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Library News

PLA Awards in Library Technology

LITA Blog - Tue, 2016-11-22 17:05

PLA’s service awards and grants highlight the best in public library service and honor those bringing innovation, creativity, and dedication to public libraries. The deadline to apply for PLA 2017 Service Awards and Grants is December 5, 2016 at 11:59 PM Central.

The Baker & Taylor Entertainment Audio Music / Video Product Award is designed to provide a public library the opportunity to build or expand a collection of either or both formats in whatever proportion the library chooses. The grant consists of $2,500 of Audio Music or Video Products. Sponsored by Baker & Taylor.

The John Iliff Award honors the life and accomplishments of John Iliff, early adopter and champion of technology in public libraries, and recognizes the contributions of a library worker, librarian, or library that has used technology and innovative thinking as a tool to improve services to public library users. The award provides a $1,000 honorarium, a plaque and a bouquet of roses for the workplace. Sponsored by Innovative.

Nominate yourself, a colleague, or your library today!

For more information, or to submit an application or nomination, please visit

http://www.ala.org/pla/awards.

Categories: Library News

Humanities & Technology at the Crossroads: Launching an Online Book Group

LITA Blog - Fri, 2016-11-18 10:00

My library hosts several book groups; last year, I facilitated 10 groups, with members reading everything from graphic novels to Iranian literature, at an average attendance of 7 members per group meeting. I arrange reading groups with an eye to what might appeal to a wide range of patrons, whether groups are led by experts in their fields, librarians, or patron volunteers.

Last year, I conducted a book group survey, and the respondents indicated that the main barriers to attending book groups at our library included the inability to attend at the dates or times of the scheduled meetings, as well as significant geographical distance from the library. I’m always thinking about how tech tools might assist in improving public services, so I decided to try something I hadn’t seen in libraries: an online book group.

The first decision to make was the reading focus. I chose non-fiction because several survey respondents had requested a non-fiction group, and there was an intersection of those people with those who were geographically distant or couldn’t make it to the library due to scheduling.

The second decision was where to host the book group site. I scoured the web to find examples of library online book groups; the few I found operated via goodreads. Since our library is a public subscription library, we needed to limit participation to our membership. We also needed to ensure standards of communication among members that met our library’s anti-harassment policy, which meant that I would need to be able to block members who violated the policy. The Electronic Services Librarian, who is also our Webmaster, created a page on the library’s website for me, and I learned the basics of Drupal to kit it out.

I penned an etiquette and conduct policy to link at the landing page where members would log in to the site or find instructions on how to obtain a login and starter password if they didn’t yet have one. Interested members contacted me and I manually added them to the site’s user list; this was feasible for my library because we have 4500 members, which in San Francisco is a relatively small service community; about 125 members (3%) use library services on a given day, with an average of 70 members attending at least one book group during the month. Depending on the size of your library, you might prefer to run login through your ILS and let any library member sign in using their card number.

My idea about design was that basic is better; a simple UI would foster a focus on the material, so members wouldn’t have to learn how to use too many bells & whistles in order to contribute. Once members logged in, they’d see three tabs: This Month’s Book, Discussion, and Past Book Selections.

  • This Month’s Book mirrored the introductory material leaders begin with in an in-person book group: a brief author bio, a bit of background on the book, reviewer quotes, and any other relevant material.
  • Discussion encompassed two major categories: Group Info and Book Talk.
    • Group Info was where we’d discuss book group “business”, e.g., choosing next books, discussing any in-person meetups, or posting optional reader bios.
    • In the Book Talk area of the discussion board, I’d post four or five starter questions each month to get the conversational ball rolling.
  • Past Book Selections collected all of the previous This Month’s Book entries as a linked list. In the spirit of an in-person book group, and in service to library privacy standards, i.e., non-retention of patron records, I wanted to keep the discussion portion ephemeral. I didn’t preserve past discussions, clearing everything when a new book was posted. The reading list was the only material that persisted on the site after a discussion month had ended.

I tested the design with librarians who were familiar with discussion forum interaction, as well as those who were not; I used their feedback to tweak the particulars of the site, trying to strike a balance between “too complicated for beginning users” and “not functional enough for experienced users”; the launch was publicized in the library’s book group brochure, the monthly newsletter, on our website, and by creating a special poster for each of the first six books on the reading list. I also hosted two “introduction to the online book group” hands-on tutorial classes.

As you may have intuited from my past tense verbs, this book group has now folded. In the launch month of the online book group, 13 members requested login credentials, but many of them failed to discuss the book in the forum. By the ninth month, when we decided to fold, discussion had dwindled from 5 active members to 1; my book group policy for librarian-led groups is a minimum of 4 average attendees in months 6 – 9 to continue after the incubation period. This group discontinued after the September 2016 meeting.

Since then, I’ve been gathering feedback from members who participated in discussion at least once, and have found that book selection and site design matter a lot. Some members found one of the early books too dense, and gave up on the group altogether. Other members said that after the first month, they forgot they’d signed up and the login page was a deterrent because they couldn’t remember their login credentials. I’ve also touched base with a couple of members who signed up but never got around to participating in discussion. A majority of them said that they were confused about how to post, or felt anxious because what they had to say wasn’t “important” enough.

Although this group didn’t resonate with my library’s membership in its first iteration, I think it’s important to reach library members where they are — and where they are may be online. When planning library services, it’s worth remembering this contingent of library patrons: those who are homebound, distant, or have work schedules or life responsibilities that make a midnight book group their ideal time, and the internet their ideal meeting place.

Have you tried anything like this at your library? How did it go? Any tips you’d like to share with librarians who may be interested in starting an online book group for their service communities? Share in the comments!

Categories: Library News

Drag-and-Drop Outlook Calendar Hack

LITA Blog - Thu, 2016-11-17 10:00

That image is the insanity that is my Outlook calendar. There’s a lot of stuff going on in it. We’ve talked about hacking Outlook before here at LITA blog, but there’s a ton you can do with Outlook to help organize yourself and become more productive. While Whtini talked about using the calendar to track projects which helps greatly for year-end reviews, monthly reports, and project management, I’ve got a simple ‘hack’ that I learned accidentally that helps me keep on top of all the things I need to do:

You can drag emails out of your inbox to your calendar or your to-do list

This works slightly differently depending on the version of Office you’re running but in every version you can drag the email to the calendar or to-do list icon in the lower left of you screen and then create a new item from there.

For example, let’s say I’ve had a back and forth email discussion about our public fax service with the vendor. I want to look into the problem before we open. I drag the latest email to the calendar icon and create an appointment for myself for the next morning using that email. The entire email discussion is part of that appointment and I can set reminders, categories, etc. just like creating an appointment from scratch without losing the thread of the discussion.

It’s not just appointments either. Recently several staff and I talked about the need for RFID check-out/check-in training. I dragged that email to the calendar, invited attendees, and created a meeting so that we could sit down and do the training. All the discussion we had was in the meeting request so that everyone had that available to them.

My library uses email reminders for almost-due books, so I drag those emails to my to-do list, create a reminder date and time, and then I get a nice pop-up so that I can renew or return my books as needed.

If you use Gmail and Google Calendar, you can do a similar thing except you don’t drag and drop, you use the ‘more’ drop-down menu when you either select an email or open it. Under that drop-down you’ll see Add to Tasks or Create event. You can add tasks to your default list or create new lists for projects or categories. Similarly, you can create events from emails and put them into your own calendar, a shared calendar, add guests, etc.

I love being able to take an email thread and move it into a meeting or a to-do list without having to recreate the conversation. It’s so easy to do and makes it do that I don’t lose track of what I have to do.

How are you using Outlook or your mail client to increase your productivity?

Categories: Library News

Call for Nominations: 2017 ALA Annual LITA Top Tech Trends Panel

LITA Blog - Tue, 2016-11-08 10:25

We are currently seeking nominations for panelists for the 2017 ALA Annual LITA Top Tech Trends program in Chicago, IL!  You may nominate yourself or someone you know who would be a great addition to the panel of speakers.

LITA’s Top Trends Program has traditionally been one of the most popular programs at ALA. Each panelist discusses two trends in technology impacting libraries and engages in a moderated discussion with each other and the audience.

Submit your nominations at http://bit.ly/lita-toptechtrends-annual2017.  Deadline is Sunday, December 4th.

The LITA Top Tech Trends Committee will review each submission and select panelists based on their proposed trends, experience, and overall balance to the panel.

For more information about past programs and our upcoming MidWinter program, please visit http://www.ala.org/lita/ttt.

Categories: Library News

It’s Almost LITA Forum Time!

LITA Blog - Thu, 2016-11-03 12:45

2016 LITA Forum
Fort Worth, TX
November 17-20, 2016
#litaforum

Online registration closes at midnight, Sunday November 13, 2016Onsite registration will be available at the Forum site, the Omni Fort Worth Hotel.

Check out the 2016 LITA Forum website now for the schedule, program descriptions and speakers. You’re sure to find sessions and more sessions that you can’t wait to attend.

Register Now!

Join us in Fort Worth, Texas, at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel located in Downtown Fort Worth, for the 2016 LITA Forum, a three-day education and networking event featuring 2 preconferences, 3 keynote sessions, more than 55 concurrent sessions and 20 poster presentations. It’s the 19th annual gathering of the highly regarded LITA Forum for technology-minded information professionals. Meet with your colleagues involved in new and leading edge technologies in the library and information technology field. Registration is limited in order to preserve the important networking advantages of a smaller conference. Attendees take advantage of the informal Friday evening reception, networking dinners, movie night, game night and other social opportunities to get to know colleagues and speakers.

Other conference highlights including the Keynote speakers and the Preconferences.

Keynote Speakers:

Cecily Walker, Vancouver Public Library

Waldo Jaquith, U.S. Open Data

Tara Robertson, @tararobertson

The Preconference Workshops:

Librarians can code! A “hands-on” computer programming workshop just for librarians

Letting the Collections Tell Their Story: Using Tableau for Collection Evaluation

Get the latest information, register and book a hotel room at the 2016 Forum Web site.

We thank our LITA Forum Sponsors:

OCLC, Yewno, EBSCO, BiblioCommons

See you in Fort Worth.

Categories: Library News

Jobs in Information Technology: November 2, 2016

LITA Blog - Wed, 2016-11-02 14:42

New vacancy listings are posted weekly on Wednesday at approximately 12 noon Central Time. They appear under New This Week and under the appropriate regional listing. Postings remain on the LITA Job Site for a minimum of four weeks.

New This Week

Mount Holyoke College, Library/Librarian and Instructional Technology Liaison – Data Services, South Hadley, MA

Georgia State University, Science Librarian (Atlanta Campus), Atlanta, GA

University of Nebraska at Kearney, Coordinator for Virtual Library Services, Kearney, NE

University of Nebraska at Kearney, Electronic Resources/Web Services Librarian, Kearney, NE

Visit the LITA Job Site for more available jobs and for information on submitting a job posting.

Categories: Library News

Jobs in Information Technology: October 26, 2016

LITA Blog - Wed, 2016-10-26 14:07

New vacancy listings are posted weekly on Wednesday at approximately 12 noon Central Time. They appear under New This Week and under the appropriate regional listing. Postings remain on the LITA Job Site for a minimum of four weeks.

New This Week

Vassar College, Digital Library Developer, Poughkeepsie, NY

University of North Carolina Wilmington, Digital Initiatives Librarian/Lecturer, Wilmington, NC

Visit the LITA Job Site for more available jobs and for information on submitting a job posting.

Categories: Library News

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