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.

8 January 2016 - 11:10am | by Ginny Mies

This blog originally appeared on the TechSoup blog. Libraries can use many of these new features as well so we wanted to share it with the TechSoup for Libraries community. Please let us know in the comments if you've used any of these new features or if your library finds Twitter useful.   

Twitter has had a very interesting year. The social media company changed CEOs, going back to its roots and naming co-creator Jack Dorsey to the executive role. It also made some new acquisitions, went throughlayoffs, supported influential movements (such as #BlackLivesMatter and #RefugeesWelcome), and rolled out some new features.

While there was a lot happening this year, these new features are important to address. Many of them are targeted toward making the platform even more accessible for new users, an area where Twitter is struggling. But a few of these new features and enhancements are quite useful for nonprofits, public libraries, and other social good organizations. Let's take a look at the gifts Twitter gave us this year.

4 January 2016 - 12:09pm | by Ginny Mies

Here's a question: how often do you check your personal Facebook a day? In mid-2015, Facebook surpassed 1.49 billion users, and on average, those users are spending almost an hour a day on the social networking site. Here's another question: how often are you checking your library's Facebook account? And is your community actually engaging with it?

Jamie Matczak, continuing education, youth, and public information coordinator at the Nicolet Federated Library System in Wisconsin, shared 15 ideas on improving your library's Facebook page at our December webinar. To give you a peek, I've highlighted 5 ideas Jamie shared. But really, you should watch the whole presentation to get all 15 tips — this was one of our most popular and well-received webinars!

24 December 2015 - 10:56am | by Ginny Mies

A book Christmas tree

Happy Holidays! TechSoup offices and Customer Support (phone and email support) will be closed starting at 1 p.m. on Thursday, December 24, 2015, until we reopen at 7 a.m. on Monday, January 4, 2016 (Pacific time).

11 December 2015 - 11:37am | by Ginny Mies

Making Music at the Ramona Library

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.   

8 December 2015 - 11:30am | by Ginny Mies

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."

2 December 2015 - 11:09am | by Jim Lynch

LoC Great Hall

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.

Protesting DRM

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