Public libraries have unique opportunities

Public libraries have unique opportunities

This is a short clip from the 2015 ALA Annual Conference that just wrapped up in San Francisco. Joshua Davis suggests that libraries have a wonderful opportunity to fill the gaps in education by providing informal hands-on educational opportunities. I couldn’t agree with this more. This is what I call “finding a hole and filling it” in your community.

Public libraries should NEVER feel or be treated as though they are obsolete or irrelevant. We are in a unique position to offer just about anything our community requires. Community space. Unique collections. Local history. Entertaining and educational programming. Within our (albeit sometimes severe) financial constraints, the sky is the limit.

via 2015 ALA Annual Conference – Joshua Davis on Libraries and Oppurtunity – YouTube.

Texas State Library and Archives Commission Receives 7.5M Increase in Funding

Texas State Library and Archives Commission Receives 7.5M Increase in Funding

The 84th Texas Legislature has increased the appropriation of the State Library and Archives Commission by $7.6M for the 2016-2017 biennium. The new funding includes resources to launch the Texas Digital Archive to preserve and make available electronic archives of state government as well as $6M to offer Texans greater access to online information via the popular TexShare and TexQuest programs. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission also gained funds in the new state budget to address salary needs and to implement a new automated accounting and payroll system.

“We are gratified that Texas lawmakers have demonstrated a recognition of the value of library and archival programs as critically important resources in an information-based economy,” commented TSLAC Director and Librarian Mark Smith. “The funding for TexShare and TexQuest will guarantee that academic, public, and school libraries of Texas can offer Texans of all ages the information they need to be productive and informed citizens and the Texas Digital Archive will increase the transparency of state government while protecting and preserving electronic archives,” Smith said.

Funding for the Texas Digital Archive–$706,593 for the 2016-2017 biennium—will allow TSLAC to collect, preserve, and make available, archives of enduring value in digital format. Until this action by the Legislature, Texas had been one of only a few states that did not provide for centralized storage and management of state archives in electronic format.

TexShare is a project that has been in place for over 20 years providing shared access to a vast array of digital resources to the public via participation by Texas public and academic libraries. TexQuest makes similar resources available to students of public K-12 schools in Texas. TexShare resources recorded over 92 million uses in 2014 and schools representing approximately 95% of student enrollment in Texas have access to TexQuest resources.

The increased funding for TSLAC represents a 31% increase in state funding and a 14% increase in overall funding to the agency. With the added appropriations, state funding will increase to $31.4 million for the biennium and overall funding will increase to $63.1 million for 2016-2017. Following significant budget cuts to the agency in the 2011 legislative session, state funding has increased in both the 2013 and 2015 sessions.

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission is a state agency established in 1909 to serve the information needs of Texans by preserving the historical archives of the state, building capacity in libraries statewide, assisting agencies and local governments in maintaining their public records, and providing reading materials to persons with visual impairments or physical disabilities. The agency is governed by a seven-member board appointed by the Governor.

via Texas State Library and Archives Commission Receives 7.5M Increase in Funding | TSLAC.

Rock, Paper, Scissors Game with Scratch

Rock, Paper, Scissors Game with Scratch

I just created a Rock, Paper, Scissors game using Scratch! It was so much fun! After getting the basic functions down, I kept wanting to take it once step further. When Cat wins, he meows. When Crab wins, she does a little dance. When they tie, they both shake with frustration. 🙂 And I added a script to clear the scoreboard to start over.

Please check it out… and let me know if you run into any bugs!

Press the green flag to watch Cat and Crab have a rock, paper, scissors duel! Beetle keeps everyone honest by acting as referee. After each round, press the green flag again to watch them play again. To clear the score board and start over, press the space bar. Have fun!

What is Code?

What is Code?

Bloomberg recently posted a very long article by Paul Ford called What Is Code?. I have been reading bits and pieces of it at a time for the past several days. But for someone who is learning how to code, wants to understand how computers work, and how they will change our future, this is a very accessible, , beautifully designed, and well-written article. It talks about the complexities of code while also acknowledging the simplicity. It encourages you to think about what code is and does. I particularly like when he says:

Code is inert. How do you make it ert? You run software that transforms it into machine language. The word “language” is a little ambitious here, given that you can make a computing device with wood and marbles.

The computer waiting to turn signals into commands to complete a task… that is what I mean about complexity and simplicity.

Learning these things has been on my radar for a long time, but it felt like so much… too daunting of a task. The Scratch MOOC just kind of started the ball rolling. Now that I am understanding it and enjoying it, I realize just how important this is for our future. After all, as Ford says:

If coders don’t run the world, they run the things that run the world.

via Paul Ford: What is Code? | Bloomberg.


Who Will Be Appointed as Next Librarian of Congress?

The President, in this case, Barack Obama, appoints the Librarian of Congress. Here’s the statute about that particular appointment.

Should it be a presidential appointment? Should the next office holder have a degree in Library Science (Mr. Billington did not).

Infodocket has more information on the period of transition, including this:

LC tells us that while no timeline is in place at the moment, President Obama has “roughly” six months to consider nominees for the vacancy. If a new Librarian of Congress is not confirmed by the time of Dr. Billington’s retirement, David Mao, Deputy Librarian, would serve as Acting Librarian of Congress until the time a new leader is confirmed by the Senate. Mao holds both legal and library degrees.

via Who Will Be Appointed as Next Librarian of Congress | LISNews:.

Podcasts, a New Frontier, are All Over the (Dewey) Map

Podcasts, a New Frontier, are All Over the (Dewey) Map

I love listening to podcasts and wish I had more time for them. I started following @Podcastlib on Twitter a few months ago and love her ideas on how librarians can connect patrons to information through podcasts. This is an article she wrote recently that I wanted to share.

Do you do anything with podcasts in your library? Please share!


by Sheryl Ramer Gesoff, MLS Director, Health Sciences Library, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Elmhurst Hospital Center
Listening to podcasts should be promoted in the same way that reading books is promoted. Podcasts, like books, have useful content that cannot be found anywhere else and are delivered in a unique way.

By leading events and workshops on podcasts as a new frontier for librarians, I’m eager to start a dialogue among librarians and others about sharing their favorite podcasts with patrons, family, and friends, as well as how to make the medium more accessible.

To that end, this article includes a bibliography of podcast episodes organized in the same way that books and journal articles are organized. I hope this list sparks ideas for my colleagues to show patrons that podcasts are diverse and useful.
Sharing podcasts with library users

Podcasts are free audio shows available on-demand. (Some podcasts are fee-based, including EM:RAP and EmedHome, two emergency medicine podcasts. Other podcasts operate on a freemium model, meaning that some episodes are free or paid for by advertising, but archived episodes or other features cost money. WTF with Marc Maron is an example of the Freemium model.) A more in-depth definition and the basics of podcasts can be found here.
Podcasts, books, and journals

Podcasts are a new medium that is on par with books and journals. A guide to the Modern Language Association rules refer to podcasts as such, describing possible sources as “web, print or podcasts.” Podcasts contain content that cannot be found anywhere else, including the radio. Serial, a popular show that investigated the true story of a murder over the course of several weeks, is described as “a weekly podcast, not a radio show at all.” Only the first episode aired on the radio.

Other podcast shows with content that cannot be found anywhere else includeNews in Slow Latin Spanish, Freakonomics, American Psychological Association’s Speaking of Psychology, You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes, and Circulating Ideas (a library podcast). Figure 1 illustrates the relationship between the content of podcasts and radio. Most content on the radio is available as podcasts, including shows on NPR, WNBC, and PRI, and some content on podcasts are not available on the radio.

Podcasts also offer a unique delivery system: on-demand audio that is available through websites and applications like iTunes. Audio allows people to listen when their hands are busy but their minds are free. People can listen while they do chores, wait in line, walk the dog, or knit – times when it is inconvenient or impossible to watch television or read a book.

On-demand audio can be compared with Netflix because it gives people the freedom to listen to shows of their choosing whenever or wherever they want. And even with whom they want — NPR is even hosting listening parties across the country.
A new frontier for librarians

The most exciting thing about podcasts, for me, is that they are a reconizable format in some ways, but a new frontier in others. They have existed for 10 years and many people listen to them. This participation proves podcasts’ worth, but many people still do not know they exist. They are easy to access after an initial set-up but most people require directions for accessing them. Even after the initial set-up, people have difficulty discovering shows.

Librarians help people to locate journals, books, and websites. We can apply the same methods and research we developed for the promotion, teaching, and organization of these mediums to podcasts. We can form podcast clubs, teach classes, design posters, recommend shows with listeners’ advisories, organize with cataloging, and save through archiving. There are a few entities trying to organize podcasts, including and IPDB, but in a world where “everything can be found on Google,” no company or vendor has succeeded in making podcasts easy to search, or even discovered easily. Podcasts are a relatively blank slate, and librarians can “claim” them.
Works Cited

The bibliography below shows both the breadth of subjects available as podcasts and that episodes can be organized in the same way that journal articles or books are organized — as Works Cited or the Dewey Decimal System.

000 Generalities

Thomas, Steve, prod. “2015 American Library Association Presidential Candidates.” Episode #63. Circulating Ideas. N.p., 23 Mar. 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2015. <;.

Steve chats with the four candidates for ALA President (2016-2017): Joe Janes, James LaRue, JP Porcaro, and Julie Todaro. (60 minutes)

100s Philosophy and Psychology

Kazdin, Alan E., and Audrey Hamilton, prod. “Disciplining children effectively.” Speaking of Psychology. American Psychological Association, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015. <;.

Psychologist Alan Kazdin, PhD, discusses corporal punishment and the most effective ways for parents to get their children to behave. (15 minutes)
300s Social Sciences

Dubner, Stephen J., and Christopher Werth, prod. “Diamonds Are a Marriage Counselor’s Best Friend: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast.” Freakonomics. N.p., 16 Apr. 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2015. <;. (Download not available)

Winning a valuable diamond should cause happiness, but this is the true story of a husband and wife who won a diamond and gained marital problems. Plus, it’s not even clear that a diamonds are valuable. (40 minutes)

Gross, Terry, and NPR Staff, prod. “Hillary Clinton: The Fresh Air Interview.” Fresh Air. NPR, 12 June 2014. Web. 1 May 2015. <;. Terry Gross conducts an interview with Hillary Clinton. (45 minutes)
400s Language

Weekly News in Slow Spanish.” Episode #99. News in Slow Latin Spanish. N.p., 28 Apr. 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2015. <;.

Hear news read slowly in Spanish to increase comprehension. (2 minutes)

500s Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Graber, Cynthia, prod. “A Few Hundred Smartphones Could Catch Earthquakes Early.” Scientific American’s 60 Second Science. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015. <;

Scientists may be able to use the GPS on smartphones to pick up movements of an earthquake and provide extra seconds of early warning. (90 seconds)
600s Technology and Applied Sciences

Bauchner, Howard, prod. “JAMA Issue April 28, 2015.” JAMA Network. Journal of the American Medical Association, 28 Apr. 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2015. <;.

Editor’s Audio Summary by Howard Bauchner, MD, Editor in Chief of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, for the April 28, 2015 issue (7 minutes)
700s The Arts

Black, Michael Ian, prod. “How to be Amazing with Lin-Manuel Miranda.” Episode #4. How to be Amazing. N.p., 18 Apr. 2015. Web. 1 May 2015. <;. (Download not available).

Michael Ian Black (The State, Inside Amy Schumer, Maron) interviews Lin-Manuel Miranda (writer and star of In the Heights and Hamilton). It is truly amazing. (4 minutes)

Mars, Roman, prod. “Edge of Your Seat.” Episode #139. 99% Invisible. Radiotopia, 4 Nov. 2014. Web. 30 Apr. 2015. <;.

The designing of chairs can be more difficult than the designing of skyscrapers. Hear why, and how the movement to spend less time sitting has made chair design more varied than ever. (18 minutes)

Simmons, Bill, prod. “Bill Simmons, Jalen Rose, and Zach Lowe countdown the 25 most intriguing people of the NBA playoffs.” B.S. Report. ESPN, 18 Apr. 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2015. <;. (47 minutes)

Hirway, Hrishi, prod. “The National.” Episode #25. Song Exploder. Maximum Fun, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015. < >.

The music of Grammy award winning The National has been on Game of Thrones and Barak Obama’s presidential campaign. They discuss the origin of their songs and their collaborative work style. (18 minutes)
800s Literature and Rhetoric

Ann Patchett | Elizabeth Gilbert.” LIVE from the NYPL. New York Public Library, 11 Dec. 2013. Web. 30 Apr. 2015. < ann-patchett-elizabeth-gilbert>.

Ann Patchett (author of Taft, Bel canto, State of Wonder) and aElizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray Love and The Signature of All Things: A Novel), interview each other about being an author, owning a bookstore, religion and science, facing fears, and achieving goals. (72 minutes)
900s History

Alan Cumming | Not My Father’s Son.” Author Events. Free Library of Philadelphia, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 30 Apr. 2015. <;.

Alan Cumming, (The Good Wife and Cabaret on Broadway) is both funny and heartbreaking as he discusses his life, work, and family tree. (1 hour)

Gross, Terry, and NPR Staff, prod. “After 20 Years On The Job, NYC Police Officer Tells His Intense Stories.” Fresh Air. NPR, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015. <;.

Steve Osborne, a former police officer, tells tales from his book, True tales from the life of a New York City cop. (37 minutes)

Johnsen, Greta, and Tricia Bobeda, prod. “Scott McCloud on comics, Elizabeth Blackwell’s backstory and librarian nerd confessions.” Nerdette. Chicago Public Media, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.<;.

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first female doctor, and she spent her life helping women to become physicians and improving the care of women and children. Librarians confess how they are nerdy. (15 minutes; begins at minute 19:40.)

NPR Staff, prod. “Anniversary Of Oklahoma City Bombing Reopens Wounds For Survivors.” Storycorps. NPR, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015. <;.

Survivors of the bombing talk about the lasting effects of the bomb on their lives. They were toddlers at the time. It is very emotional. (5 minutes)

Gross, Terry, and NPR Staff, prod. “After 20 Years On The Job, NYC Police Officer Tells His Intense Stories.” Fresh Air. NPR, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015. <;.

Steve Osborne, a former police officer, tells tales from his book, True tales from the life of a New York City cop. (37 minutes)

Sheryl will host, along with Madalyn Baron, an in-person discussion about podcasts atMETRO’s Social Media SIG meeting on June 22, 2015. We look forward to a fun and educational discussion on ways to organize and promote podcasts with (for example) book clubs, cataloging, and classes.

Contact Sheryl via email or follower her on Twitter at @podcastlib. She tweets her favorite episodes and shows, scholarly shows, and suggestions for how to promote podcasts.

via Podcasts, a New Frontier, are All Over the (Dewey) Map – 06-11-2015 : METRO in New York, NY US METRO.

Robotics at TXLA16 in Houston

Robotics at TXLA16 in Houston

092803 - HTC - 831C

While I was sitting in a session on STEM programming at TXLA15, I jotted down ideas for a session dedicated to talking about robotics programming in public libraries that I hoped to present at the next TLA annual conference. I ended up developing it into a proposal and sought out individuals from public libraries in Texas with robust robotics programs to join a panel to talk about what they have been doing. I submitted my proposal… and waited.

I just got word that my proposal was picked up by the Young Adult Round Table and is going to be pitched to the conference planners at Annual Assembly in July! I should hear back then if the program proposal will be accepted and sponsored. Fingers crossed!

Bots & Books 2015: Wrapping up another quarter

Bots & Books 2015: Wrapping up another quarter

May closes out a very busy 3rd quarter for Bots & Books! Many libraries held camps during Spring Break and several had kick off events to tease their LEGO robotics kits for Summer Reading Program usage. Here are just a few of the wonderful images that are coming in!

The Smithville Public Library got some wonderful newspaper coverage of their Spring Break events!


Smithville Public Library

Taylor Public Library patrons were lucky enough to have a big Maker Fair on March 17!


Taylor Public Library

Harker Heights had a big turnout at their Build A Bot event on March 16.

harker heights

Harker Heights Public Library

And the Corpus Christi Public Library is working with local Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts groups!

Corpus Girl Scounts Q3 4

via Connecting Texas Libraries Statewide

CHIP – The World’s First Nine Dollar Computer

CHIP – The World’s First Nine Dollar Computer

Awhile back, I saw @flexlibris of the Library Freedom Project talking about the Kilton Library in Lebanon, NH that  had all of their catalog computers on Raspberry Pi computers and all of their PAC on Linux. I thought this was brilliant. Why have SO much computer when you are only accessing the catalog? Then I saw this:

This is a Kickstarter for a $9 dollar computer called CHIP. It closes at 9am on June 6th… in 2 hours. They had a goal of raising $50,000. As of this morning, they had just under 40,000 backers and had raised $2,060,930!!!

My mind spins thinking of all the ways such inexpensive computers could be used. In libraries, these could replace all of your catalog computers. And self-checkout with an RFID reader? And programming?! I just finished purchasing laptops that could be used with WeDo kits for robotics programming… This would have let us purchase so many more kits! I can’t wait to see how these work… and how they could change everything!

EdX & W3C HTML5 MOOC begins June 1

EdX & W3C HTML5 MOOC begins June 1

As I have said before, I am digging more into coding since I started working with LEGO robotics kits with public libraries all around Texas. I am saving lots of resources (with an emphasis on FREE) on learning how to code here. Even though I am also currently taking a course on Scratch, my husband and I are going to be challenging each other by taking an HTML5 MOOC together offered through EdX by The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), developer of web standards and currently run by some guy named Tim Berners-Lee. It begins today, Monday, June 1st!

All of this online coursework makes me feel like I am back in grad school! I have been keeping up with lots of LIS reading but have been mostly just sharing on Twitter as I haven’t had much time to write. Oh, and I am finally getting around to a little light reading, too. I was rather pleased when I realized that I was using a Library Freedom Project sticker to bookmark my latest read, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. 🙂

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