24 April 2019 - 7:13am | by Ted Han and Amanda Hickman

Photographing a book page with a phone for digital transcription

Editor's Note: This post originally appeared in Source, an OpenNews project designed to amplify the impact of journalism by connecting a network of developers, designers, journalists, and editors to collaborate on open technologies.It was originally written for journalists, but we thought the piece so unique and useful to libraries that we're reposting a somewhat shortened version. Find the original here.

Do you need to pay a lot of money to get reliable OCR results? Is Google Cloud Vision actually better than Tesseract? Are any cutting-edge neural-network-based OCR engines worth the time investment of getting them set up?

OCR, or optical character recognition, allows us to transform a scan or photograph of a letter or court filing into searchable, sortable text that we can analyze. One of our projects at Factful is to build tools that make state-of-the-art machine learning and artificial intelligence accessible to investigative reporters. We have been testing the components that already exist so we can prioritize our own efforts.

We couldn't find a single side-by-side comparison of the most accessible OCR options, so we ran a handful of documents through seven different tools and compared the results. Here they are.

8 April 2019 - 7:10am | by Jim Lynch

A hand pulling a page out of a book

What's new in library tech! Welcome to our monthly collection of fun news items from wherever we find them.

This month we offer an overview of the "libraries as social services organizations" trend across the country, the super green library in Long Island, a heads-up on the Save the Internet Act of 2019, librarian David Lee King's emerging trends for 2019, and some day-in-the-life gems of life as a librarian from BuzzFeed. We hope you enjoy our batch of Newsbytes this time around!

5 April 2019 - 8:25am | by Brianna Austin

Man playing a guitar in a memory café

With memory loss affecting 40 percent of all U.S. adults over the age of 65, an increasing number of individuals and the loved ones who care for them are finding themselves isolated from the life that they once knew. Knowing that this significant population of people wasn't able to utilize many of their traditional services, public libraries started to look for a way to integrate this group. In 2013, they came upon the idea of Memory Cafés  —  a support group with a special twist.

5 April 2019 - 8:25am | by Steve Thomas

Microphone, writing tablet, and pen

Editor's Note: Recently I had the pleasure of doing an interview with Steve Thomas, who does the librarian interview podcast Circulating Ideas. This podcast has been going for several years now featuring conversations with innovative people and ideas that allow libraries to thrive in the 21st century. It now has an impressive list of conversations with interesting people that you can listen to directly on the website, or you can subscribe to the podcast here. Find my recent conversation with Steve Thomas all about TechSoup for Libraries here. Here is Steve in his own words saying a bit about how he started and about his library heroes and heroines.

29 March 2019 - 4:55am | by Kimberly Jin

Harold Washington Library

Editor's Note: This article on one of the most important current library trends originally appeared in Medill Reports, which features journalism by students in the graduate program at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

Out in the bitter cold air, Daniel Palmer waves his crumpled cardboard sign — "homeless anything helps" — at people and cars passing by. Every day the 34-year-old stands here, at the intersection of South LaSalle Street and West Congress Parkway, patiently panhandling for hours. This is his "spot," he says.

It's not only about the busy traffic flow. From here, he can easily take a five-minute walk to the Harold Washington Library, where he goes to stay warm if it "gets too cold" in the wind, to read the newspaper, and check on the weather forecast, like many other homeless people.

4 March 2019 - 6:51am | by Jim Lynch

Cleveland Library Card

What's new in library tech! We've taken a break for a few months from our monthly collection of fun news items from wherever we find them, but we're back!.

This month we cover the coolest library cards from around the world, the state of libraries and the open data movement, a wrap-up of the 2019 ALA Midwinter Meeting, the launch of the EveryLibrary One Million Americans For Libraries Campaign, apps to better understand and control our smartphone use (which I badly need), and news about 3D-printed houses. We hope you heard it here first! We hope you enjoy our batch of newsbytes this time around!

28 February 2019 - 8:34am | by Sophia Guevara

Library patrons using tablets and laptops

Checking my Gmail today, I saw that I had an email alerting me to a Google Docs share notification from someone I didn't know. The document was entitled "English Midterm," and the email alerted me to an invitation to edit. Since the email was a Google Docs alert from someone I did not know. I decided to click on the right-hand side of the email where the three stacked dots are and report the email as spam. It was removed from my inbox. It might have even been a better idea to not open the email at all and hit the trash can icon right next to it in the email list. But what to do with the document?

26 February 2019 - 8:15am | by Jack Foster

Person typing a password on a laptop computer

Editor's Introduction

We've seen so many articles about passwords and so many of them talk about much the same things — essentially to make your passwords long and strong. We loved Jack Foster's comprehensive piece on nearly every technique available to create and manage passwords currently. We hope you do too. As he notes, bad passwords account for most cybersecurity breaches. This article was originally published on VPNGeeks.com and is republished here by permission of the author. The keyboard image in Technique 4 is also courtesy of VPNGeeks.

1 February 2019 - 7:14am | by Jim Lynch

A tired man in business suit sleeping in a Japan Railway train

If you're looking for a new theme that is a little different to spruce up your library for late winter, we modestly propose a celebration of World Sleep Day. This fairly new commemorative day was established in 2008 by the nonprofit World Sleep Society and will be on March 15, 2019.

29 January 2019 - 8:24am | by Megan Keane

A library patron using a virtual reality headset

Editor's Introduction

As we noted in our recent Library Technology, 2018 Year in Review, circulating nontraditional materials is certainly a trend. Want to add something to your "library of things" collection that will be an instant hit with your millennial patrons? Megan Keane reports in her Hack Library School blog post that it took a couple of tries before the Burlingame Public Library in California developed its first video game collection. The library trustees needed time to get on board with the idea and approve some funding. The library's circulating video game collection was an instant hit as soon as it launched — with almost no marketing.