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.

1 April 2016 - 10:38am | by Jim Lynch

Champagne glasses clinking in celebration

This post was originally published on the TechSoup blog. Because this ruling directly affects digital inclusion efforts, we thought our library audience would also be interested. 

In The Tech That Will Change 2016, I boldly predicted that this is the year that the digital divide will finally be bridged in the United States.

I based this largely on a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed rule change to expand theUniversal Lifeline Program to include affordable $9.25-a-month home broadband.

Well, the FCC did it! The new rule was passed today, finally making home broadband affordable to nearly everyone.

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.

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.

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