption worldwide) may be so important for realizing the new goals. I'll say more about that below.

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