Keep updated


Why Public Libraries Need to Proactively Teach Chromebooks to the Public


Ten years ago, I started my current public library job in Takoma Park, Maryland. Soon after I started the job, several Hurricane Katrina refugees arrived at my public library. It's scary to lose your entire city to a hurricane. When you show up in a new city, it's vital that the people you meet welcome you as valued members of their community.

One of these refugees, Desiree, was a wheelchair user. When she asked me for help in obtaining a donated computer, I put her at the front of my list of waiting recipients. When a donated Dell desktop came in, I set it up for her in her apartment and told her to contact me when it wasn't working.

Over the years, I visited her apartment to provide tech support, but I didn't feel the burden of tech support as being heavy – until she obtained a Google Chromebook.

What Your Library Needs to Know About Mobilegeddon


This post originally appeared on TechSoup's blog. Google's algorithm change to favor mobile sites shouldn't scare you, but it should get you thinking about your library's mobile strategy. Here are a few tips to help you weather "Mobilegeddon."

volcano erupting in Guatemala

When journalists add the suffix "-geddon" to an event or trend, you can usually be assured that it's not nearly as disastrous as it sounds. This is more or less the case with the so-called "Mobilegeddon," Google's April 21 change that gives a boost to mobile-friendly sites in mobile search results.

Dive into the World of Library Hashtags


One of the (many) things I love about the library community is how active it is on social media. I use Twitter both personally and professionally and have discovered a wealth of information through library-related hashtags.

Hashtags were developed by Twitter as a means to build community. In technical speak, hashtags are a form of a metadata tag. When you put a "#" in front of a word, it gets tagged and is searchable on the platform in which it is used. Hashtags were started by Twitter, but are now supported by Facebook, Instagram, and Google+.

Whether you operate your library's official Twitter account or are looking to connect with and learn from with other librarians via your personal account, there's a library hashtag out there for you.

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


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


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


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


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


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.

Syndicate content

Have a story to tell?

Tell us about your daily routine maintaining public computers, or a moment when you were particularly proud. Don't forget that what might be "that's nothing" to you may be an "aha!" to someone else!