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.

15 January 2016 - 2:03pm | by Phil Shapiro
Video booth at the UT Library
 
Public libraries could strongly benefit from having one or more "video booths," which are small, sound-insulated rooms for community members to perform various video- and multimedia-related tasks. 
 
The following tasks could be included:
 
  1. Creating screencasts, narrated explanations of activity on the computer screen.
  2. Engaging in Skype job interviews.
  3. Creating video book reviews for Amazon.com (see some examples).
  4. Participating in Google Hangouts.
  5. Recording spoken voice for digital storytelling projects using the free Audacity sound recording and editing software. (See my review of The Book of Audacity.)
  6. Recording of singing and other musical performances for YouTube or other purposes.
  7. Creating free multimedia educational content, such as animated children's stories.
  8. Recording "passion talk" videos, where community members speak directly to a webcam about a topic that stirs them — in the style of a TED talk.
11 January 2016 - 10:50am | by Ginny Mies

After Access

Just before the start of the ALA 2015 conference in San Francisco, the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy invited digital inclusion advocates to discuss the future of libraries and digital inclusion.

The After Access: Libraries & Digital Empowerment Summit participants "affirmed that digital information and skills are now woven into most all library services, that the need for library staff and clients to continue to deepen their skills will only escalate, and that the role of providing free access to information and services for everyone remains central to the mission and culture of libraries."

TechSoup's own Ariel Gilbert-Knight was invited to participate in the summit, along with other leaders and influencers in the library and digital inclusion fields. The participants examined local digital inclusion programs as well as national research findings and developed recommendations for future activities. The ALA has published a report summarizing the presentations, discussions, and resources from the summit.

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