Swiss Army Librarian » Circulating a Roku for Streaming Videos

Swiss Army Librarian » Circulating a Roku for Streaming Videos

Check out this great idea for circulating a Roku from the Swiss Army Librarian!

Our Roku circulates for one week, cannot be renewed, but can be requested. We’re also circulating it in a padded case that comes with a remote control, various cables to connect it to the patron’s television or digital projector, power supply, and instructions:


via Swiss Army Librarian » Circulating a Roku for Streaming Videos :: Brian Herzog.

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.

Aren’t libraries already doing that? by Jessamyn West

Aren’t libraries already doing that? by Jessamyn West

Yes. This. I watched the announcement about the initiative to get ebooks to low-income children and was, unfortunately, nothing but suspicious. There are good entities involved, but I am skeptical about motivation and execution. I had all of these questions proposed by Jessamyn West over on Her post really summed up how I felt about it so I thought I would share it here in its entirety.

Aren’t libraries already doing that?

My questions about the current big plan to “give” ebooks to low income kids

Yesterday’s announcement was exciting. The White House in collaboration with the Digital Public Library of America, The Institute for Museum and Library Services, and New York Public Library will work together with the rest of nation’s libraries to give low income kids better access to digital reading material and get them excited about reading. But are the project’s offered solutions really addressing the real problems and needs of the communities it is trying to reach?

Here are the players. This could have been The Avengers of library collaborations.

  • DPLA will build the Digital Public Library of America Youth collectionand offer access to public domain and in-copyright works to children from low-income families, adding new covers from Recovering the Classics to bring new appeal to old titles.
  • The White House as an extension of its ConnectED initiative will launch the ConnectED Library Challenge to get children from low income families in 30 communities to sign up for library cards. They are also committed to bringing kids from low-income schools thousands of ebooks with an app developed by New York Public Library and support from the “nonprofit social enterprise” FirstBook.
  • FirstBook will identify target populations and screen recipient schools to ensure book delivery to low-income students working from their existing network of 170,000 classrooms and programs. They have an existing extensive and successful print book distribution program.
  • Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is investing $5 million in NYPLs development of an Open eBooks app along with “tools and services” to help the public access $250 million in books donated by major US publishers. They also created a discussion platform for the involved communities to interact with each other.
  • Library Associations such as the American Library Association and the Urban Libraries Council have gotten commitments from library directors, school superintendents and local politicians to spearhead library card programs in the thirty regions targeted by the ConnectEd Library Challenge.

I am curious to see where it goes and interested in what the larger plan is. As with any flurry of overlapping big-talking press releases, there are still some areas that bear further scrutiny and could use more explanation. I work for Open Library. We lend ebooks worldwide for free, to anyone. I know that a project this big has a lot of interlocking parts. I have some questions about how it’s all going to fit together, and what the long-range plans and goals are once the grant money runs out. Here are my questions.

The App

The app being developed by NYPL promises a place where users can “seamlessly browse and read ebook titles on a variety of devices.” I have every confidence in NYPLs ability to build elegant digital tools and I’d love to see a library-created ebook application. However I am curious why we’re developing a “cutting-edge e-reader app” when many similar applications currently exist and are already used for library lending?

What is missing from current e-reader book lending apps? Is the new app going to be available on all platforms? Will it work for people who are print-disabled? Who is offering tech support? Will people need to register to use the app? Will they need an email address to do that? Will their reading lists be tracked? Will the app’s privacy policy be in line with state patron privacy laws? Will the app also help people find print books since surveys are still indicating that print is what many Millennials prefer.

The Target Audience

Providing access to physical resources like print books is straightforward. Giving access to shared technologically-mediated resources is significantly more complex. How do we provide democratic access to content through libraries and schools but still reach the target demographic and provide digital equity?

How does providing digital content via apps serve the hardest to serve when, according to NPR’s All Things Considered “nearly 40 percent of households that earned less than $25,000 a year didn’t have a computer” and less than half had internet access? Even DPLA’s Executive Director Dan Cohen admits we’re still barely at majority smartphone adoption in low-income families. Will lending tablets — tangentially mentioned as part of this project — be enough to span this gap? Apple has said they’re donating $100 million worth of devices, but we don’t know if those are going to libraries as well as schools.

Will the app be for all children but just marketed towards low-income children? How do we get this program’s target audience to the library in the first place when transportation is often cited as a major impediment for low-income people to access their libraries? How will this program work with existing library ebook programs, or existing wifi hotspot lending programs (how are those going anyhow)? FirstBook has impressive statistics backing up its print book program. Is there any research that indicates that the lack of a good reading app and tablet computers is what is inhibiting the reading progress and literacy of low-income children? How will this program be assessed to ensure that it’s meeting its stated goals?

The Publishers

Publisher anxiety about offering up free digital content is understandable and yet the largest dollar amounts promoted in this program are for content supposedly being donated. What does it mean to “donate” ebooks?

Do publishers get tax writeoffs for the donations of thousands of digital copies of their titles to this non-profit project? What about overlap with titles libraries have already purchased? Will the project work with publishers to help make library patron access to ebooks in general a more pleasant and straightforward process? Does “unlimited access” really mean no Digital Rights Management or other technological limitations on accessing the donated content? Who will own these titles and what are the licensing terms? Will the content remain available to libraries and readers after the three year program period has ended?

Is anyone curating this collection to ensure that it’s balanced and appropriate for the target audience? We’re told that “Librarians will work with publishers to create recommendation and suggestion lists.” How is this different from what libraries are already doing?

The Libraries

We like to be part of these projects. Yet sometimes it seems that people are trading on the good name of libraries without actually providing material support to our infrastructure needs.

What do people feel isn’t working with libraries’ existing ebook lending programs? According to Paste Magazine, libraries in some communities are “promising to place library cards into the hands of young readers.” Aren’t they already doing this? Why, if this project “leverage(s) the extensive resources of the nation’s 16,500 public libraries to help kids develop a love of reading and discovery” is there no money in this wide-ranging project for the libraries themselves, besides money for broadband?

Who is going to teach digital literacy skills and help people use the app? Is it appropriate to have librarians volunteering for this via DPLA? Why are librarians being managed by DPLA instead of their existing professional organizations? Is there going to be an associated advocacy effort to ensure that school libraries continue to employ trained librarians, since this is one of the biggest threats to youth literacy?

The Ebooks

Ebooks are not as much of a monolithic entity as the name implies. Just saying “ebooks” does not give much information about what is being proposed.

Will these ebooks be in open formats or accessible at all outside of the program app? What about the free ebook/reading projects that have gone before, and still exist?

Open source book readers exist and work well.

Why, with this giant cooperative endeavor, can no one agree on the orthography of the word ebook? Is it eBook, e-book or ebook?

The ebook landscape is challenging both politically and technologically in a way that the print book landscape is not. This project looks like it’s good at addressing some of the pesky political problems surrounding ebooks, but is possibly a bit glib about the technological issues that will be generated by an endeavor of this magnitude.

At Open Library we lend several thousand ebooks every day to a worldwide audience. It’s challenging and requires a lot of hand-holding as well as frequent back and forth discussions with developers, server administrators and program coordinators. Creating and distributing good reading lists isn’t the difficult part of our work. Sharing a love of reading is not a serious hurdle.

Getting the technology to function smoothly and mostly invisibly is where we spend the bulk of our time.

Many of the patrons who email us may have never interacted with an ebookor a library before. The library to them is not just the content but also the people they interact with and the interfaces they have to navigate. Setting your sights on low-income readers is an admirable goal; those people will need help, even with the best-designed apps and the simplest tablets. Plan for it, it’s a part of the project that won’t scale well.

The hardest to serve are often the hardest to serve specifically because they can’t be reached simply with apps and goodwill and a pure heart. If that was all it took, our work would be done already. Libraries have been working at easing the literacy divide, the digital divide, and the empowerment divide for decades if not centuries. No one wants to increase literacy and love of reading more than the public librarians of the world. So I’m excited, but also cautious. We’ve seen a lot of well-meaning projects come and go.

Kids have access to thousands of free books and ebooks from their public libraries right now in the United States. Think of what we could do if we worked together to invest in ebooks and our existing infrastructure instead of building yet another app and hoping that this time the things we promised would come true.

via Aren’t libraries already doing that? — The Message — Medium.

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.



The problems associated with digital content are perhaps some of the biggest facing libraries today, in my opinion. As the demand to access digital content rises, libraries are more and more at the mercy of licensing agreements from publishers. Our budgets are wrapped up on content that we don’t own or control.

Someone wants to help us with that. eBooksAreForever is trying to create a collection of ebooks for libraries in North America at sustainable prices that will be completely controlled and owned by the library. They also are working to allow unlimited simultaneous use for patrons.

Ebooks are forever. So why can’t libraries buy ebooks at affordable prices, and own those ebooks for eternity?

Now libraries can.

At eBooksAreForever, our goal is simple: easily deliver great ebook content to libraries all across the country. Not only will libraries own the ebooks they buy, they’ll have easy access to as many copies as they need so more than one patron can borrow a title at the same time. And buying a single title will allow the library to lend it in all ebook formats, both present and future.

Our Plans

Imagine a single point where libraries can come to purchase the titles their patrons want; a system that interfaces with any and every library, regardless of what ILS they are running; a marketplace that is constantly adding content, while growing with the industry it serves. Imagine a service that brings all of the random branches of the current library community together for the very first time.

We’re working to make it easy, fast, and lucrative for libraries to acquire ebooks. Yes, we said lucrative (read the FAQ for more information). Libraries are asking for solutions… and eBooksAreForever is listening.

via About Us and Meet Our Authors | eBooksAreForever.

They are only in beta. I am very curious as to how they will accomplish simultaneous use. And I am sure they, like other ebook platforms, will suffer from unknown or unwanted collection content. But I applaud the effort. When I try to think of how we can get out of the choke hold publishers have us in, my mind hurts by all of the obstacles we face. ANY effort to make the information flow more freely is good by me… but that is just me with my radical ideas. Going to keep my eye on this!

In space, no one can hear you claim copyright

In space, no one can hear you claim copyright

I doubt I will get very personal on this blog. I have other social media for that, really. This space is reserved for my library and information obsession… and I will attempt to keep it pretty professional. But I am almost as geeky for space as I am for information and libraries. When those two worlds collide… well, it makes me very happy.

SpaceX, the first privately funded company to launch and return a craft to Earth successfully, owned by Elon Musk of Paypal and Tesla Motor fame, might have agreed to release the photos they take in space into the public domain, following NASA’s lead. So far their photos have been released under Creative Commons. Until now? It looks like there has been pressure from TechDirt and others on Mr. Musk to release them into the public domain.

This image has been floating all over Twitter today. Part of me wonders if this is true. Think what you will about social media, it is pretty powerful. This is awesome!

Being able to freely share all of the NASA and Hubble photos is extremely important. Seeing the vastness of space… even being given the opportunity to ponder it, can shape the way we think of ourselves and humanity. Perhaps SpaceX will take the next pale blue dot image? We can only hope. I leave you with words from one of my favorite people of all time: Mr. Carl Sagan.


Clinton Email Scandal Indication of Archival Issue

Hillary Clinton.

The National Archives started the Electronic Records Archives in 2000, and funded pilot programs in 2008, but it didn’t start operating until 2012. Until that point, the National Archive had no way of dealing with Microsoft Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, or emails with attachments. Even now, as the Times story indicates, the protocols and procedures aren’t fully in place. It’s still very much a work in progress; some aspects of the new program aren’t scheduled to go into effect until the end of next year.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters.

via The National Archives has failed to keep up with digital records: Its incompetence is the real scandal behind Hillary Clinton’s email..