Library Simplified wants to make accessing digital content simple

Library Simplified wants to make accessing digital content simple

Library Simplified is a project between the Institute of Museum and Library services and 10 public libraries across the US. Their goal is to make digital collections easier to access. I applaud this effort and cannot WAIT to see the fruits of their labor.

They have put together this infographic illustrating the complications patrons must face when trying to borrow digitally. It is so difficult I wonder at the increasingly growing numbers of digital material circulations. How are people not giving up all together?

I have borrowed several ebooks and audiobooks from my local library. My first attempt was very frustrating. You have to search across different vendors and different formats. And the OverDrive app was frustrating as well. You search for your library and then you sign into your library account through the OverDrive app. OPACs have tried to make things more streamlined but it is still difficult and frustrating.

via Borrowing ebooks from a library (infographic).

They break the user process down into Discovery, Borrowing, and Reading and are looking at those processes through web interface and mobile app. The journey of the user is mapped out and user wants are considered based on being a new user and an existing user.

Then they break down discovery into recommendations, browsing, and searching. Here are a few of their prototype images for smartphone and tablet:

Browse recommended titles by genre category on a smartphone

Browse selected genre categories for available titles on a tablet

The same is done for Borrowing and Reading. I will be keeping an eye on what they are doing because I think this is so important. Imagine if using the library was easy? How much of the digital divide is not just not having access to technology but also being frustrated at not knowing how to use it? Having these problems solved directly impacts the mission of the library: access for all, freedom to read, getting more materials in more hands. I don’t understand why this hasn’t been more of a priority and am grateful that someone decided it was time.


Next time someone tells you we no longer need libraries, show them this map.

Unite for Literacy is a for-profit organization out of Colorado that provides a platform to make digital picture books available for free online to battle book scarcity.

Four of these children are happily on their way to becoming life-long readers. The other six face formidable odds, simply because something is missing from their homes; BOOKS!

They have created an interactive map showing the estimated percentage of homes with more than 100 books around the country.

Unite for Literacy has created the Book Desert Map to make the problem of book scarcity visible. Their purpose was to initiate conversation across the public, private and civic sectors about the geography of books and reading. Unite for Literacy looked at the number of books in 4th graders’ homes, community income, ethnicity, geography, and home language data from the NAEP and the American Community Survey. They performed a statistical analysis of that data and produced this map showing the estimated percentage of homes with more than 100 books at the state, county and census tract levels.

LEGEND: Estimated percentage of homes with more than 100 books.

via Public Libraries – Book Deserts to Book Abundance.

I zoomed in to take a look at Austin. It was no surprise to me that Interstate 35 was a huge dividing line. While Austin can definitely boast to be the most liberal city in a very conservative state, it very unfortunately has also been said to be one of the most segregated. I-35 goes right up the middle of the city. I think you will be able to see where the poorer population lives by taking a look at this map.

Unite for Literacy Austin TX Book Scarcity

Find your city and take a screen shot. Next time someone tells you we don’t need libraries, show them this.

Tired of the same old shhhhh…

Tired of the same old shhhhh…

The Annoyed Librarian always gets to me. I consistently read her posts, get angry at the level of snark, and then realize that I (somewhat often) agree with much of what she says. This week is no different.

She was pointed to an article in the Arizona Daily Star with the unfortunate title “Librarians Become New Selves When Not Between Shelves”. The only reason I read it was when I saw someone share it on Twitter the “h” in shelves had been omitted. The title made no sense to me so I had to see what it was about. The image at the top told me immediately.

Librarians by day, Bethany Wilson, left, and Georgia Taylor take on different personae when they compete in roller derby. Wilson, the managing librarian at Dewhirst-Catalina Library, goes by Lux-Furious on the track. Taylor, or Dewey Decimatrix, is a Quincie Douglas children’s librarian. “You get street cred,” says Taylor of her hobby. “I’m like, ‘Don’t mess around in my library.’”

I think it is wonderful that these women are interested in roller derby as a hobby. And I even giggled a little at the nickname “Dewey Decimatrix”. Librarians are (clearly) very misunderstood so press that explains what we do and who we are in an appealing way is good for our communities! I get that…  But I am so tired of the fluff pieces about librarian stereotypes! Are there articles about edgy lawyers that I somehow miss?

The Annoyed Librarian had this to say:

I’m not even sure there are any librarian stereotypes around left to shatter, because the only time I ever see them mentioned is in articles like this trying to shatter them.

via No Stereotypes Shattered Here — Annoyed Librarian.

Is it because we are a female dominated profession? When Cokie Roberts addressed the 2015 TLA Annual Conference during a General Session, she talked of her library research for her latest book, Capital Dames, about the contributions of women during the Civil War. She spent hours pouring over these women’s correspondence and told many great stories of how women were asserting their own brand of political power.

Later in the program, a male librarian got up to address the large crowd of mostly female librarians. We were waiting for the room to be reset for the Book Cart Drill Team competition. He likened the feisty women in Roberts’ book to the feisty librarians about to compete. I had the same knee jerk reaction about the word “feisty”. Why does providing a channel to express ourselves and be creative using the tools of our trade make us feisty? It is because we, ourselves, continue to encourage the stereotype. An example:

174510 - HTC - 831C

The Capital Funk Crew from Austin ISD gave a great performance. At one point they shushed the crowd and got a lot of laughs, even from me. But this is exactly what I am talking about. We reinforce the stereotype ourselves. So is it any wonder these kinds of stories are so prominent?

I fear that the new stereotype has become the tattooed, pink haired, edgy data diva who claims to be a superhero. Go ahead and write the fluff pieces about us. But instead of leading with the age-old stereotype, just skip to the part where we are awesome people doing awesome things. And then talk about how important our presence is to many members of our community. Being the only access to computers and Internet for some. Being the only way some children have access to books. And then go ahead and talk about all the things we can do for those who don’t think they need us. And, oh ya, don’t forget to mention that it is all free.

That story alone will show that we have long ago busted that stupid stereotype and left it in the dust. We don’t need to shove it down people’s throats.


Upcoming ILS webcast from American Libraries

My goodness, I am such a nerd. Past midnight last night I was up late reading about Z39.50 and Dublin Core for the Public Library User Experience MOOC I am participating in. This morning I am up early reading articles about UX. And today is my birthday.

Never having worked with the technical aspects of ILS systems I have found this week’s module on library technology very interesting. It is extremely basic, but that works for me. Then I found this upcoming free webcast from American Libraries about Integrated Library Systems by automation expert Marshall Breeding. I have been exploring his website a lot lately looking at ILS system usage by library for the MOOC. I have been reading his site’s RSS for quite some time but now perhaps it will be more meaningful for me.

Are you the person tasked with planning for, upgrading, or monitoring performance for your library’s integrated library systems?  Mark your calendar to check out an upcoming American Libraries Live webcast,  “Integrated Library Systems”, May 14 at 1:00pm Central time.

Long-time library automation expert Marshall Breeding will lead a panel discussing what’s new and hot in the library automation industry.  Breeding is the creator and editor of Library Technology Guides on, authored the annual system reports for Library Journal for many years, and is a regular contributor on technology topics for American Libraries magazine.

This latest installment of American Libraries Live webcasts is free, and you can pre-register here to get an email reminder, or just go to at the time of the live webcast to view the event.

via Integrated Library Systems Are Topic of Next American Libraries Live Webcast | Library Developments.

#publibchat : The (possible) Twitter chat for #publiclibrarians

#publibchat : The (possible) Twitter chat for #publiclibrarians

As a consultant, I don’t adhere to one type of library over another. In fact, I tried to stick with the most generic track I could while working on my Masters so I wouldn’t get pigeonholed. Librarians have a really bad habit of pigeonholing what we do and each other! That said, most of my experience is with public libraries.

I like to follow school librarians though because they give good tech tips and could spark an idea for programming. What we do is so similar. And yet… I would hesitate to consult a school library being as green as I am because they are such different worlds.

Recently the Annoyed Librarian pointed out (in her usual snarky way) that ALA only really promotes public library interests.

It’s National Library Week again, and once again it annoys me. It’s not the week itself, but the pretense behind it and the vague “celebrating” that doesn’t seem tied to anything real.

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.

Yeah, well, not really. It’s implicitly an acknowledgment that as an organization the ALA really just promotes public libraries. Academic and school libraries at least have ALA divisions. Those special librarians don’t even want to have anything to do with ALA.

That made me pause… but I suppose there is some truth in it. I suppose this is true of TLA, too? Is it that there are so many more public librarians?

Earlier this week I posted a list of Twitter chats for librarians and educators that I put together. I have recently started joining some of these several nights a week and find them to be a great opportunity for learning from librarians from a wide-range of backgrounds. But I was struck by something strange… there doesn’t seem to be one dedicated to public librarians. Counter to the idea that big library associations are only supportive to public libraries, this wonderful tool that basically allows a mini library conference each night of the week isn’t being used by public librarians. Is #libchat enough for our needs? Is it that being a public librarian encompasses too many different facets?

So I thought… maybe I should start one. What do you think? #publibchat? How often? What night of the week? Around 8pm seems like a popular time. Of course, this is going to pigeonhole me for sure…

I am still toying with the idea and have asked Natalie Binder, founder of #libchat, for some advice. If you have any, please weigh in!!

UPDATE: I attended two Twitter chats for librarians (#txlchat and #libchat) on Tuesday night and kind of lurked in a third (#critlib). There seem to be plenty of venues for librarians to interact and learn from each other on Twitter. And #libchat seems to be the space where public librarians meet. So… I am putting this idea on hold for now. I want to spend more time in #libchat first before trying to reinvent the wheel. But please feel free to weigh in if you have thoughts!

Public Libraries & MOOCs Can Provide Access & Engagement

Public Libraries & MOOCs Can Provide Access & Engagement

When I first began work on my Masters through the University of North Texas, I had reservations about how I would do in a mostly online environment. Luckily, I thrived and found the tools provided through Blackboard to more than make up for the lack of “community” or “meeting of the minds”. I did like the fact that the first couple of classes began in person. The other LIS students I met during those couple of weeks I remain in contact with today, several years later. We bonded immediately because we knew our time together was short.

I wrote recently about how the University of Wisconsin and public libraries around their state worked together to provide resources and physical space for discussions for a MOOC on Great Lake climate change. Earlier this year, a university professor made the case for joining MOOC resources and meetups to provide a more meaningful learning experience.

And the Skokie Public Library in Illinois is piloting a program to encourage participation in two Coursera MOOCs by providing a venue for patrons to come together to watch lecture videos and have a “kitchen-table” type conversation about what they learned.

Public libraries and MOOCs have the same goals: to increase access and educate. Librarians want to provide access to quality resources. MOOCs provide that. The biggest barriers for patrons are access to technology. Libraries provide that. And we can provide the physical space and local resources to make the content more meaningful. I really hope to see more public libraries offering this kind of program in the future.

via Scaling Education to the Community: How Libraries Can Leverage MOOCs | MOOC Report.

Twitter Chats for Librarians & Educators

Twitter Chats for Librarians & Educators

I have come and gone from Twitter over the years but have recently started up again since also starting this blog. Twitter is my favorite professional  social media platform. I have recently started participating in several weekly Twitter chats for librarians and educators. Hack Library School pulled a list of the top hashtags for librarians about a year ago. I wanted to add hashtags for educators and any others that might have started up since.

Here are just a few of the regular chats I know of:

This is a great infographic of chats for librarians but I think some of the information is outdated.

Cybraryman has compiled a large list of hashtags, list of regular education Twitter chats, and calendar of chats.

Every Monday at 9-10pm Eastern

I Need A Library Job- Information Professionals working to help find & share jobs & job hunting advice

Teacher Librarian Chat

2nd Monday each month at 8pm Eastern

Every Tuesday at 8pm Central, lasts 30 minutes

Texas librarians (but not limited to) come together to share resources, collaborate, and make connections.

Every Wednesday at 8:30pm Central

Texas educators

Every Wednesday from 8-9:30pm Eastern

Books, libraries, and technology

Every Thursday, 9pm Eastern

Conducted by the Association for Library Services to Children so covers a wide range of youth services topics

Texas Educator Chat Sunday Nights 8-9pm Central: An informal space for connecting educators.

The last Sunday of each month from 8-9 pm EST. They talk about how to best promote reading to our students and the titles we can share with them (and each other)

LibTechWomen is a supportive space for women and their friends to network, develop skills, build confidence, and lead positive change. This one isn’t on Twitter but on IRC. I haven’t participated in this one but thought it was worth including here.

We Need Diverse Books! Not a regular Twitter chat but they have informed me that their aim is for once a month and to look for one in April!

Discussing critical pedagogy in libraries. A Google doc of topics past and future can be found here .

Tuesday nights at 6pm Pacific/ 7pm Mountain/ 8pm Central/ 9pm Eastern; will start on an every-other-Tuesday rotation from April 7th and on

Discussing… you guessed it, YA lit!

Sundays at 8pm CST

Are you on Twitter? Do you follow any good Twitter Chats? Let me know and I will add them!

Another successful TLA Conference

Another successful TLA Conference

The rest of the #txla15 conference was a blast. I made some great connections for what we hope will be a second year for ‘Bots and Books. I didn’t go on Friday because I couldn’t stand to be away from my kids for another day. So Thursday night was my big finale with the Book Cart Drill Team Competition and the Storytelling Concert. Couldn’t have ended on a better note, really. Although my phone was practically dead, I did manage to get videos from both. Here you go!

The Capital Funk Crew from Austin ISD

The Bibliophiles from Austin Public Library

The Bee Side Story from Bee Cave Public Library

The Hip Hop Librarians from Round Rock ISD

The Database Darlings from Texas State University

And finally, the male prairie chickens at the Storytelling Concert provided much entertainment while dancing to Lucas Miller’s Prairie Chicken Boogie.

I used to plan political and fundraising events for a living. Even weddings when I had to. *shudders at the memory* I was one of many who worked on the Presidential Debate when one took place in Austin back in 2008. And I cannot image how much work goes into making such a big conference run so smoothly. There were some issues with the app, but I can honestly say that was the biggest problem I saw, though I did not spend a lot of time in the exhibits or in the author sessions. The Austin Convention Center has some serious design flaws, but it is really the only venue in town. I think the last numbers I heard were that we were 33 people short of 8,000 attendees! The staff of the Texas Library Association did good work!

As usual, my brain will be on overdrive for weeks with all of the wonderful information I discovered. But I made sure to have a slow weekend before getting back to prepping for my Customer Service workshop.

‘Bots & Books: Using Robots to Talk About Books in Public Libraries

‘Bots & Books: Using Robots to Talk About Books in Public Libraries

Bots and Books Logo

In September of last year I look over administering a grant called ‘Bots and Books which provides equipment and training for libraries to begin robotics programming. We purchased LEGO Robotics WeDo kits and laptops for the libraries. Four trainings were held in different areas of the state where we distributed the equipment and provided training on using and maintaining the LEGO kits. We also provided a book-based curriculum that creates challenges from popular children’s titles such as James and the Giant Peach and the Avengers to be solved using the robotics kits.

092835 - HTC - 831C

092803 - HTC - 831C 092756 - HTC - 831C

I have been so proud to work on this grant. Robotics is growing so much in popularity and is a great way to increase access to STEM activities. Schools have been using these for a while but public libraries are really just beginning to realize how we can fill the STEM gap for our communities, too.

We are currently in the application process for year two and I am very hopeful! I also started writing up a proposal while sitting in a session at the TLA Annual Conference for a whole session on robotics for the 2016 conference. I hope we can bring together those libraries that already have robust robotics programs to educate others.

5 Steps to Marketing Library Services Using Social Media

5 Steps to Marketing Library Services Using Social Media

Today I gave my presentation on marketing library services using social media at the Texas Library Association’s 2015 Annual Conference in Austin. For some reason, the app was not making the slides available so I wanted to make them available here and below. Please let me know if you have anything to add or any questions!